Numerous Antarctic research ships cruise the waters that surround the continent, and in addition to conducting their own research, they also help some of the land-based research stations with their projects. Research ships to Antarctica are generally deployed by single countries, and they are outfitted with facilities to aid in the research process. These extra facilities, or amenities if you prefer, can include things like environmental sensors and equipment for hydrographic studies. In addition to career scientists, various research vessels to Antarctica also carry passengers who might be labeled as temporary scientists. A group of college professors, for example, might board one of the Antarctic research ships to conduct isolated studies of their own on things like physical water properties.
In addition to scientists and other research groups, the research vessels to Antarctica can also carry tourists who may have little interest in science. In fact, many ships destined for Antarctica are former research vessels that have been transformed into what amounts to cruise ships. One of the best things about taking research ships to Antarctica is that they are usually equipped to handle things like ice and rough seas. This can be especially handy when crossing the Drake Passage, which offers some of the roughest seas on the planet. One of the things that you can expect the research vessels to Antarctica to feature is an ice-strengthened hull, which is especially handy during the winter months.
An ice-strengthened hull isn't the only thing that most Antarctic research ships boast. Many also feature both research and supply capabilities. Such is the case with two of the ships that are owned and operated by the British Antarctic Survey. These ships are called the RRS James Clark Ross and the RRS Ernest Shackleton. The former is primarily a research ship, while the latter is mostly used for resupplying scientific stations. Another ship that works in tandem with these two ships is the HMS Endurance, which carries a couple of helicopters that can be used to bring British Antarctic Survey staff to field sites that can not otherwise be reached by boat.
Whether you are a scientist or a tourist, you just might arrive in Antarctica by way of a research vessel. That is unless you are planning on flying in, which tends to be much more expensive. You can also board other kinds of cruise ships, such as expedition ships and small ships. Various countries have specifically renovated some of their ships to meet tourist needs, and you can expect comfortable cabins, among other things. For those who are interested in luxury cruises to Antarctica, some of the former Antarctic research ships are of the five star variety, so you can definitely go in style if you prefer.
The research ships to Antarctica come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the amenities will vary, so you're encouraged to weigh the options when looking to book your cruise to the planet's coldest continent. Most are relatively simple, not to mention relatively small, and they are the best way to go if you're looking to save some money on your Antarctica vacation. Whether you book a deluxe cabin or you opt to save with a simpler one, you'll see some amazing stuff from the decks of the Antarctic research ships. In addition to large decks, the research ships to Antarctica also feature open bridges to facilitate easy movement for passengers. Some of the things that you can expect to see from the decks and bridges on the research vessels to Antarctica are icebergs, glaciers, and fascinating wildlife. Penguins, seals, and whales figure among the animals that call Antarctica home during the tourist season, so you'll want to keep an eye out for them.
In addition to visiting the mainland, most Antarctic research ships that are carrying tourists will also make stops in the South Shetland Islands, as well as South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands. These islands are excellent for wildlife viewing, and they also boast stunning landscapes that you can savor when you're not checking out the animals. Since most of the Antarctic research ships are designed for small-group passenger travel, those passengers who hope to set foot on land at some point will usually have the option to do so. Most of the research ships feature inflatable rafts known as Zodiacs that passengers can use to access places where the cruise ships can't go. Perhaps you'll hop in a Zodiac to explore the harbor at Deception Island or maybe you'll use one to get up close to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.
The research vessels to Antarctica that are used for tourism tend to offer quite an array of tour options if you're interested in outdoor activities, though you can always stay on the ship and sightsee to your heart's content should you prefer. Since all of the Antarctica cruise ships offer guides that lecture on any number of different topics, you're bound to learn a lot about Antarctica and its nearby islands on your Antarctic escape. Few are the visitors that don't have tons of questions, and few are the questions that cruise ship guides can't answer.