Featured Traveler: Jeff, from Naples, Florida

Jeff came to Antarctica on a large cruise ship years ago, but on that trip, they weren’t allowed into the smaller bays and were not allowed to step foot on the continent. So, he had to see the world’s most untouched continent from a distance. Zoom Vacations’ tour to Antarctica on Quark Expeditions’ ship gave Jeff the up-close-and-personal experience that he was looking for.

Zoom: How have you valued vacationing in the past?

Jeff: As a physician, I value vacation as a much needed stress reliever and getaway from the trials and tribulations of a demanding career and hectic social schedule. I look for vacations that are going to completely transport me to a new and totally different perspective on life. 

Zoom: Did you have any epiphanies during the trip? 

 Jeff: Visiting Antartica made me realize how such a very small world we live in, and that Mother Nature is truly magnificent and a force to be reckoned with. 

Zoom: What was the best part or highlight of the trip?

Jeff: The highlight for me was seeing all the penguins, my favorite bird, including the Adelie penguin which is 1 of only 2 penguin species to breed solely in Antarctica; and doing the Polar Plunge into the cold waters of the Southern Ocean (so now I’ve swam in 4 of the 5 oceans of the world – all I have left is the Arctic). Oh, and stepping foot on the Antarctic continent! (I guess there were more highlights than I expected)! 

Zoom: Did your time abroad teach you anything about yourself, the USA, or the world?

Jeff: Well, this was a Bucket List trip for me, and I just tried to savor every moment as this is truly what life is about. Forget all the politics back home, your work stresses, and even relationship stresses and truly be one with nature and one with the moment. In a 100 years when we’re all long gone, Antarctica will probably be very similar to what it is today (albeit changes with Global warming). 

Zoom: How did you feel, once the vacation was over?

Jeff: Once I got home I felt a great joy in the memories and experiences that I brought back with me for the rest of my life. Being in an actual penguin rookery in Antarctica with penguin chicks curiously coming up to you is something that you can’t experience anywhere else on earth. 

Zoom: On past trips, you have done a bit of shopping.  Were you able to do any shopping on this trip? 

Jeff: Obviously Antartica has no shopping! But we did retrieve a few blocks of floating glacial ice from the chilly Antarctic waters on our Zodiac cruises to bring back to the ships bartenders for fresh glacial ice in our evening cocktails. 

Zoom: Did you make any new friends? 

Jeff: As with any Zoom Vacation I always come home with new friends. In fact some of my closest travel friends that we frequently vacation with (both on new Zoom trips and non-Zoom trips) we have met on previous Zoom trips years ago. 

Zoom: How were your guides?

Jeff: This was a smaller Zoom group on an official Quark Expeditions adventure, so our expedition guides were all Quark employees. And all I can say is that their knowledge and friendliness really made our Zodiac cruises and landings exciting and meaningful. 

Zoom: We are all hearing a lot about global climate change.  Did you see or hear the experts of any evidence of this, and how it is possibly affecting Antarctica?

Jeff: Yes, some of the expedition guides who have been traveling to the Antarctic for many years have said they now see snowless land in areas that were always covered in snow in the Antarctic Peninsula. Also they’ve seen evidence of receding glaciers over the years. One effect of all this warming in Antartica that they discussed with us is that certain species of penguin (Gentoo) that normally breed in the northern portions of the Antarctic Peninsula are now moving their breeding areas further south in the peninsula where they are starting to compete for food with the Adelie penguins who typically nest in the southern/colder portions of the peninsula. So global warming is having a direct effect on species breeding and feeding grounds and changing the dynamics of the current natural balance of nature.

Zoom: What advice would you have for someone thinking of coming to this destination?

Jeff: Antartica is probably a Bucket List destination for just about anyone. Definitely a place everyone should experience once in your life, especially if you’re adventuresome and love Mother Nature. 

Zoom: How did it feel traveling as part of a gay group? 

Jeff:  I enjoy traveling as part of a gay group because you already have some built in camaraderie. We always seems to bond well and have a lot of fun. 

Zoom: Did you feel safe? 

Jeff: The ship staff were all top notch on safety and making sure we had no man or woman overboard! 

Zoom: Where are some places that are on your travel radar for your next vacation?

Jeff: Definitely after this Antarctic trip, I’m piqued more than ever about doing a north polar experience, possibly in extreme northern Norway. Other places high on my to do list are Bali, Singapore and Portugal. 

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