What’s all the fuss about Antarctica?
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What’s all the fuss about Antarctica?

The great frozen continent divides travellers and even the greatest explorers. Repeat offender, Roderick Eime, buys into the debate.

We all remember the two most famous of Antarctic names: Scott and Amundsen. Scott, whose body still resides there, famously wrote "Great God! This is an awful place." While his nemesis, Roald Amundsen, glibly noted “The land looks like a fairytale.” Either way, both men were changed forever and it has the same effect on modern travellers.

I too had my own trivial childhood fantasy. Stuck inside on a rainy day, I would pore over my father’s massive atlas, seeking out the world’s most remote and improbable places, dreaming of achieving these destinations “when I grew up”. Our collection of cold-war era National Geographic magazines reinforced my idle fascination, wondering how men and women could live and work in such inhospitable environments.

Of course, I never grew up, but I did go some way to crossing off these locations when I made my first trip to the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands in 1998. And such is my fascination with the world’s driest, windiest and coldest land that I returned to the Peninsula in 2011.

While the land itself had changed very little, if at all, my cruise experience moved from a repurposed Soviet-era ice vessel to champagne and caviar. I’d repeat both experiences in a heartbeat, but the second ‘expedition’ demonstrated to me how much the Antarctic cruise offering had moved on, becoming much more of a mainstream travel product. Now you can argue the pros and cons of that, but the fact remains more people are taking an Antarctic cruise and more ships of varying specification are going there.

Why the Peninsula? That’s an easy question. ...


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