Credit: Viking Cruises

Viking Octantis’ Godmother Liv Arnesen’s top tips on skiing and cruising in Antarctica

Author: Laura Ellsessar

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Curious about a trip to Antarctica? Learn from Liv Arnesen, world renowned skier, explorer and Godmother to Viking Octantis.

Liv Arnesen has been named the Godmother of Viking Octantis, a new expedition ship taking passengers to the most remote locations.

She is especially well known for being the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole. Fellow skier Ann Bancroft, who Arnesen skied and sailed with to become the world’s first women to cross the Antarctic, was named Godmother of Viking Polaris.

With lots of experience and knowledge in polar exploration, Arnesen is passionate about educating both adults and children and helping them to push themselves to fulfil their dreams.

Just as Arnesen pushes herself to explore, passengers onboard Viking Octantis will be able to connect with scientists and researchers while travelling to remote destinations. Immerse yourself in your environment on an expedition cruise and leave with incredible experiences and plenty of new knowledge.

Here she tells you the many ways to prepare for your time on Viking Octantis and more about her own experiences in exploration.

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What does being Godmother to Viking Octantis mean to you?

I’m very honoured to be part of the Viking family. Wherever Viking goes, they encourage a sense of curiosity amongst all ages.

We’re all life-long learners and it’s such an adventure to see all parts of the globe that we live on. Viking enables so many people to do that and I feel lucky to be a part of it.

What’s your top advice for anyone heading on an Antarctica cruise?

Travelling is about learning. Learning about the different cultures, learning about the people and learning about the environment. I would urge all guests heading on a Viking Expedition to make the most of learning as much as they can whilst onboard.

There is so much at your fingertips – from lectures, to excursions, to the science labs. Try and immerse yourself in it all as much as possible.

- READ MORE: What’s it like to cruise Antarctica? Photographer reveals what to expect -

What do you like most about Viking Octantis and what would you say to persuade someone to sail onboard?

The opportunity to spend time with working scientists from renowned academic institutions in The Science Lab who are undertaking research during the voyages is a very special offering for guests. As a Viking guest, you will enjoy daily briefings and world-class lectures about the destination.

On shore, guests can assist in fieldwork – such as monitoring birds to help identify migratory patterns; accompanying scientists to collect samples; or taking their cameras ashore alongside a professional photographer to learn how best to capture scenic landscapes. It is all so hands on.

There is also such a variety of equipment on board from kayaks to skis. You can be adventurous as you like.

Antarctica's wildlife is diverse and unique. Credit: Shutterstock

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I'm sure it's nigh impossible to sum up but what's it like to ski solo to the South Pole? It sounds very cold and lonely! What were the biggest challenges for you? What kept you going?

I think everybody can get strong enough to ski to the Pole but the mental side is harder. Because if nothing goes to plan you have to be prepared to handle the bad weather and the unexpected. I actually had a really good expedition. The hardest part was the funding.

Why did you want to ski to the South Pole?

The dream about the South Pole was born after reading a book about the first man to ski to the South Pole when I was eight years old. I loved skiing since I was around three, when I got my first skis.

I was living in the outskirts of Oslo, with its beautiful ski routes and treks. In the winter and Easter holidays we went to the cabin in the mountains where I could ski out into wide open spaces, and keep my dream for the South Pole going.

- READ MORE: Inside Viking Octantis cruise ship sailing to the far reaches of the earth -

Do you think expedition cruises could help someone discover their inner explorer?

They will help people see a part of the world that many have never seen and many never will. We are all learners and the expedition itineraries offer such an immense adventure for guests.

Also, the expeditions will allow for many people to understand nature better. I think the Viking expeditions will allow so many more people to see the landscapes the first explorers have been lucky to see but in a very comfortable way.

Liv said: "I think the Viking expeditions will allow so many more people to see the landscapes the first explorers have been lucky to see." Credit: Viking

What's been the highlight of your exploring career?

As a former high school teacher I find so much energy from helping and inspiring others through the curriculums Ann Bancroft and I “marked” through our expeditions. I have been lucky enough to have the platforms to be able to share my experiences with so many people and become an ‘educator’ in a sense. It is such a privilege.

My explorations have become owned by everyone who has followed them. I feel that I have made a genuine change to other people’s lives through sharing my explorations which is a very special feeling.

- READ MORE: 10 amazing cruises to Antarctica - how to pick the best cruise for you -

What difficult moments have you experienced on your expeditions?

A scary moment for Ann Bancroft and me was going down the Shackleton Glacier. The snow and ice had melted (usually the crevasses are filled with snow). My sled landed on the part of the snow which was covering the crevasse so I had to navigate away.

At one point I slipped into the crevasse and I had to hold myself up with my elbows. It was very windy that day so it made communication hard. I actually only realised how dangerous that moment had been when I was safely inside our tent that evening and we were processing what had happened during the day.

I have learnt over the years though that you must remain very concentrated and take things slowly when anything becomes dangerous.

The ability to share her explorations with others is the highlight of Liv's career. Credit: Shutterstock

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

You can always accomplish what you dream of accomplishing.

If you find something that makes your heart beat a little harder or the blood run a little faster then that is something that is important for you and you should take care of it even if your family or friends disagree. You should nurse it and see where it leads you.

- READ MORE: Viking Neptune 'floated out' - what's onboard new Viking cruise ship? -

What qualities do you need to be a successful explorer?

Strong inner motivation, experience, confidence, courage, positivity and humility.

What were your must-haves when packing for the Antarctica cruise?

Warm underwear. I prefer wool.

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