Vacation on Location: Love the Movie? Make the Scene. by Melanie Reffes FOR THE ULTIMATE (holiday), Toronto-based Fathom Expeditions will take you on your own March of the Penguins with a tour of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica where those Emperor penguins roam free. It’s not precisely where the film was shot, but it’s as close as you’ll get without being a scientist or a filmmaker.
“Prior to the film, Antarctica existed only in people’s imaginations,” said expeditions president Dave German. “It has been the best-kept travel secret for years and thanks to the movie, it’s coming to the forefront.”
Los Angeles Times - Tours and Cruises Section
They march, you cruise. by Maggie Barnett
SEE more than emperor penguins on a voyage to Antarctica that begins Feb. 7.
The 12-night cruise, aboard the 98-passenger expedition ship Explorer, will travel through the narrow channels of Antarctica during the peak wildlife season, sailing the Weddell Sea, Antarctic Sound and the Danco Coast.
"It's a rarity to see all three sides of the Antarctic peninsula," said Dave German of Fathom Expeditions. The group also will visit Elephant Island, where a large group of penguins was sighted last year, he said. Participants can expect to see orca, minke and humpback whales.
Besides wildlife viewing, the cruise will feature photography seminars, day hikes and discussions of the area's natural history with explorer Dave Hahn.
Participants go ashore on inflatable rafts to see penguins, climb extinct volcanoes and retrace parts of the routes of Ernest Shackleton's historic expeditions in the early 20th century.
At the end of each day participants sit down to a good meal and some Argentine wines, German said. "You don't need to rough it too much."
Cost: $4,595 to $7,995 ($2,300 to $4,000 single surcharge) depending on cabin, including accommodations on board; hotel in Ushuaia, Argentina; meals, group activities and excursions; port dues and taxes; and landing fees. International airfare and gratuities are not included.
ANTARCTICA - Trip to the bottom of the world by Maggie Barnett
VOYAGE to the bottom of the globe on a 13-night cruise that retraces some of the route of British Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The ice-rated 90-passenger MV Explorer departs Jan. 27, during the Antarctic summer. Dave German will lead the group on daily landings, including stops on the icebergs near Joinville Island, Crystal Sound and Elephant Island. "We visit the Danger Islands, where the whole sea is alive with penguins jumping around," said German, president of Fathom Expeditions.
Participants of all ability levels can take guided hikes on a volcano, join motorboat whale-watching excursions, walk the beaches or take history, biology or photography seminars.
Cost: $4,995 per person, double occupancy ($2,500 single surcharge); includes all meals, accommodations, excursions, guides, seminars, permits and landing fees. Airfares to Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, Argentina, are not included.
Contact: Fathom Expeditions Inc., Toronto, Canada; 1-587-349-4919 or http://www.fathomexpeditions.com
COVER STORY by Betsy Model
The Last Great Wilderness: That's a popular description of Antarctica…Why, then, are so many people signing up for 10- to 20-day expeditions to this land of…countless creatures that appear permanently dressed in tuxedoes? Maybe it’s because such a trip, is, indeed, a journey of a lifetime.
During one beach outing, I chose to sit quietly on a rock outcropping located some distance from a rookery of penguins…Within minutes, I was surrounded by more than 40 of the creatures whose advancement on my sitting place narrowed to 10 feet then five and then, finally, zero as a couple of penguins literally walked over my snow boots…Orca whales have been known to surface within 100 feet of a zodiac or, in my case, 10 feet of the zodiac. Alternately driving deep and then surfacing to blow water, a pod of four Orcas played in the water near us for a period of time and then, as our guide quietly moved us away from their antics, two adult whales showed a baby what how to hunt.
(Fathom Expeditions’ ships) offer warm and thoroughly comfortable – if not luxurious – accommodations. Guest quarters range from shared “bunk-style” accommodations for singles and those looking for a shipboard roommate to two-room “suites” that include a plainly furnished outer room separate from a sleeping area and private bath. According to Fathom officials, their Antarctic trips are a ‘balance of relaxation and exploration, adventure and comfort, education and experience.’
