On our sailing trips we ask a lot of our voyage crew: watchkeeping, climbing the rigging, hoisting the sails, helping with maintenance. We will encounter various weather conditions and being active on deck is a large part of the experience. Because of this we always aim to ensure that every trip has a nice range in ages and nationalities. It is precisely this division that provides interesting conversations on board, between the youngest and older guests among us. We therefore keep in mind the number of people in a certain age group on our voyages. This could mean that if the limit has been reached, we might have to add someone on the waiting list. At this moment we availability for sailors up to 60 years old, and limited availability for those of 60+ and older.
Endless ice shelves, superb shades of turquoise blues that glow within the hollows and crevasses of the glaciers and the most extraordinary wildlife inhabiting these lands: this remote, cold and white continent in the South is just breath-taking. Travelling to Antarctica is a surreal experience, that fills you with happiness, inspiration and inner calm, encouraging you to enjoy life to the fullest.
In total silence, with just the ship’s bow crunching through the small bits of ice, we explore this magnificent continent with you, each trip again in awe of the rich wildlife and the beauty of the unspoilt natural environment. Not to mention the rich history of explorers that came to these lands and endured the dangers and fears on their way across the Drake Passage. The remains of the lonely historic huts on the snow-covered hills tell the stories of these adventurers of the past and we, we follow their stories, curious of where Bark EUROPA will bring us on our quest for adventure.
Crossing the Drake Passage
Every southern summer, Bark EUROPA makes her way to Antarctica, across the Drake Passage and to the Antarctic Peninsula. She explores this remarkable continent with utmost respect for the astonishing nature and wildlife and we invite you to join us on our expeditions.
From nearly all corners of the world, our guests will arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. It is here where you will start your voyage to Antarctica. As with all remote places in the world, the route to our destination is long and before we arrive to Antarctica we have to cross the Drake Passage.
The crossing will take approximately 4 days of sailing and during these days you will see Bark EUROPA showing off her strength and resilience. At this time, the watch system will be in full force. During your watch you will stand on look out, steer the ship and help with sail handling. Together with your fellow watch mates you will help the permanent crew with sailing the ship through heavy weather. For many on board this will be their first time on the Southern Ocean, while some will have done similar voyages before. This mix of beginners and more experienced tall ship sailors creates a learning atmosphere on board, where each person can contribute in their own way to keep the ship sailing.
The wildlife is overwhelming: the sound and smell of hundreds of penguins reaches you when we get closer to the shore, whales slowly pass by the ship and we encounter the first seals ashore. It is something out of your wildest dreams, something you looked forward to for so many months or years and now you’re here.
Small groups will go ashore with zodiacs. Leaded by our team of guides, you will see the first penguins from up close and you will make your first hikes with as a result the sight of Bark EUROPA in a breath-taking white and icy landscape. From time to time, you perhaps need some time to take it all in, the white peaks and mountains, the rocks, whale bones, penguin highways, crevasses and glaciers. There will be plenty of time to do so, to sit back and relax and to focus on what’s in front of you.
Every day we drop and lift anchor, slowly making our way more south. We make landings, zodiac cruises and hikes to explore the fascinating nature, wildlife and history of these islands. But not only ashore we encounter wildlife. The sight of whales from the ship feeding on krill is truly spectacular. Slowly, from a safe distance we can follow these majestic animals, sometimes chased by a killer whale, sometimes feeding their calves.
After a day of zodiac cruises, landings, hikes, lunch and dinner on deck, lectures and drinks with your fellow crew mates, you might call it time for bed, but waiting a little longer is definitely worth it. The night cruises are just as spectacular. The light, with the sun just below the horizon and rays of pastel tones of pink, red and orange intermingled in the sky, could not be more beautiful.
Flora and fauna
In the Antarctic waters, the EUROPA will anchor in sheltered bays practically every day. The crew will take groups ashore in the dinghies to see glaciers, mosses and lichens, seals, birds and penguin rookeries. Our experienced guide will give you information about the flora and fauna and will also tell you where to find bird and sea elephant colonies. We expect to see the most loyal visitors of the Southern Ocean: enormous Humpback whales, Minke whales and even Orcas or Killer whales may come visit us, curious to see who ventures in their waters.
Ashore, visitors will often be welcomed by different kinds of penguins, such as the Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie penguins. All penguin species are restricted to the Southern Hemisphere, but the greatest concentrations are on Antarctic coasts and sub-Antarctic islands. On the peninsula Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins are the most common. Near the colder Weddell Sea we also find Adelie and Emperor Penguins, although the Emperor penguin is seen more rarely. The Antarctic waters support a vast variety of seabirds. Only a few species are adapted to breed regularly on the continent. Skuas are widespread and prominent in the Antarctic. They prey heavily on the eggs and chicks of penguins and small petrels. Also prions, fulmars, and shearwaters are often seen, as well as terns, sheathbills, and two species of cormorants. Fish and krill in the Antarctic are important components of the marine ecosystems. They are a major prey for larger predators such as the Humpback whale, Minke and Fin whales. We will also find seals on the Antarctic Peninsula. Depending on the species, seals feed on fish, squid or krill. The Leopard Seal is a predator of penguins and other seals. Seals can leave the water and move on dry land to breed, rest and moult.
Responsibility to care
Respect for the environment plays an important role in the philosophy of EUROPA and her crew. We hope to inspire our trainees to focus on everything that’s around them: not just a vast open ocean but a world on its own. We ask our voyage crew to listen to the sound of the ocean, the wind in our sails and to the peace and tranquillity around us in Antarctica.
We encourage our voyage crew to take care of the environment by showing them the state of the oceans, the uniqueness of this white continent and why all this needs to be kept preserved as best as we can. By conducting safe and environmentally responsible sailing voyages, we offer first-hand travel experiences to give our guests a better understanding of the destination they visit, where the land and its wildlife speak for itself. This way we create a group of Antarctica ambassadors all over the world.
During our visit to Antarctica we strictly adhere to the regulations of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). This organisation was founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica. As part of IAATO, we follow their procedures and guidelines for expedition cruising in remote and delicate areas with great care.
At the end of each voyage we hope that you, as our guest, will be overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, be inspired by the vastness of the seas and have a better understanding of the importance to keep Antarctica and the oceans as majestic and pristine for many future generations to come.
The unique experience of an Antarctica expedition
Each voyage to Antarctica is different. We encounter unique weather conditions, sea ice conditions and wildlife viewing opportunities. These circumstances make that your voyage will definitely be one of a kind. Sometimes plan A might have to be changed into plan B or C and sometimes it means that a visit to a specific landing site or research station needs to be cancelled. This is the True Antarctic Experience: spontaneity, discovery and exploration! What is certain, is that our team of experienced guides and crew will always strive to create a remarkable trip for everyone: an expedition to the white continent of Antarctica that you will never forget.
Why choose Bark EUROPA for your visit to Antarctica?
- A unique and respectful way to visit the remote continent of Antarctica on a sailing vessel
- Bark EUROPA is an active member of IAATO, International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators
- The shortest voyage to Antarctica is 22 days. These relatively long voyages will give you all the time to soak in all that Antarctica has to offer and will learn you how to sail a tall ship along the way
- We are a small-scale company that sails with a maximum of 40 guests on an expedition. This offers everyone the opportunity to use the entire landing time for your Antarctic discoveries and creates a wonderful atmosphere on board.
- Bark EUROPA is a beautiful model for all your holiday pictures!
- Become part of the EUROPA family