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Caitlin Went To Antarctica – Was It Worth It?

I DIDN’T KNOW. That’s the one thought that I keep coming back to: I didn’t know. I thought Antarctica was just going to be a bunch of ice. I thought it’d be desolate and bleak and – if I’m being honest – maybe even a little monotonous. I thought that after spending a few days at the end of the world, I’d be excited to return to the comforts of home. I thought it’d be a nice travel story; a continent crossed off my bucket list; a chance to spend time with my mom, Brenda, in a new place. But here’s the thing: I DIDN’T KNOW. I didn’t know that I could see icebergs so big that they’d warp my understanding of scale. I didn’t know that I’d see new colors – glowing neon blues, crystal-clear turquoises, a yellow-meets-gray that I still don’t have words to describe – or that I’d witness seals and penguins inhabiting old wooden shipwrecks. I didn’t know that a mile could look like a few hundred feet, or that enormous mountains – tall enough to be shrouded in clouds – could rise straight from the ocean. I didn’t know that by the end of my trip, I’d end up on a tiny inflatable boat in the Southern Ocean, working alongside a team of research scientists. But more than anything, I just didn’t know how beautiful the whole world used to look. The big white continent blew my mind, y’all. And hopefully, by the end of this post, it’ll blow your mind a little bit, too. 🙂

buckle up – there’s a lot more where that came from

From The Beginning

But wait – how’d I end up here, ogling an iceberg the size of the Empire State Building from half a mile away? (Yes, it is that far! I told you – the normal rules of scale and perception do not seem to apply in Antarctica. Scientists have actually found that time spent here is correlated with brain shrinkage in the area that controls spatial reasoning. They’re still debating the exact cause – monotony? Solitude? – but even our expert guides had to use special devices to measure distances. When I say it “blew my mind,” this is what I mean – it was so big that I still can’t comprehend it.)

ANYWAY. Some quick back story: Brenda (my mom, for those who aren’t familiar) and I have been traveling together for almost a decade. We started off with a few smaller trips – Vegas, Catalina Island, Hawaii – but in late 2022, we found ourselves sailing down the Danube from Germany to Hungary. One night, in Austria, we sat down for dinner with an older couple from the UK who regaled us with stories from their travels around the world. Their standout trip? Antarctica. “It was otherworldly,” they said, and our future was sealed. We started planning (read: “Brenda started planning,” if I’m being honest. Go Brenda!) in June of 2023 and we finally embarked in January of 2024, at the peak of the Antarctic summer.

First Stop: Buenos Aires

Since Antarctica isn’t known for its accommodations, most folks who’d like to spend a few days on the continent get there via expedition ship. The catch? You need to get yourself to Ushuaia, Argentina – the Southernmost city in the world – to board. We started our trek in Philadelphia, where we hopped on a 4-hour flight to Houston followed by a 12-hour red-eye to Buenos Aires. Pro tip: United has the best premium economy option. It’s thousands of dollars cheaper than the lie-flat seats up front, but the seats are BIG – they’re identical to the first-class seats on United’s domestic planes – and they’re really comfortable. I slept the entire time and woke up to breakfast being served 30 minutes before landing. By the time we landed in Argentina, made our way through passport control, boarded our bus, got our belongings, showered, and ate some lunch, it was about 3 PM.

We stayed across the street from the Casa Rosada – the pink (!!!) equivalent of the White House, for my fellow Americans – and the surrounding neighborhoods were charming and fascinating. Bonus: THIS IS A VINTAGE SHOPPING PARADISE. I found an antique mall about a mile from our hotel but on our way, we accidentally found so many more sweet antique shops owned by friendly, knowledgeable people. I can’t wait to go back!

Next Stop: The End Of The World

The next morning, we trekked an hour back to the airport to catch our charter flight to Ushuaia. This plane was much smaller and hadn’t been cleaned in a while; a few unused barf bags peeked out from seat-back pockets. We settled in for another 4-hour trek, during which I slept so deeply that I alarmed Brenda. The airport in Ushuaia is TINY – only 6 gates, with a petite parking lot – but the views directly outside were breathtaking. We spent some time back in town here at the tail end of our trip and I’ll have more to say, so read on..

