If visiting the 7 continents is a bucket list item, then you’ll eventually make your way to Antarctica. Curious to know what a day in Antarctica looks like? I’m sharing what my typical day looked like when I was onboard the Ocean Endeavor with Intrepid. I also published two other posts on the continent. Check out the general Antarctica guide, which includes a price breakdown, and this detailed packing list.
Before diving into what a typical day in Antarctica looks like, it’s imperative to know and understand that there is no such thing as a “typical” day. The weather changes so fast in the South Pole. There will be a tentative plan; however, it will change. That happened to us more times than we can count. At the end of the day, the crew’s priority is safety for everyone aboard the vessel.
The First Few Days
For context, I’ll explain what the first few days looked like for us. The day we sailed away we had a meeting with all the guests onboard. The crew introduced themselves and explained what to expect for the duration of the cruise. They emphasized the quickly changing weather conditions would change the projected plan most days. The layout of the ship was explained and people had the opportunity to ask questions.
To efficiently and quickly disembark during expeditions, we were divvied up into 6 different groups – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Those who signed up for cruise long programs were automatically assigned a group. In our case the kayakers were the green group and the photographers were the purple group. Since there were 60+ people in Kesi’s group, we were assigned either the red or blue group. Curious to know who Kesi is? Make sure to read this post.
The first few days consisted of crossing the Drake Passage, which is known as the most dangerous body of water to cross. Lucky for us, we experienced the ‘Drake Lake’ instead of the ‘Drake Shake’. I highly recommend being prepared for the ‘Drake Shake’ though and bringing seasickness medicine. Once we reached land, we were all excited to explore what the Great White Continent had to offer.
A Typical Day in Antarctica
Let’s break down a “typical” day in Antarctica. This will look different based on many factors including the expedition company and the weather. Once we reached Antarctica, our day tended to look like:
|Time of Day
|Yoga; Breakfast; Shopping
|Expedition – Antarctica Landing or Zodiac Cruise
|Relax; Tea Time; Lunch; Shopping
|Expedition – Antarctica Landing or Zodiac Cruise
|DeBrief of the Day in Antarctica; Projection of Next Day
Each morning, our cruise director’s announcement over the intercom gently woke us up. We headed to the dining room to eat breakfast and catch up with each other over coffee. Buffet-style breakfast proved to be the move as people could easily decide how much they needed to eat and how quickly they needed to move. Various juices were available, as well as coffee and tea could be requested via the staff.
The shop was also open for a brief time, providing an opportunity for passengers to purchase any last minute items needed for heading out that day.
After breakfast, we retreated back to our rooms to begin layering up for the adventure ahead. As we were given notice the day before and the day of the order of groups to be called, we knew how quickly needed to move. Thermals and mid-layers were donned; gloves, hats, and other accessories were packed; and cameras were grabbed.
Once we heard our group color called over the intercom, we made our way down to the mud room. Here our ship-borrowed boots and large jackets lived in dedicated lockers. We finished getting dressed before making it to the gangway.
Upon leaving the mudroom, we went down a series of stairs. We scanned our cruise badges and stepped into a liquid substance which cleaned the boots, decreasing the level of contamination on the continent. We boarded a Zodiac and we were on our way!
Cruising between icebergs and dodging the icy sprays of the Antarctic Ocean, we gazed in awe of the majestic landscape before us. Our expedition guide pointed out various animals and points of interest, sharing detailed information with us. On occasion, we would stop to get a closer look, providing an opportunity to stand and take pictures. We explored the area for about an hour before heading back to the main ship.
Once back onboard, we stepped back into the liquid substance, scanned our cruise cards, and headed to the mudroom. We shedded our outer and mid-layers, and counted our blessings if our base layers were still dry. We made our way. up the stairs where sometimes we would find hot chocolate, mulled wine, or warm bowls of soup waiting for us.
We hung out around the ship while waiting for everyone to make their way back. Then we ate lunch in the dining room, people sharing their experiences out on the Zodiacs. Lunch was buffet-style, with a variety of options.
After lunch, we waited for the groups to be called back to the mudroom. Whichever group did the Zodiac cruise in the morning was now doing an Antartica landing, and vice versa. The same process as the morning was conducted and before we knew it, we were back on the Zodiacs.
This time we headed to the shore, disembarking onto the snowy grounds of the Great White Continent. Our expedition team clearly marked the path we were to stay on and the safe distances we had to maintain from the animals (mostly penguins, but sometimes seals).
Trudging through the snow, stumbling every now and again, we couldn’t get enough of the penguins. Chatting amongst each other, waddling across the snow, and mating aggressively, the penguins captured our attention right away. Anytime a penguin approached, we tried to maintain a respectable distance.
Other times, there were buildings to explore. The old food tins and magazines seemed to stay in pristine conditions. It was incredible to set foot in a place that not many people have been to. I wish I could accurately capture in words the emotions of this experience.
Debrief of the Day
Wrapping up the expedition, we made our way back to the ship admiring the glaciers and icebergs along the way. Following the same procedure as the morning, we made it back to the mudroom and up the stairs. As we waited for everyone to make it back on the ship, we headed back to our rooms to change into more comfortable and dry clothes.
Once everyone arrived back onboard, we headed to the lounge. We received a recap of the day and got a debrief for the next day. Anyone participating in any programs (ie. the photography program, the day paddle program, the kayaking program, etc.) sometimes had to stay after for specific information about their program. Sometimes this took place after dinner, depending on what time the general recap and debrief finished.
Dinner was a chance to meet up with everyone again and hear about everyone’s adventures. Because of the different groups, people’s experiences were different. For example, one day some people had the amazing opportunity to see an emperor penguin, but I wasn’t there when s/he made an appearance. But I’m glad I got the chance to hear about their experience seeing the penguin. Or another time, some groups were able to witness an avalanche in person. Others had to be content hearing about it and seeing the video, which was still incredible.
Unlike breakfast and lunch, dinner was served to us. We received a menu every night with a variety of options for appetizers, entrees, sides, and dessert. It was possible to order as much as you wanted. When meetings took place after dinner, this style of eating could be stressful if the food wasn’t coming out fast enough. There was one time where a group of us had to take our dessert with us so we could make the camping meeting.
Once all the “business” of the evening was taken care of, the lounge turned into a space for having a good time. Board and card games were played; drinks were purchased and consumed; and good times were had. We partied til the wee hours of the morning, which honestly I surprised myself in doing. But when on a ship in Antarctica, you maximize all the time you have!
We had karaoke nights, dance parties, and even a talent show.
The Last Few Days
The last few days on the ship were bittersweet. Our time was coming to an end, but we wanted to prolong it as much as possible. We just saw one of the most beautiful places on Earth, that hadn’t been visited by people in the last two years. Lasting friendships developed over the course of the past week with people we didn’t know even know existed just a month before. An experience that is still hard to put into words bonded us like no other. We enjoyed the time we had by dancing, laughing, drinking, and vibing.
Thankfully, the Drake Passage was just as good to us on the way back. We definitely felt the rolls and swells of the ocean, but I know understand just how bad it truly could have been.
A Day in Antarctica
Like I noted multiple times throughout this post, there is no ‘typical day in Antarctica’. But if you’re trying to get a sense of what one would look like, I hope this post helped give you some clarity. If you have the chance to visit Antarctica, I wholeheartedly recommend. Although I haven’t visited every country or every continent, this experience is seriously second to none.
Have I convinced you to visit yet? Let me know in the comments! Have additional questions or thoughts to share? Be sure to leave those in the comments too.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read and support Life with Larissa.