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I hope it's okay to ask this question here...

What are your thoughts about traveling to Antarctica? Does it seem ethical/ecological?

I've been thinking of going, but after seeing images of what the shore looks like after tourists leave (footprints everywhere...just like at home), I'm wondering how wise it is to go and disturb this place that is so remote and (except for that) untouched.

I wonder what kind of impact we're having on the water, the ice, the animals there.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Posted by
3288 posts

I truly believe that one day it may be gone. Really. If it is important to you to see that huge chunk of ice, then go.

It is what motivates me to see our oceans, marine life and coral reefs before they are gone. We might be the last of the truly lucky generation.

Posted by
32241 posts


Visiting Antarctica would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I believe it should be possible to visit there in an environmentally responsible way by choosing a tour firm that shares that philosophy.

Your profile doesn't indicate where you live, but you may find this information from the Canadian government helpful - .

This is a website that lists tour operators - .

This would be one of the most comfortable ways to see Antarctica - .

Here's another site that you may find interesting - .

Good luck!

Posted by
4574 posts

I get it. Part of me wants to see places in the world before we have ruined it, but at the same time, I know it means I am contributing to its downfall.
Unfortunately, pretty much all,of the world is affordable, even Antarctica which means increased numbers. Ethical companies charge more but you are standing by the ships that carry more to make more.
Public outcry and control by local agencies are what will make a difference.
Can you go and offset it with some sort of support for better control?

Posted by
2120 posts

Definitely go, but go with a very environmentally aware and environmentally responsible provider.

Who? National Geographic, and their Antarctica expedition is operated by Lindblad.

There is a school of thought that the ice melt in Antarctica is a result of global warming. When we traveled there with National Geographic (I think it was six years ago), the over harvesting of krill by a large Asia country was really having a detrimental effect on the animals there....perhaps more so than any number of tourists. I just do not know if that is still the case or if anything has been worked out to limit/stop that activity.

National Geographic has research professionals on board, so your traveling with them also helps to fund those researchers. CBS This Morning had a multi-morning feature on that (I think it was) just this past year. You could likely Google to find it. A handful of the scientists who were on our expedition were interviewed, and we got a kick out of knowing we had met them and spent some high-quality time learning from them.

Antarctica is also managed such that a very limited number of visitors is allowed on the land at any one time. Ships manage that carefully.

Just about any travel we do in today's world has an impact on the environment, as just living typical lives in our homes does.

Posted by
7805 posts

My Wife and I have been to all the continents but Antartica. That includes 76 countries, and one (DDR) that don't exist anymore.
We love visiting South America and in conjunction with a trip, I researched cruise ships that visited the continent. We didn't want to spend the night there (there are tours that offer that). The cruises to that continent are more expensive than most and from what I read on cruise critic website there is only about a 50% chance that the weather will allow the ship to visit the continent or even see it.

As for your "footprint" or impact on the environment, as long as you don't leave trash and your tour company adheres to the same, your impact on the environment would be negligible.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful thoughts--I deeply appreciate them! I have been checking out the links, too!

Unexpectedly, you have actually propelled me deeper into thought on all of this (whereas I assumed I would instead just easily come to a yay or nay decision). So I'm taking the time to really think this through. Very powerful.

Thank you so much for this!

Posted by
33123 posts

your impact on the environment would be negligible

as long as the ship is emission free and so is the ground transport

IMHO lots of negligibles add up to a something, and lots of somethings add up to a lot.

But that's my own battle for the environment YMMV

Posted by
2120 posts

As far as ground transportation in Antarctica...not to worry....your feet wll not have any emissions. Seriously, when you make landings, you will travel from the ship to the land in a Zodiac, and then it will be walking only.

I hope you have had a chance to view the web site for National Geographic expeditions and also watch some of the videos. Our most incredible moment (and there were many) was being in a Zodiac with a National Geo photographer and a whale researcher, right next to two humpback very close to one that I seriously could have reached over about two feet to touch him (or her). The whale researcher calmly explained what the whale were doing (logging) and then calmly told us to cover the lens on our cameras right after they inhaled so as to avoid the oil from krill getting our our lens when they exhaled. It was, perhaps, one of the most magical travel moments ever.

If you go,I recommend mid-January, because the penguin eggs will have begun to hatch, but the young penguins will not have begun to lose their baby feathers (sort of molting). We saw chin-strap penguins, adelie. and gento, both humpback and orcas, along with different seals and countless birds.

One poster implied Antarctica is a chunk of ice, but it is oh so lovely with various ice formations, icebergs, and colors (white, blue, etc.). Kayaking among icebergs with cute penguin swimming all around is surreal. One night I was so enthralled looking out my cabin window, three hours went by before I knew it. It never really is dark there, so you will pull a heavy duty block-out shade before pulling curtains to go to sleep.

Lindblad operates safe ships. While they are not the least expensive provider, it is my opinion they are one of the safest. While doing water activities, there was never a naturalist very far from us (translation: if someone went overboard from a Zodiac...which would have been highly unlikely), lots of help would have been there pronto. There was also the opportunity to swim in Antarctica, and my husband did the Artic Plunge :)

Each evening during the social hour before dinner, a naturalist will present, and you will also have a short presentation by the dive team that will show you what they saw that day underwater. Fascinating.

I hope you make the trip!

Dr. Ken Taylor was on our expedition, speaking and sharing results from the multi-decades of leading the ice core drilling research team. He was both fascinating and fun. That trip was the first time he had been in the peninsula, and he was over the moon re: how beautiful it is. The landscape is vast and beautiful. Port Lockery (Google it) is run by the British Trust for Antarctica, and the staff there were can also mail postcards, but they are postmarked and they wait until the end of the season, when the staff returns home to process the mail thru the British Postal Service.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much for sharing, Maggie! I really appreciate the mid-January tip. I'm definitely thinking this all through. I'd not checked out your ship's prices, as I assumed they would be quite expensive, but I'm going to go ahead and sign up for the low rate alerts, just in case. You never know! Thanks again, so much, for all of this great insight. You describe an incredible trip!!