The Drake Passage: It *Is* That Bad

We boarded our ship in the early afternoon and began to settle in, but I had a feeling that we might be in for a rough journey when our outdoor “sail away celebration” was canceled. The threat of an impending storm did not stop me from gorging myself at dinner – some crab legs! Some sushi! MULTIPLE DESSERTS! – because I figured it’d be the freshest food we’d have for the rest of our trip. I fell asleep that night to some gentle rocking and looked forward to the next 48 straight hours of sailing. (Because I am a hubristic idiot, I even wished for the “Drake Shake,” hoping to get a taste of what the original Antarctic travelers had to endure. It didn’t feel fair to get to a place like this without some discomfort, you know? I am sure you can guess where this is going.)

But a quick catch up, for those who aren’t familiar: the stretch of ocean that separates South America from Antarctica is called the Drake Passage. (For my oceanographers, you may also recognize it as the spot where the Atlantic and Pacific meet.) The Passage is home to both the most treacherous waters AND the strongest storms in the world – when the weather acts up, it’s no joke. More than 800 ships have sank here and over 20,000 sailors have perished trying to make the trek. It’s a terrifying, powerful body of water.

I grokked the severity of the Drake Shake when I woke up at 1 AM and became intimately reacquainted with the contents of my stomach. Brenda and I were staying at the very front of the ship – the third room back from the bow – and it was brutal. If hugging the toilet in a rocking room for 5 straight hours sounds like fun to you, then I HAD A BLAST. (Good thing I got all that sleep on the plane because I was very much awake for the sailing portion of the trip.)

I did feel a bit vindicated in the morning, though, when we attended our mandatory briefing. (Brenda and I sat in the back, lest we need to make an emergency exit.) Instead of reviewing the itinerary or the rules of the ship, our briefing actually began with a breakdown of the weather, which could be summed up as “green is good, red is bad, pink and purple are VERY bad.” Looks like this little dummy got her wish! (And according to the crew, our Drake Shake wasn’t even that bad! I did not agree, seeing as WAVES were hitting our THIRD STORY WINDOW, but I digress. Turns out these sea legs are far weaker than I thought!)

Land Ho!

After 50 hours of vomiting and bargaining with the universe (“if you transport me home right now, I swear, I won’t be mad, I’ve made it far enough, I’m sorry I tempted fate!“), I spotted my first iceberg. Slowly – and I do mean slowly! About 20 MPH, to be exact – we continued to make our way closer and closer to our first landing spot. It was serene, silent, and absolutely stunning.

a comfortable observation perch

Our ship provided binoculars in every room, which I loved. A lot of the oceans in Antarctica still haven’t been mapped, so we had to keep a healthy distance from all mountains and icebergs, lest they tip or scrape the ship. At one point in time, we actually had to turn around – our captain could see more icebergs than expected in our path, and he wasn’t sure if the water would be deep enough to turn around if we kept going because there were NO MAPS of that part of the ocean floor! To that end, I loved that the binoculars could still give me a close-up view at the terrain we were passing. These trips aren’t cheap and you can bet I was going to see as much as I could!!!

look ma, no hands!

AND SEE, WE DID. After dressing ourselves in our warmest layers, Brenda and I made our way to the embarkation area, where we stepped straight off the edge of the bouncing ship (a wild experience) and down into a zippy, inflatable boat, called a Zodiac. (PS. Your coat, pants, and boots are all provided – ours were waiting in our room when we arrived! – which makes packing much easier.)

Brenda actually spotted the humpback whales first, while our guide, Sandy, was giving safety instructions! Following her pointed finger, we zoomed over and witnessed a mother whale and her rambunctious, playful calf. I’d never seen a whale before (or a glacier, or even an iceberg!) and boy, seeing this sweet lil’ baby slappin’ their tail and wavin’ their lil’ fins at us felt like a dream come true. (I filmed a video of a this whale breaching and forgot to mute my excited yawps before sending to my friends, so they will confirm that I was SO happy.)

