6 Tips for Surviving the Drake Passage (With a Smile)
To make a trip to Antarctica – and the furthest reaches of the world – you must first experience the necessary rite of passage of crossing the Drake Passage. This is an essential component and traditional part of Antarctica travel, and it has rightly earned its reputation as one of the most extraordinary and dramatic voyages in the world.
Stretching from the southernmost tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands just north of the Antarctica Peninsula, this stretch of water is about 500 miles and takes around 48 hours to cross. Strong currents here are a result of the lack of resistance from any nearby landmass. Here, the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern seas meet, resulting in what can be some of the choppiest waters in the world.
But that doesn’t mean you will encounter waves at all. We like to say you either get the ‘Drake Lake’ or the ‘Drake Shake’ or anything in between. Many a crossing has been done by our expedition team that was neither rock nor roll. Though the Drake Passage is famously unpredictable, here are some tips to get you prepared and ease your mind.
Seasickness is certainly a possibility on any voyage, so don’t wait until you are already feeling woozy to pop those meds. Pack plenty of Gravol or see your home doctor before leaving for prescription medication. For more natural remedies, try bringing ginger gum or chews or a calming tea.
Keep on Top of It
Everyone is different and while one person might ‘go green’, others will be perfectly ok. Try eating smaller amounts of food that are easy on the stomach. For some, restricting alcohol works well, for others, a stiff drink or glass of wine may assist. Watch the horizon (a trick that really helps). We recommend trying to avoid prescription pills if you can – this is an epic journey, and you don’t want to miss out on anything if you don’t have to. We have a highly qualified doctor on board to answer your medical questions and help you if you need it.
Enjoy the Moment
Regardless if it is smooth sailing or a little shaky, this is part of the experience. If you are prepared (see above) you will likely feel just fine and can use this time to explore the ship, take in an educational presentation by one of our experts or start your wildlife spotting by looking for the incredible seabirds, dolphins and whales that frequent the region.
Don’t Psych Yourself Out
You may have heard stories but don’t let it get in your head. You won’t know until you go what you are going to get, and there is no perfect time to book to avoid a ‘Drake Shake’. Try to focus on other things like engaging with your fellow guests, chatting with the expedition staff, and learning about the incredible destination that awaits.
Keep Your Eye On the Prize
Ultimately the goal is Antarctica and all its natural wonders. It is worth it! Keep watching the horizon and stay focused. Once you have completed the crossing you will be a part of a legendary group of explorers that have paid the ‘price of entry’ into one of the most epic places on the planet. You are following in the footsteps of many of history’s greatest explorers and it will leave you with incredible memories as well as a sense of adventure.
Relax – We’ve Got This
Our crews do this all the time. We are prepared for a variety of conditions and know how to handle them all. Although we may expect a bumpy ride that doesn’t mean it will be rough. If it is, you’ll find our staff and crew always keep your safety top of mind. Listen for instructions and follow them. You may be instructed to stay inside, not go out on the decks, and hold handrails. It’s like handling turbulence on an airplane. Our ships are well equipped, ice-strengthened and have stabilizers to assist in rough conditions. The Captain will expertly navigate a route, continuously changing course to give us the best ride possible. You are perfectly safe.
Crossing the Drake Passage is guaranteed to provide you with a true sense of adventure. It is a bonding experience for you and your fellow travelers. Have more questions about what it’s like to cross The Drake? Contact our team anytime, we’re happy to help.