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"Special" clothes to pack for Antarctica

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I know what SSeas recommends, but what's really needed? I think I should be expecting extended time periods with temperatures in the 20s to 30s, which is what I get at home every winter, so I know how to dress for that. I have pretty good waterproof boots, I expect to pick up some waterproof pants, and I've got every kind of layer for the rest of my body, including very warm gloves and hats and even a knit face covering hat. Will being in the Zodiac be so damp that I need waterproof upper clothing, too?

 

Do I really need Long Underwear? Special socks (or can I just wear two pairs of regular socks)? Anything else? Should I bring the Yaktrax I've had in a box for 5 years and never needed up here?

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Did both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions -- both times we over packed. Had two set of waterproof pants -- used only 1. Had several. Boots yes. Waterproof tops - no. You have the SS Jacket which should take care of keeping the upper part dry. Never used my ski mask. Did use the gloves regularly. Did not bring thermal underwear and did not need it. The weather was in upper 20's to mid 30's on our trips. The biggest issue was the wind on the observation deck

 

If you are camera happy -- definitely bring a dry bag and a spare body. My Nikon 610 died two days into the cruise. I did have a backup.

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Well, you are used to the cold but, yes, you do need full waterproofs as there will be spray when you ride in the zodiacs. SS provide a jacket with down insulation liner but waterproof trousers and high boots which will accommodate your trousers inside are essential for the wet landings. Hat, neck gaiter or scarf and warm waterproof gloves are also essential. Layers are fine, so two pairs of socks will work. Not only is it cold and damp but you will be stationary in the zodiacs for up to two hours watching the amazing nature on occasion.

Some of the walks are on icy snow so the yaktrax aren't such a silly idea. I didn't see anyone using them though. Walking poles were useful for some.

 

 

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Thanks so much for starting this thread Nitemare. We board the Silver Cloud Expedition in Ushuaia next Feb.

 

Will print to share with my wife both PaulMco, and 57 Varieties replies who have provided very useful Antarctica clothing tips--thank you too.

 

Will also bring our Leki Micro Vario trekking poles for sure (especially since when fending off an ugly 4ft Norwegian Troll that was attacking my wife while we were descending Mr. Keiservarden, Bode Norway ten days ago (ok..admit I tripped and fell) and broke my nose).

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Well, you are used to the cold but, yes, you do need full waterproofs as there will be spray when you ride in the zodiacs. SS provide a jacket with down insulation liner but waterproof trousers and high boots which will accommodate your trousers inside are essential for the wet landings. Hat, neck gaiter or scarf and warm waterproof gloves are also essential. Layers are fine, so two pairs of socks will work. Not only is it cold and damp but you will be stationary in the zodiacs for up to two hours watching the amazing nature on occasion.

Some of the walks are on icy snow so the yaktrax aren't such a silly idea. I didn't see anyone using them though. Walking poles were useful for some.

 

 

 

Totally agree ! We have done both poles, Greenland/Iceland and the Cape to Cape.

The coat supplied by Silverseas is great - you don't need too much under that, I had a thermal long sleeve T shirt and then a cashmere vest. I had wool leggings under my waterproof pants, thermal socks - two pair ! your feet really feel the cold when you go ice cruising in the zodiacs - theres not that much rubber between your feet and the icy water ! The walking poles were a definite help for us as we both have leg problems. I had a merinomink hat and neck gaiter, and as for gloves if you are taking photos we found these gloves great -

 

 

freehands-colors-l-fleece__31484.1287947935.220.180.jpg?c=2

www.freehands.com

 

 

As for boots we had rubber boots that came to just below our knees. Sometimes (depending on location) you are getting out of the zodiac into the water so the higher the boot the better IMO. Our camera would go around our neck on a long cord and into a ziplock bag, then put inside the Silverseas jacket.

Enjoy your trip.

Edited by rojaan19
crazy text link !

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I just wanted to share my opinion on this having sailed some very cold areas including the Northwest Passage last year. The line we sailed uses the same company that Silversea does.

 

I would error on having too much rather then too less clothing to choose from.

 

A couple of things I have learned.

 

One, too little clothing can make for an unpleasant experience when you go ashore.

 

Two, too much clothing can cause you to sweat and you don't want that too happen.

 

Three, each cruise can be different in terms of the weather. Weather in the area of Antarctica changes quicker then most places around the world even the Northwest Passage.

 

Four and maybe the most important is that what is hot, warm and cold varies by person. Yes, some people require less clothing to be comfortable then others and certainly the reverse is true. Part of the reason is that we all come in different shapes and sizes.

