This cruise was a dream-come-true for me. I have wanted to visit Antarctica ever since I first learned about the white blob at the bottom of world maps in grade school. This two-week cruise aboard the Celebrity Infinity allowed me to achieve this dream in addition to visiting three interesting South American countries that I had not previously visited.
February 11, 2016:
I am currently out of the office and will return on 3/1/2016. Please contact my manager if there are any urgent issues...
That never gets old. The next day, Traci and I would embark on a voyage that I have dreamed about since I was a child. We were going to Antarctica!
We would be traveling to Antarctica by cruise ship. I had a dilemma when choosing a cruise itinerary. I always pictured myself walking on Antarctica. The cruises that allow you to do this are called expedition cruises. They are very expensive. In addition to Antarctica, I wanted to visit the Falkland Islands because I am fascinated by people who live in remote places. As I scoured the internet looking for the best deal I could find on an expedition cruise that met my criteria, I stumbled upon an itinerary by Celebrity Cruises. Its price was two to three times less expensive than the cruise packages I was finding yet it actually exceeded my criteria - well, almost. When I looked closer, I realized that this was an Antarctica 'float-by' cruise - not an expedition cruise. You do not actually go ashore in Antarctica. Instead, you view the continent from the ship. I initially tossed this idea aside because after all, why would I go all the way down there and never set foot on the continent? As I continued to look at the expedition cruises that included the Falkland Islands, I started to notice that many of them consisted of two to three weeks of doing landings to look at wildlife. I like to see animals in the wild but I was not sure I wanted to do it for that length of time. I gave the Celebrity 'float-by' cruise another look and began to warm up to the idea in a big way. I travel because I love to experience different cultures. The Celebrity cruise itinerary was enticing because not only would it allow me to see Antarctica, but it would also allow us to experience culture in three countries that Traci and I had not yet visited: Argentina, Falkland Islands, and Uruguay. We would spend two out of the fourteen days cruising the Antarctic Peninsula. This would be the perfect duration of wildlife and ice viewing for me. Of course, this meant we would not set foot on the continent but the cultural appeal of the itinerary was what really had me excited.
penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands
Cruises to Antarctica almost always take place during the Antarctic summer which is winter in the northern hemisphere. Celebrity usually makes its Antarctica voyage no more than once per year. As a result, the cabins sell quickly. We booked a year in advance. You might be able to snag a huge price discount if you book a cancelled cabin within two months of the sailing date but you might not be able to get your preferred cabin. If you are prone to seasickness, you do not want a cabin located at either end of the ship on this cruise.
As with all Antarctica itineraries, there is no guarantee that you will actually see the continent due to the volatile weather conditions in that part of the world - especially in the notorious Drake Passage (the body of water between South America and Antarctica). With only two days of our itinerary scheduled for visiting Antarctica, I knew that our chances of seeing the continent were much less than the expedition cruises that set aside more days for their visits. It was a chance we were willing to take.
We ended up spending three days instead of two in Antarctica due to a storm that developed to our north while we were there. As a consequence, we did not have time to make one of our scheduled ports (Puerto Madryn) in Argentina. Shown below is the modified itinerary for our voyage:
|Sun, Feb 14||Buenos Aires, Argentina||5:00PM|
|Mon, Feb 15||At Sea|
|Tue, Feb 16||At Sea|
|Wed, Feb 17||At Sea|
|Thu, Feb 18||Ushuaia, Argentina||9:00AM||9:00PM|
|Fri, Feb 19||Cape Horn, Chile||6:00AM||8:00AM|
|Sat, Feb 20||Schollart Channel, Antarctica||11:00AM||1:00PM|
|Sat, Feb 20||Paradise Bay, Antarctica||2:00PM||4:00PM|
|Sat, Feb 20||Gerlache Straight, Antarctica||5:00PM||7:00PM|
|Sun, Feb 21||Elephant Island, Antarctica||2:00PM||6:00PM|
|Mon, Feb 22||Deception Island, Antarctica||8:30AM||10:30AM|
|Tue, Feb 23||At Sea|
|Wed, Feb 24||Port Stanley, Falkland Islands||7:00AM||5:30PM|
|Thu, Feb 25||At Sea|
|Fri, Feb 26||At Sea|
|Sat, Feb 27||Montevideo, Uruguay||8:30AM||4:00PM|
|Sun, Feb 28||Buenos Aires, Argentina||5:00AM|
In addition to this itinerary, Traci and I spent a wonderful pre-cruise day on our own in the amazing city of Buenos Aires.
Packing for this cruise was a challenge. We had to bring clothing for both hot weather and cold weather. There were no formal nights on this cruise. Therefore, we could save a little room in the suitcases. We experienced temperatures in the 80's and 90's (Fahrenheit) during the northern portions of our journey. These temperatures dropped off as we traveled south. During our time in Antarctica, the temperatures were in the upper 20's to lower 30's with occasional light snow showers. Of course, we warmed up again as we made our return trip north to Buenos Aires. Fortunately, the cabins have heat as well as air conditioning. This was the first cruise we've done in which we used both.
heat and humidity during the northern portions of our cruise
cold and wind during the southern portions of our cruise
In general, I was happy with our trip. The cruise allowed us to see the continent and to visit South American countries that I never thought we would visit. Our trip was not like any we have done before. We would have preferred an itinerary with more ports and less sea days but this would be difficult to accomplish given the long distance we traveled in the two weeks. I did not regret not setting foot on Antarctica; however, Traci did after finally seeing it. We had some glitches along the way but such is travel. This trip report contains the ups, downs, and side-to-sides of our adventure. Continue...