Even veteran cruisers can benefit from advance planning and research when it comes to reserving a voyage to the polar regions. The Antarctic Peninsula, Artic, South Georgia, Greenland, Spitsbergen and even the North Pole itself are once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list destinations for many travellers. Consequently, this can require a bit more homework if a traveller wants to secure not only the ideal departure date, but the desired cabin category and best price possible.
Steve Wellmeier, sales director for Poseidon Expeditions, strongly recommends that travellers start planning two years in advance for their polar adventure. “The reasons are simple – you have a much better chance of getting the trip you really want at a better value.”
Wellmeier also said that optional adventure options – such as kayaking – are increasingly popular. However, with numbers limited on some of these activities this is another reason to book early and avoid disappointment. Other adventure options include photography opportunities with an expert photographer available to answer questions, helicopter sightseeing at the North Pole or spending a night out camping on the snow and ice in the Antartic.
Fewer Cabins, Greater Demand
He pointed out that most expedition ships that venture into remote polar regions carry far fewer guests than conventional cruise ships that ply Caribbean, Baltic or Mediterranean waters. “Our ice-class Sea Spirit carries just 114 passengers, for example. While this is an ideal size for providing optimum time ashore for wildlife viewing, hiking or kayaking, it can sometimes limit our ability to handle demand from the marketplace.”
“Savvy Antarctic travellers are now looking at the 2017-18 season, and this is where we are seeing the most booking activity, 18 months in advance,” he said. “Not only is there better availability in the less-expensive, value categories, but travellers are able to take advantage of early booking discounts ranging from 10% to 15%, saving themselves thousands of pounds.”
Poseidon’s early booking discounts are available on all 2017 Arctic and 2017-18 Antarctic trip reservations made through September 30, 2016
“If a primary goal is to see polar bears, travellers should not book a trip to Greenland or Iceland; rather, head for the archipelagos of Svalbard or Franz Josef Land.” Wellmeier said. In the southern hemisphere, early season Antarctic visitors in November and early December will enjoy pristine conditions and lower rates, but aren’t likely to see penguin chicks, which don’t hatch until later in December.
Do your research
Use the internet to not just learn about polar destinations – the wildlife or the history of early explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen – but also to compare the various polar cruise operators.
Wellmeier suggests that prospective polar travellers should compare cabin sizes and features, the experience of the expedition team as well as what all is included for the cruise price. Aboard Poseidon’s Sea Spirit, the smallest cabin is 215 square feet and every cabin is a suite. “We also offer exceptional value for single travellers willing to share, in either triple- or double-occupancy accommodations.”
Additional details on Poseidon Expeditions’ polar cruises, along with contact information, can be found at the company’s website: www.poseidonexpeditions.com