My Antarctica MS Expedition Cruise

G Adventures Antarctica Tour Review

Antarctica solo travel is a dream of a lifetime for most of us. This seventh continent is not easily reachable and taking a cruise here can cost thousands so it's important to research which company to go with. 

If you're unsure of the best Antarctica expedition cruise to go with, fellow solo traveller, Chantelle Choy, shares her experience of taking a G Adventures Antarctica trip onboard the MS Expedition. I hope that her G Adventures Antartica review inspires you to travel there!

N.b. Chantelle joined the 14 days Quest for the Antarctica Circle tour but there is a shorter tour for 11 days called the Antarctica Classic if you're on a budget. If you book your Antarctica trip through this MS Expedition review, I donate money to War Child, protecting vulnerable girls in conflict zones. Thanks for helping.

My Antarctica MS Expedition Cruise

My Antarctica MS Expedition Cruise

A vacation in Antarctica wasn’t part of my original plan, but I met someone at the beginning of my trip who had worked out there and what he was describing to me sounded simply breathtaking. That was it; my mind was made up. I was going to take a trip to Antarctica.

Up until the point I had decided to take the plunge, I assumed that travelling to Antarctica wasn’t really accessible, let alone for a solo female traveller. I also thought that Antarctica trips of a lifetime like this would book up months, if not years, in advance. So when I contacted my travel agent to see what my options were, I was very pleasantly surprised.

G Adventures, the tour company I had used a number of times on my trip this past year, ran a few different Antarctica cruises to the continent, and there was one place left on an expedition Antarctica cruise, leaving Ushuaia on the day my trip was meant to finish… it was fate, and I was excited to be adding to my Antarctic adventures!!

The trip would set sail on the 21st of December and arrive back on the 3rd of January. What better way to celebrate Christmas and see in the New Year!

Hesitating for only a few seconds (to travel to Antarctica is quite understandably on the expensive side), I quickly decided that the Antarctica cruises cost was a problem for ‘future me’ to deal with and handed over my credit card details to my travel agent. I celebrated that night with my hostel roommates under the stars on a beach in Bali.

I spent the next 4 months working my way down South America, finally arriving in Ushuaia the day before we were due to set sail. I wandered the beautiful resort town, nicknamed the End of the World, getting more and more excited about Antarctica and what the next few weeks would bring.

Ushuaia, often heralded as the gateway to Antarctica, is the prime departure point for many embarking on the journey of a lifetime with a cruise to Antarctica. From this southernmost city, tours to Antarctica from Ushuaia are meticulously organized, offering travelers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the pristine beauty of the Earth's southernmost continent.

The adventures in Antarctica that await are nothing short of extraordinary, with each day presenting new wonders, from towering icebergs to captivating wildlife encounters. For those making spontaneous decisions, finding a last minute Antarctica cruise from Ushuaia is surprisingly feasible, allowing even the most impromptu visitors the chance to partake in a remarkable expedition.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

The train to the end of the world, Ushuaia

Boarding For My Antarctica Trip

My Antarctic adventure began as we boarded the beautiful MS Expedition ship Antarctica the following afternoon and began to familiarise ourselves with our home for the next two weeks.

After a safety briefing, the captain welcomed us all on board with a glass of champagne, and the G expedition Antarctica team and staff introduced themselves. We were kitted out with our complimentary Antarctica apparel – wind and waterproof parkas, and we could all tell that this was the beginning of something very special.

The first part of our Antarctica itinerary was to spend the next 2 days sailing the notorious Drake Passage – 500 miles of the world's roughest seas. We all prepared for the worst – passengers and crew alike swallowed enough seasickness medication to knock us out for the next 48 hours.

We’d use this time to attend lectures held by the plethora of wildlife and nature experts on board learning about Antarctica facts. Then the funniest thing happened…

Except for a couple of big waves that shook the ship, we had the smoothest and fastest Drake crossing that most of the crew had ever experienced. We were on course to do our first Zodiac landing a day early – on Christmas Eve. * Check prices & itineraries for Antarctica G Adventures tours 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Our little red ship – the G Adventures MS Expedition

My Antarctica Adventures

Crossing the final few miles of the Drake on Christmas Eve morning, we prepared for our afternoon landing by vacuuming clothes, bags, and hats and disinfecting all walking boots and any equipment that we would take on land with us.

Although remote and extreme, Antarctica is vulnerable to invasive species inadvertently transported upon gear and clothing. We needed to ensure that we would leave it in exactly the same state we found it in.

Boarding the Zodiac cruiser for the first time that afternoon, we landed on Turret Point in the South Shetland Islands. We came face to face with numerous Antarctica animals – three species of penguin… Adelies, Gentoos, and Chinstraps, a number of young elephant seals, and countless giant Petrels soaring through the Southern skies.