 

Five, don't underestimate the wind chill. Wind chill can make all the difference in the world.

 

Speaking of wind chill, one item I highly recommend is a neck gaiter if there are high winds. Keeps the neck protected but you can also raise it a little bit to get it up to your chin.

 

For someone who is used to cold weather you already have a leg up on those who are not.

 

Again to me the key is preparation so that you can enjoy each of your stops and to realize that weather changes often even on the same day.

 

Keith

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Most helpful, thanks! Especially about the SS parka, although since we're leaving home in winter I'll probably have mine on for the flight(s).

 

Could you link to the kind of boots that are recommended? I have warm, strong, hiking boots, and I have LL Bean-like rubber boots, and I'm wondering if either will be appropriate. The rubber ones go a good way up but they are far from warm.

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We call them Wellington boots in the UK but I think you say gum boots or 'Bogs'. They were available to rent when we did the trip some years ago. Ordered for delivery to the ship and left on board.

 

 

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We brought a bunch of good layering clothes but nothing special or out of the ordinary. I think we bought the gloves and the long underwear specifically for the trip but it was 8 years ago, so forgive me if my memory is off.

 

A few mock turtlenecks from LL Bean, synthetic with some cotton, for base layers. They wicked well and kept your skin fairly dry which is pretty important in this cold. I would put a sweater or sweatshirt or fleece over this depending on the temperature and how active we planned to be. Then the SS parka went over that. Many days, that got unzipped because with all of those layers we could get quite warm.

 

I did not bother with a neck gaiter and never felt as if I needed one (I don't own one, yet). I don't think I brought a scarf. We had heavy ski-type gloves and if it was cold or windy we put glove liners under them. I had a hat which I needed some of the time.

 

Bottom layers - silk long underwear, fairly lightweight. We wore jeans over them, and then the waterproof rain pants. Come to think of it, we bought the rain pants for the trip too.

 

Feet - two pairs of socks. One plain sock, and over that, a heavy wool hiking sock. The wool sock goes over the long underwear to keep it in place.

 

Footwear - we borrowed the boots from the boat. Their lightweight "gum boots" were just fine. Even though they were not insulated, with my heavy wool socks I don't remember being cold. One of the days was windy and a snowstorm; I can't believe we landed but we were still fine.

 

Assembly notes (like IKEA) - the jeans tuck into the boots, but the rain pants zip up over (i.e., outside of) the gum boots. That way, even if you get drenched, the water cannot get into your boots. Obviously that won't protect you if you are submerged but short of that, it is fine, and we never got wet feet.

 

As an aside, we found the Svalbard trip much colder than the Antarctica trip. May be a fluke, or may be a trend. I don't know. Or maybe we got old and wimpy in between the two trips... :(

 

So in summary, nothing more than you'd need to be outdoors in a New York winter.

 

Edited to add: the LL Bean boots are probably like what we wore. Thin rubber boots with a decent tread and a hard sole. You do NOT need hiking boots; the walks are slow and not far. We were fine with the boots that were provided. IMO, dry feet were more important than hiking boots.

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Thanks Keith (will bring my neck gaiter, tho did not use it last month in Norway).

 

JP, very helpful post. Have read numerous Antarctica posts where posters spent the coin on new boots only to find the Ship's boots were fine. Your Ikea rationale made precise sense. Will now bring my Salewa's (with two pair of Darn Tough Merino boot sox) to wear inside the Silver Cloud Expediton boots we get before landings.

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Thank you for this thread. We were hiking last month in Longyearbyen Spitsbergen, wasn't too cold, but with the wind, definitely needed windproof/waterproof pants and thermal underwear for me.

 

We are booked on the Cloud for December 2018 so we have some time to pick up some more pointers. Hubby decided to purchase the Bogs boots since they were only a little more than the rental price.

 

Any additional pointers are appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Will also bring our Leki Micro Vario trekking poles for sure (especially since when fending off an ugly 4ft Norwegian Troll that was attacking my wife while we were descending Mr. Keiservarden, Bode Norway ten days ago (ok..admit I tripped and fell) and broke my nose).

 

Haha - I did say that was the most plausible and admirable reason for your mishap. Glad you're back safely and hoping you've made a full recovery without any further medical needs. You're journal has definitely made a visit to the Fjords imminent.

 

Yikes on the thought of camera bodies or lens dying! I'm glad I read this thread, it's not something I'd ever even considered a problem.

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You can also rent the boots from the Silversea outfitter in Seattle. This way you are guaranteed your size.

