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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?”

Lauren's Trip Date:

28th Jan - 9th Feb 2024

What was your most memorable moment?

My most memorable moments were experiencing wildlife that has absolutely no fear of humans. Penguins will walk right up to you! For their protection, you have to stay 5 meters away from all wildlife on land, including nests. However, if you're standing where a penguin wants to go, it has no qualms about waddling right past you! Seals will sleep on ice flows right next to zodiacs, whales will approach kayakers, and skuas and albatrosses will fly so close to you that you could almost touch them.

Which of the following best describes your adventure?

Life changing

On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 out of 10

On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your trip: Antarctic Peninsula Classic?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 out of 10

Were Swoop right to recommend Polar Latitudes?


Tell us about Zodiac excursions

The Zodiac excursions were extremely safe and enjoyable, but you definitely got a different experience depending on which guide was running your boat that day. For example, if you were lucky enough to get Scotty, you'd get extra time out because he would go farther than the others and get excited about showing us a unique feature or bird we hadn't seen before. Nate was excited by wildlife and would always find whales or seals sleeping on floes. Some of the guides were excited by calving glaciers, so we'd float around waiting for them to crack. Others weren't afraid to just floor it if there wasn't anything interesting around, just to give us a good thrill.

Tell us about the expedition team

Since the ship was so small, we got to know the expedition members well. Leonie and Santiago were hardcore to the max, which was great because I went to Antarctica to get the most out of everything. I wanted to camp, hike, kayak, and do every activity available, and they were up for all of it. Hannah was so excited and passionate about wildlife that it was contagious. She was always on deck with her binoculars eager to point something out, and you could ask her anything. Scotty would get so carried away by what he was showing us that his zodiac was sometimes the last to come in, and he always encouraged us to ask questions. He was incredibly likeable and even got excited looking at people's photos. Nate had a 6th sense for what passengers wanted to see, and made sure to keep everyone's spirits up when rough seas kept us circling the same area for several days.

Tell us about the Seaventure

It's such a small ship that paying for a "view" doesn't make sense. Book a cabin on the 4th floor! It's on the same level as the front desk and dining room, and it's where everyone lines up to get ready to leave the ship on outings. You will definitely want to be near the front of the line for meals and outings. Don't think of it like a Carnival cruise -- it took me 30 seconds to get from inside my room to outside the ship, and that's where the REAL views are. And you'll appreciate being down low during the Drake crossing! In case you still really want to book that luxury suite, keep in mind that the regular rooms on Seaventure are larger than what you'd get on a large cruise liner, and the higher decks have weird quirks. Deck 5 looks out on a promenade, so people are constantly walking past or camping out to take photos (on the plus side, you can walk outside to clean your windows if you want). Deck 6 isn't convenient to anything, and Deck 7 is worse because the 24 hour auditorium, gym, and kayaking center are there. If you pay for the luxury suites on the 7th floor, you'll have people clomping through at all times of the day and night. The only downside to the ship was that there was only one dining room, and only one hour set aside for each meal. That one time changes based on the day's itinerary, so you have to carefully check the schedule the night before, otherwise you'll miss your only chance to eat. Also, if you're an introvert like me, spending every day eating every meal next to strangers is overwhelming. And when you're exhausted from a day of camping and kayaking, the last thing in the world you want to do is get put together to eat a fancy 4 course meal. I wish there was another option for food, because by the end of the voyage, I was sneaking out plates of breakfast and lunch to my cabin to give myself a moment to eat in peace.

Tell us about the Camping

Ask yourself this: Would you enjoy digging a shallow grave into the snow, wrapping yourself in a body bag, and falling asleep to the honking of penguins? If you're like me, the answer is HELL YES! Because honestly, when would you ever get to have that crazy experience again?? If you're like my husband, the answer is NOOO. And that's why they allow you to cancel your booking after you've sat through a briefing the day before. So if you're on the fence about camping -- maybe you've camped once in the woods and didn't like it, but think camping without bugs and bears would be more pleasant -- I'm sorry to say that you would not enjoy this experience. This is the camping experience in a nutshell: You're dropped off at the landing zone and hike through the snow until you get to the designated spot. Then you're handed a shovel, and you dig while you watch the ship sail off and leave you completely alone. About an hour later, when you finish your hole, you have to unpack your camping gear and get it all set up. By this point, you're probably exhausted -- after all, camping takes place after a full day of excursions -- so it's time for a nice hike through the heavy snow to see some wildlife. (To be fair, this hike is optional.) By the time you make it back to the camping site, it's somehow after 11pm (remember, the sun never sets), and time to use the bathroom before going to sleep. You waddle through the snow to the camping toilet -- picture a toddler's training potty -- surrounded by a waist-high wall of snow. If you want to sit, you need to get all those layers of pants pulled down. It will be cold. Then you'll tromp back to your bivvy hole, take off your boots, and wrap yourself up in the bivvy bag. That's when it's all worth it. If you position yourself right, you can look out over the landscape and just marvel at it. You can lie back and watch the clouds while you listen to the penguins and seals and realize how lucky you are to be here. Then somehow it's nearly 6am and time to go. The snow has frozen solid, but you have to fill in your bivvy hole, which mean hitting chunks of ice with a shovel until they come apart. All you want to do is go to sleep. Instead, it's time to hike back to the landing zone. When you get back to the ship, you have to unpack and reorganize all of the camping gear. Any clothing you wore will need to be washed (including your jacket) since it will smell like guano. I had to use my drybag to quarantine my camping clothes because they were making the entire cabin smell like a penguin colony. 10 out of 10 stars, would do it again in a heartbeat!

