Traveling to Antarctica has been on my bucket list for years! I yearned to explore the 7th continent and recently was able to experience this adventure of a lifetime with Atlas Ocean Voyages.
Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. It’s one of the most remote destinations on Earth and the trip of a lifetime for many travelers. It’s also easier to travel to Antarctica than you might think. Let me tell you how.
My journey started in San Diego with a connecting flight through Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta Airlines. The flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires is around 10.5 hours, making business a preferred choice but premium economy is also a nice experience on Delta. I was excited as this was my first-time visiting Argentina!
I arrived in Buenos Aires and stayed at the Sofitel (included in the pre-cruise package) with Atlas Ocean Voyages. I arrived early in the morning so was not able to check in until around 2pm but made use of the time. My local driver took me to exchange money at one of the “Casa De Cambio’s” where the exchange rate was 380 pesos to the dollar. TIP: Do not change money at home when traveling to Argentina as the rate fluctuates highly, sometimes daily.
I had a nice nap at the hotel once I was able to go to my room and achieved my goal of having an Argentinian Steak with a glass (or two) of Malbec before retiring early as our pickup to the airport was at 4:30am! (Ask me how hard it was to find a restaurant that was open before 7pm in Buenos Aires!)
4:30am arrived too fast! We were met in the lobby by the local representative with coffee, water, and a breakfast bag for our 45-minute journey to the airport to check-in for our 7am charter flight to Ushuaia.
The flight on Aerolineas Argentinas (Argentina’s national airline) was great. The crew were very friendly and served us another breakfast! We arrived in Ushuaia (the end of the World) and were escorted to the ship by motor coach. The views that greeted us upon arrival were spectacular.
We boarded the Atlas Ocean Navigator and were greeted by the crew with champagne and canapes. Ah! We were here to explore….and be spoiled!
The ship holds only 200 guests and there are 110 crew to take care of us, which they did VERY well!
Atlas Ocean Voyages is yacht-style cruising and the perfect sized ship to visit Antarctica.
All accommodations include plush bedding, a marble spa bath and a spacious living room or sitting area. You can take in a view of the seascape from the comfort of your balcony or from your panoramic window anytime. Awaken fully refreshed and begin your day by pouring yourself a cup of Nespresso Coffee or Kusmi Tea and indulging in lavish L’OCCITANE amenities.
The ship is beautifully designed with lounges to relax in and a theater to listen to the incredible expedition team, which were the true highlight of this cruise. There were 13 of them, all of them as passionate as each other. An incredible team!
We were escorted to the mudroom to receive our expedition parkas (which we could take home with us after the cruise) and be fitted with boots and a life vest. We got faster at donning the gear after a few days!
Atlas offers two landings each day, kayaking and paddleboarding (depending upon the weather conditions) as well as camping overnight! We were VERY fortunate on our voyage, especially as it was the last one of the expedition season. The weather was perfect every day! Blue skies, no wind and calm seas. We were even lucky with the crossing of the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is known as either the “Drake Lake” or “Drake Shake” and we had the “Drake Lake” for our return trip and only one slightly rough day on the voyage down. I did get prescription patches for sea sickness as I heard stories about how rough this can be. I was very pleasantly surprised.
We hiked, encountered lots of penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and orcas during our amazing voyage with Atlas as well as many zodiac rides with the expedition team. I even did the Polar plunge! It was incredible!
About Atlas Ocean Voyages
I was there to experience the product and analyze the service and experience provided. I must say that I was extremely happy with everything.
Let’s talk about the All-Inclusiveness of Atlas Ocean Voyages:
FREE cultural immersion on every voyage
FREE dining venues with ever-changing menus
FREE unlimited beverages, including fine wines, spirits and craft beers
FREE open bars and lounges, including 24-hour bar service with specialty canapés
FREE in-room minibar with your preferences
FREE specialty coffees, teas and fresh-pressed juices
FREE afternoon and high tea
FREE champagne and gourmet canapés during meet and greet
FREE 24-hour room service, including spirits, wine and beer
FREE L’OCCITANE bath amenities
FREE pre-paid gratuities
FREE use of walking sticks and binoculars
FREE reusable water bottle
FREE butler service and expanded room service menu in suites
FREE private charter jet service
FREE enrichment lectures and destination briefings
FREE shore landings led by expert field guides
FREE escorted sightseeing safaris by Zodiac
FREE polar plunge
FREE Atlas Ocean Voyages parka and vest
FREE use of knee boots
FREE private group transfers between airport and yacht
The staterooms and suites on board are extremely luxuriously appointed with lots of storage. I enjoyed a Horizon Stateroom which featured a push button electric drop-down window to gaze at the extraordinary scenery. An in-room minibar is included, stocked with your preferences as well as the Nespresso machine, which was one of my favorite amenities. The room steward places bottles of filtered water in your room every day. The bathroom is beautiful, marble with a fantastic shower which has a rain head as well as spray heads aimed at the lower back and legs. Fabulous!
My specialty is food and wine travel, so I am always very interested in the food and beverage selection and service. I was not disappointed. From the “all you can eat” breakfast buffet, offering everything you could think of for breakfast, lunch buffet with delicious soups, different entrees and salads every day as well as a different carving station item and action item every day. Dinner was the only meal which had menu service. The food was beautifully presented and served and even better, tasted delicious. Wines were served with dinner. You could enjoy wine with lunch but were not allowed to go on the zodiacs and had to stay on board. I chose to do that one day! Room service is available for breakfast and all-day dining. There is also a coffee/to-go food area, which offered smoothies, sandwiches, cookies and more throughout the day. There are 2 bars on board with a nice selection of wines, beers and liquors and fantastic bartenders to take care of you.
There is a L’occitane Spa and gym on board with a sauna facing the amazing ice landscapes! That was a fantastic experience.
Entertainment is not the main reason you would visit Antarctica, but Atlas did provide a piano bar sing along each evening and the cruise director sang for two nights as well as a crew talent show on the last night of the cruise.
I loved the experience and said “Wow” at least 10 times a day, in awe of the scenery and vastness of the continent. I would love to talk to you about planning a vacation to Antarctica or another sailing with Atlas Ocean Voyages.