United States Of America
Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”
Mary's Trip Date:
12th Feb - 13th Mar 2020
Mary's Ship:Ocean Endeavour
What was your most memorable moment?
Our zodiac boat landed on St Andrews Bay in South Georgia Island. I was in pure awe as we walked among king penguins who seemed to share the same curiosity about us. I snapped countless and countless of pictures documenting, video recording every memory. We continued to walk until we reached the beginning of this dense colony, the second largest in South Georgia Island, where we found ourselves standing in front of hundreds of thousands of king penguins, their vibrating calls echoing through the valley, as giant albatrosses swooped down towering green mountain peaks above us creating a shadow directly over us. My boyfriend insisted, "Put the camera down. Just for 10 seconds." It was difficult to this, but as soon as I did, tears came running. This is Jurassic Park.
Which of the following best describes your adventure?
On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?
10 out of 10
Tell us about the wildlife
We saw more wildlife than we anticipated and even developed newfound interests in whales and birds that we didn't have prior to this adventure. Nothing could've prepared us for what we experienced in South Georgia Island among the insane amount of penguins and seals, although we did hope to see some Adelies or more penguins in the Antarctic peninsula but it was much too late for the season. I wish I knew that in March, there are really just a handful of penguins left in the peninsula.
Tell us about Zodiac excursions
The zodiac boats were a lot of fun! They were our adventure vehicles and provided an intimate view of the animals in the water. A good tip I would recommend for future travelers is that ski pants or snowboarding pants are usually not truly waterproof and we found out about this the hard way. The saving grace is that the ship's boutique actually offered great prices for gear.
Tell us about the expedition team
The expedition team made this journey exponentially remarkable. We were truly inspired by Jean Pennycook, the ornithologist, whose passion is so infectious we ended up standing in harsh winds and cold weather in the decks to enjoy viewing the birds from the ship's decks. Truly, her life is an inspiration and our lives have changed simply because of how passionate she is about birds. Jim (marine biologist), Daven, Francoise, Federico, and Julian were amazing guides who we shared pespective-shattering conversations with. And of course, our leader Laurie is remarkable in helping navigate us through this memorable experience.
Tell us about the Ocean Endeavour
The boat is definitely on the old side, as its set to retire very soon, but our cabin that was upgraded was roomier than we thought! Overall the ship was very clean. The layout of the lecture room is not ideal but it's not something Swoop can change now. The food was phenomenal -- like a fancy restaurant every meal. Seriously, the crew on our boat was masters of hospitality and created such a warm, friendly atmosphere that made it so hard to leave after 21 days together.
Tell us about the Paddle Boarding
We really thought it would be magical to paddle board among the icebergs but I later learned that we're actually not supposed to be paddling near any bergs for safety reasons. Prior to the journey, we were not aware that joining a paddle excursion would mean that we're trading our time on land for paddling. For us, this meant that we missed on an incredible opportunity to be among gentoo penguin chicks in one of the landing sites. The rest of the travelers were able visit this site for an hour and a half while we spent the majority of that time waddling in the waters. While this is an enjoyable activity on its own right, on hindsight, there is no way I wouldve traded it for this rare opportunity to be with up and close with penguins chicks. We only had about 15 minutes left at that site but we were FREEZING after paddling that we couldnt enjoy it. The gear for paddling is not sufficient for landing or cruising - it's really just a wetsuit - so I was particularly frozen and miserable that day. Our guide was awesome but I wouldnt to pay for any paddling boarding excursion at all.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Antarctica?
Some helpful tips for future travelers: for those keen on photography, suggest renting a zoom lens instead of buying. Also, given the weather in Antarctica, a rain cover for lens was very helpful. Ski pants are not waterproof. Baklavas are life savers. So are sunscreen, REALLY good face and hand moisturizers. Hydrate after excursions because there are no restrooms in Antarctica.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
No picture couldve prepared us for what awaited in Antarctica. It is surreal to see a place untouched after hundreds or thousands of years - to see a place on Earth so pristine, so majestic, and so raw. We were able to witness the circle of life up close - to see skuas eating penguins right next to other penguins. Here, it is so apparent that even if you're vegan, or vegetarian, there is a balance to this world. In the city, we get so caught up on one-sided arguments why eating meat is bad, but in the animal kingdom, there is an order to this madness.
Do you have any recommendations for Swoop, or feedback about the team?
I suppose also giving us a realistic expectation of what wildlife is most likely to be there wouldve been really helpful. Otherwise, thank you for helping this dream a reality and either way, this adventure changed our lives.