on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Polar Voyages

Joe Cornish Writes about his trips to the Arctic & Antarctic

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


OK, let’s be clear about one thing right away; sea voyages to the polar regions are expensive, and if you have a sensitive stomach on board ship, a Southern Ocean journey also means some well-managed medication, or else having to endure the hell of seasickness. So by definition, this type of travel is not for everyone. But if these significant obstacles are surmountable, travelling in the Arctic or Antarctic remains an encounter with a lost world.

One big surprise is that travelling on board ship in these regions is neither particularly cold, nor hardy, especially for anyone used to camping! Cabins may be fairly cramped, but beds are fine and the cabins are scrupulously serviced twice a day. Mealtimes are regular, food is plentiful and of excellent quality (and someone else does the washing-up). Although it’s not a Caribbean beach holiday, the air temperature during the summer season, when tourist ships are able to navigate waters still sometimes hazardous with sea ice, is usually a few degrees above freezing. On sunny days during late season in the Antarctic it can be warm enough for shirt sleeves on deck.

Southern Ocean storm-3875

So the endurance and resilience of Amundsen or Shackleton are optional virtues for this kind of journey.

The landscapes may be fabulous and the wildlife awe-inspiring, but the practicalities of making photographs are the polar opposite (sorry) of the Peaks, or Southern Highlands.
Your friends will be expecting you to have suffered spectacularly low temperatures and hardships on such a voyage… obviously whether you tell them it is all rather comfortable is up to you.  

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