Several harrowing videos of heavy waves pounding cruise ships in the Drake Passage as passengers watch have gone viral in recent months, a reminder that while high-priced cruises to Antarctica are breathtaking, they whisk passengers through arguably the most treacherous waters Antarctica lead world.
In early December, a TikTok vlogger going by the name “Natasha” shared video of massive waves pounding her cruise ship as it sailed through the Drake Passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the southern tip of South America. The video has been viewed more than 12 million times, The New York Post reported.
“Waves are crazy in Drake Passage”, another user named “Edmundo” posted on TikTok in December to show a cruise ship struggling with rough seas: “Reach Deck 6 of our ship.”
“It’s very common,” travel expert Lee Abbamonte, who has traveled to all 193 United Nations member states along with the North and South Poles, told Fox News Digital of the rough seas in the Drake Passage.
PASSENGERS OF VIKING POLARIS TESTIFY AFTER ‘ROGUE WAVE’ KILLED CRUISE LINER IN ANTARCTICA AND KILLED AMERICAN WOMAN
“The season in Antarctica is very short, just a few months, and the Drake is notorious for its unpredictable waves,” Abbamonte said. “Some are lucky and get Drake Lake, others will probably be horizontal for a couple of days. It’s Antarctica, not the Caribbean.”
In late November, a 62-year-old American passenger on a Viking cruise ship was killed in a breakaway wave smashed through a window, Let shards of glass fly. Four other occupants suffered life-threatening injuries.
An ice shelf the size of New York is collapsing in East Antarctica
The Viking Polaris ship, headed for the Argentine city of Ushuaia en route to Antarctica, suffered “limited damage” and returned to Buenos Aires after the voyage was aborted.
The massive currents colliding at the 620-mile-wide waterway cause layers of cold seawater from the south to mix with warmer seawater from the north, causing noisy eddies that are often amplified by strong winds from storms travel blog Oceanwide Expeditions.
Blogger Candice Gaukel Andrews wrote about a trip across the passage in 2015, writing that she was woken up one night by waves hitting the ship “like I was riding a bucking horse in a rodeo.”
“Not only were we bouncing up and down on giant waves, we were spinning back and forth,” Andrews wrote. “I clung to the side of my bed with white knuckles to keep from falling out. My roommate finally gave up lying down, pushed her mattress onto the floor, and collapsed onto it. Anything that wasn’t bolted down — books, bottles, papers, pens — flew through space as if we were experiencing zero gravity that somehow would have accelerated.”
“But outside the porthole it looked more like a washing machine.”
THIRD AUSTRALIA CRUISE IN WEEKS BECOMES A ‘NIGHTMARE’ AFTER FUNGA OUTBREAK PREVENTS NEW ZEALAND ENTRY
The average water flow of the main current flowing through the passage, the West-East Antarctic Circumpolar Current, stretches more than 12,400 miles and is estimated at 135 million cubic meters of water, about 600 times the volume of the Amazon.
The choppy waters of the Drake Passage, named after English explorer Sir Francis Drake, who never actually traveled through the waterway but died near the site in 1578, are believed to be the cause more than 800 shipwrecks.
In general, it is believed that the best month to visit Antarctica is January, when the seas in the Drake Passage are typically calmer but the waterway remains unpredictable regardless of the month.
THWAITES SCIENTIFIC STUDY “DOOMSDAY GLACIER” IN ANTARCTICA IS BLOCKED BY HUGE ICEBERG
Despite the sometimes dangerous waters and waves that can reach 40 feet, Abbamonte says passengers are willing to pay “over $20,000 to $30,000” in some cases for a chance to see the remote continent via luxury cruise to visit.
“You can go out in Zodiacs and see the ice up close,” Abbamonte said. “Some people actually jump in the water, and you’ll generally see a lot of penguins in their own habitat.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Abbamonte said that despite viral videos showing rough seas, Antarctica cruises “are very safe as far as expedition cruises go,” and that travelers who’d rather avoid the Drake Passage can fly to Antarctica, but this one Travel can be more expensive.