Sitting indoors in the heat of the Middle East summer you can not help thinking about ways to cool down. But Antarctica in the winter months of November to February is actually in its warmest summer period and this is the best time of year to visit this vast lost continent.
Emirates Airlines new service to Sao Paolo starts in October just in time to radically improve access by air from the Gulf to the point where luxury cruise liner MV Discovery embarks for Antarctica on a series of voyages.
This is no Russian ice-breaker with rough accommodation but a genuine 20,000 tonne cruise ship with 350 cabins, full air-conditioning, swimming pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, gymnasium, gourmet restaurants, theatres, medical clinic, beauty saloon, wireless Internet access and satellite TV.
Choose the owner’s cabin or a junior suite on the Promenade Deck for the best accommodation on board. Cabins on the Bridge and Promenade Decks have a bath or shower and all have a hairdryer and personal safe. Outside cabins have picture windows, and guests in premier cabins receive bathrobes and slippers, as well as fruit and a bottle of champagne.
The Antarctic cruise season runs from November to February with embarkation from Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires or the southern-most tip of South America. MV Discovery then heads to the British territories of The Falklands and South Georgia, and on to Antarctica which belongs to nobody except the penguins.
As the online brochure seductively suggests, ‘Colonies of sharp-suited penguins seem to reflect the same elegance as shoppers on a Buenos Aires avenue. Tea on a tiny private island in the Falklands, tales of clippers seeking shelter from stormy waters, and mountain ranges once scaled by Shackleton in a desperate rescue bid all form part of this fascinating and surprising journey bound for some of the world’s most ethereal landscapes.’
Landings are made from zodiac inflatable boats so you need to be in reasonable physical shape to actually be able to stand on Antarctica and meet the penguins. You also get to see a beautiful white landscape and aquatic scenery that few tourists have experienced, without having to compromise on creature comforts.
Indeed, Antarctica certainly is about as far away from the heat of the Gulf Oil States as you can imagine, and for a luxury travel adventure the MV Discovery is in something of a class of its own.