What to take with you to Antarctica

Famous for its enormous icebergs, towering glaciers and shimmering summer light, Antarctica offers some of the planet's most awe inspiring landscapes. The North Atlantic and Arctic evoke images of sparse snow covered lands, but when summer comes it bursts with colour and life.

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What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby jam3056 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:51 am

We just returned from the Quest for the Antarctic Circle cruise. Fabulous!!! However, we came up with some items that we wish we had brought with us.

1) You need to be prepared for disappointment and some boredom depending on the weather, so make sure you have a way to entertain yourself. The lectures were great, but we were glad we all had plenty of books and a deck of cards.
2) Nasal mist!!!!!! I can't emphasize this one enough. The air in Antarctica is very dry and the dry air in the cabins compounds that. I was dying for some way to moisturize the inside of my nose.
3) Bring plenty of seasickness medication of varying strengths. It's nice to have some to share. I gave my Scopalamine patches away and borrowed either Dramamine at night, or Bonine during the day. We also, during the roughest nights (crossing the Drake passage and Bransfield Straits) took sleeping pills and used earplugs. Slept great after that!
4) We had very heavy jackets, borrowed from some mountain climber friends of ours. We loved having them, but they were not essential. You can get by with a very good quality waterproof jacket with a down or other high quality insulated liner. I never needed my down hat, but used a Buff and hood instead.
5) I had three pairs of gloves of varying weights and used them all.
6) I brought a monopod to use with my long lens, but due to the constant wind, it was fairly useless. I would have liked to have a tripod, but they are very unwieldy and not necessarily practical while getting on and off the zodiac.
7) If you are using an expensive camera, make sure you have invested in decent waterproof equipment. I actually did really well with Aloksak ziplock bags, and an inexpensive rain sleeve. Bring a lens cloth. You will need to clean your lens frequently. If I ever went again, I would take a decent waterproof point and shoot for those days when you just can't stay dry.
8) Everyone was sharing photos the entire trip, so make sure you have a thumb drive or some other way to get stuff onto and off of your computer. Not everyone brought a computer, some just kept a stack of data cards, however, we each had one and were glad we did.
9) Bring comfy clothes to lounge around in, as well as comfy shoes. You will want something other than adventure clothing to wear to dinner and the lounge in the evenings.

This was a great trip. The crew was fabulous and did everything they could to make sure we had the best adventure possible, in spite of some weather hang-ups.
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby tletter » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:51 am

jam3056 wrote:1) You need to be prepared for disappointment and some boredom depending on the weather, so make sure you have a way to entertain yourself.

There certainly can be disappointment especially if you have your heart set on one particular landing site but in our experience, the substitute landing sites offered a rewarding experience. Spending time on deck in the lee at the stern watching the birds can be an enjoyable way to pass time in transit.
jam3056 wrote:3) Bring plenty of seasickness medication of varying strengths.

On our trip motion sickness meds were handed out at reception. However you may be lucky as we were and not need them at all - one never knows.
jam3056 wrote:We had very heavy jackets ... a very good quality waterproof jacket with a down or other high quality insulated liner.

In our experience layering is the key since it can be warmer than you might expect. As you are in a marine environment you might want to be cautious about down since if it gets wet then it is useless. You'll definitely want a good waterproof outer layer. Of course if you are kayaking then you are provided with a waterproof suit and only need long johns underneath because of the heat that you generate paddling.
jam3056 wrote:I would have liked to have a tripod, but they are very unwieldy and not necessarily practical while getting on and off the zodiac.

Many folks on our trip took tripods in their backpacks ashore without any issues. People needed these for their monstrous lens.
jam3056 wrote:Not everyone brought a computer

You should note that the ship has wireless available and you can buy a data plan for Internet connectivity.
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby pattyandmax » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:22 pm

Thanks for all this great info and comments,
One question -- several people have hinted that dress on board is a bit more dressy than adventure gear... how about specifics clearly this is not "cruise ship" standards but I am not sure what your experience was...
I am counting the days to my trip...
Thanks
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby wattsed » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:34 am

I took this trip the first week of last March and nobody was dressed anywhere near what you would see on a cruise ship---everything was very, very casual--- for meals some were in t-shirts and jeans while others were closer to "business casual"(i.e.--dress slacks/polo shirt or long sleeve shirt for men and pants and blouse for women)...a few even wore their rain pants and tops that would be the inner layer of clothing that would be under their parka, etc.---I did not see any women in skirts, heels or any other "fancy" dress for that matter...Other than items for landings and zodiac cruises, I and my wife only took casual clothing for use at other times and most often we went to dinner in casual slacks and a polo shirt...
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby tletter » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:24 pm

pattyandmax wrote:several people have hinted that dress on board is a bit more dressy than adventure gear

This was not my experience with the exception of the wedding party during the shipboard wedding in Antarctica. Perhaps you are planning a wedding :)
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby jam3056 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:33 pm

Pattyandmax - There were a couple of people in nicer pants, but honestly, most of the people were wearing adventure clothing the whole time. There were a few pairs of jeans. I was happy to have a pair of stretchy lounging pants for hanging out in; the hi-tech clothing got old after a while. The dress code was nowhere near what it is on a cruise ship. I think you should wear whatever you are comfortable in.
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby smartartz » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:08 am

I too was on this trip and I have to say that it was AMAZING ... the entire crew were very friendly and professional and worked fabulously together to give us a fantastic experience. I'm still blown away by the slide show at the end... FANTASTIC!!

Some great advice from jam3056 but I have some slightly different views - I never turned on my Kindle the entire trip as I found plenty to see and do. As for seasickness medication, I only took some on the initial Drake Passage trip so it just proves that everyone is different. Gloves - I took waterproof outers and two sets of liners (one woollen) which worked really well for me. I took a monopod (on advice of a previous traveller) and didn't use it at all so would only recommend one if you have one of those hugely expensive and cumbersome zoom lenses. I would definitely recommend taking ski pants if you're doing the Antarctic Circle, those few extra degrees south make a big difference to the temperature!

As for clothing for dinner - whatever you feel comfortable in as most people were VERY casual and one guy wore shorts for most of the trip :lol: While the weather hampered a few landings it is to be expected in such an unpredictable climate and the crew usually found alternatives. Besides we were SO lucky with that 45 minute disply by three humpback whales and the only ship to see an emperor penguin this season :mrgreen:
...if you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much room!
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Re: What to take with you to Antarctica

Postby jen_the_rockhopper » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:30 pm

haha i can see myself in shorts on board since i am always melting from heat :lol:

is lugging a computer really worth it for pics or would extra memory cards be good enough? perhaps an external drive? I just dunno...honestly I have never flown or been out of country before so I am clueless on how much I will be able to bring or how to get stuff through customs and all that lovely stufff. I thought just dealing with my nikkon will be fun enough (and hopefully a GoPro for kayaking too :mrgreen: )
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