After the whales seemed to disperse, we took off towards an iceberg where Sandy had spotted a seal earlier. We approached to the left – no seal – and began to circle around. And then, as we approached the other side, we spotted him: a leopard seal, lounging lazily and happily patting his belly.

Every day, the ship sailed to a new location. We stopped at a few islands off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula, but we also got to step foot on the actual continent. Above are two of the only iPhone snaps I grabbed that came close to capturing some of the colors I was seeing in real-time – they were so rich and vibrant. When scientists in Antarctic documentaries say that it’s like another planet, BELIEVE THEM – I mistook their honest testimonials for enthusiasm and passion. It really IS like a whole other world.

I saw my first penguin on the second day. Our room had an operational window, and I’d opened it to enjoy the silence – I’ve never been anywhere so quiet in my life. I heard a little plop from below and grabbed my phone to film, assuming that a few fish were checking out the boat. When I showed the video to Brenda, we quickly realized that they were penguins – I had misunderstood the scale!

a gentoo warms the young chicks

I can’t recommend January in Antarctica enough. The temperatures are reasonable and there are SO MANY BABIES! We saw enormous colonies penguins everywhere, all the time, but watching them never got old. They’re so curious and unbothered by humans – every interaction felt special. We kept a 15-foot distance, but that didn’t stop them from trying to get closer to us! (For what it’s worth, our ship investigated every piece of clothing that made landfall and we went through a full biosecurity process before stepping foot on land or returning to our cabins. There are a lot of measures in place that prevent tourists from accidentally tracking seeds or sicknesses onto the land, which made me feel more comfortable with our exploration.)

Seeing so much natural wildlife in such close proximity was special, but it was a little devastating, too. We were here, at the end of the earth – a place that only a fraction of humans have been lucky enough to see with their own two eyes – and we were watching it decay in real time. (More than that, I felt guilty for contributing to its decay!) I was surprised when other folks on our ship were delighted by the calving of glaciers – that’s the pro term that means “broke off an iceberg into the sea” – and was even more surprised that I felt a lot of grief, which I didn’t expect. The world is really beautiful and we’ve trashed it – our endless pursuit of comfort has placed this final near-pristine habitat in jeopardy.

Have you ever read The Giver? To me, experiencing Antarctica felt a bit like that – suddenly, I saw a layer of the world that I didn’t know existed. For the first time, I had a look at what a totally untouched, unspoiled landscape could have looked like. And I REALLY understood how destructive we’ve been to our own respective environments back home – it breaks my heart to know that this kind of beauty existed across the globe before we trampled and leveled it. I did not expect this trip to leave me feeling in a climate panic-induced spiral, but it has. (CAN YOU BELIEVE I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE BORING???)

A break from the doom and gloom: here are some chinstrap penguins. I LOVE THEM!!!

Get To The Science, Girl

And a bright spot! This was hands down my favorite part of my Antarctic experience – I’m still pinching myself that it happened! Brenda and I sailed with Viking, which I would recommend – the interiors were very chic (white oak, lots of blues, thoughtful layouts – thumbs up) and the cabins were comfortable. That said, the clientele on Viking cruises tends to run a little older. According to a presentation on the final day, we had 359 guests on board. In total, there were 39 passengers under the age of 60. What’s a gal of 32 to do?

ANSWER: BEFRIEND THE SCIENCE TEAM! I was lucky enough to meet a group of women, all around my age, who are full-time scientists employed by Viking. I used to work at Red Bull Records, so I love this funding model – we were able to offer artists a ton of creative freedom because the record label wasn’t responsible for keeping the lights on! The same is true here – Viking’s invited a ton of scientists on board and uses some of the revenue from guests to fund their research. It’s a total win/win – scientists need funding and a ride down south, and Viking gets the cred of having a bunch of smart, interesting, kind geniuses on board to educate guests. (As an added bonus, we were on the only ship that doubles as a weather station! We got to help release a weather balloon! Biodegradable, of course – Viking let their scientists splurge on the good stuff.)

