Looking for a unique holiday gift for the travel enthusiast on your list? How about an "Ice Class" day tour of Antarctica onboard a chartered Boeing 747?
Croydon Travel, in conjunction with Qantas, has been operating Antarctica Sightseeing Flights since 1994. The approximate 12.5 hour day-trip flights depart from and return to various Australian cities on six dates from December to February.
Expert Antarctic expeditioners are onboard to talk about the polar environment and its history while video screenings depict life on the ground — all while the aircraft flies figure 8's over various points of interest so they can be viewed on both sides of the aircraft.
Weather can play a large part in what passengers will see. But Qantas has more than 19 routes from which to fly to take advantage of the best sightseeing conditions.
Approximately three hours south of Australia, passengers usually see the first scattered ice patches followed by dozens of icebergs and ice floes.
Over the South Magnetic Pole, rugged mountainous topography of the Antarctic Mainland prevails where passengers get about four hours of sightseeing before the aircraft heads back to Australia.
Ice Class tickets are available for $6,999 (Australian dollars) and include a seat in the first class section of the aircraft. Ice Class passengers will either have a window or aisle seat next to the window seat. The window and adjacent aisle seats are exchanged at the halfway point of the journey to allow all Ice Class passengers prime window viewing.
If Ice Class isn't in your budget, seats in business class and economy are also available.
Prices for an economy class seat range from $1,199 to $2,699 (Australian dollars), depending on where you sit and if you'd like to rotate into a window seat during the flight. Ample viewing can still be achieved for non-rotating middle seats by walking to any available window space or exit zone. There is a fantastic atmosphere of cooperation among passengers as they share the experience, according to testimonials on the Antarctica Flights website.
Business class tickets range from $3,599 (Australian dollars) for a non-rotating middle seat to $6,599 (Australian dollars) for prime window/aisle swapping seats.
All passengers enjoy two full meals, a complete selection of beverages and other in-flight snacks.
The first departure is scheduled from Melbourne on December 31 as a New Year's Eve party flight. Additional departures from Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth round out the six available flights through the end of February.
For complete details, click here.