We boarded the G Expedition ship around 4pm on November 24th. It was very exciting to finally start the journey to Falkland Islands with the ultimate destination Antarctica. The trip details are as follows:
The G Expedition is a 130 person (excluding staff and crew) ship designed to navigate through the waters quickly. It is a converted car/passenger ferry though one cant tell from being on the ship (unless you are an expert in these matters). I had originally booked the cheapest possible accommodation (4 bed bunk) but I was upgraded to a twin bed cabin room. It was quite an upgrade. I was also given a bottle of wine by G adventures for being a good customer. It kicked off the trip on a positive note.
Just to digress a bit. Since that trip, I have travelled with G adventures numerous times (probably a total of 10 trips) and each experience has been wonderful and positive. I would highly recommend G Adventures .
For folks wishing to go to Antarctica, the fact remains that this is an expensive trip. I wanted this specific trip and I had paid upfront by booking early. It cost me £9000 for the entire 21 day duration. If you only wish to go to Antarctica and have a few days to spare then it is better to go to Ushuaia and find a last minute deal. You could get one at as low as $4000: though you have to be quite lucky.
My room mate was a 77 year old Australian grand dad: Murray. We got along spectacularly well. We both had the same sense of humour and we both were looking to enjoy whatever experience was in store. One lesson you learn is that you must go with the flow when you travel. More often than not, you will experience what you travelled for. The checklist will work but sometimes things can be different and without any flexibility, an experience can be disastrous. And to his credit, he was very active for his age doing almost all the hikes. If I can be as active as him at 77 (well assuming I can live that long), then I would be quite proud of myself.
Our crew was fantastic. All of them were from the Philippines. I have had made a lot of acquaintances in the past from this country and this is indeed true: Every single person is warm and very welcoming. While one can say that a ship crew has to be welcoming as it is their job, I know for these folks it was their nature to be welcoming crew or not. They did such a great job. I enjoyed their company very much, getting to know a few of them more. In addition, we had a fantastic team of staff representing G adventures. We had a great mix of scientists, knowledgeable guides, bird specialists, conservation enthusiasts and task specialists such as photography, kayaking, music etc. They took our experience to another level with a fantastic mix of visual experiences, hikes, wildlife tracking, lectures, scientific experiments and entertainment.
Not to be forgotten, we also had a great mix of passengers. Most folks are retirees but almost all folks are eager to learn, are sufficiently knowledgeable and are always willing to share their experience and wisdom. It is something that I have consistently experienced when I have had older folks in my travels. Among our passengers, we had a super star. Unknown to almost everyone, Geoff is indeed a superstar. He was part of the team which were the first to reach North Pole without any re-supply. Today he is a conservationist based in Alaska, well integrated into the local Inuit community.
The food supplied was amazing. We had an all you can eat buffet every lunch and a 3 course meal every dinner. We had entertainment on board: music every evening with the crew band performing some of the international hits. In addition, we watched a few documentaries and Happy feet.
It was a fantastic 21 day trip and as we continued, I learned about Ernest Shackleton and his endurance. I learned more about our planet. I felt completely insignificant and in complete awe in South Orkney. I felt so happy to see wildlife in their element, relatively undisturbed by man. Then we learned about plastic in oceans, pollution by man, fishing in these waters by man and the constant struggle of the interplay between man and nature.
I will provide more details on Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica in the new few posts. Thanks for reading.