This was real – it was really happening. We celebrated the day with a wonderful dinner, Christmas caroling, and a party aboard the ship in the Polar Bear Bar that evening.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Christmas Eve

An Antarctica Tour at Christmas

There were a few of us on board who were particularly excited for Christmas Day – because, weather permitting, later that evening, we would be setting up camp on Leith Island in Paradise Bay to spend a night under the stars.

The day was spent exploring Danco Island at the southern end of the Errera Channel and the Almirante Brown Base, an Argentine base used for scientific research purposes during the Summer.

We also cruised around on the Zodiacs, spotting the animals in Antarctica: many seals, penguins, and beautifully formed icebergs that make you realise what a powerful force Mother Nature really is and how beautiful Antarctica is. * Check prices & itineraries for Antarctica G Adventures tours 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

In front of Almirante Brown Base

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

A Weddell seal on an iceberg in front of the ship

Camping Antarctica Adventures

Following a wonderful Christmas BBQ out on deck later that evening, the campers headed to Leith Island. We set up our tents and took in the views. It was then that a few of us decided to make the most of it and sleep outside… which was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How many people can say they have been to Antarctica, let alone spent time in Antarctica camping?! Summer in Antarctica means nearly 24 hours of sunlight.

Just after midnight, the sun dips only slightly, blessing us with an hour or so of twilight before it rises again. It was truly spectacular, but not long enough to see any Antarctica auroras. 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

View from camp on Leith Island, Christmas night

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Our campsite

Boxing Day

Boxing Day morning, we packed up our camping equipment and headed back to the boat by Zodiac. We sailed through the Lemaire Channel and all of its breathtaking scenery. The beautiful snow-capped mountains that lined the G expedition ship on either side of us towered more than 3000 feet high and 1000 feet below.

Afternoon Zodiac cruises around Petermann Island got us up close and personal with the most mind-blowing icebergs I could have ever imagined – nine-tenths of which are actually under the water's surface. * Check prices & itineraries for Antarctica G Adventures tours 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Iceberg near Petermann Island

Crossing the Antarctic Circle

The name of the tour to Antarctica, the Quest for the Antarctic Circle, is exactly that – a quest.

The tour itinerary is not fixed because it is so heavily reliant on weather and wildlife conditions. Ice conditions mean it might be impossible to cross certain channels, and the Antarctica animals migration patterns mean some animals won’t be around.

Just being on this Antarctica expedition was a dream come true. Crossing the Drake in record time and seeing spectacular wildlife was a huge plus. But that morning, when our expedition leader announced we were on course to cross the Antarctica Circle around 08:45, my heart exploded.

Straight after breakfast, I grabbed my jacket and headed out to the bow of the ship. Like all others, when the announcement was made, we cheered and hugged, and some of us cried – a huge item ticked off the bucket list. Something I never thought was possible was happening right at that very moment.

 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

The moment we crossed the Antarctic Circle

Port Lockroy

I was also very much looking forward to our Antarctica visit to Port Lockroy, where a small post office and museum are operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. It is currently manned by four very inspirational women.

The museum is the abandoned British Base, Bransfield House, with many of the original artefacts on display. It was truly amazing to be in and around the belongings of those who were stationed out in such extreme conditions.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Port Lockroy

Neko Harbour

Following our museum visit, we jumped back in a Zodiac to land on Neko Harbour, where we saw perfectly formed old whale bones and watched the wondrous Gentoo penguins waddle and toboggan their way through the penguin highways.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Whale bones on Neko Harbour

My Incredible Antarctica Tour

Next, we sailed past the beautiful tabular icebergs of the Antarctic Sound towards Kinnes Cove. Disembarking from the Zodiacs, we were greeted by what looked like thousands of Adelie penguins along the shoreline and up the hills as far as the eye could see.

We were also lucky enough to see hundreds of grey chicks being shielded from the wind, nested between their parents' feet. Scores of petrels, terns, and blue-eyed shags carried by the wind above us.

Following lunch that day, we sailed southwest to Brown Bluff, a volcano with a pebble beach and surrounding reddish-brown rocks. I took a moment to compare the contrast of the morning's landscape. I had assumed this was a land covered in ice and snow – little did I realise how extreme the change in the landscape could be.

I attempted a steep hike up a cliff scattered with loose soil that just about covered the sheer ice underneath. I quickly lost count of how many times I fell over, scrambling upwards with my bare hands. I decided to call it quits a few steep meters from the top, dug my heels into the soil to keep balance, and sat to enjoy the view.

The next day was our final day of landings in Antarctica and also the last day of the year. We dropped anchor near Half Moon Bay Island, where the Zodiacs dropped us off to explore.

The island, home to thousands of Chinstrap penguins and their adorable grey chicks, also housed a lone Macaroni penguin which I was lucky enough to spot with the help of a wildlife telescope. The view around us and this Antarctica land was just phenomenal.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Penguins on Half Moon Bay

Deception Island

Later that afternoon, we headed to Antarctica Deception Island, our final landing site. Deception Island is the site of an abandoned whaling station and the caldera of an active volcano Antarctica is known to have.

