We’re dedicated to creating, sharing and leading the best travel experiences ever – for both people and the planet. And our Antarctic expeditions are no exception to this.
How does a sustainable travel company balance operating trips in the fragile Antarctic ecosystem with meeting its environmental and social responsibilities?
This question is something we thought long and hard about before deciding to run our own ship in Antarctica. We’re deeply committed to being a responsible business and understanding the impact we have on the places we visit. All Intrepid trips are 100% carbon neutral, but we are driven to do more, from committing to science-based decarbonisation targets to now including a commitment to double offset our Polar Expeditions in our Seven-point Climate Action Plan.
We’ve approached responsible travel in Antarctica with three areas of focus that we believe will create the greatest positive impact: inspiring travellers, supporting science and protecting the environment.
Our commitment – to educate and inspire our travellers to care for our natural world
We believe that when people know better, they do better. Seeing first-hand how our actions affect the fragile environment in Antarctica is pivotal in helping to create a deeper respect for and understanding of our natural world.
We incorporate citizen science initiatives into all our Polar voyages, with a trained Citizen Science Coordinator on board every trip. Citizen science entrusts travellers to assist researchers all over the world in collecting data and making observations. Through partnerships with NASA, Oxford University and Happy Whale, to name a few, we're helping to provide important insights for key environmental research. Plus, being personally involved with these projects deepens our travellers’ sense of purpose in Antarctica – helping them to understand, respect and protect our natural environment.
Travelling to Antarctica is a highly curated experience because tourists don’t have the opportunity to travel here independently. With this in mind, we’re supporting research conducted by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to deliver a best practice framework for facilitating visitor experiences that foster understanding and appreciation of the Antarctic environment. Researchers examine how the typical Antarctic tourist journey shapes the experience of people of different national and cultural backgrounds and provide recommendations on how we can foster stronger connections with the environment here.
Our commitment – to support Antarctic researchers and experts
We support a number of Antarctic research initiatives and work in accordance with International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) guidelines to help protect the Antarctic landscape and wildlife.
Responsible travel is at the core of what we do and we strictly adhere to International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) guidelines. IAATO conduct environmental impact assessments and provide tour operators with stringent guidelines to promote and practise safe and environmentally responsible travel to the Antarctic. IAATO work alongside The Antarctic Treaty System which was formed in 1959 as a collective agreement to ensure Antarctica would always exist in the pursuit of peace and for science. It notably is not governed in the pursuit of wealth and prosperity or resource extraction.
Intrepid and The Intrepid Foundation have teamed up with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) to raise awareness and funds for its joint Antarctic Expeditions to protect whales. Our ‘Protecting Antarctic Giants’ project with WWF collects crucial data on whale populations in the Antarctic Peninsula to inform future policy and management plans. Working towards two key objectives – securing Antarctic habitats and safeguarding Antarctic species – the project aims to help designate 30 percent of the Southern Ocean as marine protected areas by 2030 – safeguarding an area of ocean one and a half times the size of Australia.
Our commitment – to minimise our environmental impact and promote conservation in Antarctica
We're committed to treading as lightly as possible, taking considered steps to minimise our impact and promoting environmental conservation.
100% Carbon Neutral
Like all Intrepid trips, Antarctica voyages are carbon neutral, and our seven-point Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to double offset our Polar Expeditions. That being said, we recognise that offsets are not enough to address the climate crisis, which is why we have committed to science-based targets to decarbonise our business at the pace and scale that science tells us is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5C.
It’s not just the big commitments but our small, daily choices that help us tread more lightly. We further reduce our environmental impact by using lite marine gas oil (MGO), removing all single-use plastic and supporting ethical suppliers. We’re committed to reducing or recycling all waste produced on our voyages and take part in a project called SeaGreen Recycling, a waste recycling project at the Port of Ushuaia, Argentina.
This is just the beginning of our journey with Antarctica, and we acknowledge that there is more for us to learn and do. In the years to come, we're committed to investing in a new energy-efficient ship to ensure our impact is significantly reduced, while we remain committed to building stronger partnerships, improving our supply chain, investing in citizen science and ensuring we contribute positively to tourism's future on the continent.