By: Sarah Stone
Cruises to Antarctica are growing in popularity, and with good reason: they’re the ultimate bucket list activity, they’re becoming more accessible than ever before, and they’re an incredible way to take a cruise without stopping to shop and eat at overpriced ports. And no matter your motivation to visit this frozen land, there are a variety of cruise types to get you there. Before we get into our list of the best cruises to Antarctica, let’s have al look at what you can expect from the experience.
Background Info about Cruises to Antarctica
You can depart on a cruise to Antarctica from an array of ports, with the most popular ones being Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; the Falkland Islands; South Georgia; and various parts of New Zealand.
How Long are Antarctica Cruises?
One of the shortest available cruises to Antarctica is six days, departing from Ushuaia, Argentina. You will stop at Cape Horn, sail through the Drake Passage and see the South Shetland Islands, and then fly back from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile.
Other cruises can be much longer, even lasting one month. 10-day cruises are available departing from Argentina, 22-day trips from New Zealand, and tons more. If you’d like to explore the Antarctic Peninsula, you should budget more than two weeks for your trip.
Ships that sail to Antarctica have specialized, strengthened hulls specifically designed to meet the demands of the region, and it’s a good idea to learn about safety standards of your ship before booking your experience. For example, if you want to maximize your time exploring the area, it’s best to choose a ship carrying no more than 100 passengers, as only 100 people can disembark in Antarctica at the same time.
Things to Do and See
Taking a cruise to Antarctica offers you the opportunity to take part in a ton of different activities, and experience all this beautiful part of the world has to offer. Embark on a hike to photograph the landscape and wildlife, or go kayaking to get a one-of-a-kind view of whales and penguins! Some cruises incorporate camping and skiing excursions—as you research cruise options, consider what you’d like to get from your trip, and which ones offer the best experience for your interests and lifestyle.
Recommended Cruises to Antarctica
The Abercrombie & Kent tour company has offered adventures and experiences in Antarctica for more than 20 years, and has launched more than 200 successful expeditions. With A&K, you will travel on a stylish French luxury ship, Le Lyrial, which can hold up to 199 passengers. Cruises to Antarctica run for 12 to 17 nights, and the ship includes amenities such as a pool, fine dining, spa, salon and more. The expedition team is comprised of academics and researchers, photographers, and other experienced travelers who will guide you on your trip and introduce you to the beauty and wonder of Antarctica. Cruises start from about $13,000 and up.
Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten has been offering cruises and expeditions for over 125 years, with a focus on exploration and knowledge of the world’s ecosystems. The price point is lower than most luxury lines—the least expensive cruise currently offered to Antarctica by Hurtigruten is $7,500—and the ships provide a Scandinavian ambiance with amazing features such as private balconies and outside cabins. Some suites include outdoor, private Jacuzzis.
Hurtigruten prides itself on having the first cruise ships that run on hybrid technology, featuring an environmentally friendly design that’s made to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by using electrical propulsion. Expeditions run from six to 23 days, and starting points include Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Santiago.
Lindblad Expeditions has offered research and adventure cruises for over 50 years, since their first citizen expeditions in 1966 and 1967 to the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. And since 2004, National Geographic has partnered with Lindblad Expeditions to take travelers to some of the world’s most remote and beautiful destinations.
During your adventure, you’ll be able to go kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding, and on the ship, you can relax in a comfortable cabin, unwind in the wellness center, and try amazing food. You will learn from wildlife and conservation experts, and professional photographers will be available to help you capture your best shots during the voyage. Cruises last 14 to 39 days, and start from about $14,600 depending on the itinerary.
Ready to Travel?
If you dream of visiting a pristine part of the world, a place that few people have seen up close, a cruise to Antarctica should be on your bucket list. And whether you’re looking for luxury or adventure, or a mix of both, you’re bound to find the right option! If you’ve been on a cruise or are planning one, join our community and share your tips.