Armed with the knowledge of what to expect, you’ll be given adequate notice to get ready and, once the ship is anchored, it’s time to climb into the Zodiacs and set off. Excursions vary in duration and type. Some will be ‘Zodiac cruises’ where you spend all of the time in the Zodiac cruising past icebergs, seals and penguin colonies, occasionally accompanied by whales. It’s important to dress warm, as you’re not moving around too much. Please pay particular attention to your hands (waterproof gloves – as if they get wet then wind chill can make them very cold very quickly).
Other trips will be landings (wet and dry) where the zodiac takes you to shore and you climb out. ‘Wet’ being you’ll be stepping from the zodiac into water. You’ll always be advised. Options at each landing site will vary depending on the site and IAATO guidelines and the ship you’re travelling on. On a dry landing you will have a few options of activities such as going for a hike, taking an easier walk or spending time onshore perhaps near curious wildlife or finding the perfect angle for your many photographs. Some voyages offer kayaking as well which must be booked in advance.
Note: All sites in Antarctica allow a maximum 100 passengers ashore at one time (an IAATO regulation to minimise site impact). Ships with more than 100 guests will have some guests waiting whilst the others go ashore, once the first visitors return the other guests can go ashore.
Ice can sometimes block the entrance, particularly on early season voyages, please take a flexible attitude as the weather is something the captains don’t control.