If you’re saving up for that bucket-list odyssey to Antarctica, this is surely the way to do it. Over the course of this winter and next, Silversea Expeditions will host four Shackleton Centenary Voyages inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s storied trip aboard the Endurance 100 years ago. In 1915, during an exploratory mission, the Endurance became trapped between two ice floes just 200 miles from Antarctica’s mainland. After 10 months of waiting it out, the crew were forced to abandon ship and, led by Shackleton, embarked on a legendary journey over a desolate land of ice and sea to safety.
Each of the epic 18-day trips aboard the Silver Explorer departs from Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of Argentina, bound for the Antarctica Peninsula. Rooms themselves are luxurious oases, and personal butlers are on call to deliver a hearty breakfast or fine wines and spirits whenever the mood strikes. But you’ll be hard-pressed to leave the deck: the route passes by the West Falkland Islands, home to Magellanic penguins, migratory birds, and rookeries of rockhoppers. During excursions by Zodiac over the frigid waters, you might spot pods of humpback whales or fur and elephant seals; up above, albatrosses and petrels swoop overhead. After a pit stop in Port Stanley, with its brightly painted houses and 1800s cathedral, it’s on to the island of South Georgia, where the group retraces the last few miles of Shackleton’s walk from Fortuna Bay to the abandoned whaling station of Stromness, and then to Grytviken, the explorer’s final resting place.
A special exhibition on board, put together by the Royal Geographical Society, showcases original copies of artifacts and images taken during the voyage by on-deck photographer Frank Hurley. Are you the ultimate fan? Extend the journey to London, where Silversea will grant VIP access to “The Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley” at the Royal Geographical Society’s headquarters in Chelsea. And cross that off the bucket list, while you’re at it.
Adrenaline Scale = ***
* Child’s play.
** You’ll break a sweat.
*** Heart-pumping happiness!
**** Thrill junkie, much?
***** Balls to the wall, envy-inducing, nutso.