My own single room was surprisingly comfortable, with a built-in full size bed, fold-out couch, small desk, cabinets appropriate for personal belongings…
One thing that no one needs to worry about is hunger. With the exception of breakfast meals and the first afternoon’s buffet, all other meal are individually served, with guests being offered a choice of main course entrees. Lamb, seafood, and Argentina’s famous beef prepared beautifully by an attentive crew, who also take care to accommodate special dietary needs reported in advance.
An on-board bar and lounge provides not only a nightly gathering spot for those wishing to socialize, but also a fine, if select, number of wines, beer and spirits. Outside of the dining room, there’s no better place on ship to marvel at the mix of characters who’ve upended their live all across the globe so they could spend two weeks traveling to the ends of the earth.
DETAILS: Trips to Antarctica with Fathom Expeditions cost from about $5,000 to $11,000 per person, not including personal transportation to point of departure and the return home. For more information, call 1-587-349-49196, or visit www.fathomexpeditions.com
All I want for christmas is a ONE WAY TICKET by Betsy Model
But if that’s not possible and work or family beckons your return, you can still skip town on your own, with a partner or the entire family to one of these 12 fabulous destinations.
HOLIDAY ON ICE
FORGET STAR TREK…At 5.5 million square miles and roughly one-and-a-half times the size of the United Stated, Antarctica is truly the last frontier and only a lucky few ever get the chance to see her in all her glory.
In times of world crisis, Antarctica is a sort of haven; owned by no single country but governed by a treaty and shared by scientific research crew from all over the globe, the region remains gleamingly white and populated by the kinds of wildlife that most of us only see on National Geographic specials. Fathom Expeditions, a Canadian-based adventure travel company, provides guests with an unparalleled opportunity for first-hand observation of ice bergs, snow caves and the antics of penguins, whales, seals and a host of other wildlife that make themselves at home in this icy wonderland.
…if the cabins aren’t as posh as luxury cruise ships, you won’t mind after spending a day in Zodiac boats among sea lions and floating ice while still being able to savor private hot showers, good food (prepared by a delightfully international crew) and companionship among a ship of guests as adventurous as you are. In a quick tally one evening of guests on board a particular trip, sixteen countries were represented among the crew and guests with eleven different languages being spoken at any given time.
About that penguin time: Because ships only have access a few months out of the year and there are quotas on the number of visitors allowed to visit each season, this is one trip worth planning in advance and waiting for.
On and Off the Beaten Track: A travelers life list by Patricia Schultz ANTARCTICA
Though dozens of cruise ships (have plied) these frigid waters, the first and best of the seaborne expeditions ships is the Explorer, the "little red ship" that invented Antarctic cruising. This shallow-drafted breaker carries a veteran crew that includes geologists, zoologists, polar explorers, historians, ecologists, and oceanographers who help bring the incredible within reach.
Reliving Shackleton's triumph by Rob Reader
ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION RE-ENACTS A MOMENTOUS EVENT IN EXPLORATION HISTORY
The enormousness and intensity of the Antarctic experience makes days seem like weeks. Only six days into our expedition tracing the legendary route of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, I marvelled that we had already spotted more than 30 species of wildlife, all of them unique to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
The eighth day was magical…There we were, at the point of origin of Shackleton's epic voyage to South Georgia Island, on the largest of the ship's lifeboats, the James Caird, with conditions that would allow us to launch our own copy of the Caird.
Fathom Expedition's Dave German, our expedition leader, could hardly contain his excitement. "This is huge!" he shouted as we swung the 22-foot wooden boat over the side of the ship and made preparations to row it ashore..At the helm was Bob Wallace, a captain and master boat builder who played Shackleton in the recent IMAX film, Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. As he rowed our Caird ashore, we realized with tremendous awe that we were the only people to have re-enacted the momentous landing of the James Caird at Point Wild since Shackleton and his men reached here 87 years earlier.
…It seemed unbelievable to me that with all we had seen and done, and the lifelong dreams that we had already realized, better than half of our voyage still lay ahead…We press forward in the true, perservering spirit of the indefatigable explorer.
