Antarctica with Chris

 

Name: Chris McFarlane
Job title: Expedition Coordinator on the ship, Assistant Manager of Expedition Operations in the office
Trip Name: Explorers and Kings, Classic Antarctica and Antarctic Explorer
Pre-post night city: Ushuaia
Ship name: Sea Adventurer
Date of Travel: 11/8/2012 – 1/4/2013

1. Describe your travel style?
While I would also consider myself an adventurer, it is the search for knowledge and understanding of our planet, and the different cultures and environments that make it up, that motivates me to travel. Adventure is great by-product though, and you’ll certainly find that in a trip down south as well!

 

2. Give a brief overview of your role at Quark and what you like most about it:
As the expedition coordinator on board the Sea Adventurer I worked closely with the Expedition Leader in ensuring we kept passengers busy and entertained during their time on the ship. During sea days this involved organizing and scheduling lectures from other expedition staff members, and also preparing the daily itinerary and after-dinner movies and/or entertainments. There is never a dull moment on the ship, even during the long sea days! As with any expedition staff member, we also share duties driving zodiacs and conducting on-shore activities during landing days.

 

3. Did anything interesting happen during your journey to the destination? (interesting seat mate, tips for smooth entry, Anything interesting in B.A./Ushuaia?)
My journey to BsAs and Ushuaia was uneventful, which is always a good thing when travelling! I did have my older sister’s wedding the day/night before flying out to Buenos Aires so I’ve certainly felt better than I did while waiting for my plane at the airport, but I was able to get lots of sleep on the plane.

 

4. What were the weather conditions like during your trip?

The weather in the Antarctic can be completely unpredictable and there are many microclimates on the peninsula so you never know what you’re going to get. Fortunately the area is so breathtakingly beautiful and unique that is shows well in any conditions, and if it is safe to go to land we operate in any weather! We were very fortunate this year to have a spell of incredible weather, and for all of my 5 voyages we had mostly sunny skies and calm seas. Our expedition leader Laurie has been coming down to the region for over 20 years and he insists it was the best trend of weather he’s been a part of, so certainly no complaints here!

 

5. Best memory on the ship or your overall impression of the ship and/or staff:
My best memory of the season was during my second to last trip (December 16th-26th). We were on the second day of our Drake crossing to the Peninsula and the weather was perfect – not a cloud in sight and not a breath of wind. Many people were enjoying the sun on the deck, and in the early afternoon some whales were spotted in our course. We approached them and turned the engines off, and for about 90 minutes we had these 4 curious humpbacks checking out our ships and playing around in the water beside us. It was incredible, and made for some great photos!

Chris_Whales1

 

6. Top 3 things you did or experienced on your Polar expedition:

  • Many great humpback whale sightings and experiences
  • South Georgia – while I have done close to 20 Antarctic voyages this year was my first trip to South Georgia and it was incredible. Never before have I seen such an abundance of wildlife, and the beaches are teeming with seals and penguins with these majestic mountains looming in the background. Incredible!
  • Getting to see Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken on South Georgia and having a toast to ‘The Boss’ was very memorable. I have been extremely fond of Shackleton and his incredible adventures since I was a teenager and first read about him, and it was amazing getting to see his grave. Also, being in Stanley, Falkland Island on Remembrance Day of the 30th Anniversary of the Falkland Islands conflict was very moving as well.

 

7. Describe a wow moment or particularly special memory from your trip:
A wow moment for me was when, on our first trip of the season (November 8th – 26th), we were nearing the end of our time on the Antarctic Peninsula and were sailing across the Gerlache Strait on our way to the South Shetland Islands and we came across a pod of about 20 killer whales who had just killed a minke whale. We didn’t see the impressive orcas actually kill the minke, but we did see them eating the remnants of it and swimming around with pieces of it in their mouths. They were certainly very excited about their kill, and they went out of their way to come over to the ship and play around and celebrate in front of us, including swimming back and forth under the keel of the ship. They stayed for about an hour, and then got on their way. It was breathtaking to be so close to such amazing and intelligent animals.

chris_whales2

 

8. Sum up your trip in 3 words:
Couldn’t havebeen better. (I made it into three okay!)

 

9. What would you say to anyone who is considering travelling to the Polar Regions:
Stop considering and start booking, it will be one of the most unique and memorable experiences of your life.

Elephant Seals

 

10. Are there any other experiences, restaurants, food, people, places or sites you would like to highlight?
It is always fun seeing penguin chicks begin to hatch in Dec/Jan – they’re these big balls of down and incredibly entertaining to observe.
The food on the Sea Adventurer was incredible this year thanks to Chef Shippel – aside from the landscape and wildlife we saw the food was a highlight as well!

  • Mike O

    I’ve booked my trip for next Feb 2014 – Crossing the Antarctic Circle. Going to Antarctica has been on my bucket list for years, and now I’m finally going!! Thanks for your blog post – my anticipation just spiked again but at least I’m within a year now … my ship leave Ushuaia in 361 days 8 hours and 3 minutes (but who’s counting?).

    So let’s say a guy is not a photographer. I pretty much just have my cell phone. Are there photography classes on board, equipment available, or even photograph packages available? This is the trip of a lifetime and want to make sure I capture everything.

    • Corina

      Hi Mike! Congrats on your booking – you are going to have an AMAZING trip! To answer your questions, there is a photography expert on each ship who can help you with any photography related questions you might have about shooting in Antarctic light conditions. We do not currently rent out any type of photo equipment – is there someone you could borrow a camera from? My other advice is to bring a few extra memory cards! You will take more photos than you could ever imagine so it’s good to be prepared! :)

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