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Authored by Marnie Ogg

 

In Antarctica, Mother Nature controls the outcomes – not the marketing department; not the Cruise Company or the Captain; not even the hopes and expectations of paying guests.

It is hard to count the many heart-opening moments we’ve shared on the #IslandSky2023 and almost impossible to relay how life-changing this has been, or the ripple effect it will inspire. Our adventures in Antarctica have involved a mix of landings, zodiac cruises, and ship cruises, and have incorporated a research station, plenty of penguins and elephant seals, incredible icebergs, and even a post office. None of them inferior to another, all of them fabulous, and all building on the next. 

As someone with more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry, leading groups around the world on science expeditions, the planning for such a rich experience was of great interest to me. Our Antarctic program plans commenced in July with ‘Derby Day.’ On this day, all landing spots are opened by IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) allowing the organisers of the 75,000+ people visiting Antarctica to bid and create a basic program for the following season. Elements such as weather (snow, fog, wind, high swells), other cruise ships, and the ability to navigate around ice and icebergs, will most likely significantly change the program between Derby Day and the actual day of the activity. So much so, that cruise companies are becoming reluctant to advertise a precise itinerary, posting an overview instead. This essentially transitions passengers from tourists to expeditioners. So, what’s the difference?

An Expedition involves exploring an unknown or remote area and can be challenging in nature, requiring participants to overcome obstacles and push themselves to their physical and mental limits.

A tour is a guided trip typically designed for leisure or educational purposes, often including visits to popular tourist attractions, historical sites, or cultural events, and may involve activities such as sightseeing, shopping, or dining. 

And what is an expeditioner’s mindset? 

  • Not getting stuck on the destination, it is a journey. Every day is an adventure!
  • Letting go of expectations, the need to control an environment, unexpected conditions, the desire to know the outcomes. It will work out.
  • Trusting the talent and experience of the Leaders. They deeply know and love this space. They will come up with the best plan for the day.
  • Knowing that Mother Nature has the last say.

Photo Credit: Jen Martin

 

Antarctica is an extraordinary destination. It is unlike any place in the world, and one that will deeply change the heart and soul of everyone who visits. However, and most importantly, it is this expedition mindset and our reactions to this unique and challenging space that will build the resilience, the qualities and the capabilities required by today’s Climate Change Leaders.