How fit do I need to be to visit Antarctica?
While the destination itself might conjure up images of nefarious voyages only the fittest can endure, you only need to be in good health, have great core strength and be able to move around freely to participate in and enjoy Antarctica's numerous activities and adventures. Yep, those with an average fitness level (and above) are compatible with Antarctica travel so you don't need to spend hours in the gym before considering booking a trip - is that a sigh of relief we hear?
However, it's worth noting that the fitter you are, the more enjoyable your expedition will be, as zodiac excursions, shore landings and even walking around the ship during rough conditions can be tricky to navigate.
All of our Antarctica cruises have a physical rating of 2 and don't include anything overly strenuous. This means that the only potentially challenging thing you'll have to do in Antarctica is make your way from the expedition ship to the smaller Zodiac boats for shore landings (that and pulling yourself back onto the ship after you've taken the polar plunge into the Southern Ocean), but there'll be crew members ready with a helping hand if needed. Before your excursion to the shore, you'll also get a full briefing about how to embark and disembark the bobbing Zodiac safely.
Handrails are also fitted around the ship if you haven't quite got your sea legs yet, making moving around the ship easy and comfortable. But while the ship is fitted with a lift, it doesn't grant access to all decks and can be closed for maintenance on some departures, so being able to climb stairs freely is necessary. As if the ship couldn't get cooler (pun intended), it also has a fully equipped gym, so if you want to stay fit or do some extra exercise while you're away, you definitely can.
What is travelling on a Zodiac like?
Disembarking the ship for a smaller boat might sound a bit daunting at first, but most travellers don't have any problems with the boarding process. That's not to say it's a walk in the park either. Accessing the Zodiac is via a gangway reached by some steep and narrow internal stairs and once there, you'll need to have a good range of movement to position yourself onto the zodiac. It can be challenging for some travellers but our helpful crew members will be there to see you safely onboard.
When you've reached the shore, you might have to jump out of the Zodiac into shallow water or onto uneven, rocky ground. But you won't have to do it alone. The expedition crew will give you a hand if you're feeling a bit unsteady. You'll also be provided with proper boots conducive to the Antarctic conditions, but they are a bit clunky and walking comfortably in them may take a while. If you require extra help moving around on shore (the terrain can be a bit icy in sections and rocky in others), walking sticks are available so you don't have to miss out on exploring the various landing sites.
Another thing to note is that the Zodiac boats aren't speed boats, so you don't have to worry about flying over waves or holding on for dear life (although there are ropes attached to the boat so you can comfortably hold on while the boat is in motion).
Our Antarctica cruises
Are there any fitness requirements for Antarctica?
The short answer is no, but some activities will be more enjoyable if you have an average level of fitness, such as kayaking and walking as part of shore landings. Some landing sites have a slight elevation gain, but you don't have to venture far if you don't want to - you can tailor your Antarctica adventure to suit your capability.
You also have to be able to complete the onboard safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided, but this is the only 'requirement'.
Will I get seasick?
If you're prone to seasickness, we recommend purchasing some over-the-counter medication before your trip begins and taking it when necessary. You can also talk to your local GP if you have any vertigo or balance issues. However, seasickness isn't as common as you might think and varies in its impact, so you shouldn't worry too much about it. The onboard doctor can also provide medical assistance or advice if you feel a little worse for wear during rough seas (read: the Drake Passage).
Are there medical resources in Antarctica?
Being an incredibly remote and isolated place, it's not easy to access medical resources in the event of an emergency, but each ship has a licensed English-speaking doctor onboard if any minor medical assistance is necessary. The ship also has a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first-aid equipment but if you're already receiving treatment for a known ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines to last the trip's duration (at least an extra 2 weeks worth is recommended to account for any flight delays or unforeseen circumstances).
If you have particular health needs, please bring a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. However, this still means you should be in good physical health without any serious underlying conditions that may impact your ability to complete the trip's itinerary.