How to Win Your Way into a Bucket-List Trip
These days, it takes a lot for a sweepstakes to stand out. But when we dug into the details of what Atlas Ocean Voyages is offering in their new $250,000 Luxe-Adventure Sweepstakes, we were intrigued.
For starters, there are 10 grand prizes being given away over the next 2 1/2 years in 10 different drawings. If you're lucky enough to win one of the grand prizes, then you and a traveling companion get to pick a complimentary cruise from a bucket-listy set of itineraries covering ports from Andvord Bay (in Antarctica) to Ittoqqortoormiit (in Greenland), along with Atlas Ocean Voyages' "all inclusive all the way" perks—roundtrip flights to and from your cruise, gourmet meals, complimentary excursions in every port and amenities such as top-shelf drinks, room service and L'OCCITANE bath goodies.
The first entry period of the sweepstakes started May 17, 2021 with a winner announced right around the same time that their first ship, World Navigator, prepares to take its inaugural voyage. And if at first you don't succeed, you get nine more chances at the top prize between August 2021 and November 2023 as Atlas expands its fleet of eco-friendly hybrid-electric ships from one to five, and grows their list of one-of-a-kind itineraries. It's free to enter, so why not? Get the full details on the sweepstakes here.
In the meantime, with a sailing schedule that already covers six continents, we're busy researching all the amazing places we could visit on board this cruise newcomer with serious street cred. Here's a taste of what kind of luxe-adventure experiences the winner could have on an Atlas voyage.
Pick Your Pole
Penguins or polar bears? We know that deciding on a polar sailing involves answering more questions than that, but you'll have a choice to make if you win one of the 10 Grand Prizes in the sweepstakes. Either way, Atlas has you covered. In the case of Antarctica, that coverage includes private charter jet service from the States down to the small port city of Ushuaia at the tip of South America to start your adventure.
From there, cruises from November 2021 to March 2022 give you options that include a once-every-400-years opportunity to see a reverse solar eclipse in the Scotia Sea, a Valentine's Day sailing (this "Happy Ever Atlas" itinerary includes a complimentary marriage ceremony or vow renewal with seals and penguins as your witnesses), and near the end of the season, a rare chance to see the Southern Lights (the Aurora Australis).
If you'd rather wait until summer 2022 to go somewhere really, really "cool", then hook up with Atlas Ocean Voyages for one of their newly announced adventures that venture north of the Arctic Circle. You could be sailing from Dublin to the northern tips of mainland Norway (taking the inside passage through fjords as opposed to the coastal route used by larger ships), or navigating the Norwegian Sea up to the stunning archipelago of Svalbard (along with a pit stop at Bjornoya, aka Bear Island) or embracing your inner Viking as you venture over to the dramatic coastline of Greenland before disembarking in Reykjavik. During the summer months, the midnight sun will provide plenty of time for excursions such as hiking at the Monaco or Smeerenburg glaciers.
World Navigator is a Polar Category C and Ice Class IB vessel, meaning it can sneak into spots other ships can't reach during Captain's Choice days in either Pole—when expeditions are planned daily to maximize the experience based on the changing weather conditions and wildlife activity. After a day of adventure, relax in your luxury stateroom with a front-row seat from your balcony as the quiet electric-hydro propulsion system allows the ship to stand in place without an anchor and explore ecologically sensitive areas in these unspoiled wildernesses.
If the polar sailings don't float your boat, perhaps you'll want to seek out a pole position of a different kind if you win the sweepstakes. How about a cruise that parks you downtown in some of the world's best cities?
This is one thing that Atlas Ocean Voyage does extremely well—providing access to unique experiences. It starts with something as simple as where the ship docks. World Navigator is one-twelfth the size of the newest generations of mega-ships, so it can often dock in downtown marinas instead of far-off cruise terminals. That means you get closer to the culture -- locations more in line with what you'd expect from a yacht or river cruise than from an ocean cruise.