One night, I went to a presentation by Viking’s lead scientist, Brandi, and stuck around after to chat. She mentioned that they might have an extra spot on their boat where they’d be deploying BRUVS (“baited underwater research video systems” – basically, tools to see who’s at the bottom of the ocean in these parts!), but she presented it with a caveat: “It will be cold. We will be out there for hours. There’s no water, no bathroom, and it’s freezing. We will go out regardless of the weather conditions. It will smell like fish, and you will be shoving the fish guts into the BRUV.” (This isn’t a traditional “excursion” that you can book, so I was so unfazed by the pitch and excited for the opportunity!)

This may surprise you, but it was AWESOME. We’d sail around for about 3 hours, using a meter reader to find the appropriate depth – since again, the only maps of this area are almost 100 years old! – and then, we’d set up a BRUV by attaching poles, weights, bait, rope, and buoys (labeled only with “SCIENCE,” which was very charming) and tossing them overboard. After an hour, we’d circle back around and haul our BRUVS off the ocean floor so the team could transmit the footage to a researcher at the University of Western Australia. As it turns out, this is TOUGH WORK – the currents were strong and we were deploying BRUVS at 120 meters (about 400 feet) vs. the standard 30 meters. Yanking those 50-pound things back up from the ocean floor while your tiny boat rocks and sways in the swells is a challenge! It gave me a totally new appreciation for the hard work and sweat equity that goes into science. (PS. At one point in time, we discovered an underwater canyon that didn’t appear on ANY of our maps, which immediately ignited an obsession with bathymetry that has not waned in the weeks since my return. It made the world feel magical – I could finally understand the excitement that must have pumped through explorers’ veins before the world had been mapped.)

And Back Again

On our last day, we stopped by Edinburgh Hill. This was our ship’s first time ever checking out this spot, and it felt like a fitting end – I got to admire some of nature’s best brutalist architecture. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the electric blue water lapping against those black, hexagonal basalt columns (formed by an ancient lava flow – SO COOL).

As we sailed out, wildlife continued to surround our ship; our captain would make announcements when a pod of Orcas or a few Humpbacks had decided to hang out alongside us for a bit. With my binoculars, I could see seals lounging on icebergs. It was heartbreaking to leave it behind. (Coincidentally, the Drake Shake was actually worse on the way home, but the contents of my stomach remained firmly intact. Finally got those sea legs after all, I guess!)

Back To Ushuaia

After 50 hours of sailing, we made it back to Ushuaia, the home to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. I feel like I need to reiterate here: I have not, historically, been an outdoor gal. I like the inside! But this took my breath away. As we drove through winding roads and forests toward the entrance, we passed hundreds of wild horses and tons of vegetation I’d never seen before. The kicker?

Immediately after entering the park on foot, we stumbled upon this family of wild horses (with a baby in tow!). They were so calm and unbothered by our human presence, going as far as to lay down and rest in front of us. It was a final pull of the heartstrings: our world really could have looked so much different had our recent ancestors prioritized the collective over the self. We’re in so deep now – I literally saw our planet decaying in real time! – and these glimpses of a harmonious, peaceful world make our current reality all the more disheartening.

The Overview Effect

Astronauts talk a lot about this idea of the overview effect – the feeling they got when they saw the world from space the first time. It’s hard to describe. Some mention a sense of awe, or an understanding of infinity, or a feeling of connection with the planet. And I’m going to be real: I did not go into this trip expecting to come out with a fundamentally shifted view of the world – but that’s what happened. When we landed in Philadelphia, I felt a real sense of loss looking out the window at the brown water and refinery equipment – things I’ve never really absorbed until now, having written them off as realities of city living.

