The idea of spending 10 days on a ship with 150 strangers is enough to fill even the most extroverted amongst us with some level of anxiety. Especially anyone who has been keeping up with the drama ensuing on the nine-month world cruise which, according to the New York Times, has become TikTok’s latest reality show.
Is everyone going to be over 70? What if I get seasick? Cabin fever must have to happen at some point, right? Nevertheless, in December I threw caution to the wind—quite literally, while being thrown around a ship in a 17-foot swell—and headed to Antarctica in search of new frontiers and undiscovered species. (Well, not quite: it was more of an all-inclusive cruise, but it was extremely cold, and I did watch a seal rip the head off a penguin.)
Accompanied by my friend Harrison Osterfield, I arrived in Buenos Aires to begin the expedition with some trepidation. Soon, the reality of what we were about to undertake hit me like the Titanic—or, more accurately, that iceberg. At a “get to know each other” cocktail at the Park Hyatt we were invited to learn the tango; the first test for our fellow explorers. How was a same-sex duo dancing the Argentine tango going to go down with this slightly older, majority-American crowd? It’s a question that I’m not able to answer because I was flung around that dance floor so quickly that it’s all a blur. We did, however, make sure to throw in some extra spins and kicks so that the more conservative guests knew exactly what to expect from us for the trip ahead. I’m sure this is exactly what Scott and Shackleton did the night before they set off for Antarctica too.
The next day, with our newly learned dance moves in tow, we set sail. Our expedition, led by Abercrombie & Kent, consisted of a 10-day cruise during which we would undertake daily excursions around Antarctica with a team of scientists and polar experts. The big question looming over us: Would we get the Drake Shake, or the Drake Lake? (These nicknames, which refer to the possibility of a smooth or bumpy passage through the notoriously treacherous Drake Passage, had been tormenting me on TikTok for months after a single search resulted in my feed being filled with people being thrown from one side of a ship to the other.) Secretly, I was hoping we would get a little bit of the shake. Getting to Antarctica shouldn’t be that easy, should it? The reality was somewhere in between: a few rough nights and a soaking on the deck, but not quite the Triangle of Sadness.