Libraries Round the World: Antarctica

While I frolicked around in Texas’s utopian mist in January (covered in my previous blog), my husband and my mom journeyed south for the adventure of a lifetime. They embarked on a 16-day cruise to South Georgia Island and the Antarctica peninsula, aka the South Pole!

The ship with a library

If you figure the odds of seeing a public library about as likely as a Texas rattlesnake, you’re right. But there was a small private library for the 170 passengers and 130 crew onboard Quark Expeditions’ luxurious S/S World Explorer. So, this one counts for my library blog! 

Every library deserves a great view

Here are some of the highlights from the trip direct from the bold travelers. And I’m proud to have family who qualify for the Seven Continents Club!

Favorite part of the trip?

Mom: Seeing the thousands of penguins and walking up close, within five feet.

Mom & a few thousand new friends with ship and zodiac in distance

Michael: When we arrived at the Arctic Peninsula and saw the ice-covered mountains. 

When Michael knew he’d finally made it
Iceberg cruising in the zodiac-taxi

Favorite animal sighting?

Mom: When we saw about a dozen humpback whales, and they were spouting.

A Tail from a Whale

Michael: On South Georgia Island, a protectorate of the UK, with thousands and thousands of King Penguins. 

Another day at penguin beach

The hardest part of the trip?

Mom: The 3-day voyage to South Georgia Island right before we reached Antarctica took a while.

Squabbling Adélie Penguins

Michael: The long 24-hour+ flight to get to the port of call, Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.

S/S World Explorer

Did you donate a book to the ship’s library? If so, which book?

Mom: Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard by Sara Wheeler and Victim of the Aurora by Thomas Keneally

Michael: Nope

Mom in the ship’s library

Any recommended prep reading material?

And, as you will see from this list below, my mom is a voracious reader!


  • Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica by Sara Wheeler
  • The Longest Winter by Meredith Hooper
  • The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard 
  • Tom Crean: An Illustrated Life by Michael Smith
  • The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole by Roland Huntford

Michael: Before I left, I read some books, magazines, and newspaper articles about Antarctica.  

Making a toast at the grave of Arctic Explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton

Any suggestions for travelers who want to follow in your snowy boot prints?

Mom: Highly recommend, and it’s worth saving up for this once in a lifetime trip. Bring books to read for the long plane ride. 

Michael: Wear sweat-resistant sunscreen!

Victory Celebration! Congrats!!!

Karen Stensgaard is happy with her limited membership in the Six Continents Club and writing novels. Her first two books, AQUAVIT and BLUENESS, are out in the www with a third almost done.

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