Joni Mitchell had the right idea when she penned Big Yellow Taxi: “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” But honestly, I think I’d take that a step further – I didn’t know what I had until I saw it with my own two eyes. I couldn’t know – it was so much more spectacular than any video or photograph could have ever conveyed to me. But now, I’m so thankful that I do. In the weeks since my return, I’ve felt something similar to the overview effect – a newfound hyperawareness of my impacts on the world around me, as well as an increased appreciation for the small, beautiful parts of my neighborhood. Was it worth it? ABSO-FREAKIN’-LUTELY.

For any details on responsible, sanctioned, and monitored Antarctic tourism, please visit https://iaato.org/.

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Cindy
5 months ago

Thank you for this story, to see your pictures and read your account and feelings of your trip gives me hope for the world.

Karen
5 months ago

Looks amazing. Thanks for sharing a truly life changing trip.

Alex
5 months ago

Wow, I really loved reading this. Thanks for your beautiful pictures and insightful descriptions. I teared up while reading your reflections on the fragility of our world. It feels so tricky that I love home design, but often sites like this push consumerism, which have a significant impact on the continued destruction of fragile environments. (This is not a knock on EHD! It’s an industry problem, and I think EHD does a really nice job of promoting sustainable construction and shopping used/vintage… it’s just all making me reflect on my own habits and consumerism). Anyway, thanks for this post, Caitlin!

Mary Beth
5 months ago

What an excellent read this is. I loved it and your pics are magical. I share your concerns about our planet.

Sally
5 months ago

WOW!!!!!!!! What an amazing trip. Apart from the 50 hours of vomiting, maybe. Very inspiring.
Out of interest, was there phone connectivity down there? One of the things that has taken the adventure out of travel (IMHO) has been the fact that it’s shared in real time nowadays. We don’t truly step out of our own worlds and into another but keep our feet firmly planted in our own safe worlds through social media and constant communication while snapping our insta shots. I think we’ve lost something from that. Travel was more fun and heaps adventurous before. And less self-conscious.

KD
5 months ago

Loved every word and pic. Thank you for sharing.

Holly
5 months ago

That was a great accounting! Thank you. I want to suggest you read Endurance by Alfred Lansing. It is an account of the incredible voyage of Sir Ernest Shackelton, where he attempted to journey to the South Pole. It has to be one of my favorite books ever and I’m 70! Heck, I think there is even a PBS documentary based on the book but I think you and your Mom would enjoy reading it so much after actually seeing and experiencing some of it (for example – an 800-mile sail in a small boat across part of the Drake Passage to find rescue). But it all ends amazingly well. So cool you got to experience and appreciate the quest for scientific discoveries. https://www.amazon.com/Endurance-Shackletons-Incredible-Alfred-Lansing/dp/0465062881

Deborah
5 months ago
Reply to  Holly

Yes Holly, good recommendations, both are so good and inspiring!

Paula
5 months ago
Reply to  Holly

Seconds on the recommendation. Excellent book about an amazing man.

Christie Schneider
5 months ago
Reply to  Holly

I also think that book is one of my favorites of all time.

Cheryl
5 months ago
Reply to  Holly

Yes this post reminded me so much of Endurance, specifically the Drake Passage, the Wedell seals and the incredible survival of Shackelton’s entire crew. I read it 25 years ago, but it’s still memorable mostly because the author sourced his information from extensive journal entries written by different crew members.

🥰 Rusty
5 months ago

“The world is really beautiful and we’ve trashed it…” THIS is my world view, Caitlin. It has always been so, since I was 7. I have a feeling you may have a smidgen more tolerance for some of my comments now. What an amazing trip!! A couple I know went last year and are stiiiiill talking sbout it with awe. Um, they didn’t experience 50 hours of hugging a toilet though, you poor thing! Humpbacks are ammmmmmazinggggg!! Lucky you!!! We have them travelling up and down both the east and west coasts of Australia every year. They birth calves in warm, tropical waters up near the top of Australia (they don’t ‘live’ in Antarctica). We can sometimes see them by just literally standing at the beach where people swim! They’re out a bit further, but you see them, it’s totally WOW!, every single time!! The University of Western Australia (UWA) is Perth’s (where I live) oldest and most prestigious university. Cool that you met some “Sandgroper” Aussies as people from this ginormous srate used to be called. Western Australia is almost 1/2 of Australia. Talk about scale!! I’m beyond happy for you and Brenda to have had this remarkable experience.… Read more »

Paula
5 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Humpbacks migrate along the California coast to Mexico and back, too. Most whale watching in this part of the world is humpbacks.

