Updated: Jul 26, 2023
Is visiting Antarctica on your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2023/24?
I wish every person could have such a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature in this pure form….
The Intimate moments with nature while you visit Antarctica are one of these magical experiences that will shape you in a way you can’t even begin to describe.
You may ask yourself, “is Antarctica my kind of travel destination? ” Definitely. You only need to let go and connect with your adventurous spirit; enjoy the surreal experience of your life!
Are you in for Visiting the 7th continent?
Antarctica is a place in the world that very few have explored, but those that visit Antarctica will be rewarded with unique experiences that will stay with them forever.
But, like many of Life’s most rewarding experiences, an Antarctic expedition requires preparation and knowledge. You’ll be sailing into one of the most hostile environments on the planet, and it’s not an undertaking that should be lightly taken.
I have designed a short guide about the best luxury cruises to Antarctica to provide travelers like you who are planning to visit Antarctica with reliable information to help you choose the right Cruise to Antarctica for you.
I have learned quite a lot about Antarctica over the years, and I will love to share it with you to help you get the best adventure possible to this once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Check out this video on our Instagram page.
But first, Why should you trust my advice?
I’m Clara Barciela and with Maria Barciela, my sister, we founded in 2007 Across South America, our boutique and luxury travel agency.
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, our goal is to help travelers from around the world experience the ‘real’ South America – without compromising on comfort.
As a boutique company, we focus on personalized service and bespoke itineraries. We don’t work with many travelers but with a limited number of trips to guarantee the quality of our service. We meticulously arrange our trips around the unique interests of travelers, ideal travel pace, accommodation preferences, and personal travel style.
Thanks to our in-depth South American expertise, relationships, and extensive firsthand experience, we can offer a truly specialized and profound experience. See what our travelers say about traveling with us.
Now that you know more about us, let me tell you about this Article.
When Choosing the best luxury cruise to Antarctica, There are some things you need to consider:
1. What is the best way to get to Antarctica? Air or Cruise?
2. What is the best month to cruise to Antarctica? – It greatly depends on what you want to see
3. What destinations can you visit in Antarctica – not all cruises go to all destinations!
4 – What can you do on a cruise to Antarctica? – depending on what you want to do, the cruise you must take.
5-What is the best company to go to Antarctica – and what ship to choose?
6-Your Budget – How much is a luxury cruise to Antarctica?
BONUS FOR YOU
✔️Our Suggested Trip: Antarctica & Wild Patagonia
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Have you already got some ideas in mind for your trip but need a professional & friendly hand to help you? Book your consultation call with us, and we can help to choose the perfect cruise for you and design the full life experience.
My goal for this post is to show you the Antarctica I know and love, to give you the benefit of my passion and experience so that you can choose the right luxury cruise for you.
Let’s dive in!
What is the best way to get to Antarctica? About the options you have.
What options come to your mind when picturing your trip to Antarctica? What is the best way to get to Antarctica?
My Tip: Choose a Small Expedition Cruise 👌
Most people visit Antarctica on a cruise ship. The IAATO lists all the operators cruising in the area, including some large, mainstream cruise lines. I would strongly recommend opting for one of the smaller expedition ships carrying between 50 and 200 passengers.
Larger ships with more than 500 passengers are not allowed to land passengers in Antarctic waters, so you can only view the landscape from the boat. ( 200 people is the maximum number that can leave any ship at the same time in the Antarctic according to IAATO regulations).
While this might be a sensible option for anyone with restricted mobility, who would have difficulty getting into and out of a Zodiac dinghy, it does mean you miss the essence of this great ice wilderness.
The main activities, while you are in Antarctica with an Expedition cruise, are the daily shore excursions in small groups in Zodiacs 📸 Antarctica 21
3 DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET TO ANTARCTICA …
1️⃣ Expedition Cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia/ Punta Arenas/Puerto Williams.
Most cruises leave from Ushuaia in Argentina or Punta Arenas or Puerto Williams in Chile and take about two days to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the first and most common way to get to Antarctica.