Silversea jacket and boots are waiting for you when you arrive in your stateroom -- the jacket did run a bit small but Silversea has a good stock and your butler can arrange to get another one if too small or too big.

 

We layered up using Patagonia gear. The SS Outfitter is a bit expensive and you an find alot better deals on the web.

Same with the Expedition luggage. What they have is actually good and it has several compartment allowing you to segregate the stinky stuff -- especially the boots, SS Jacket, waterproof pants. We have used the luggage on two additional expedition trips.

 

I found that snow boarder pants worked very well. Waterproof and also thermally insulated.

 

 

Yikes on the thought of camera bodies or lens dying! I'm glad I read this thread, it's not something I'd ever even considered a problem.

 

Yes and also the charger. Our last cruise in Africa -- I was the lender of a Nikon charger (as I had a spare). Most of the expedition team is Canon oriented.

 

Reminder -- the SS Backpack is not waterproof -- so plan accordingly for camera gear.

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Are these the women's boots that you rented from the SS supplier?

 

Thanks

 

I bought these boots without the handles (one less hole for water to enter, but more difficult to put on/take off).

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Are these the women's boots that you rented from the SS supplier?

 

 

 

Thanks

 

 

 

I don't think they are the same boots but are similar. Go to the link on the SS website for the 'expedition gear' and you will see what is on offer to rent.

 

 

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We sailed with a different cruise line (Crystal on their Northwest Passage Cruise last year) and they use the same outfitter that Silversea does. We rented the boots. Their is a women's boot and a men's boot. Boots look similar but biggest difference is the sizing of them.

 

I took the same size in a boot that I wear for shoes. My wife wears a slightly larger size in sports shoes then she does in regular shoes. They advised to go with the sports shoe size and were right.

 

We wore two pairs of socks.

 

We looked at purchasing them and they were available at Amazon.Com. Took me awhile to find them but I did.

 

The break even point on a rental to purchasing them was about two cruises.

 

We decided to rent them. One of the benefits of this was if we bought the two pairs of shoes between them they would have taken up quite a bit of a suit case.

 

They worked very well and we were pleased we had them and were glad we just rented them. Down the road we hope to take another expedition cruise but that will likely be it so we really don't need to own these types of boots.

 

Keith

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PaulMCO & Keith, very helpful Antarctica clothes posts, thanks. After, readying your posts, we would prefer to rent boots for our Silver Cloud Antarctica voyage in late Feb. Alas, since this is also a repositioning voyage for the cloud from Antarctica to South Africa, it is the only Antarctica SS voyage that does not have the rental option. So, we will buy the Bogs boots brand (men & women) and devote one carry on bag for these boots.

 

 

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PaulMCO & Keith, very helpful Antarctica clothes posts, thanks. After, readying your posts, we would prefer to rent boots for our Silver Cloud Antarctica voyage in late Feb. Alas, since this is also a repositioning voyage for the cloud from Antarctica to South Africa, it is the only Antarctica SS voyage that does not have the rental option. So, we will buy the Bogs boots brand (men & women) and devote one carry on bag for these boots.

 

Col Wes, we have needed the boots for 4 expedition cruises in the past, and what we do is buy gum boots from our local hardware store (like Lowes/Home Depot/Walmart) usually costing $ 20 - we then leave them on board - the staff donate them to villages along the west coast of Africa. And you have more room in your case going home ! BP90045224003-black.jpg-SPOTWF-product?context=bWFzdGVyfGltYWdlc3wxNTk2NnxpbWFnZS9qcGVnfGltYWdlcy9oMDUvaDhhLzg5NDYxMzIyNTQ3NTAuanBnfDI3YTEyZWVlMzRlNDNkY2RiMWRhOWQ0NjJjN2QzMTIzZTU2MDcwNzkxNmQxYzBmN2YyYzBiZjlmYjIyZTc3YmE

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Dr.Ron, Ann; Thanks very much for the Gum Boots recommendation and replying to my response to Keith and PaulMCO. We especially like that you leave your boots on board for good use by folks in need in West Africa. (and the Cloud Expedition will be heading to the coast of West Africa on the voyage following ours.).

 

Considering JPalbny and your experienced based recommendation for Gum Boots (and ultimate donation of the bo0ts), this is

what we will plan to do now. Ida, as a Master Gardener already used daily a pair of Gum boots for her garden passion, but we will just go ahead and buy two new pair.

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TakingFlight, please see this cut/paste info taken from the important information tab on the guest information section of your booking (walking sticks (trekking poles are listed as optional)

 

12

Protective lotion for lips, hands and face. Reflected glare

from sun, water, ice and snow, can be intense.