Steam was rising along the shoreline, and despite temperatures below zero, puddles of water rising to the surface on the bay were warm. We all prayed this would not be the ‘bang’ we were promised to see the new year in with. * Check prices & itineraries for Antarctica G Adventures tours 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Boarding our last Zodiac from Deception Island

Reluctantly clambering back onto the Zodiac for the final time, we headed back to the ship to get ready to toast our wonderful journey and see in the new year.

At midnight, our Captain let off flares to see in the New Year while crew and passengers gathered to sing along and cheer on deck. It was the perfect end to my perfect Antarctica adventures.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

The captain letting off flares at midnight

Sailing The Drake Passage

We spent the next two days sailing the Drake Passage back to Ushuaia. Unbelievably, once again, we had calm waters, which all of us with a hangover were thankful for. We attended more wonderful lectures held by the expedition staff to learn about the women in Antarctica and more about the wildlife.

Due to the calm waters and kind winds, we were making good time on our journey back. Our Captain decided we would make a detour and attempt to round Cape Horn – the waters of which are extremely hazardous due to the strong winds and currents, large waves, and icebergs. It’s also known as “The Sailors’ Graveyard”.

It would also mean we would cross from the Southern Ocean into the Pacific and then the Atlantic. Three oceans! Again, all on board cheered, another huge milestone for this already monumental journey.

Despite our detour, we managed to drop anchor back in Ushuaia twelve hours ahead of schedule. Devastated to be back, we couldn’t bear to look out the windows at the colourful town past the marina.

Words cannot express how truly spectacular this journey was. It is the very definition of the experience of a lifetime, which I was lucky enough to share with some incredible people on board, who I now call my friends – the memories of which we will talk about forever.

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

Back in Ushuaia, after disembarking the MS Expedition Antarctica

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

My new favourite passport stamps!

G Adventures Arctic Tour

Travelling to Antarctica and cruising the Antarctic peninsula is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and G Adventures runs several small group trips to Antarctica. G Adventures have been around for more than two decades (their cruises used to be Gap Adventures Cruises), and they also run a G Adventures End of The Earth tour, a challenging 2 week adventure that begins and ends in Buenos Aires and travels through Patagonia. 

The reviews for their Antarctica tours are 4.8 out of 5 stars and are consistently ranked high. You can check their Antarctic cruise ships reviews here. One of their favourite cheapest tours in Antarctica is the G Adventures Antarctica Classic, which takes 11 days.

Their Quest for the Antarctic Circle tour is a 14-day tour, starting and ending in Ushuaia, with an Ushuaia to Antarctica cruise. Don't expect a Ushuaia to Antarctica flight on a cruise as the cruise departs from Ushuaia.

Twelve of these nights are spent aboard the G Adventures Antarctica ship in cabins with a porthole view and one in a hotel in Ushuaia on a twin-share basis. You spend seven full days exploring the peninsula and searching for minke whales and birdlife on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

My G Adventures Antarctica Tour

The wonderful ladies I met on my adventures in the Antarctica

About the Author

Chantelle Choy is a travel junkie who loves nature, wildlife, photography, and food. Her favourite word (and feeling) is “Resfeber” – the restless race of the traveller's heart before the journey begins. Chantelle experienced her expedition to Antarctica with G Adventures in December 2017. G Adventures offers some of the best Antarctica tours and is one of the Antarctica tour companies that are great for solos. Find her on Instagram at Travelling Choy.

G Adventures Antarctica reviews

6 thoughts on “My Antarctica MS Expedition Cruise

  1. Michael Davy

    I returned a month ago after a similarly fantastic trip on M / S Expedition travelling in fine style for 12 days in the most phenomenally good weather – the best the captain asserted he had seen in 23 years cruising the area.
    I cannot speak too highly of the expedition team on board, and the wonderful crew.
    Undoubtedly the calm and sunny weather enabled us to land twice a day and hike a little, which may not be possible on every trip. The landscape is always changing, the skies enormous, and the range and size of icebergs, awe- inspiring. Don’t be dissuaded from trying this trip by the tales of horrendous crossings of Drake’s Passage, as in summer, it’s rarely a violent experience, although it can be a little unsettling.

    Reply
  2. Marcy Siegel

    This was exciting to read. My husband and I going in December. Any tips on how to stay the warm?

    Reply
    1. Girl about the Globe Post author

      I’m so glad to hear that Marcy. Chantelle wrote the post for me so I haven’t personally been but from what I have heard I would recommend layering up and wearing thermal clothing if you have any. Have an amazing time. It’s on my wish list! Lisa x

      Reply
  3. Jacki

    It was wonderful to read your lively description of the trip.
    I am going on the Quest for the Antarctic Circle trip in a weeks time.
    My second chance to go to Antarctica having been in 2019.
    As a solo female traveller I can echo your experience of friendship and a superb team.

    Reply

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