For more information and updates on Fathom Expedition's Spirit of Shackleton expeditions, visit www.fathomexpeditions.com
Rob Reader is a polar historian and veteran of more than 60 Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
The 25 Greatest Adventure Trips In The World by Jim Benning ANTARCTICA
Once the preserve of explorers and scientists, Antarctica has been accessible to ship-based tourists since the 1960s. For its new trip, Fathom Expeditions decided to retain the safety and, yes, the warm bunks and food of a converted research vessel while ratcheting up the Antarctic adventure quotient with snow hikes, glacier travel, and geographic exploration. Using the ship as a base, expeditioners will make forays on the Antarctic peninsula…
WHY THIS TRIP: Firsts and mapping uncharted areas
BONUS POINTS: Guests Lecturer Conrad Anker will talk about his pioneering Antarctic climbs. And if he decides to go hiking, you may find yourself sharing a walk with a mountaineering superstar.
Tracing the Spirit of Shackleton by Bruce Kirkby
A CANADIAN OUTFITTER is giving travellers the rare opportunity to explore Antarctica as the legendary polar explorer once did.
...no amount of reading or study can compare to the experience of actually making the long voyage to Antarctica and sailing in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s wake. At least this is what David German thinks... Two years ago, German was selected as the expedition leader for the IMAX crew. The production team he oversaw spent 80 days retracing Shackleton’s odyssey through the polar seas, capturing footage amidst shifting pack ice and along windrakes shorelines.... German rates the IMAX team’s re-enactment of Shackleton’s arrival at Elephant Island as one of the greatest Antarctic moments... I want to facilitate ‘life experiences’ for others, he [Dave German] says. Journeys to the Antarctic are so powerful that it is not unusual to see travellers crying tears of joy. Everyone returns changed, and they will carry a part of the Antarctic with them for the rest of their lives…
German crams the expeditions with opportunities to learn and explore. Experts are always on board to share their knowledge of history, photography, science, geography, adventure, leadership and the environment... The upcoming expedition will retrace the route of the famous explorer, from the icepack of the Weddell Sea to the rocky shores of Elephant Island, where they first landed, and onward to South Georgia Island and its waling station at Stromness, where Shackleton at last found help for his stranded crew. It will be the first ever adventure cruise to offer opportunity to hike inland on both South Georgia and the Antarctic continent... This year we will be attempting a few landings on islands I know for a fact that no other Antarctic charter has ever stopped at. Perhaps a few sealers have been there, but that’s it. Otherwise they are unexplored.
Cruising’s Little Trend by Rebecca Ciletti
Big adventures come in small-ship packages.
FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, adventure-cruising favors small ships (the ideal vessel takes no more than 100 passengers; some carry as few as two or three dozen) that explore destinations – via small ports, narrow inlets, and shallow waters – which are inaccessible to larger boats or would require grueling land travel. Not that adventure ships are fampus for luxury. Some are cozy to a fault, but all deliver front-row seats for viewing wilderness and wildlife.
The boom in adventure Travel is fueled at least in part by a change in the typical cruiser. “Not only are people looking for more active vacations, but the average age of passengers keeps getting lower and lower. It used to be in the sixties; now it’s in the forties,” says Steven Hirshan, the coordinator of the Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance…
…Both new and established lines are jumping aboard the expedition-cruising trend: In December (2001), Toronto’s Fathom Expeditions will have its inaugural voyage [as a newly formed company by veteran Antarctic guide, Dave German] to Antarctica…
Adventure on Board
By: Steve O’Donnell
…By good fortune…I chose to sail on the Explorer, a vessel that had virtually changed expeditionary cruising and, from my partisan perspective, is still the one to beat for high-quality, hands-on exploration by the Average Joe…the Explorer has sent an impressive series of records for first landings and farthest-south sailings of any ship in Antarctic waters (except for icebreakers, and try getting a nice chardonnay on an icebreaker). The Explorer’s hull is ice-reinforced, which, in her off-season career sailing up the Amazon, presumably prevents excessive gnawing by ambitious piranhas.