Claire
5 months ago

This is gorgeously written. What a gift of a post. Thank you for sharing this, sincerely!

Kelly
5 months ago

Wow, Caitlin! I’m all teary reading this. What an experience! What a story! What beauty our life styles have squashed. Thank you for sharing.

Rachel C
5 months ago

Fantastic recap, Caitlin! It looks absolutely stunning.

Alice
5 months ago

This is as close as I’ll ever come to having this experience, myself, so I thank you for so vividly sharing it. And such gorgeous photos! I never knew that, about the icebergs glowing. I bet the night skies were amazing, too.

SARAH
5 months ago

❤️ thank you for sharing

Hope

Lindsay
5 months ago

amazing, thank you for sharing and bringing perspective to our environmental plight. I think people think, “but what can I do? And there are so many small things…

-for the love of good, stop buying anything with polyester (and other synthetic fabrics) in it. It’s plastic made from petroleum, it NEVER breaks down, and it being “recyclable” is severely flawed.
(Would love to see EHD cease making recommendations for items that contain polyester, nylon, etc.)

-Transition to old fashion cleaning products. We use vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, dr. Bronners and just got a Krazy Klean Toilet cleaner (from the boomer dad gift guide this year on EHD).

-Buy https://holdonbags.com/ they are garbage bags and baggies that actually break down (you can sometimes find these at Target)

Would love another post on what you packed, what camera you used, is the drake passage so bad a sea patch wouldn’t work? And any other additional travel tips when taking a trip like this.

Angela
5 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay

These are good suggestions, but also, maybe the best thing you can do to protect Antarctica is (sadly)…don’t go to Antarctica. I read that every tourist who visits contributes to 83 tons of snow loss. (Yikes!)

(No shade to Caitlin…I travel a lot, too and my carbon footprint could certainly use some work. I just really hope we can all appreciate the pretty pictures without being influenced to go.)

Admin
5 months ago

Loved this Caitlin – every word. And so glad you wrote it all down while it was fresh. xx

SarahT
5 months ago

Thank you for sharing this. I feel breathless with awe. Your experience is going to stick with a lot of us who read this.

Julia
5 months ago

Yesssss!!! I went to Buenos Aires and Patagonia this past fall (which is almost the end of the earth) and it was eye opening in a way I hadn’t even imagined. I find travel is undervalued for the perspective shifts that can emerge. It takes you out of the every day and lets you see the earth for what it is, magnificent and incredible!! Would love to hear about the finances of this trip. Thanks for sharing!!

Amanda
5 months ago

LOVED reading this. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Caitlin.

Roberta Davis
5 months ago

I love your report! Lucky you!

Stacey
5 months ago

This was so lovely to read, Caitlin – thank you for writing it! Antarctica has been my dream travel destination ever since I read “Troubling a Star” by Madeleine L’Engle when I was a teenager. I think most teenagers dream of visiting sunny tropical beaches, but I dreamed of seeing icebergs. My husband and I traveled to Iceland about ten years ago, and they have a whole iceberg lagoon on the south side of the island, and then the icebergs float down a river and out into the ocean, where they would wash up on the black sand beach. They weren’t huge icebergs, but they were magical and otherworldly anyway. I have a photo of myself hugging one of the icebergs that washed up on the beach, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked happier in a photo.

Paula
5 months ago
Reply to  Stacey

Yeah, growing up in southern California, my fantasies were about being snowed in somewhere. NOT about sunny beaches.

sbe
5 months ago

Thank you for sharing your amazing experience! I appreciate so much that you’ve emphasized the degradation of our planet.

Lisa
5 months ago

I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing!

Julie
5 months ago

This was beautiful. What a trip! Thank you for sharing!

