Marco Polo to Antarctica

I read with interest the description of the Marco Polo in the October ’04 “The Cruising World” column. I concur with Mr. Toulmin’s evaluation of the ship.

I cruised to Antarctica in January ’03, spending a week crossing the Drake Passage, making landings on the Antarctic Peninsula to walk among the penguins and viewing Cape Horn on a beautifully clear day.

The accommodations were very good, as were the food and service. I believe Orient Lines’ Marco Polo is the largest ship that makes stops for passengers to experience Antarctica. Fewer passengers (about 500) are taken on these cruises so that the stops can be made; passengers are taken to the islands by Zodiacs. Also, because this is a larger ship, the Drake Passage crossing is not so intense.

There were excellent lectures on the history and geography of Antarctica plus first-rate entertainment and all the amenities one expects on a cruise ship.

The trip to Antarctica was an interesting contrast for me, as only six months earlier, in July ’02, I “cruised” the Arctic Ocean aboard the Yamal, a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker. We reached the North Pole and disembarked to walk on the ice at 90 degrees north. We also saw polar bears on the ice near Franz Josef Land.

I went from polar bears to penguins in six months.

Redlands, CA