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    The ultimate Antarctic adventure on-board the Hebridean Sky

    Written by Emma Beaumont

    At cazenove+loyd, we specialise in mind-expanding trips that linger with you long after you’ve returned home. Over the past 25 years, we’ve explored the hottest deserts, wildest rainforests and highest peaks in search of finding the best for our clients. Inarguably, the most striking landscape of all is the Great White Continent of Antarctica.

    Antarctica

    For true adventurers, nothing quite compares to Antarctica. It presents the chance to follow in the footsteps of those revered explorers, such as Scott and Shackleton, and exposes travellers to a completely unique environment. Being in the world’s last true unexplored wilderness creates a heady mix of feeling special – for being one of the few there – but also wholly insignificant among the endless, icy plains.

    Tents

    A trip to the Antarctic is truly a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list journey, which makes it all the more important that every element of the experience meets expectations and is right for each client. This means choosing the best vessel to travel on. In our minds, the perfect overall balance has to be aboard the MS Hebridean Sky and MS Island Sky. Given that Antarctica is still a wild and unexplored land, most of the ships that traverse the polar region are practical above anything else, with shared bathrooms, squashed cabins and tiny portholes the norm.

    In contrast, the Hebridean Sky and Island Sky are more luxurious ships, which do not in any way compromise on the adventure element, as some of their larger cousins do. They are extremely comfortable but, crucially, also well run, with the best professional guides in the region on-board. Having undergone a 10-million-dollar refit in time for the 2017 season, the 112-passenger Hebridean is more impressive than ever. Island Sky, her sister ship, launched for the 2018-19 season.

    Boat

    The upgrades to MS Hebridean Sky have been both technical and aesthetic, for instance, there is now a state of the art stabilisation system and improved satellite navigation, while the spacious suites and indoor areas have been brought up to date with a full stylish refurbishment. Unusually for Antarctic vessels, there are also 18 suites with balconies and sliding-glass doors, allowing our clients to take full advantage of that otherworldly scenery. The Island Sky has been modelled in Hebridean Sky’s image, with one improvement, all the cabins on the promenade deck have sliding doors, so you can rush straight out to see that pod of killer whales when it’s sighted.

    While the thoughtful design, rainfall showers and Wi-Fi are certainly welcome, in our eyes the most impressive element of these two ships is the guiding. All passionate experts in their field, the guides have plenty of time to chat informally to those on-board and also host lectures to fully reinforce the incredible sights you are seeing.

    Paradise harbour

    Each day, there are trips to shore on zodiacs (inflatable, but sturdy motor boats) to trek the peninsula and experience the raw power of nature up close. There are excursions to penguin colonies and plenty of chances to spot seals, albatrosses and even huge whales.

    As of 2017, you can reach the Hebridean Sky via both Argentina and Chile, making the journey much easier. If you are short on time, we recommend a flight from Punta Arenas in Chile straight to King George Island. This option skips the crossing of the Drake Passage, which can prove a trying experience for those who are prone to seasickness, although for those with stronger stomachs, it is well worth the trip for many reasons. There are now more comfortable ways than ever for our clients to experience a continent that is still so little travelled and yet so ready to be explored.

    We have a wealth of knowledge that we are just waiting to share and can’t wait to start planning your trip.

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