How do I choose which trip / which company?
For me, at least half of this was easy. A dive trip to Antarctica had been on my to-do list for many years, plus I work within the Diving Industry and by default, have a few contacts :)
But there were still many options to consider:
- Scuba Diving. I wanted to go under the ice. This cut out immediately quite a few options. Many vessels only take 'tourists' and, as I discovered, these boats were often bigger. i.e.more people.
- Less people - more of an expedition-type feel. I didn't want to go on a cruise - I was looking for a more intimate experience with like-minded people. So the bigger, more luxurious boats, did not appeal (plus, most of those didn't want divers and were significantly more expensive.)
- Experience: I wanted real experience from my guides, with some longevity under their belts. I needed to know they understood the pitfalls, the best places to dive / visit. Consequently there were two options which popped ot the top of my searches - both companies I knew; Aurora and Waterproof Expeditions. Ultimately I chose Waterproof Expeditions
I've known Waterproof Expeditions founders Marlynda Elstgeest (CEO) and Göran Ehlmé (co-founder of Waterproof Diving International, Sweden) for a few years. Both are experienced divers with a passion for the polar regions. They were the first to organise Polar Diving in the 1990s, pioneers of Polar Snorkelling for Aurora 2006 and, as a small boutique company, have tons of experience. Small and experienced is exactly what I was looking for.
- Personal attention
Smaller groups = more attention. I prefer travelling with small groups wherever possible. In this way, experienced expedition staff and crew can provide their customers (me) with greater flexibility and more possibilities for a truly unique expedition. Especially important this trip because I would be traveling by myself.
I looked at the mix on each boat and chose one I felt would work best for what I wanted out of this holiday.
- Conservation & Sustainability:
Extremely important to me. Waterproof Expeditions is a voting Member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators), a member organisation founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica. Big tick.
- Feedback / Reviews: Most importantly too, I'd had great reviews and firsthand feedback on their trips. I wear and love Waterproof wet and dry suits .. so ultimately, they were pretty hard to pass by.
Every trip will be different - but as an independent traveller - small, like-minded travel and diving companions is what I wanted.
Consequently, I chose a more 'expedition-style' vessel 'Ortelius' - not the biggest, not the smallest, not the most luxurious or the prettiest.
Will I have chosen well? Watch this space!!
Waterproof Expeditions Image gallery
Here are a few of the incredible images Waterproof Expeditions has collected over the years they have been visiting this area (just one destination of many they organise on an annual basis BTW):