Antarctic Petrels swooped low overhead and seemed to guide our small expedition ship through the Drake Passage (December, 2016); it’s a great route for spotting and photographing tube-nosed seabirds from the open decks. Photo: Miranda Miller

One the great unknowns for many people preparing for their Antarctic expedition is what to expect of the Drake Passage crossing.

I had packed a few seasickness remedies for my Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent expedition (Sea-Band wristbands, Transderm Scop skin patches for motion sickness, and that old staple from the medicine cabinet: Gravol) just in case, but I wasn’t expecting any issues. The weather looked promising enough and I’ve had plenty of experience on boats, even taking one to work for a few years across the sometimes punishing waters of Georgian Bay.

As I quickly learned though, seasickness can occur on any kind of waters, so roughness really doesn’t matter.
In this post, I’ll share my experience crossing the Drake Passage, as well as helpful seasickness tips from Dr. Dan  Zak, one of Quark’s onboard physicians, to help you prepare to cross this fabled passage on your expedition.

Why Crossing the Drake Passage is Such a Travel Achievement

Our Drake Passage crossing in December 2016 was nearly the ‘Drake Lake’ passengers hope for (as opposed to the dreaded Drake Shake), staff assured me. It was the length of time we spent out in open water that got me and by about six hours in, I was really feeling it. I wasn’t the only one, either… even in the relatively calm conditions, dozens of people were missing from the dinner tables.

Yet afterwards, the talk around the ship was positive! How well we’d been taken care of, and what a rite of passage we’d all shared.

The Drake Passage is the confluence of three Oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Oceans. The sheer volume of water is massive, with about 600x that of the Amazon river. Waves out there can range from gentle swells of 2-3 metres to a roiling sea of 12-13 metre high waves.

Written for and originally published by Quark Expeditions, June 2017. Keep reading at