It’s recommended to spend at least one night in Ushuaia/Punta Arenas/Puerto Williams before the cruise, as there can often be delays to flights heading there, and the cruise ships won’t wait around for you!
The standard Classic cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula will generally take 10-12 days. Still, the longer trips, including the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, will last up to 22 days.
2️⃣ Fly/Cruise to Antarctica from Punta Arenas Or Puerto Williams in Chile.
If you’re pushed for time or don’t want to court seasickness on the Drake Passage, you can fly to the South Shetland Islands and join a cruise there.
Most flights run from Punta Arenas in southern Chile to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands (1.5 hours).
You can fly one way (making the trip around seven days long) or both (as few as five); once you’ve embarked, you’ll get all the highlights of the classic Antarctic Peninsula tour.
The fly-cruise options can vary in length from 6 to 16 days, and it’s usually worth adding a night in Punta Arenas/Puerto Williams at the end of the trip in case of any delays on the flight coming back.
It’s possible to fly up to Santiago and connect with your flight home on the same day, but breaking the journey up with at least one night in Santiago is recommended.
3️⃣ Antarctica Cruise from Ushuaia to Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand.
The third and the most spectacular Antarctic journey ever! Embark in Ushuaia, sail to Antarctica, and end your trip to New Zealand (Bluff).
These cruises will generally last 33 days and allow you to explore the eastern side of Antarctica, which the other cruises usually cannot offer.
What is the best month to cruise to Antarctica?
The Antarctic season is relatively short, from November to March…and what you can expect to find in Antarctica depends on when you travel.
December, January, and February are the better time to go in terms of weather. They are the months with high demand to visit Antarctica, and cruises are the most expensive during those times.
Prices are cheaper at the beginning and end of the season, but because of the colder weather conditions, there is less to see in the way of wildlife.
READ MORE: When is the best time to Visit Antarctica There are many things to consider, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide when to plan your trip
November in Antarctica
For photographers, November is the best time to visit Antarctica. Penguins are mating and nesting and generally at their most active, offering excellent opportunities to snap them on the ice or with snow falling in the background. The weather is colder, so you also will be able to capture images showing incredible ice formations.
March in Antarctica
Look at November and March is the shoulder season for Antarctica. Even though wildlife spotting might be a little more complicated (although still possible) and the temperatures will be a bit colder. You’ll be treated to a few things other visitors won’t see, including stunning ice formations and even sunrises and sunsets (which are nonexistent close to December’s solstice!)
The Golden Hour in Antarctica: The best time to travel to have a chance to see this amazing sunsets is March or November
If you are planning a trip to Antarctica, my suggestion is to start now….planning 8 months to a year in advance is essential for a destination like Antarctica…
What Destinations you can visit in Antarctica
Most Expedition Cruises Depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams in Chile.
The first two days of your navigation will be crossing the famous Drake Passage, where you can experience rough seas due to Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas.
The shorter trip to the frozen continent lasts anywhere from 9 to 12 days, taking you to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.
In addition to the Antarctic Peninsula, a more extended trip ensures a visit to the Falkland Islands, crossing the Antarctic Circle, also referred to as a polar circle, and reaching the remote destinations of South Georgia.
You can also visit King George Island, Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Elephant Island, and the Weddell Sea – In search of the Emperor Penguin. Cruises to these destinations are Longer trips that last from 12 to 23 days. Snow Hill Island in the Weddell sea is the destination most commonly associated with Emperor penguins.
So, again, depending on the time you have for this trip, and what you are willing to go to,The Cruise to choose!
Want to see Emperor Penguins in your trip? Snow Hill Island in the Weddell sea is the destination most commonly associated with Emperor penguins.
What do you do on a cruise to Antarctica? How is Life on an expedition Ship?
One of our travelers one day asked me… What is an Expedition Cruise? I’m used to conventional cruises, with a big pool, gym, and even a cinema on board 🛳️
So I explained….
“A Cruise undertaken made by a group of people with a particular purpose,
especially that of exploration.”
The expedition Cruises to Patagonia and Antarctica are exactly this most valid definition.
