Frequently Asked Questions - Antarctica

How cold does it get in Antarctica?

During the summer months (when we visit) the temperature can range from -2°C (28°F) to 8°C (46°F). Big storms are rare, but if one comes through the temperature could drop to -8°C (17°F).

Do you provide polar expedition jackets?

Yes. Each passenger travelling on our Antarctic voyages will receive a complimentary polar expedition jacket to wear during your expedition and take home after your trip.

What clothes should I take to Antarctica?

Shipboard clothing is informal and casual; jeans, jumpers, long sleeve shirt and enclosed shoes are ideal in our polar regions. However, be sure to keep your jacket close for unexpected sightings! Some people like to take a nice outfit or something a bit special for the Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks, but formal clothing is not necessary. View full details in our Planning Your Trip section.

How many pairs of gloves do I need?

It is best to take two to three pairs of gloves.

What clothes do I need in South America?

In South America it will be mid-summer and the temperature is likely to be between 20°C and 30°C. Casual comfortable clothing such as shorts, skirts and cool tops with sandals are ideal. In Tierra del Fuego the weather is very changeable and tends to be cooler, so long trousers and a windproof or fibre-pile (polar fleece) jacket are ideal.

How fit do I need to be to go to Antarctica?

To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you from participating.

How many people on the ship?

Polar Pioneer carries just 54 passengers. We have around 20 crew members and an expedition team of 10 to 12, depending on the voyage and itinerary you choose.

The Greg Mortimer carries a maximum of 132 passengers in Antarctica, designed in mind to ensure that passengers will still be able to enjoy multiple landings every day. We also have approx 15-18 expedition specialists onboard, and 47-56 crew members

Where do passengers come from?

The majority of our clients come from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe and America, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition team and crew.

Is the ship air-conditioned/heated?

All our ships are air-conditioned and the temperature ranges for 15°C to 25°C. On Polar Pioneer & the Greg Mortimer you can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.

How much room is there for luggage?

There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be.

How do we dry wet clothing?

On board the Polar Pioneer, clothing dries very quickly inside your cabin. There are no passenger laundry facilities for you to do your own washing, but there is a laundry service on board. Prices are listed in your cabin. All cabins have a sink.

On board the Greg Mortimer, you can store your wet weather gear & gumboots in your locker, found in the mudroom.

Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?

There is limited internet access on board Polar Pioneer and you can set up a dedicated email account when on board to send and receive emails only (no attachments). Prices start from approximately US$5 for email setup and US$0.50 cents per one kilobyte. WiFi access is available throughout the vessel to access email from your own device.

A satellite telephone is available for use, and prices start from US$10 for 5 min. However please note: due to the remote location of your voyage, making contact with the ship via telephone can be difficult and expensive. In case of emergency, it is recommended your family and friends contact the Aurora Expeditions’ office and we will do our best to get the message through to the ship.

Your dedicated Reservations Consultant will advise you on internet availability on board the Greg Mortimer closer to your departure date.

How often do we get off the ship?

We aim to get off the ship as much as possible, usually two, sometimes three times a day depending on weather and itinerary. Weather permitting we spend between one to four hours at each location. We come back to the ship in-between landings for meals.

What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?

It is most important that you bring a comfortable pair of enclosed walking shoes to wear on board the ship. Gumboots are provided on board and are required to be worn on all landings. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.

Should I bring my walking poles?

Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.

How close can I get to the animals?

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) implement strict wildlife guidelines that all visitors to Antarctica must abide by. Passengers are to keep at least 5m from wildlife at all times. Some species are more vulnerable to disturbance and require greater distance, our expedition team will brief you on board.

What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?

Our expedition team will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally on our polar voyages we avoid going to the bathroom ashore, however in an emergency we ask you to find a discreet location near the shoreline to relieve yourself.

Can I do more than one activity?

We strongly advise against selecting multiple activities as each is a dedicated activity for those with the relevant experience. To make the most of your time and money, we recommend selecting only one activity. You are very welcome to join in on our complimentary activities such as camping, photography and the polar plunge as you wish.

Can I swim or snorkel in Antarctica?

Although you cannot swim in Antarctica, most of our voyages stop for a ‘Polar Plunge’, where all willing passengers can take the ultimate dip into the icy Antarctic waters. You do have the option to take up our Polar Snorkelling activity, or experienced scuba divers have the option to dive, on selected voyages.

Can I take my skis and ski in Antarctica?

Our new, guided ski touring activity is perfect for experienced skiiers. Skiing is offered on select voyages and a surcharge applies.

What is not included?

In general, items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are: flights to and from your voyage, pre- and post-accommodation, transfers, extra drinks from the bar, gratuities, Ship Shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions).

Some voyages do include certain pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements, so please check your specific voyage inclusions in our brochure, website or call our Expedition Experts on + 61 2 9252 1033.

What sort of money do I take and how much?

We recommend that you take US dollars for use in Argentina and Chile, and on board the ship. We do not recommend travellers cheques as it can be difficult to change them, even at hotels. Australian dollars are impossible to exchange in South America, particularly in Tierra del Fuego.

What currency do you accept on board?

At the end of your voyage on board the Polar Pioneer, your account may be settled in Australian dollars by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) or by USD cash. On the last day at sea we have USD cash only purchases from the bar.

Your dedicated Reservations Consultant will advise you of currency requirements on board the Greg Mortimer closer to your departure date.

Can I BYO alcohol?

BYO alcohol is not permitted on Polar Pioneer or the Greg Mortimer. We have a well-stocked selection of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages available for you to purchase in the onboard bar.

How much should I tip? Are tips included, if not how much per person per day?

A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to increase/decrease the amount or remove the tip when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form or on our website.

What is the electrical supply on board?

The electrical supply on board Polar Pioneer & Greg Mortimer is 220 volts, 50 hertz. You will need a European round two-prong plug adapter, available at duty free or electrical supply shops.

Are there hairdryers on board?

Yes, there are hairdryers in every cabin on Polar Pioneer and Greg Mortimer.

Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?

We do not provide a computer to download your digital images on the Polar Pioneer. We recommended you bring a laptop computer or similar downloading device to download your images, either between landings, in the evenings or during sea crossings.

There will be computers on the Greg Mortimer in the library and media room for your use.

Do you cater for special meal requests?

Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.

Can I smoke on board?

There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships.

Will I get seasick?

Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. We advise you come armed with motion sickness tablets, and there will be a doctor on board to assist with any bouts of seasickness.

The whole trip was extremely professional, friendly responsive staff, great organisation, a lifetime experience that will not be forgotten.
J. Boehm, South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey, 2016
It was great to have plenty of time (2-3 hours) in which to explore the islands and their wildlife inhabitants. Voyage staff were excellent, very helpful and knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. I will be definitely booking another trip with Aurora in the future!
Chrissy Freestone, Australia - New Year in Antarctica, 2015
Expedition staff were all very approachable and helpful. They were always enthusiastic about the voyage and activities available and ready to impart their knowledge in all areas.
Mary Fathers - Spirit of Antarctica, 2015