Packing for Cruising Antarctica on Silversea

December 18, 2019

Paul Kay


We’re so excited about our trip to Antarctica. We’ll be visiting our seventh and final continent. Cruising Antarctica with Silversea will be nice. But it’s a trip that requires careful preparation. Here’s what we’re packing for our biggest trip yet.

Silversea Packing Checklist, Antarctica

What should we pack for a trip like this? We’ve lived in Minnesota. We know cold! But neither of us were fans of Minnesota winters. It’s been years since we lived there, so we donated our cold weather gear long ago. Now we live in Texas. It’s rarely below freezing, even in January and February!

Silversea provides a suggested packing checklist to help passengers like us to be prepared. In this post, we’ll follow the list and tell you how we’ve prepared. We’ve also added a couple of extra categories at the end.

Silversea provides a parka climate-appropriate and water-resistant backpack. And they rent boots, pants and trekking poles to safely traverse our landing spots. We’ve rented all three.

Living in a warm climate, we didn’t think it was a good long-term investment to purchase waterproof pants, boots or trekking poles. Renting them was more expensive than we anticipated. But a big part of the cost was an insurance deposit. We should see a refund after the trip.

We went through the packing checklist and determined what we already had. Even living in the Texas warm climate, we sometimes travel to colder places. So, we already have nice Columbia jackets, hats, and layering items. Here’s what we had.

Base Layer

Long underwear

Madeline purchased two long underwear sets for each of us from Lands’ End. Madeline used coupons to save an average of 50 percent. Lands’ End products have proven long-lasting for us, so these were a bargain investment.

Insulation Layer

Expedition stretch top and bottoms

I already had good warm shirts for my top layer, but Madeline thought I should invest in fleece sweatpants for the bottom layer.

Madeline had some fleece lined leggings from Costco for herself, but she liked these from Amazon.

Loft vest

We already had vests, so no purchases here!

Outer Layer

Hooded parka

Provided by Silversea.

Waterproof pants

We’re renting the waterproof pants from Silversea. They’re big enough to fit over large boots and have knee-high side zippers.

Rain jacket

I already had a decent rain jacket, but Madeline didn’t, so she went to Lands End and saved 50% on her rain jacket

Footwear

Boots

We’re renting boots from Silversea. They are heavy duty and warm. These boots work well for riding Zodiacs and trekking icebergs and rugged islands. But they’re heavy and bulky. Silversea advises bringing waterproof boots for hanging out onboard the ship and all other activities. So, I bought some Skechers on Amazon.

Madeline bought boots from DSW because she wanted to try hers on. There’s a store near our home.

Hats, Gloves & Socks

Hat

Both of us had wool winter hats. Mine is functional, and Madeline’s is cute. I wonder how that happened?

Socks

I’m half Danish and couldn’t pass up getting snazzy socks from Danish Endurance on Amazon. People rave about them. And they’re something to do Danes!

Madeline has more fashion sense than me. I like function, so my Danish socks don’t look nearly as remarkable as her socks.

However, Madeline bought ten pairs of socks for just a little more than my three pair. Who got the better deal?

Later, she bought five more pair for $16. Since we tend to wear clothes for a long time, it was good to buy some new cute socks for the trip that she’ll wear for a long time after.

Sock liners

My sock liners came from Lands’ End, where Madeline saved about 50 percent. Her sock liners came from Amazon and were even less expensive. She got two pair of these CoolMax liners by Fox River for only seven dollars.

Neck gaiter

Somehow, we kept our neck gaiters from our Minnesota days. We used to call them neck-ups, but I’m told the correct name is a neck gaiter.

Gloves

My regular gloves had holes in them. The others I had were for dress gloves and mittens for extreme cold. We want to take pictures and need gloves that provide dexterity and warmth. We bought these from Amazon.

Glove liners

Madeline found glove liners at Lands’ End and ordered two pairs for each of us. And, yes, she got 50 percent off.

Accessories

Backpack

Silversea provides a complimentary lightweight water-resistant backpack. We’ll use it to carry items ashore while keeping our arms free for getting in and out of Zodiacs. We’ll bring Ziplock to protect our phones, cameras and extra batteries.

Binoculars

We have a pair of travel binoculars, but Silversea recommends a pair with at least 10X power and 25mm objective diameter for the clearest scenic and wildlife watching. Our pair did not qualify, so we purchased two pair of Adorrgon binoculars from Amazon. So far, they look great. We’ll write an in-depth review after our trip.

