MyEO VIP Antarctica 2023

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams  |  12 March 2024

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November 23 – Dec 5, 2023 | Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Antarctica! 

With Special Guest – Rt Hon Sir John Key



Champions Summary: 

This was a big one! The first time we had ever chartered a whole ship to travel to Antarctica, exclusively for Viva Expeditions & our clients.  After more than a year of planning and preparations, the anticipation was palpable as we gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina in late November, ready to kick off the adventure of a lifetime to the frozen continent.

120 of us came together, strangers at first, but soon bonding amongst the vibrant sights and sounds of the Argentinian capital before making our way south to Ushuaia. 

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Now, Ushuaia isn't just any city—it proudly claims the title of the southernmost city in the world, nestled on the shores of the legendary Beagle Channel, with the majestic Andes Mountains as its backdrop. It was in this enchanting place that we first boarded our beautiful ship, the Ocean Albatros.  Brand new and purpose built for navigating the icy waters of Antarctica, this was to be our home for the next nine nights.

Spirits were high as we found our cabins and settled in and within hours, we had set sail through the beautiful Beagle Channel and were making our way toward the infamous Drake Passage, which to everyone’s pleasure remained calm throughout our voyage.  We even reached Antarctica ahead of schedule and were treated to a bonus excursion, landing in the afternoon at Barrientos Island, home to a huge colony of Gentoo & Chinstrap penguins.  Landing on shore we were immediately hit with chilled polar winds—this was Antarctica alright!

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That wintry welcome turned out to be the coldest weather we endured, and from that moment our days got warmer and warmer - the seas remained calm, and we were treated to Antarctica at its best.

Each day we disembarked for a new adventure, enjoying a diverse range of landings including continental landings, celebrating landing on the 7th continent, visits to historical whaling stations and research bases. We walked among thousands of penguins, observed giant Weddell seals & Leopard seals lazing on the beaches and were awed at the array of Antarctic birdlife.

When not on land we enjoyed cruising around iceberg filled bays on zodiac boats, in awe of the towering icebergs and always on the lookout for whales (we were lucky enough to see Humpback & Minke whales). Some of the group also took the opportunity to kayak or snowshoe in the truly unique environment of Antarctica.

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While onboard we were always entertained. Our special guest was the former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir John Key, who wowed us with his tales of leadership, made us laugh with the stories of his antics while in government, and blew everyone away with his genuine good nature, great humour and vast knowledge.

We also enjoyed daily lectures on everything Antarctica, from wildlife, to the Antarctic treaty; from whale migration to the trajectory of penguin poo, there was a lot to learn and the knowledge of the expert expedition team was outstanding.

When not furthering our education, we enjoyed the onboard facilities such as the spa, sauna, jacuzzis and gym, or the bar, library, observation lounge or theatre. Or for a bit of downtime, we snuck off to our lovely cabins, most with private balcony, for a quick nap.

I must admit we spent a good amount of time eating.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were always fabulous meals, with two restaurants to choose from and options to suit everyone. Along with afternoon tea and a constant supply of snacks, one was never hungry. 

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But one of the biggest highlights for me, especially given this was my third trip to Antarctica, was the people onboard the ship, both the passengers and the crew. With a ship full of likeminded travellers, the connection was instant, with friendships quickly made and many fascinating stories shared.

The crew on the Ocean Albatros were fabulous. There was almost as many crew as passengers, and they all went the extra mile to add to our experience. [can Rach give an example here?]

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We also had a lot of fun! We had snowball flights and impromptu dance parties, and every day was filled with laughter and joy. Then came time for the polar plunge...

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Shivering in our swimwear, nerves and excitement danced in equal measure as we prepared to dive in. The shock of the cold water hits instantly, but you’re quickly back on board the warm ship, and after that rush of adrenaline and natural hit of endorphins (along with a quick celebratory shot of vodka) we were buzzing for the rest of the day.


On reflection, this trip really could not have been any better.  Heading back across the Drake Passage it was hard to believe what we had just been part of, what we had just seen and experienced. 

Antarctica is another world, a truly unspoiled paradise, an escape into a different world, and to have experienced it with such and incredible group of people made it 100% the best trip ever!



Want to know more about this trip?

Read Sir John Key’s diary from the trip

Read more about the Ocean Albatros

Read more about the trip itinerary


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