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Spinning Yarn on an Antarctica Cruise is Quite Unique

Spinning Yarn|Nat GeogThe past few years, over 30 ships have carried tourists into Antarctic waters.
There are passenger ships of a variety of sizes that cruise to Antarctica and the choice of ship can make a big difference to your journey and experiences.

Some of the larger cruise ships do not allow passengers to go ashore in Antarctica. They travel to destinations in Western Antarctica such as the Weddell Sea that borders the peninsula, and the Ross Sea. Theses cruise ships generally depart from Ushuaia in Argentina, and Punta Arenas in Chile.

Most anchor in the harbor of Port Stanley, the capital city of the Falklands, sometimes also including South Georgia, and allow passengers to go ashore. There are cruises that leave from New Zealand, which visit the opposite side of the white continent.

The smaller cruise ships use zodiac boats to ferry tourists from ship to shore in small groups. Shore excursion landings are now limited to no more than 100 individuals at a time; one guide must be provided for every 20 travelers.

All cruise ships are ice strengthened, but the ice breakers are able to tour regions where the other ice-strengthened cruise ships cannot pass, giving tourists Spinning Yarn|Helicopterunique experiences, such as viewing isolated Emperor Penguin rookeries. These cruise ships often carry helicopters onboard for sightseeing flights and shore landings.

The Summer of 2011 proved to be a bumper season for sea ice. (Gosh, should I say "bumper"?). The first three tourist ships this season were halted in their tracks, unable to penetrate the unseasonally large amount of Sea Ice. All three ships had to turn back. In 1911, Sir Douglas Mawson had thought that he might have to turn back also...

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