Top 4 Reasons Antarctic Expeditions Make the Best Holiday Voyages

September 7, 2016 Doug O'Neill

Have you started your holiday gift shopping yet? Studies show that many of us are increasingly looking for gifts that have more meaning rather than purchasing typical off-the-shelf products favoring experiences with loved ones rather than consumer goods. Perhaps it’s time to think outside the proverbial gift box to find a personally rewarding and exciting way to celebrate.

Perhaps you'll remember this upcoming holiday season as the one you spent on an Antarctic expedition.

.Zodiac Cruising Antarctica

Skip last-minute lineups at the mall and you could be following in the footsteps of celebrated polar explorers like Ernest Shackleton or Robert Scott. Instead of fighting for parking, you could be taking a Zodiac ride to view whales, seals and penguins. Would you rather be running the gauntlet of the checkout line or hiking the shores of black volcanic sand, bearing witness to the spectacle of a leopard seal on the hunt for penguins?

When you hear “holiday voyage,” your mind might conjure up large cruise ships packed with families heading off to one tropical island or another. But this isn't always the case. Here are some reasons Antarctic expeditions make fantastic holiday getaways.

1. You’ll Be in Great Company

Perhaps you think of Antarctica as barren and desolate. So not the case. The 7th continent is teeming with wildlife, and once you start hiking, walking or Zodiac cruising, you’ll have the chance to see some of the planet’s most fascinating species in their natural environment.



Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are common in the South Shetland Islands. It’s not unusual to find yourself within close range of a colony of chattering, breeding and feeding penguins and their young. At some landing sites, you’ll also see Weddell, fur and leopard seals basking  on beaches.

Everyone remembers the excitement of their first Zodiac cruise – and as you approach the Antarctic Peninsula, your chances of seeing whales increases. Nothing is more thrilling than watching these marvelous creatures at water level.

2. Holiday Voyages Are an International Celebration

Traveling with Quark Expeditions is truly an international affair. Each year, travelers from more than 50 countries join us on adventures in some of the most remote, far-off regions in the world.

Quark team & Passengers- Christmas

A holiday vacation on board a polar expedition is a festive, celebratory affair. Each traveler has the opportunity to share their unique customs, beliefs and traditions with the rest of the group. A few seasons ago, for example, Ocean Endeavour passengers spent their time on the voyage between Ushuaia and the Antarctic Peninsula crafting door decorations and ornaments, writing festive poems and songs, and decorating "human holiday trees."

This exposure to new people and different experiences is a big part of what makes long-haul travel so personally rewarding. New friendships and lifelong bonds are cultivated on board, where each passenger has a completely novel and unique experience to share  with like-minded adventurers.

This is life unscripted, where openness to new experiences and the unpredictable nature of your journey have the power to elicit wonder and sheer joy. Too often absent from our everyday lives, these powerful emotional experiences are part of everyday life on an Antarctic voyage – especially during the festive season, which, for some, is the most magical time of the year.

3. An Antarctic Expedition Is a Generous Gift

A recent Ipsos Reid poll found that a staggering 89 per cent of North Americans feel the holiday season has become too commercial. An Antarctic expedition, which invites travelers to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a life-transforming experience, is a gift with long-lasting benefits.

Imagine waking up and dressing in layers of soft merino wool instead of your old sweats. Then, rather than clunking down the stairs to your familiar chair, you enjoy a full breakfast with new friends (while enjoying incredible views of the polar landscape) and head to your awaiting Zodiac. You’re off to cruise a sheltered harbor, its glass-like water and craggy backdrop of snow-covered rock the perfect setting for a grand performance: a pod of humpback whales breaching and slapping their tails and fins.

Humpback Whale & Quark Passengers

December voyages offer incredible adventure opportunities. You might find yourself stand-up paddleboarding between bits of iceberg, an experience akin to walking on these pristine, frigid waters.

Exploring on foot can lead to all kinds of encounters, perhaps a colony of curious penguins – or a leopard seal on the hunt.

That first glimpse of the Antarctic Peninsula as you approach by sea has been described by many as a transformational and, at times, an emotionally-charged experience. Passengers gather on deck or in the lounge to take in the spectacle of the peninsula looming large in front of them. 

4.  December Voyages Offer Exceptional Value

Check out our Antarctic December 2019 itineraries to see where you might end up celebrating the holidays and which experience best meets your trip goals. 

To determine which voyage is best suited to fulfill your polar travel expectations, contact one of our experienced Polar Travel Advisers. Call 1.888.892.0073 today or contact us online to begin planning your ultimate holiday season adventure!


About the Author

Doug O'Neill

A love of nature and writing has enabled Doug O'Neill to visit almost 50 countries around the world—and to immerse himself in some of the most incredible nature settings. Doug's role as Brand Copywriter at Quark Expeditions has been a natural step on a journey that started with a degree in Environmental Studies and later a Certificate in Journalism. When not travelling, Doug is usually hiking: he's a certified hike leader with Hike Ontario and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. He's the co-author of a nature book, “110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” published by Firefly Books in 2019. Says Doug: "Few destinations rival the Polar Regions—not just for the staggering beauty and incredible wildlife, but for the transformative experiences that occur the moment you set foot in the most remote parts of the world."

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