News network Canada.com features The Antarctic Dream

Canada.com, part of Canada’s largest network of English-language daily newspapers and websites, features The Antarctic Dream in a story about Antarctic travel.

Writer Karen Catchpole went on the M/V Antarctic Dream’s first expedition of the 2010-11 season.

This year more than 20,000 visitors are expected to visit the world’s remotest continent, braving one of the most turbulent stretches of water on earth: the Drake Passage between the southern tip of South America and the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. The rewards are spectacles of ice and wildlife seen by only a few hundred thousand people in the entire history of the human race.

Visitors come to see glaciers, some more than 20 kilometres long, colonies of gentoo and chinstrap penguins numbering in the thousands, pods of minke and killer whales, and the solitude and silence of the vast white continent. To do it, they’ll all make major investments of both time (12-35 days) and money ($3,500 to $16,000).

I joined their ranks on the M/V Antarctic Dream’s first sailing of the season. The notorious Drake Passage lived up its reputation with six-metre waves, but the natural wonders of Antarctica easily made the crossing worthwhile. Adorable gentoo and chinstrap penguins, unafraid of man, approached to within a few inches; my inflatable rubber Zodiac boat was surrounded by a group of seven killer whales during one adrenaline-filled excursion; and crab-eater and Wedell seals also made an appearance.

I even got to see a lone, 1.2-m-tall emperor penguin.

Catchpole returned with Antarctic travel tips, including “Don’t worry about timing; size matters; stay flexible; ask a lot of questions; dress the part; pack like a pro; don’t underestimate Ushuaia.”

The Antarctic Dream is a 78-passenger luxury cruise ship that was originally commissioned by the Chilean navy. Now this modernized ship transports travelers on Antarctic cruise expeditions. An expedition with The Antarctic Dream features up-close wildlife encounters both on land and in the ocean, kayaking in Antarctica, and Antarctic camping, new for 2011. Find out more at http://www.antarctic.cl/web_eng/.

Gentoo penguins survey the arrival of the M/V Antarctic Dream at Port Lockroy, where as the Antarctic summer progresses the flock will grow to number thousands.