“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” These words are attributed to Ernest Shackleton in a newspaper advertisement seeking fellow adventurers to join him on his push to the South Pole.
As a child, one of my favourite books was Shackleton Goes South – a book about the great explorer. That and my great-great grandfather’s maritime adventures, had a profound influence on me. They stimulated my taste for travel.
How times have changed. Now, instead of hardship and deprivation, modern day adventurers onboard the five-star expedition cruise ship Orion are invited to follow in the footsteps of the Antarctic explorers and experience the grandeur of the Antarctic – all the while enjoying the trappings of luxurious surroundings, facilities and service.
Celebrating 100 years of polar exploration, three Orion expeditions during December 2011 and January 2012 explore spectacular parts of the Southern Ocean, Ross Sea and Commonwealth Bay, offering a rare chance to visit the historic Antarctic bases and experience the world of famed Antarctic explorers Scott, Shackleton and Mawson.
And an invitation to an exclusive centenary dinner. To celebrate the departure of Douglas Mawson’s expedition 100 years ago, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation is holding an invitation-only dinner in Hobart – and Orion’s guests sailing on the December 1 2011 voyage for Commonwealth Bay for a visit to Mawson’s Huts are invited to attend.
The dinner marks the start of centennial celebrations and a precursor to the departure of Orion from Hobart harbour on December 2, 100 years to the day that Mawson departed. Orion and a small number of other ships will set course for Antarctica in the wake of Mawson’s Australian Antarctic Expedition.
Orion will cross the Antarctic Circle heading for Cape Denison to visit Douglas Mawson’s historic huts, built for the 1911-1914 ‘Australian Antarctic Expedition’. These timber buildings are rare in a world context. Just six complexes survive from the ‘Heroic Era’ of Antarctic exploration, a period of great exploration, research and discovery on the last continent to be explored.
In addition to the historic buildings, there are plentiful examples of clothing, food, crates, sleds, ropes and kerosene tins remaining, literally frozen in time. A special post office will be set up at Cape Dennison – a rare opportunity for Orion guests to send postcards home from the end of the earth.
The January 21, 2012 voyage to the Ross Sea will attempt to edge south to Cape Evans, at 77°38’S, where Scott’s 1911 Terra Nova Hut is located. The largest historic building in Antarctica, it was used in the 1910 to 1913 British Antarctic Expedition for extensive scientific research and served as a base for Scott’s journey to the South Pole. Entering the hut provides a time-capsule experience to the historic age of Antarctic exploration.
Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds was constructed during the British Antarctic Nimrod Expedition in 1907-1909. Adelie Penguins are slowly reclaiming the site of the world’s southernmost penguin rookery. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation program has successfully conserved a substantial number of fascinating artefacts in such a way that the hut appears to have only recently been abandoned.
All three voyages include a visit to Macquarie Island, a seismically active World Heritage listed island, renowned as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, and Sub-Antarctic islands abounding with wildlife including penguin breeding colonies numbering in the millions, elephant seals, Hooker sea lions, and the endangered Wandering Albatross.
It should be noted that these are not cruises; rather they are expeditions to what can be the most inhospitable region on earth. Expeditions start from $A19,365 per person for 18 nights. Accommodation is strictly limited to just 50 couples per voyage.
And wait, there’s more.
Experience the magic of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula on the 13-day Antarctica Classic in Depth now priced from $A5663 per person twin share for 7, 18, 29 November 7, 18, and 29, and December 2011 departures. An 11-day version of the cruise, Antarctica Classic, is available from $A6719 per person for January 2012 and February 2012 departures.
The 14-day Quest for the Antarctic Circle ventures where few cruises go, cruising beyond the Antarctic Circle and is now priced from $A6047 per person for departure March 8, 2012.
The discount also applies to the 20-day Spirit of Shackleton expedition, from $A13,535 per person for departure January 11, 2012. Each voyage departs Ushuaia, Argentina.
Deals on this blog are quoted in Australian dollars. For bookings on the Antarctica Classic in Depth and Antarctica Classic tours contact your local travel agent or Tempo Holidays at www.tempoholidays.com.