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Actually, I think I should change the title to …Packing is an Adventure.  I’m about to head off on an “Expedition Cruise” to the sub-Antarctic on the Orion, which  is a five-star ship.  Here’s me thinking this would be a bit of an opportunity for a little swanning — at least in the evenings.  I’ve been thinking of what to take, as you do, and starting to plan my wardrobe.  I have  62 kilos (136.5 lbs)  of checked baggage allowance on the fight from Hobart to Christchurch, so I was merrily planning a packing bonanza, thinking I’d be able to take what I want with none of the usual sucky-bag hassles.  No excess-weight charge.  Hallelujah, thought I.    HAH!    Well.  Today I received my ticket, and all the accompanying information and advice.  Actually, ‘advice’ is the wrong word.  Requirements is a more accurate choice.

Let me just begin by sampling the section entitled “SUGGESTED CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT TO PACK FOR YOUR SUB-ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION” (They say “suggested” here, then straightaway they start dropping the “must” word).  The next three pages (yes, 3 pages!) details what I must pack for the expedition part of the cruise, followed by five sentences (that’s right: 5 sentences)   about “Clothing for relaxing on board Orion“.  The final five sentences aren’t really worth mentioning here;  they won’t take up much of the 62 kg anyway.  But let me give you a hint of what I will be packing:

  • “You must bring water and windproof rain (or ski) pants, which are much less bulky than tightly woven wool.  Wear these over your thermal underwear and middle layer pants to keep warm and dry.”
  • These waterproof pants must be worn over your knee-high boots when going ashore and we recommend waterproof pants with side zippers on the lower part of the leg.”    (Aha!  Not just any waterproof pants will do!  I’m thinking they aren’t referring to incontinence aids here.)
  • You will need waterproof gum-boots big enough for extra socks” …as you must step from the Zodiac into very cold water that may be up to 25 centimetres deep…”
  • Guests should also bring lightweight boot liners and “hiking” socks.  You will need to buy the boots about 2 sizes too big to accommodate the thickest thermal socks.

I don’t wish to bore you with too much detail here, but some of the items are downright scarey!  Of course I knew I was signing up for an adventure cruise, and that it would be in a fairly cold, wet, windy environment, but golly!   Check this out: 

  • Fibrepile middle layer clothing including pants and a polar fleece jacket”  (to go over the thermal underwear and under the parka…)
  • Turtlenecks”  (Hooray!  Something I already have!)
  • Warm hat or thermal beanie, and a neck tube and a balaclava that can be pulled down to protect neck and chin”   (neck tube???  I hope that doesn’t have anything to do with a tracheotomy when your lips freeze together)
  • Collapsible walking or hiking stick”   (Hooray again…)

And then there is this ominous advice:  “when going ashore you are advised to take a spare dose of your regular medications  just in case we spend longer ashore than planned.”   I wonder if that includes my once-a-week medication..?    So far I haven’t found any reference to Quell, or other seasickness medicines, even though the Southern Ocean is notoriously rough.  Do you suppose they’re holding something back?

I admit, I’m getting pretty excited about this adventure, but I hadn’t expected survival training to be an issue.  Rather, survival dressing.  So much for packing a couple pairs of jeans and some warm sweaters and turtlenecks.    At least they’re providing the parkas. 

It looks like I’ll be doing a bit of shopping in the next few days.   I wonder where  I get a thermal beanie?              MM