ANTARCTICA is Earth’s southernmost continent, overlying the South Pole. Situated in the southern hemisphere and largely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.4 million km2, it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America; in turn, Europe and Australia are smaller.
Some 84% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 km in thickness. Its coastline measures 17,968 km (11,160 miles) and is mostly characterised by ice formations. The continent has approximately 90% of the world’s ice (and thereby approximately 70% of the world’s fresh water). Antarctica has never had an indigenous population. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, fur seals, mosses, lichens, and many types of algae.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by twelve countries. To date, 47 countries have signed the Treaty which prohibits military activities and mineral mining, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s ecozone. Small-scale tourism has existed since 1957 and is currently largely self-regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).
Antarctica is the last great frontier for superyacht cruising. Not for the faint hearted, fair weather sailor or lightly built, short range superyacht, Antarctica offers unspoiled cruising, breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences to those brave enough that venture south across ‘Roaring Forties’ and ‘Furious Fifties’ of the Southern Ocean. Accessible from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, a variety of cruising areas are frequented by adventure cruise ships and more recently by some adventurous large superyachts on their world wide voyage of discovery.
It is recommended to consider embarking an Ice Pilot/Guide for the journey.
Captain’s log: Antartica – Cruising Antarctica