Cruising the coast of Antarctica, the Explorer’s relatively small size is a huge advantage, allowing her to get closer to shore and into harbours than larger ships could not. And with no more than a hundred passengers and ten commando-swift Zodiac boats, sending interested groups ashore in never-ending shifts doesn’t take all day, so the Explorer can visit multiple sites. I came to take for granted the Little Red Ship’s flexibility in operations…
In Shackleton’s Steps, in Style by Jane L. Levere
…INTEREST IN THE [Antarctic] region has been piqued by the rekindled fame of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the rugged explorer who in late 1914 set out on a ship called the Endurance on an ill-fated Antarctic expedition…
Shackleton’s journey is chronicled in an exhibit created by the American Museum of Nature History that is touring the United States through 2003; it is also the basis of several books. An IMAX film*, “Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure,” is being released around the country…
To follow in at least some of Shackleton’s footsteps, travelers can chooses among a wide variety of cruise ships and tour operators…companies like Fathom Expeditions (who) lease Antarctic cruisers and offer their own itineraries with their own staff.
*Note: Dave German, president of Fathom Expeditions, was the expedition leader for the IMAX film, Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure
Follow in explorer’s footsteps: Antarctica with experts. by Arline Bleecker
Mr. (Dave) German, a 33 year-old Toronto native who says he gets cabin fever at home, has journeyed to Antarctica more than 40 times. He calls Fathom Expeditions a “boutique” small-ship company that offers once-in-a-lifetime Antarctic adventures…and Mr. German will accompany all of them.
The company crafts each trip to combine amenities with adventure, exploration and education. It designs departures to accommodate the specific interests of the groups Mr. German will lead – whether they are made up of naturalists, climbers, skiers, photographers or just have a general interest in adventure and discovery…
The journeys emphasize visits to remote, unexplored regions in addition to more traditions White Continent sites. “Having led about 40 trips to the Antarctic, we know a lot of places that other companies don’t,” Mr. German says.“I am especially excited about following in the footsteps of the great explorer,”…
He knows from whence he speaks. Mr. German is a celebrity of sorts. Inspired by the deeds of Mr. Shackleton, whose epic story of survival in Antarctica spawned more than 30 books and a recent IMAX film, Mr. German planned and executed a 30-day unsupported overland of South Georgia Island in 1998. Last year, he was expedition leader on the two 35-day IMAX shoots that documented and re-enacted Mr. Shackleton’s amazing story. Mr. German appears four times in the film, Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure…Fathom plans three voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula this year (2001) and next (2002)… starting rates range from US $4,670 to US $5,370 excluding air fare.
For more information, call Fathom Expeditions at 1-587-349-4919.
TERRA AUSTRALIS by Martin Hollander
ONCE UPON A TIME, Antarctica was a notion rather than a known continent and named Terra Australis Incognita (Unknown Southern Land). A new "boutique expeditions" company run by old hands - Fathom Expeditions of Toronto - is operating three two-week excursions direct to the Antarctic Peninsula. Directed by David German, who was expedition leader during the making of the current IMAX movie about the 1914-16 Shackleton expedition, the (ship crosses) the notorious Drake Passage, one of the world's stormiest places during the Southern Hemisphere's winter. Then it stops for shore visits at the South Shetland Islands, Neko Harbor and Paradise Bay, threads its way through the awe-inspiring Lemaire Channel, and makes further stops, including one at the Vernadskiy Scientific Station.
Covered is just about everything except airfare to Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, the starting point. Participants must bring clothing appropriate for temperatures of 25 to 46 degrees and for Zodiac boat excursions.
Rediscovering Antarctica by Sara Wheeler
EVEN IF YOU HAVEN'T VENTURED below 60 degrees south lately, chances are you've at least browsed one of the 18-odd books devoted to polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, or caught wind of an Antarctic climbing trip, or met someone setting out for the Weddell Sea to gawk at penguins and icebergs. Long considered too cold, too boring, and just plain too far away, the Big White is now stepping into the adventure travel limelight. Which is to say, as fashionably extreme destinations go, Antarctica is hot.
Inspired in part by Shackleton—the most celebrated of Antarctic explorers—tourist, exploratory, and athletic activity at the bottom of the world surged last year and promises to keep increasing into the next. This November, the start of the Antarctic summer and therefore exploration season, at least 16 groups and individuals are scheduled to ski, trek, and sail across great expanses of virgin ice… "You pick what [walks and hikes] you want to do, and about nine of ten will be a first ascent or descent," says Dave German [of Fathom Expeditions], a Canadian expeditioner who has made 25 trips to the southernmost continent. "That gets people hungry...and it's as close as you can get to the explorers of old…