Deserted islands with a difference
An Antarctic cruise is not just about the giant ice sheet; the southern islands are some of the most fascinating and isolated places in the world. The Falkland Islands are a strange slice of British life – red phone boxes and chip shops surrounded by crashing waves and penguin colonies. Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried on remote South Georgia – the island he sailed in a tiny lifeboat following his disastrous Antarctic expedition. Here, king penguins waddle in front of a backdrop of glaciers and 3,000m mountains, and a little museum reveals the secrets of this windswept isle.
On the way to the Ross Sea, the only scraps of land for thousands of miles are dry oases for elephant seals and rockhopper penguins. Astonishingly, more seabirds nest on the brutal cliffs of the tiny Snares Island than in the whole of the British Isles.
Antarctic research bases have been established on some of the islands – and here you can learn from the resident scientists about their research into the wildlife, climate, geology and flora. Working in these remote, chilly outposts for months at a time, they are usually relieved to have company, so don’t be surprised if they invite you in for a cup of tea and ask you to tell them what’s happening in the outside world!