The Antarctic is a place of unparalleled beauty and majesty, a world beyond compares where the rugged landscape and wild beauty of ice and stone meet the vastness of the ocean. Embarking on an adventure to the southernmost part of the world is an opportunity to witness and explore this unique and remote corner of the planet. From towering glaciers, jagged peaks, and breathtaking vistas to diverse and abundant wildlife, this journey will offer a truly unforgettable experience.

I’m Duncan, Greenfield-Turk and as a private travel designer, I have a passion for creating bespoke and unique adventures for my clients. I like to think of myself as a curator of memories, using my many years of experience in luxury travel, my global connections, and the incredible resources of Virtuoso, to design trips that are truly one-of-a-kind. And let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the joy of seeing a client's face light up with excitement as they embark on a journey that has been specifically crafted just for them. So, if you're looking for a truly personal and unforgettable experience, I'd love to take you on a journey beyond your imagination.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to an adventure unlike any other. My recent 13-day expedition, with Quark Expeditions the leaders in Polar exploration, on the M/V World Explorer. Which took me on a journey like no other and left me with memories that will last a lifetime.

The Antarctic Circle is a world beyond compare, a place where the vastness of the ocean meets the rugged beauty of ice and stone. It is a place of extremes, where the challenge of the elements even the most intrepid traveller and where the wildlife is both abundant and awe-inspiring.

Antarctic Cruise

For those who have always dreamed of visiting this remote corner of the world, a journey with Quark Expeditions offered me the chance to not only see this remarkable place but to explore it in a way that is both comfortable and unforgettable.

The M/V World Explorer sets sail from Ushuaia, Argentina, embarking on a journey to the bottom of the world. This is no ordinary cruise, but an exploration that takes you to the heart of Antarctica, where you will see the world in a whole new light. With experienced guides and a team of experts, I was taken on a journey of discovery, exploring the rich history of this wild and beautiful place and getting up close and personal with its incredible wildlife.

For photographers, animal lovers, retirees, and those who crave adventure and exploration, there is no place on Earth quite like the Antarctic. And for those who truly want to immerse themselves in this wild and untamed landscape, there is no better way to do so than on an expedition cruise.

Cruising vs. Exploration

But what sets an expedition cruise apart from a traditional cruise? Simply put, an expedition cruise is about exploration, rather than a luxury. While I certainly had comfortable accommodations and delicious meals on board, the focus was on getting out into the wilderness, discovering new places, and learning about the unique ecosystems that thrive in this harsh and unforgiving environment. As the pioneer of polar expeditions, Quark Expeditions is dedicated to helping you explore the poles in a unique way.

A Journey to the End of the Earth

The journey to the Antarctic Peninsula began as the M/V World Explorer sets sail from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. As we crossed the Drake Passage, I was transported to a world of stunning beauty and raw power, where towering glaciers, jagged peaks, and breath-taking vistas awaited me. The Drake Passage may be rough, but it was worth it for the views that awaited us in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctic Cruise

Livingstone Island and Elephant Point

Our first stop on this journey of discovery was the southwest coast of Livingstone Island, where we visited the promontory of Elephant Point. This place was named after the elephant seals that once hauled out here, making it a prime hunting ground for sealers in the early 1800s. Biologist Annie shared the identification, characteristics and behaviours of seals in her education talk, ‘Pinnipeds of the Peninsula’ during our crossing. Today, the populations of both elephant seals and fur seals are thriving, and we were treated to a spectacle of jousting and cantering seals on the stony beach. The grunts and bellows of the elephant seals echoed off the vertical rock faces, amplifying their sound, while the ground was covered in snowdrifts of feathers from huddled groups of moulting gentoo penguins.

Deception Island and Whaler’s Bay

Next, we approached Deception Island, an ancient caldera that has collapsed, allowing the sea to flood inside. As we navigated the narrow passage of Neptune’s Bellows, I was amazed by the remains of decades of human occupation at Whaler’s Bay. Here, I visited the rusted whale oil depots, the collapsing research station buildings, and the old aircraft hangar. The black volcanic sands steamed in the afternoon light, and we saw small pockets of green vegetation growing among them. This was also for me one of the most poignant as well as emotional parts of the journey as the true scale and impact of whaling in Antarctica was so evident.

The Drake Passage-Northbound

As we returned to the northbound Drake Passage, I have the opportunity to participate in a range of activities and presentations offered by the Expedition Team. Biologist Ema, give a presentation on the “Meaning of Life,” exploring the role of bacteria in the ecosystem. Archaeologist Phoebe, shared the stories of the photographers and artists of the “Heroic Age of Expeditions.” Glaciologist Ymke, enlighten me on the formation and movement of sea ice, and Anthropologist Phoebe took us on a journey to Patagonia and the Indigenous people who once lived there.

Antarctic Cruise

Approaching Tierra Del Fuego

Tierra Del Fuego, meaning "Land of Fire" in Spanish, is a stunning archipelago located at the southern tip of South America. It was a rugged and remote region, known for its wild beauty and diverse landscapes, from dense forests to towering mountains and glaciers. The Beagle Channel, a narrow waterway that separates Tierra Del Fuego from the mainland, was a popular spot for wildlife watching, and our voyage was no exception. As we approached this breath-taking region, we were treated to sightings of orcas, sei whales, dolphins, and Magellanic penguins. The crystal-clear waters of the channel offered a perfect opportunity to admire these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

However, it's important to remember that our presence in Antarctica is a privilege and one that comes with great responsibility. As visitors, we must take care not to disturb the fragile ecosystem, and to leave no trace of our presence. Our guides were committed to educating us about the importance of conservation, and we took great care to minimise our impact on the environment.

Embarking on a journey to the Antarctic Circle was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was not to be missed. From the breath-taking landscapes to the diverse and abundant wildlife, this was an adventure that will leave a lasting impression on all who embarked on it.

Whether you're a photographer, animal lover, retiree, or simply looking to cross something off your bucket list, our journey with Quark Expeditions and the World Explorer provided us with a truly unforgettable experience. Travelling with Quark Expeditions allowed us to explore Antarctica with some of the most knowledgeable polar specialists on the planet. We visited places few people have ever been, and experienced things that few people have ever imagined.

So, if you’re like me, gather your sense of adventure and prepare to embark on a journey to the ends of the earth, to explore, discover and marvel at the magic and majesty of Antarctica.

Duncan Greenfield-Turk is a private travel designer at Global Travel Moments.

Antarctic Cruise