In Barcelona, for example, the ship will dock about a block from the entrance to the famed shopping street of La Rambla, while larger ships are a taxi ride away at the cruise terminal. Likewise, in St. Petersburg, Russia, you're a few blocks from The Hermitage and Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great, as opposed to miles away on the city's outskirts. Rather than dropping anchor 80 miles south of the city at Cadiz, Atlas sails up the Guadalquivir River to bring travelers right to the city center of Seville, Spain.
Combine that unparalleled access with a choice of complimentary land excursions in every port and planned overnights in locations like Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Reykjavik and Mykonos, and you can immerse yourself deeper as you experience these exciting cities. Instead of getting the drive-by view from a tour bus with timed photo ops during a six-hour port call, you can enjoy late-night tapas in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, sip an extra red in Bordeaux, France, and watch the sunset slowly fade over the Aegean from a seaside table in Mykonos.
A Different Way to Cruise
For a cruise line, it's more cost-effective and easier operationally to keep a ship on a repetitive loop (if it's Monday, we must be in the Cayman Islands).
One of the unique aspects of Atlas Ocean Voyages is that there's very little overlap between one sailing and the next. (Even during the Antarctic season, the large number of Captain's Choice days means no sailing experience will be the same.) Every cruise is different and many include ports that you're not going to reach on most cruise lines.
Looking at the newly announced 2022 itineraries, golfers will want to pack their clubs for a summer British Isles sailing that includes the opportunity to test your mettle (and your irons) at legendary courses such as Carnoustie, Royal Portrush and Royal Birkdale. (Arrive a few days early to Edinburgh and you can add St. Andrews to your dance card.)
Instead of following the cruise crowd, Atlas itineraries frequently go off the beaten path. That includes Greek islands that rarely see cruise ships like Elafonisos, where Simos Beach is in the running for one of Greece's best beaches; a peek at the wind-swept rugged beauty of the Faroe Islands; a Brazilian beach day in Florianópolis; and a chance to climb the narrow cobblestone steps of the Le Panier in Marseille, France.
On top of the unique locations, Atlas has curated excursions that go above and beyond with its Adventure Ashore program. This will challenge any pre-conceived notion of what you'll do on a cruise. Here's a sampling from one sailing: Don a wetsuit for a canyoning and body-rafting adventure through the Alcantara Gorge in Sicily, then a few days later, hook up to Europe's longest zipline and get a bird's-eye view of the fjord between the small Italian towns of Furore and Maggio Conca dei Marini as you fly by at speeds reaching 74 miles per hour. If your vacation style is more chill than thrill, sign up for curated cultural experiences such as a lunch of fresh local dishes at Quattro Passi, a two-starred Michelin restaurant, or a leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets of Sorrento.
Many sailings also offer an optional pre- or post-cruise excursion, adding on experiences such as rafting in southern Greece on a four-day Peloponnese adventure, wandering through the rock caves and valleys of Cappadocia or sipping your way through a three-day tour of Tuscany's best wineries. Book one of these pre-cruise immersions and they'll fly you out a few days early (or back a few days later), and take care of hotel, transfers and tours so you can focus on enjoying the local culture.
In addition to sailing to new destinations, Atlas keeps expanding options for the curious traveler. Starting in April 2022, Atlas will be the only luxury cruise brand to offer oceanview Solo Suites for individual travelers. These private staterooms come with the suite amenities, a queen bed and room to move—it’s nearly two times the size of single rooms on some other cruise lines. All this without charging a pricey single supplement.
Get ready for what's next
One of the most intriguing aspects of this sweepstakes is the fact that travelers will have ten different chances to win over the next 30 months, so as Atlas Ocean Voyages expands their fleet to five expedition ships, the potential prize options will multiply. The summer 2022 sailings were just announced, with World Navigator spending the large part of the summer exploring the Mediterranean, Baltic, Norwegian fjords and Arctic before heading across the Atlantic, traversing the Panama Canal and stopping along South America's west coast on its return to Antarctica.
By then, World Traveller, the second ship in the Atlas Ocean Voyages' fleet, is scheduled to be sailing, charting its own unique course and giving potential winners a whole world of options to explore.