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Antarctica - My Best Solo Travel Experience of the Year

And the food?

New Years Eve, Antarctica

I had to work hard in order not to gain weight aboard the Sea Spirit. The main restaurant - white tablecloths for every meal - served a hearty yet sophisticated varied menu. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and our dinner meal was individually served by an attentive staff. And oh what dinners they were; we enjoyed everything from roast beef to baked salmon to a wonderful variety of vegetarian dishes. Special dietary requests were fulfilled, hard-to-resist desserts were plentiful, and wine flowed and flowed. As a solo traveller I awarded extra points to the 'open seating' policy at every meal. That meant I could chat with as many folks as I chose and I never, ever ate all by myself. P.S. Dining room dress code for New Years Eve (and all other days) was strictly informal.


What Did I Wear?

Fitted parka

December, January and February are summer months in Antarctica. When the sun is shining it's warm enough to unz-p your parka and take off your hat and mitts. But don't let that fool you because just as quickly the wind whips up and you are cold. Very cold. Quark understands that most travellers don't own the gear appropriate for this climate so they offer helpful clothing and packing tips in their pre-trip online information packets. Should you need it, they also have an online Gear Shop which I took full advantage of. Once aboard all guests are fitted with the renowned yellow Quark Expeditions parka which keeps you warm as toast and which we got to take home with us (bonus points for that). We were also loaned heavy insulated rubber footwear that allowed us to handle the many different terrains we had to navigate while on shore. P.S. Keep your eyes open for clothing specials; I was lucky enough to purchase all my essentials during their Black Friday Super Sale and was impressed with the advice their employees gave me choosing only what I absolutely needed.


Guests were not babied ...

Zodiacs

No matter what anybody says, exploring in the Antarctic is not for sissies. We were reminded that we were on an expedition and not a cruise. I appreciated the fact that there were no surprises; passenger briefings were taken very seriously, safety issues were outlined and situations never sugar coated. Sailing from Usuaia and heading to the Antarctic ships must cross the Drake Passage, a particularly notorious body of water. When it is angry it is very angry and passengers were forewarned that there could be a day and a half of rough crossing. Luckily we had a relatively easy crossing and most of us came through with flying colours. We also learned that all our shore excursions were to very small desolate islands. That meant following a very strict protocol of transferring from the ship to the 10 passenger zodiacs that could land at our destinations with relative ease and efficiency. All passengers were tested for their ability to transfer properly and staff was always there to offer a helping hand.

 

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