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Take the Polar Plunge

There are few exploits as memorable and invigorating on an Arctic or Antarctic expedition as the legendary polar plunge. Not for the faint of heart, leaping into these frigid waters is a thrilling, rejuvenating, and envy-inducing bucket list experience that you’ll not soon forget.
Guest polar dive swim Arctic

© Dennis Minty

While you stand there waiting your turn—reminiscent, perhaps, of a penguin preparing to bellyflop into the sea—it’s likely that you’ll wonder if it’s too late to turn back.

Would anybody notice if I hightailed it to my cabin? you’ll think to yourself. Maybe I could just wet my hair under the shower and nobody would be the wiser.

You won’t be alone. Everyone shuffling along down the line in their bathrobes, bathing suits, and flip-flop sandals will be thinking the same thing. But as you get closer to the gangway, you’ll hear the yelps and squeals of other adventurous souls paving the way, spurring you on.

Judy Acres polar plunge

As my wrists broke the surface of the water, I remember thinking “Oh poop! Is it too late to change my mind?” I think I was screaming underwater before I even surfaced. —Judy Acres

When at last it is your turn and you stand there barefoot on the metal staircase, not sure if your goose bumps are from the chilly polar wind or the anticipation, you’ll take one last breath and then—splash!

Jeff Anderson polar plunge

© Dennis Minty

It was about at this point where I thought, "What have I done?!” I think the picture captured exactly what was on my mind: this is crazy! —Jeff Anderson

No, there’s no other feeling quite like it in the world: jumping into the depths of the planet’s coldest waters (sometimes as low as -1° Celsius, since saltwater has a colder freezing temperature than fresh). Joining the exclusive polar plunge club is a highlight for many of our guests, expedition team, and even crew on our Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

There are always some who wonder how such a foolhardy experience could possibly be safe. Of course, you know yourself and your limits best, and if you feel there’s any health reason that should stop you from participating, you should absolutely heed that survival instinct.

Islay polar plunge

© Dennis Minty

Adventure Canada’s reigning youngest polar plunger, Islay Edmunds—an inspiration to even the biggest scaredy cats amongst us—was just three years old when she first jumped in 2019.

If, on the other hand, a quick dose of liquid bravery is all you need to work up your nerve, here are some facts that might help entice you:

  • We always work closely with the ship’s captain to ensure the waters we choose are safe for swimming. We’ll never plunge in a place that’s got a strong current running, is too shallow, or is strewn with icebergs. If you like, you can choose to wear a harness line that is secured to the vessel.
  • We always have a safety Zodiac in the water if needed. The best part is that this is a perfect vantage point for one of our photographers to snap prized evidence of your accomplishment!
  • The ship’s doctor and a trained medical team will be on standby, just in case.
Jean Stevens polar plunge

© Loretta Rempel

One of our senior kid-at-heart swimmers was Jean Stevens in 2009, who was ninety-three years young at the time of her plunge.

Joining this exclusive club comes with many perks, which may or may not include bragging rights, fun prizes, and a nip of something to warm your heart when you emerge from the frigid depths.

If in the end you decide a polar plunge is not for you, we know you’ll have just as much fun watching the spectacle from the sidelines. But if you’re willing to close your eyes, conquer your fear, and take the plunge, you’ll never forget it.