You will travel by Zodiac to shore for a hike to wildlife sanctuaries and icebergs. View bucket-list animals, learn of the local cultures, and attend lectures from naturalists and scientists.
Rather than sitting by the pool with a cocktail, you will be toasting with a glacier in the background, with a sense of peace and calm surrounding you; a taste of exploration and adventure like you’ve never known before 😎🍸
Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I don’t like to relax by the pool….but this is something you can do anywhere, anytime…exploring a Polar region is an overwhelming experience that will change you forever.
We usually learn the greatest lessons in Life by taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zones….
You don’t have to give up those trips to relax by the pool with a cocktail in your hand….but Why not also include on your bucket list and Antarctica or Patagonia once-in-a-lifetime adventure?
The Experience What are the top things you can do
A trip to Antarctica is nothing you have experienced before.
This frozen continent at the end of the Earth has never been permanently occupied by man. It has no towns or villages, just grand, icy, unpredictable wilderness.
The main activities while you are in Antarctica are the daily shore excursions in small groups in Zodiacs.
In these discovery excursions, you will search for wildlife and land on remote beaches. You will visit a penguin colony, walk up a ridge for panoramic views or hike to see remnants of bygone eras. Depending on when you travel, expect to get up close to the dazzling beauty of grounded icebergs as well as leopard seals lazing on ice floes or even whale sightings.
On many of the expedition cruises, you can choose from a range of add-on adventure activities to make the most of your time in Antarctica.
Here are some of them…
Polar diving Cruises
As if visiting Antarctica is not otherworldly enough, there is a whole other world to explore under the surface of the seas.
Antarctic diving reveals a world of ice, where glaciers, gigantic icebergs, and a unique blend of marine Life will greet you!
What will I see while on a diving cruise?
Aiming for 1 or 2 dives per day (depending on weather and ice conditions), you will dive under shallow ice, down along walls, from the beach, or a Zodiac. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be like – a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience!
Diving under Polar waters is like no other dive – the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors.
Divers are often surprised by the diversity of wildlife they encounter underwater: a variety of starfish species, sea squirts, squat lobsters, different species of soft crab corals, anemones, peacock worms, dogfish, kelp walls, sea-snails, sea butterflies, multiple species of fish, shrubby horse-tails, jellyfish, sea-hedgehogs (urchins)
You might even have the opportunity to dive with Fur Seals, Leopard Seals, or Penguins.
Camping in the Ice
One of the most popular activities, camping offers you the unique opportunity to roll out your sleeping mat and wriggle into your thermal sleeping bag for a night on the ice – no camping experience necessary. Once you’ve settled in, prepare to witness the stunning beauty of the Antarctica night sky, the sounds of ice cracking in the distance, and wildlife carrying their busy schedule around you.
Camping in Antarctica is one of the Most amazing experiences ( and not as freezing as you may think! 📸 Ocean Wide Expeditions
Some expeditions use helicopters to get closer to the heart of untouched wildlife, allowing them to set foot onto some of the world’s most remote landscapes. You will take a flight above the ice of the Weddell Sea or the Ross Sea and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Antarctic wilderness. Close encounters with marine Life, including the Emperor penguin.
Helicopter Ride to the great Ross Sea. 📸 Rolf Stange & Ocean Wide Expeditins
Polar Cruise Kayaking
One of the best features of Polar Region cruises is that you’re never done exploring. Even if you feel you’ve walked all over Antarctica, climbed every mountain, and said hello to every possible penguin, there’s still another whole world to explore – the water.
Polar cruise kayaking is a fantastic way to slip into the white and blue beauty of the quiet oceans around you. The amount of experience you will need depends on the cruise you choose. Some require no experience, and others do ask that you have more experience.
Some expedition Cruises in Antarctica offer of Kayaking in Antartica
Skiing in Antarctica
Ski Touring offers keen adventurers a chance to take on some of the world’s most incredible slopes. Experienced skiers can enjoy day trips to traverse remote, snow-capped peaks to descend into pristine bays filled with floating bergs, penguin rookeries, or even breaching whales!
