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This Month's Hot Deals


Antarctica - My Best Solo Travel Experience of the Year

Evelyn Hannon

Over many, many years I've travelled many miles to many, many destinations. My solo trips were taken totally on my own or alone within a group. I have had some pretty incredible experiences so when I was contemplating my Best Solo Travel Experience of this Year, you can be sure that my winner had to surpass some pretty wonderful journeys.

And the winner, taking the above into consideration is Quark Expeditions who invited me to experience the Antarctic aboard the luxury expedition vessel, the Sea Spirit.

Why did Quark Expeditions get top marks from me?

The first reason is a personal one ...

JW was here, Antarctica

I had never been to the Antarctic and going on this voyage allowed me to set foot on my seventh continent. I absolutely loved the experience. This was nature at its rawest and most spectacular. The incredible ice floes and, oh my goodness, the deep turquoise icebergs. I was a visitor in a world that belonged to the whales, the sea lions and the penguins. While Quark allowed us to get up close and personal we were never allowed to intrude or to get in the way of the wildlife. I appreciated the eco-friendliness, the respect shown to the marine mammals and was happy to follow the rules designed to help keep this extraordinary part of the world intact.


All logistics were taken care of for me...

Usuaia

True, I am an experienced solo traveller but the logistics of putting an itinerary of this type together boggles my imagination. I was happy to leave all the travel planning to Quark who knows this part of the world like the back of their hand. They arranged all my travel for me. Since it takes almost two days to get to Ushaia where the ship is docked, most passengers from North America sleep over in Buenos Aires before continuing their journey the next day. It was comforting indeed to have a car and driver pick me up from Buenos Aires airport and whisk me to a hotel to spend the night. Extra points were awarded for the location of the hotel that allowed me some shopping in the city before flying again the next day. Then in Ushaia (reputed to be the southern most city in the world), there was a Quark Expedition representative waiting for us along with a bus that took us directly to our hotel for a pre-sail briefing. Really, there was someone offering their hand every step of the way. Especially for solo travellers this was a lovely way of allaying travel anxiety and I appreciated all the gestures.


What was the Sea Spirit like?

Seaspirit

Forget the concept of large cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers. This is a small, intimate working ship that accommodates only 114 passengers and is designed specifically for expedition manoeuvring. I enjoyed Sea Spirit's ability to slow down and quickly change course when we had the opportunity to come alongside a pod of whales or to watch penguins cavorting on ice flows. Yet just because the Sea Spirit was designed for working it definitely had it's sophisticated side. My well designed, spacious cabin was like the ones I had experienced on high end ocean liners. The amenities were all there - ensuite washroom and shower, lots of storage space, flat screen TV and a full window that looked out onto the deck and the ever changing seascape. I gave the ship extra marks for it's coziness and friendly atmosphere. Within the time it took to unpack and listen to welcoming staff messages over the P.A. system, I felt right at home ready to check out the welcoming bar area with its extensive Antarctic-centered library.

 

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