Wind chill can be a significant feature of a polar expedition.

When the wind is constant, you can be robbed of body heat

quickly. Adequate wind and rain gear is vital. Cotton is ideal

in warm weather, however, once it becomes wet, it will drain

your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene,

MTS and Thermax instead. Always test layers before a trip.

The outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without

binding and bunching up.

OPTIONAL FIELD GEAR

Camera, film, memory cards and extra batteries. Bring

more film and/or memory cards than you think you will

need. Certain film types will be difficult to purchase or

unavailable once the trip begins. Test your camera before

leaving home to ensure it is working properly, and pack the

manual for reference, should unexpected problems arise.

Consider bringing a camera beanbag to support your

300mm+ lens for your camera’s stabilisation.

Binoculars are an essential part of your field gear and will

enhance your experience ashore. Purchase a compact set

and test them out before travelling.

Motion sickness remedies.

Spare contact lenses or glasses.

A few large zip-seal bags to keep camera gear dry whilst

riding in the Zodiac and during wet shore landings.

Reading and writing materials.

Insect repellent.

A lightweight, collapsible, walking staff (also called a

trekking pole) provides a sense of security, increased

balance and confidence when walking on ice, snow and

rugged terrain.

Ski-Mask, which may be helpful in snowy conditions while in

the Antarctic.

We are taking our Leki collapsible sticks for our Feb 18th Antarctica voyage.

Look forward to hearing about your Antarctica trip.

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I haven't been to Antartica yet, but in the Arctic I was very cold. I admit I am from Florida but I also ski in Colorado so for me the key, was as has been mentioned, layers.

I did use a neck gaiters which I could pull up to my nose when we were going fast in the zodiac. I also did get gloves with fingers that open as has been suggested. It made picture taking easier. I suggest you get very waterproof gloves, holding on to the zodiac in the spray your hands did get wet.

I also brought hand warmers and foot warmers, the kind in the small packages you shake to activate. They were a life saver on long zodiac rides when you were sitting in the cold. I had plenty left over and gave them to the crew.

I did buy my own rubber boots. I wanted to make certain there was enough tread and that they fit well. We did a lot of walking in them and I wanted traction and fit. They need to be high enough as well, because there is nothing worse than stepping out into the water only to find your boots filling up with water!

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Just to add a few -- we ended up buying our boots as we have used them twice. They also make good horse (in our case mule) mucking boots.

 

Regarding bean bags... If you have a large telephoto lens (a must for the polar bears) -- a must have is a mono pod for stabilizing on board the ship when outside. The ship will get close but not that close.

Edited by PaulMCO

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You would have to have an amazing telephoto lens if you were trying to take pictures of polar bears from Antarctica!

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A question on the SilverSeas Backpack since my wife wants to take trekking poles - does anyone have a closeup picture of the backpack? Does it have a way to strap the poles on (like my backpack) for when we ride in the zodiacs? Or, what do you do with your poles on the zodiac?

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I'd love to hear a description of the process in regards to your penguin poop smeared boots and rain pants when you get back to the ship on the zodiac! Hopefully it is not that the crew breaks out a ships fire hose and turns it on you to hose you down.:D

 

After getting washed off, what do you do with your boots? Are there lockers or do you bring them back to your cabin? I have a picture in my mind of 100 identical looking boots all lined up and no one knowing which are theirs after the first zodiac trip. ;)

 

Thanks in advance, an Antarctic future first timer here.

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A question on the SilverSeas Backpack since my wife wants to take trekking poles - does anyone have a closeup picture of the backpack? Does it have a way to strap the poles on (like my backpack) for when we ride in the zodiacs? Or, what do you do with your poles on the zodiac?

 

I'm looking at three Silversea backpacks and all three are built different. Only one has a spot for a tripod or trecking poles. Just bring your own backpack and you will be happy. We leave the new backpacks in the room when we leave (we already have more than we could ever use)

 

It seems that everybody just piles their trecking poles and walking canes in the middle of the zodiac. Don't give it too much importance, you will figure it all out on your first landing.

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I'd love to hear a description of the process in regards to your penguin poop smeared boots and rain pants when you get back to the ship on the zodiac! Hopefully it is not that the crew breaks out a ships fire hose and turns it on you to hose you down.:D

 

After getting washed off, what do you do with your boots? Are there lockers or do you bring them back to your cabin? I have a picture in my mind of 100 identical looking boots all lined up and no one knowing which are theirs after the first zodiac trip. ;)

 

Thanks in advance, an Antarctic future first timer here.