Deborah
5 months ago

WoW oh WOW! Thank you Caitlin for sharing your trip and its’ impact on you with us. I have always wanted to see icebergs and penguins and this looks like such an amazing trip, I am so glad you and Brenda went on this life changing experience! Now that you’re an “outdoor girl” be sure to visit some of our National Parks, they are jaw dropping; the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, the Redwoods, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, those are some of the ones I have been to. You and Brenda can rent a RV for a few weeks and see them all, though I would suggest doing it in two or three trips, California, Arizona/Utah, and Wyoming + Montana for Glacier National Park too which I hope to see in the next couple of years. This year, I am meeting my brother and sister in Jackson Hole WY to visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, where we have lovely memories of a family trip as kids in our camper including our dogs and cat. We were at a meadow campground in Yellowstone when Neil Armstrong went out for his first moonwalk! We are taking our mom’s ashes to spread… Read more »

Colin
5 months ago

I completely echo the other amazing comments readers have left about this vividly written article and what an awe inspiring trip this must have been. But I just want to spend an extra moment highlighting these spectacular photos! Caitlin, these are pictures right out of National Geographic magazine or a nature documentary! You are such a talented photographer to capture these beautiful, emotional images of creatures in their own habitat. Anyhow, thanks for sharing this experience with us!

Pamela T
5 months ago

This was beautifully shared with such vivid storytelling. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see it via your eyes and heart.

Paula
5 months ago

This was awesome! Thank you for all the detail — it made the trip come alive for me. Great photos, too. I can really empathize with your emotions even though I didn’t actually experience the trip.

priscilla
5 months ago

Ooh, it sounds fab, AND you got to share it with your mother! Thanks for the pics and attempted descriptions of blow-your-mind sights. I felt a similar way when I started scuba diving. It’s a whole ‘nother world down there. Maybe you and Brenda might want to get certified and try it, for another whirl around the universe. It never gets old for me.

Sasha
5 months ago

Thank you so much for writing this.

lor
5 months ago

What a great read! Totally non-decor, and totally worth it!! Thanks for sharing.

Carol
5 months ago

I am in the Buenos Aires Airport now after doing the same trip with Viking. Besides the beauty of Antarctica, I was struck b the aloneness of the area. No other ships, no tourist stores, etc. We also toured Tierra del Fuego park today and was so impressed with our guide and the geography there.

DH
5 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing your experience Caitlin! We went to Greenland / The Arctic last year on a similar expedition and had many of the same takeaways (and now really hope we get to see Antarctica some day!). Our ship had a world-renowned glaciologist on it (a rock star in the world of glaciology!) and we learned from him that the calving is a normal part of seasonal glacier lifecycles but of course they are melting/calving faster than they are being replenished. We saw many side-by-side comparisons that prove just how devastating global warming has been, and the damage to the planet is likely not reversible. If only everyone could internalize this .. without taking a trip to view in person (which is decidedly NOT helping the situation). It’s small comfort but everyone who we talk about our Greenland adventure with gets a side of environmentalism along with the stunning pictures and stories. I hope your description here is inspiring to others to think about our fragile planet.

Jill
5 months ago

Beautiful piece! You are an amazing writer. Thank you.

Kaiulani
5 months ago

I went to Antarctica about 20 years ago and it was amazing. I also puked for 24 hours for our Drake Shake crossing. It was actually smooth as glass on the way down, put not on the return. I also can not explain the different colors of ice. Also since it is height of their summer(January), the sun doesn’t set till 230am and rises at like 430am. My daughters were only 6 and 8 at the time and they got a lifetime of memories. So glad you got to go.

Marty
5 months ago

Thank you for sharing this amazing reflection, Caitlin. When your sense of wonder is alive, you FEEL it to your core. It could be right in your own neighborhood…the process of leaves turning before they fall every year, how bugs survive in big, busy cities despite all of the threats to their tiny lives, how each of us has systems that work 24-7 to keep us alive right under our skin. I loved this post, and that you got to share such an incredible experience with your Mom (and all of us).

