Here’s an interesting article on cruises to Antarctica called “Bragging Rights.” The author, Marie Javins, went on a (relatively) bargain-priced cruise to the icy continent from Ushuaia, Argentina, and notes that most of the time was spent in transit. Upon arriving at disembarkation points, she was sharing her “pristine view” with 100 other tourists at a time.
As the recent sinking of an Antarctica cruise ship illustrates, these are inhospitable waters that are not really so conducive to tourism anyway. Do we really need over 37,000 people a year heading down there just so they can say they’ve been? I’ve never understood the appeal of bragging about how many countries you’ve been to anyway (especially since that seems to be a favorite pastime of cruisers who make lots of one-day port stops).
If you must to to Antarctica, please do it right. Treat it as a major event and spend accordingly to go with one of the very best operators. Groups should be small, the ship should be top-notch, and the tour company should voluntarily follow the guidelines of the IAATO. This is a fragile area: let’s not let it turn out like the Galapagos!