The 75-foot ice-strengthened sailing vessel S/V Australis is a sturdy, seasoned veteran of polar waters and our base for nearly two weeks of in-depth exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula and its islands. Based in the Southern Hemisphere, Australis is a steel-hulled, fully rigged motor sailor powered by a 180hp Gardner engine that can attain a speed of 8+ knots. Carrying a full range of safety, operational and navigational equipment, Australis is also equipped with two Zodiac tenders that provide access to remote coastal areas that larger vessels cannot reach.
The interior of the Australis is cozy, providing basic modern-day creature comforts within an experience that’s reminiscent of early Antarctica expeditions. Four cabins accommodate a maximum of seven passengers and one Nat Hab Expedition Leader. A single bathroom is shared by all guests. (Ship crew members have their own berths and bathroom.) Guests can relax in the saloon, well-equipped with many entertainment options, and a large table seats guests comfortably. The small, but well-equipped galley features a cooktop, oven, microwave, toaster, double sink with running water, and three full-sized fridge/freezers. Our chef creates hearty and tasty meals throughout our journey. The vessel has 240-volt electricity throughout. On deck, the spacious outdoor cockpit area has a removable sun shade, and if the weather allows, there is a barbecue on the aft deck for outdoor dining. A crow's nest with ladder access offers 360-views and fantastic wildlife viewing.
There are four cabins aboard the Australis. Two are configured with one lower double bed that could convert to two twins (with a separation board), plus a single upper bed above the double, and these rooms also contain a sink. The third cabin is configured with one lower and one upper twin, and also contains a sink. The fourth cabin has a lower double bed and an upper single bed, but there is no sink and only a curtain that provides complete privacy. Rooming configuration is determined by booking date as well as by gender and other preferences. Though our quarters are compact, the Australis is surprisingly comfortable. Utilizing this vessel as our mode of exploration allows us exclusive access to the 'White Continent' that most Antarctica travelers simply cannot experience. The rooming situation may not be as spacious or convenient as you will find on a larger cruise ship with a hundred (and often plenty more) guests on board, but getting away from those other tourists to experience the polar wilderness in solitude is exactly the point, isn’t it?