Meg
5 months ago

Can you give more info about the cost?

Sarah
5 months ago
Reply to  Meg

I am also wondering this, if you are willing to share. This was an amazing post and now my bucket list has a new entry…

Kleo
5 months ago
Reply to  Meg

Search Viking Cruises Antarctica and you can click through to see their options.

Dina
5 months ago
Reply to  Meg

I encourage everyone NOT to go on a vacation to Antarctica. Please do not contribute to the demise of wildlife & nature for the reasons Caitlin stated in her article. We should all be aware of how we contribute to the negative impact on the planet & do our part to protect the environment.

meg
5 months ago

Can you give more info about cost?

Brenda
5 months ago

What a truly amazing experience!!! What kind of camera did you use for those beautiful photos?

Lulu
5 months ago
Reply to  Brenda

I would love to know this too. It’s just an iphone, I’m doing something wrong.

Stephanie
5 months ago

I’d like to almost apologize for saying that EHD’s most interesting post ever has nothing to do with design, except… I’m not sorry! Caitlin, this was FASCINATING. Thank you for sharing it with us. The photographs are stunning, your enthusiasm is infectious, and I really appreciate your emphasizing the climate crisis (and how it really is all our own fault). Beautifully written! Now excuse me while I go research Viking cruises…

Cheryl
5 months ago

Wow I lived on a cruise ship for nine months for work and we hit giant seas that absolutely dwarfed our big ship, so I can relate. But we had access to the onboard hospital who administered a seasickness shot that took away any nausea. I’m surprised they didn’t have anything to help you.

Interestingly enough, I was under the impression the shot lasted for weeks and never experienced nausea again, thinking myself immune. Despite hitting more high seas I was never uncomfortable. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the shot had worn off long ago. A big part of it is so much in your head, as terrible as that sounds.

I loved the inspiration you took away from your voyage. It seemed life changing in the best way.

Leigh H
5 months ago

Thank you for sharing, this was so lovely to read and your pictures are gorgeous. I’m so happy that you had this experience and that you have the coolest, explorer Mom!

DeniseGK
5 months ago

LOL, that molting leopard seal is an entire MOOD. I wish I could sometimes say “I need everyone to leave me utterly alone, okay? I’m molting.” and then go lay on a comfy bed of kelp.

Ryn
5 months ago

OH WOW – what an amazing experience – your sense of wonder is contagious !!

AK
5 months ago

My eyes g – l – a – z – e over with travel stories. But this? Riveting. Every.Single.Sentence. The poetic descriptions. The emotional reaction. The beautiful visuals. Was this worth reading? Absolutely.

PS I brought up your story at a dinner party on Saturday and one guest has friends who went twice, another had friends who said it was their most remarkable trip ever.

Heidi
5 months ago

Beautiful story Caitlyn. Thank you so much for taking us along with you and Brenda, whom we have also come to know (and love :-)).

Lori W
5 months ago

Yayyy! I went to Antarctica last year around this time, and it was truly magical. I would go back in a heartbeat (even with the Drake Shake urrrgh). Otherworldly and absolutely awe-inspiring every second of every day. If you can, GO! I did Aurora Expeditions instead of Viking, and it was great (but no pants provided BTW!). I’d definitely recommend a smaller ship for more excursions (ours was about 100 so we had 2 a day) and definitely do the polar plunge — even though it’s SO cold. So glad someone else was able to share the beauty of going to Antarctica!

Amy
5 months ago

Reading this was an absolute delight. Thank you for sharing this incredible journey!

sakhawat ali
5 months ago

This is a fantastic piece; I truly enjoyed it, and your photos have a magical quality. I also resonate with your worries about the state of our planet

Karen
5 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing this trip of a lifetime with us. I thought you really eloquently explained how beautiful, and also heartbreaking seeing the decaying of our planet in real time is

Kara S
5 months ago

All I can say is WOW. What an amazing post. You are such a great writer, and explained your emotions so well. And that half mile away photo is messing with my head. lol