When we decided that we were going to give ourselves the extra treat of going to Antarctica, we spent a long time thinking about which trip we wanted. We decided that our priorities were to see the big icebergs, and to see penguins, including having the slim chance of seeing emporer penguins. So we decided to book a trip which went into the Weddell Sea.
The Weddell Sea is the eastern side of the peninsula, and so is colder and fewer people go there. All of Antarctica has icebergs, but this area has the really big tabular icebergs. And as the ship was still due to go a short way into the other side of the peninsula, we figured we would still be able to see a science station too. So despite the date not being as good for us, which meant that we had to work other parts of our trip around it and incur more on travel costs, this was the trip we chose.
Had we not been going to the Weddell Sea we would have gone earlier in the season when there would be many more penguins, more ice in the peninsula, and longer hours of daylight, and we might have chosen a trip that went right to the Antarctic Circle. Also, as there is more late availability on these trips, and we had the flexibility, we might just have gone to Ushuaia and waited for a two for one deal. But the Weddell Sea had lured us in.
So decision made, we had been looking forward to the trip and we got on the boat, eager to get started on our Weddell Sea expedition. Until the second day. As we were crossing the Drake's Passage, the expedition leader gave us a rundown of the planned trip and activities, and showed a map with the places we were hoping to visit. None of which were the Weddell Sea.
In some shock, I spoke to the staff and they confirmed that this trip was not, and in fact never had been, going to the Weddell Sea. Feeling rather confused, we checked our documents, and they were very clear about the itinerary going into the Weddell Sea, even as late as December 2011. We later discovered that some of our fellow passengers had also booked a Weddell Sea trip through other agents, but had been notified back in April 2011 that it was not going there and given the opportunity to change or cancel their trip.
To say I was cross was an understatement, but clearly it was not the fault of the people on the ship, and there was nothing I could do about it now. So we decided that we had to try to put the Weddell Sea out of our minds, forget about our anger with the agents, and get the best out of the trip we were actually on. Inevitably though the trip was tainted with the knowledge that the trip was miss -sold, and that we would not be getting what we had wanted.
Thankfully, Antarctica is of course amazing, so it is impossible to go there and not enjoy. And we did see some spectacular sights. They just weren't the sights that we had paid to see and weren't the things that we would have prioritised had we been given the chance. We emailed a letter to our agents as soon as we got back, complaining about what has happened. It may seem strange to complain about something even though you enjoyed it, but the fact is that this was a very expensive trip that we will not be able to afford to repeat, and we didn't get what we bought or what we we would have chosen as an alternative if necessary. It remains to be seen what the outcome of our complaint is, but you may see us on watchdog or something in months to come!
Anyway, the rest of our blogs on Antarctica will, like we tried to, not dwell on this and will instead focus on the positive side of our trip.
Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.
Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.