Tell us about Ushuaia

Ushuaia is not the sleepy little town everyone seemed to describe it as. It's a major resort area home to almost 90,000 people, with a ton of national and international tourists. It's also built on a steep hill. Be prepared to get your steps in if you want to go from the harbor to San Martin (the main street). Flying into Ushuaia is amazing. Book a window seat if you can. For the last 10-15 minutes, you go right through the Andes, with mountains on both sides of you. It's beautiful and terrifying all at once! If you've forgotten anything for your trip, Ushuaia will have it. If you need a souvenir, Ushuaia will have it. 80% of the shops are outdoor retailors and gift shops. The rest are restaurants and banks. I didn't try to change money there, but according to the hotel concierge, all of the banks at Ushuaia automatically give you the unofficial exchange rate, so you don't have to look for blue market exchanges. That said, everywhere took card, and the credit card rates were better than the blue rate when I was there, so I only used cash for tips. The food and taxis are cheap, the souvenirs are expensive, and if you don't speak the language, Google Translate is your friend. I'm usually able to get by in Spanish, but the Argentinian dialect threw me for a loop. Luckily, people were patient with me, which was good because outside of the hotels and special bilingual tours, everyone speaks Rioplatense Spanish.

Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Antarctica?

Pack half the clothing you think you'll need; no one's going to notice if your base layers smell since they'll be under two other layers. Trust me, penguin guano smells much worse. I spent a good $1,000 on clothes, which was definitely overkill. Our ship had a laundry service, which made me feel even more ridiculous. Invest in a few fleeces; I brought two moderately priced REI fleece jackets that I wore almost constantly indoors and out. Bring half the camera equipment you're tempted to bring. You really, really won't need that wide angle lens, and you won't be able to bring your tripod on shore anyway. All I took on excursions was my phone and water; I didn't even need a drybag. You will get seasick on the Drake, no matter how many patches you wear, how many pills you take, how nice the weather is, or how iron a stomach you think you have. Imagine bad turbulence on a plane flight, the kind that makes your stomach drop like you're on a rollercoaster. Now imagine that turbulence for 48 hours straight without even a minute's pause to collect yourself. That's what it feels like to be on the Drake in good weather on a ship with stabilizers. There's a reason they sell shirts with "I Survived The Drake Passage" on them. Instead of living with the nausea, go to the ship's doctor immediately! They have shots that can make it better, or at least let you sleep through it.

Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?

It's very important to me that when people travel to Antarctica, they do more good than harm. The Arctic region in the north has been hit hard by climate change, and the influx of "ecotourism" isn't helping. I did a lot of research on southern tourism in Antarctica before booking a trip, and I suggest everyone do so as well. Choose a ship that invites scientists aboard (ours even had a lab) and a company that puts the safety of the animals and environment first. Am I sad that I didn't get to pet a penguin or get close enough to almost touch a whale? Yes! :) But any company that would let you do that is horrible, and anyone who doesn't follow IAATO guidelines is part of the problem. Since I've been home, bird flu has made its way to the South Shetland islands, and is headed into the Antarctic continent. News articles are reporting that there are so many dead seals and birds that tours are actively avoiding popular landing spots. Apparently Shackleton's grave is surrounded by hundreds of dying and sick animals, including orphaned seal pups that will not survive. It's only going to get worse from here. Do you homework; choose a trip that allows you to participate in research, always follow the guidelines you're given, and leave no trace.

How prepared and excited for Antarctica did you feel?

It was all I thought about for months. I herniated my C4-C5 disc a month before I was set to leave, and I did physical therapy 10 hours a week just so I could move my arms enough to row a kayak. I made 10 spreadsheets that I used to track what I needed to do and buy before I left. (I recommend at least making a basic itinerary and a list of contact info to give to family or friends ahead of time.) Prepare ahead of time! Swoop offers amazing information on their site; take advantage of that. Read any information your specific tour company sends you ahead of time -- each trip is slightly different and will have different rules (for instance, because of the spread of bird flu, tripods and monopods weren't allowed on shore when I was there).

Would you be interested in travelling to The Arctic with Swoop?


Would you be interested in travelling to Patagonia with Swoop?


Would you consider another trip to Antarctica with Swoop?


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