The Antarctic Dream
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As a travel editor I love every aspect of travelling. From the moment a trip first comes together to the moment I am back home after a long adventure, I love all of it. Some people won't believe me, but preparing for an adventure is one of my favourite parts. Each trip is unique and requires a different amount of preparation and planning. Early this year I was offered the experience of a lifetime; a 10-day expedition to Antarctica aboard the Antarctic Dream. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity.

As a travel editor I love every aspect of travelling. From the moment a trip first comes together to
the moment I am back home after a long adventure, I love all of it. Some people won't believe me,
but preparing for an adventure is one of my favourite parts. Each trip is unique and requires a different amount of
preparation and planning. Early this year I was offered the experience of a lifetime; a 10-day expedition to Antarctica aboard the Antarctic Dream. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity.
In all of my travels I have visited six continents; Antarctica would be my seventh and final continent. 
After committing to the expedition I began researching, an important step in order to know what to expect and what to pack. The first item on my agenda was to research the ship. I had heard that the Antarctic Dream was an incredible ship, but knowing what I do about the sometimes-harrowing seas of the Drake Passage, I decided to investigate a little further, just to be sure. No one wants to go to Antarctica without feeling safe.
I discovered that the Antarctic Dream was built in Holland in 1961 for the Chilean navy. Her original name was Piloto Pardo, named after the officer who sailed with his ship Yelcho with Shackleton on board to Elephant Island to rescue Shackleton's men who had been there for four-and-a-half months. When the Yelcho was decommissioned, the Piloto Pardo replaced her, servicing as a logistics ship to the Chilean stations. Five years ago, the present Chilean owners bought the ship and refurbished her as a passenger ship for the polar regions. She takes a maximum of 84 passengers, five expedition staff, 13 hotel staff and 20 nautical crew members. At 81-metres long and 12-metres wide, she has a draft of 4.6 metres.
The next step was to figure out what to pack. Even after all of my travels I still always manage to overpack – this trip was no different.  A trip to Antarctica is no ordinary trip, it requires preparation for the unexpected; warm clothes for those frigid days and lighter ones for in-between. Through my research I discovered the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, and I am thankful I did. The Expedition Parka was first developed in none other than Antarctica and has been used by scientists there for more than 20 years. Designed to withstand the most frigid of temperatures, the Expedition Parka is durable, well insulated and surprisingly lightweight. The Expedition Parka also boasts a multitude of external pockets, ideal for day trips. The ship will supply jackets, but if you want to ensure comfort and warmth I would highly recommend Canada Goose.
The next thing I needed was a good camera man. Although I do all of my own photography, this particular trip called for someone who knew their way around a video camera. I called my old friend Bill Maycock from Bermuda. Not only would Bill be a great cameraman but he would also appreciate a trip like this.
After weeks of preparation, the trip was finally upon us. From Toronto we flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. After three days in Argentina we caught the flight to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, where we spent the night in a hotel, got up early the following morning and boarded the ship.
One of the first things I do when I board a ship is look around to see who else is on board. I always find the demographics interesting. On this specific trip, I was surprised to find so many women. I had mistakenly and perhaps being slightly “old fashioned” assumed it was a more masculine adventure.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, I have been sailing for more than 40 years and have heard numerous stories about what it is like to cross the Drake Passage. On any given day, the Drake Passage can go from calm seas to huge swells. I knew once we got across we would be in another world and that it would be worth it. The Drake Passage definitely lived up to its reputation. The two-day passage was made that much more comfortable by the fantastic staff aboard the Antarctic Dream.
On our third day at sea we finally reached the South Shetland Islands and the beginning of our passage through the Nelson Straight. Almost immediately we found ourselves surrounded by humpback whales. The clear, almost calm conditions provided ideal viewing from the bow. The ship slowed to a snail's pace and everyone, including our captain, had an opportunity for a photo.
Our next destination was the Aitcho Islands Group and Deception Island. We boarded the zodiacs and were soon standing on solid ground. It was an amazing feeling to know that I was one of only a small number of people who had ever stood at this spot.  When you set foot on Antarctica, it is an amazing feeling. My mind was thinking of what it would have been like for Shackleton. Compared to my first class adventure, what was he thinking when he first stepped onto solid ground? Was he having similar thoughts?
The Aitcho Islands, a dramatic mix of snow and moss covered cliffs, was often dotted with nesting penguins. We spent the next few hours exploring the nearby shores, being careful not to disturb penguins and seals. The penguins were breathtaking, crowding the shore in the thousands; it was hard to stop myself from picking one up for a quick cuddle. When our time was up we headed back to the zodiacs and it was off to our next destination, Deception Island. Many passengers braved the chill of the deck in order to watch our progress through Neptune's Bellows and into Whalers Bay.
As we departed the ship, I couldn't help but think the rugged and often extreme landscape is defined by its stark contrasts. Deception Island is volcanic, resulting in black beaches offset by blindingly white glaciers. The view was absolutely breathtaking. The remains of old whaling stations and wooden boat frames just add to the history and intrigue that is Antartica.
For the wildlife enthusiasts, Antarctica is a prime location to view all sorts of rare and exotic species. In addition to the humpback whales, we were lucky enough to see killer whales, chin-strap penguins, gentoo penguins, fur seals, leopard seals and a variety of albatross species.
For those who enjoy dramatic scenery, there is nothing to match the colour, light and sheer power of ice fields filled with the abstract forms of icebergs. For me, the combination of wildlife and scenery made an unforgettable memory.
After an amazing and fulfilling adventure, it was back to Argentina and then onto Toronto. My experience aboard the Antarctic Dream fulfilled a lifelong goal and was the experience of a lifetime. The expedition group and crew were amazing. Sharing the experience with my good friend Bill made it that much more remarkable.
For more information on the Antarctic: www.adventure-life.com For more information on Canada Goose: www.canada-goose.com
To travel with Bart call or email: (905) 251-1258 or  bartcard@rogers.com.

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