Trekking poles

We’re renting trekking poles from Silversea. We feel that Silversea supplies the best model and brand. And we don’t hike much at home, so we won’t need trekking poles after our trip.

Seal-proof waterproof bags

I understood the need for waterproof bags. We have Ziplock bags we bring with us on these types of trips. We buy these from Amazon on subscribe and save to get a bit more savings than the everyday price which is already low for 96 bags at roughly 8 cents a bag.

Foot/Hand warmers

We bought hand and foot warmers as a package from Amazon. These are packets that, when shaken, heat up. They don’t smell and are disposable. We were not certain we would need them but felt it was a good investment, just in case.

Sunglasses

We already have nice Maui Jim sunglasses, which we highly recommend for the best in polarized protection. They’re expensive, but ours have lasted years. We take our Maui Jims in protective cases.

To ensure we don’t lose our sunglasses while on a Zodiac, we added two sets of Chums straps. And we won’t worry about where our sunglasses are when we take them off to snap a photo.

Sun and wind protection

We always travel with sunscreen. For this trip, we’re bringing Neutrogena 70 SPF sunscreen.

We’re also bringing Banana Boat lip balm with SPF 50.

Madeline swears by a daily moisturizer with SPF 50. She puts this on every morning. If we’re going out in the sun, she’ll put on sunscreen and lip balm, too. We can’t stress enough: Sun protection is very important.

Photography Equipment

Camera and lenses

Madeline shoots with a Nikon D5300 and two lenses: an AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and an AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED. The D5300 renders beautiful photos. And the two lenses give Madeline incredible versatility. And with a price less than $650, this Nikon is an impressive value.

Memory card

She uses a 256GB SD card, so she doesn’t have to worry about camera memory. The SD card stores more than 36 hours of HD video or 67,600 photos. That’s a lot—even for Madeline!

Strap

Madeline has a couple of nice Nikon cameras, but they’re bulky and heavy. Madeline’s wrists now get sore lugging a camera all over. To help we bought a strap with a chest harness. This strap distributes the camera’s weight across her shoulders and back. It also keeps the camera stable and stationary, even when walking or hiking.

GPS receiver

Madeline has one camera without a GPS receiver and one with a receiver that quickly drains her battery. We bought an add-on GPS receiver. This Micnova takes only 30 seconds or so to find the GPS satellites. It’s perfect for her because we are always travelling and the last thing you want to do after a long day is to tag all your photos manually. Even cell phone cameras can have issues if you are in an area where you are not getting a strong cell signal. The Micnova accurately maps photos to one meter of GPS data.

Motion Sickness Remedies

Benadryl antihistamine is a solid choice for motion sickness while traveling. They’re inexpensive and easy to take. For less than seven dollars, a box holds enough for you and your partner for your trip.

Madeline is worried about sea sickness. A long time ago, she had a horrible vacation, spending the entire time in her room or as far below deck as possible. She’s never forgotten it. Who would?

She uses motion sickness bands now and swears by them. Madeline doesn’t get near water without them!

Madeline also loves Tummydrops. Using a lozenge can distract your mind from the feeling of seasickness. We’re sailing through the Drake Passage, one of the windiest parts of water in the world. Madeline will feel better knowing she has more than one way to cure seasickness.

She also takes Dramamine with ginger. Like any port in a storm, any over-the-counter medication for seasickness is welcome when you have it.

Another option is Meclizine. It’s an alternative to Dramamine, so don’t use both at the same time. But if Dramamine doesn’t work for you, Meclizine might. Madeline takes Meclizine with her just in case.

Sleep Aids

The final thing on our list is sleeping aids. We’re not talking prescription medication. We have prescriptions for sleep medicine but rarely take it. We prefer over-the-counter, and doxylamine succinate works for us.

It may seem odd we’re worried about sleep medication. But during the Antarctic summer, the sun is out nearly all the time. When you’re trying to sleep at 10 o’clock in the evening, the sun is still out! If the window shades on your cruise ship don’t darken your room enough, having something inexpensive like an OTC sleep aid is comforting. Typically, I take this medicine when I’ve had very little sleep for 24 hours or more. I want to make sure I go to sleep for at least 9 hours when I get to my destination. This OTC sleep aid helps.

There you have it. It was an overwhelming list when we first started. But we whittled it down between Amazon and Land’s End and what we already had at home. We’ll write up a post when we get back to let you know what worked and what we wish we had and what we should have left behind.

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