 

Boots -- on first sea day-- the crew will put a tag number on each boot for you with a little cubby hole assigned in the prep/changing room. They will also make you bring these and your pants and jacket where they will vacuum the clothes and wash the boots. Key is to get anything that will contaminate the antarctic ecosystem.

 

On leaving the boat you will likely walk through a tray of disinfectant. On return - I think same. There are water spigots in the room where everyone will remove and clean their cloths. Remove boots clean poop and put back into the cubby.

 

A good idea is to bring a pair of slippers this way you can make your way back without being in bare feet. MHO

 

Sorry about the arctic Polar Bear comment as the previous poster brought up the arctic... But it also applies to photographing whales and other wildlife you will see on the bergs (crab eater seals)

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An unpleasant reality is that some folks browse the tagged boot rack seeking a better boot.

Quite an issue when you are scheduled for shore and your cubby is empty .

I asked a crew member to please find me another pair.. asap….and it was so...

It seems they usually have some extras that don't go out in the bin for general distribution… :-)

Next time I bring nice boots I will paint the soles with fluoro paint

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An unpleasant reality is that some folks browse the tagged boot rack seeking a better boot.

Quite an issue when you are scheduled for shore and your cubby is empty .

I asked a crew member to please find me another pair.. asap….and it was so...

It seems they usually have some extras that don't go out in the bin for general distribution… :-)

Next time I bring nice boots I will paint the soles with fluoro paint

 

Since we bought our boots, l am wondering if we should mark ours someway. Sad that people actually steal from fellow passengers?

Can we take them back to the cabin with us?

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I'm looking at three Silversea backpacks and all three are built different........

 

Thanks, this helps a lot. I won't worry about our trekking poles then.

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Boots -- on first sea day-- the crew will put a tag number on each boot for you with a little cubby hole assigned in the prep/changing room......

 

Ahhhh, this helps a lot. So we do not have to bring them back to the room which is great because we had a bit of worry about the smell. I fully appreciate and agree with not contaminating any of the antarctic island ecosystem.

 

 

The slippers idea is brilliant!

 

 

We were brainstorming a way to mark our boots (that we bought). It helps if the crew tags the boots. I think I'll still try to make some very distinctive marking on them in light of the next comments.

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Since we bought our boots, l am wondering if we should mark ours someway. Sad that people actually steal from fellow passengers?

Can we take them back to the cabin with us?

 

Some folks do wash them and take them back.

Folks seeking to upgrade are probably assuming all the boots are on loan from silversea and although it is quite poor form, they probably don't see the behaviour as stealing .. :-)

Our one Antarctic trip was many years back and there was a broad range of boot quality in the bin.. first in best dressed.. :-)

 

Another thing not mentioned is the challenge of rugging up in the cabin and dissolving from heat exhaustion waiting downstairs at disembarkation.

Leave everything undone and also practice quickly zipping up and donning the life vest just as the tender arrives..

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You would have to have an amazing telephoto lens if you were trying to take pictures of polar bears from Antarctica!

 

 

Lol

 

The penguins are happy about that.

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Thanks to websailor, cfflutist, takingflight and others on this Antarctica thread for asking very helpful questions about the Silversea Antarctica experience.

 

And special kudos go to Rojaan19, PaulMCO, tgh, spinnaker2 and carefreecruise who have provided very helpful answers and addtional Anarctica/expedition cruising answers that will assist us when we board the Cloud in February. We plan on taking hand/feet warmers as Candy/spinnaker2 suggests, and also bringing two pairs of "mudroom" slippers as PaulMCO recommends too.

 

And for those who want to view a super vid on the Silversea home page about expedition cruising in general, pls see this marvelous SteveMcCurry

vid (first vid at link). Right below the McCurry video is

 

 

Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio and Conrad Combrink, Vice President of Expedition Planning & Strategic development, discussing the origin of expedition cruising on SS.

 

 

https://www.steveandsilversea.com/

Edited by WesW

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There is a mud room with individual slots for each suite for storing the boots. It has an area with hoses and scrub brushes to get penguin poop or whatever else you might have stepped in off. At the beginning of the cruise they put a tag with your suite number on each boot.

 

As far as backpacks and poles, the most recent version does not have a way to attach the poles. Everyone just carried theirs. I bring the backpacks home and donate to the caring center at our church. They are always needing them.

 

 

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Thanks Rachel for the good fidelity on Silversea's expedition ship mud room operation including boot use/care, backpack and pole use.

 

 

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