One of the best ways to Explore Antarctica is to take your way inland from the Polar shorelines with a wide variety of treks and hiking expeditions.
Do you need to be experienced? You need to be in reasonably good shape and healthy for the basic walks—the hikes usually last between 2 and 6 hours. Remember that there are no paths and that you will travel over fairly rugged terrain and take on some hills. In the cruises, there are usually 1 to 3 types of walks offered per landing ranging from a casual stroll to a challenging hike.
MY TIP Here: Not all cruises offer these activities, so be careful to choose the correct cruise/dates departures and book in advance because the availability is very limited. Some Cruises include this activities in the price and for other you can add them with an extra cost.
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What is the best company to go to in Antarctica? Which one has The Best Small Luxury Antarctica cruises.
When choosing your Antarctic Expedition, you need to consider not only the company you choose but ALSO the ship you will be navigating.
Aurora Expeditions Choose The Greg Mortimer & Silvia Earle Ships
Aurora Expeditions is an Australian company operating in Antarctica since 1991. The company originally focused on immersive experiences rather than onboard Luxury.
However, the company has two new vessels that combine the typical luxuries of a modern cruise ship – delicious food, beautiful decor, and well-appointed cabins – with the rich history of a pioneering adventure polar company.
The two new ships, The Greg Mortimer, which arrived in 2019, and its sister ship, the Silvia Earle, which has just arrived in December 2022, use the revolutionary X-BOW design.
This innovative marine technology gives passengers a smoother ride over rough bodies of water like the Drake Passage and thus helps with seasickness.
We love that they are petite ships with an average of 132 passengers, ensuring an intimate atmosphere and smooth landing operations.
They offer cozy, comfortable cabins – all cabins have a view of the ocean, and most have a balcony. Both ships also feature a modern lecture lounge, multiple observation areas, zodiac launching platforms, a restaurant serving excellent meals, a gym and wellness center, jacuzzis, a mudroom, and many other amenities.
An impressive range of optional add-on activities is available, from kayaking and camping to polar snorkeling on these ships.
News for this season 2023/24:
– Aurora Expeditions is Offering a Fly Component for some 2023-24 Antarctic Itineraries.
– Sylvia Earle, the new ship Launching in December 2022, inaugural season 2022-23, is a 100% carbon neutral ship.
Oceanwide Expeditions Choose the Janssonius & Hondius ship.
Oceanwide Expeditions is a Dutch vessel operator. Pioneers of ship-based expeditions and inventors of Basecamp Antarctica.
The Dutch ”Plancius Foundation“ (1981-1996) was the predecessor of Oceanwide Expeditions, the first cruise operator ever to organize yearly expedition cruise voyages to and around Spitsbergen with the vessel Plancius (since 1983).
The company operates four ships in Antarctica, The Plancius, The hoteliers, and the two new: The Hondius and the Janssonius.
THE HONDIUS – Launched in 2019, the Hondius is an elegant yet cozy vessel providing a first-class Antarctic cruise. The ship carries 170 passengers and meets the highest standards and demands, allowing it to take on the most challenging of polar voyages with flexibility.
Hondius Passengers: 170 in 80 cabins
THE JANSSONIUS – is the newest ship for Oceanwide Expeditions, debuting in 2021; the boat is Outfitted with Lloyds’ Register Polar Class 6 ice certification, and it is capable of traversing both the Arctic and Antarctic.
Janssonius uses LED lighting, steam heating, bio-degradable paints and lubricants, and state-of-the-art power management systems that keep fuel consumption and CO2 levels minimal, giving you the peace of mind that comes with choosing one of the most environmentally friendly vessels on the polar seas.
Quark Expedition cruises – Choose the Ultramarine & World Explorer
Quark has experience operating in the polar regions since 1991. Of their fleet, we recommend the Ultramarine and the World Explorer.
The World Explorer, A brand new ship launched in 2019 and purposely built for expedition cruising, is One of the few Polar ships where every cabin has a balcony providing direct ocean views.
