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Polar pioneer The ultimate fly-cruise luxury in Antarctica

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View Antarctic wildlife from one of M/V Ocean Nova’s zodiacs


antarctica Once upon a time, flying in Antarctica was only for heroes and history-makers. These days you can create your own legend with the illustrious Antarctica XXI, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. WORDS: RODERICK EIME


he panorama was magnificent—the jagged mountains of black and green rock and glittering snow slopes of Trinity (peninsula) towering besides, above us the clear sky, below us blue-black water and icebergs—everything frozen and still, black and blue-black and black-green and glittering white,” said Captain Sir George Hubert Wilkins. In 1928, Wilkins, an almost-forgotten Adelaideborn explorer and aviator, made these remarks

6 SPRING 2013

as he and pilot Ben Eielson made history by becoming the first to fly a plane over Antarctica. In 2003, the specialised air-cruise company, Antarctica XXI, pioneered the first commercial combined passenger flight and cruise expedition in the region. Flying from Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia across the Drake Passage to the company’s base at Antarctic Station President Eduardo Frei Montalva, guests were able to experience the rare thrill of flying to, and landing

in, Antarctica as well as the popular cruise among the spectacular vistas and icebergs described by Wilkins 85 years ago from his tiny plane. In celebration of its 10th anniversary this year, Antarctica XXI offered twice as many departures than in 2012, an expanded program that will continue into 2014 and affirm the line as the leader in quality Antarctic explorations. On February 3 this year, the line also undertook a celebratory expedition to the summit of Sharp

Meals are a civilised affair on board M/V Ocean Nova

Cruise Line Profile | FROM THE BRIDGE

Fly over the Drake Passage to meet the ship in only two hours

Peak, the mountain pictured in its logo (opposite), which is situated on Livingston Island in the MacFarlane Strait; and released an exclusive coffee table book detailing its history. The line’s air-cruise program is typically four to six nights, which is several days shorter than comparable cruises offered by the major operators. This is because the flights eliminate either or both crossings of the Drake Passage and devote more time to sightseeing in the placid waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. A berth on the quick-turnaround, four-night Antarctica Express is as little as US$3995 per person. Travellers arriving at Antarctic Station Frei will transfer from the perfectly suited BAE-146 70-seat, quad-jet aircraft to M/V Ocean Nova, a Danish-built vessel expressly constructed for sailing in ice-choked polar seas. Don’t be put off by her utilitarian design; M/V Ocean Nova has an expert crew and is more comfortable and stable than many of the fancier ships venturing south. All cabins are outside with private facilities, including dedicated singles, doubles and triples. There’s a spacious, single-sitting dining room, plus library, lounge, bar and exercise area. The six-night Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise avoids both ocean crossings and spends time sailing from the South Shetland Islands to the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, taking in all the splendour and glory of such locations as Paulet Island, Hope Bay, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Deception Island and the famous Lemaire Channel. Each day guests go ashore to explore the alien terrain and visit penguin, seal and bird colonies in the company of experienced and knowledgeable guides. Berths for the December 7, 2013 departure, including an earlybird discount

Watch the passing scenery from M/V Ocean Nova’s top deck

In 2003, Antarctica XXI pioneered the first commercial passenger flight and cruise expedition in the region. of US$1500 per person, start at US$9895 per person, twin share. For a slightly longer experience, the Polar Circle Air-Cruises start with a two-hour flight to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands, then continue along to similar locations along the icy fjords of the Antarctic Peninsula, with the goal of sailing as far south as possible. Berths for a special eight-night departure on New Year’s Day, including an earlybird discount of US$1000 per person, start at US$12,995 per person, twin share. One of the deterrents to Antarctic cruising is the time required for the exercise, not to mention the potential discomfort to delicate tummies when traversing ‘the passage’. With the expertise of Antarctica XXI and its timesaving jet aircraft transfer, travellers can enjoy the Antarctic experience within normal holiday time periods. Antarctica, anyone? n

Guests can take the plunge into freezing Antarctic waters

EARLYBIRDS Ask about our earlybird specials on Antarctica XXI’s 2014–15 cruise season. Book and pay a deposit by October 31, 2013 and receive discounts of US$1000 per person, twin share for the 8-night Polar Circle Air-Cruises, and US$500 per person, twin share for the 4-night Antarctica Express Air-Cruises. Conditions apply.

FACT FILE Cruise line: Antarctica XXI Vessel: M/V Ocean Nova Maximum guest capacity: 68 Length: 78 metres Built: 1992 Facilities: all outside cabins, observation lounge, presentation room, dining room, bar, library, medical centre, zodiacs, icestrengthened hull suited to Antarctic voyages.

SPRING 2013 7

Touchdown Antarctica  

clipping from From The Bridge, Cruiseco's customer magazine

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