Antarctica — Travel Tips
With no permanent residents, Antarctica does not have a native language of its own. Instead, English is the usual common form of communication between the various nationalities that work here, with staff at each research base communicating in their native tongue, be it Russia, Norwegian or English.
Most visitors pre-pay for all-inclusive cruises, therefore there is little reason to use cash here. Bills for drinks, tips and add-ons are typically settled at the end of the expedition by credit card or travelers’ check. For small sundries at the few souvenir shops, US dollars are preferred. There are no banks or ATMs on the continent. There is such as thing as the Antarctican dollar, but it is a collector’s item issued by the Antarctic Overseas Exchange Office and not legal tender.
For practical purposes, Antarctica’s time zones are based on territorial claims, but many individual research stations prefer to abide by the time of their home nation or supply base. Areas where the time zone has not been determined fall under UTC time. Daylight saving time is, for the most part, not observed. Example time zones include the South Pole (UTC +12), McMurdo Station (UTC +12), and Mawson Station (UTC +5).
Electricity here is normally provided by diesel-powered generators or windmills at the research bases, with each station using voltage and plugs that adhere to those in their home country or supply source.
Telecommunications are by satellite, computer systems, telephone networks, and radio systems, with internet and telephone access available at all research stations. Some cruise ships offer telephone and email services to passengers for a hefty price.
While there is no duty-free shopping in Antarctica, some cruise ships offer merchandise tax-free. Shoppers should be aware of the import limits of their final destination before making any purchases.
International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO): http://www.iaato.org/
Consulates in Antarctica
There is no formal consular or diplomatic representation in Antarctica.
As Antarctica doesn’t have emergency services, it is best to contact the nearest research base in case of any incidents, with each having its own limited provisions to medical instances.