Daily off-ship excursions are complemented by impressive onboard health & wellness facilities ( including a L’Occitane Spa, fitness center, sauna, a large heated outdoor pool, and two hot tubs!)
Active adventurers will appreciate the optional activities: kayaking, camping & stand-up paddle boarding.
The Ultramarine is their newest vessel ( 2021) and the first fully Quark-owned and operated ship. The perfect combination of real comfort with the widest range of adventure activities
The MV Ultramarine can hold a maximum of 199 passengers and 140 crew, and a substantial staff is available to cover all needs and requirements for high-end cruise executions.
Every cabin benefits from oversized windows and balconies, Luxury is paramount onboard, and every corner blends spacious functionality with high-end amenities and tasteful decorations.
The Main drawcard of this ship:
The ship has two helicopters onboard, allowing off-ship experiences such as scenic flights and landings in places few people have ever seen.
Seeing the Antarctic Peninsula by air is something you’ll never forget, and Quark is pioneering this type of experience.
Those wishing to avoid the Drake Passage have an Express program where you can fly the Drake from Punta Arenas and join their ship on King George Island.
Antarctica21 Choose the Magellan Explorer & Ocean Nova
Antarctica 21 is a Chilean-owned company and is the pioneer in offering air-cruise expeditions.
They operate two vessels, the Magellan explorer and the Ocean Nova. These small, unpretentious ships with five or six decks come with an intimate atmosphere.
Is a Polar Plunge on your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2023? 🤩 📸 Antarctica 21 Cruises
MAGELLAN EXPLORER – The vessel was custom-built for the Antarctic air cruises. It has Limited to a maximum of only 73 passengers per fly-cruise departure; Antarctic exploration doesn’t get much more personal!
All cabins except Porthole cabins feature private balconies.
Silver Sea Expeditions – Choose The Silver Endeavour.
Silver Sea usually operates three ships in Antarctica that offer all the facilities of a five-star cruise, including a spa and beauty salon, so that guests can look their best for the penguins.
The Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, and The Silver Endeavour.
Most cruises depart from Ushuaia or Puerto Williams. You can also avoid the Drake Passage crossing with Silversea’s ‘Antarctica Bridge itineraries, which include return flights between Punta Arenas and King George Island.
Expedition ships Silver Cloud, Silver Endeavour, and Silver Wind met in Antarctica Justin Duncan, and drone pilot, Brian Doyle – Silver Sea Cruises
The Silver Endeavour is a brand-new ship ( constricted in 2021) and one of the region’s best and most luxurious expeditions vessels; they call it an ultra-luxury expedition cruising.
One of the most spectacular expedition luxury cruises ever built, combining cutting-edge systems with true 5* luxury and comfort.
The ship offers a Choice of spacious all-suite cabin types, all with private verandas and
an onboard staff-to-guest ratio of 1:1 that sets the high water mark for personalized service on an expedition ship.
How much is a Luxury Cruise to Antarctica?
As you can see, there are newly designed, new-generation ships that are taking technology and Luxury to a whole new level in Antarctica.
For these Luxury cruises to Antarctica, expect to pay from $12,000 or more per person at the entry- cabins, while the sky is the limit for luxury suites.
Most Luxury Antarctica cruises will offer Modern design with stabilizers and even X-BOW® technology that can make a smoother (less rough) voyage. Newer, more efficient engines travel faster, shortening the time to cross the Drake Passage or other rough seas.
They will feature Jacuzzis, a full-service spa, gourmet cuisine, and five-star service. Cabins and suites are larger and can include large view windows or balconies. Guides and science-based tools for exploration, such as underwater rovers and video microscopes, are the best available.
So. Are you ready to Plan your trip to Antarctica?
👉🏼 Start HERE:
Check our suggested trip Antarctica Expedition & Wild Patagonia and then, Book your video call consultation with us. It is 30 minutes call to get to know you better and design a once-in-a-lifetime trip just for you. We are waiting to speak with you and learn about your dreams for your adventure to Antarctica!
Talk Soon! ❤️
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