Journey to the end of the earth
Discover a land like no other – the coldest, windiest and driest continent on the planet. And absolutely worth the visit!
No destination is quite like Antarctica. Its sheer size and grandeur are unparalleled, with glistening ice towers and untouched landscapes as far as the eye can see. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Antarctic ocean as you cruise through its peaceful waters, soaking in the beauty of this unique land.
One of the highlights of an Antarctica cruise is the opportunity to embark on shore excursions and engage in thrilling activities. Kayak alongside magnificent ice formations, hike across snowy terrain, and discover hidden corners of this icy paradise. And as you embark on your Antarctica cruise, prepare to meet some of the continent’s most enchanting inhabitants. Visit Snow Hill Island to get up close and personal with adorable penguins, witness the grace and splendor of whales as they migrate through the Antarctic waters, and navigate through the breathtaking Lemaire Channel.
Antarctica cruises depart from various ports and offer a wide range of itineraries, ranging from 7 to 68 days. Whether you’re seeking a short getaway or an immersive exploration, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you awe-inspired.
When it comes to visiting Antarctica, there are two possible timeframes to consider, depending on what you wish to experience:
⚓ December to January: During these months, the days are relatively warm (as warm as they can get there!), with up to 20 hours of sunshine each day. It is also the time when penguin chicks start hatching, and the region becomes crowded with tourists. This period is considered the high season, and January is undoubtedly the best month to take an Antarctic cruise.
⚓ February, March, and November: As the ice starts to break up, you can witness the stunning sight of whales and penguins engaging in courtship rituals. This is a unique opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
On the other hand, visiting Antarctica between April and October means encountering extraordinary skies, but also facing extreme temperatures and extended periods of darkness.The Antarctic travel season begins in October, coinciding with the austral summer and extends through March. The Antarctic travel season is relatively short, and weather conditions, wildlife sightings, sunlight hours, and sea conditions vary significantly between spring, summer, and fall.
Popular Cruise Lines
With adventurous travellers seeking more remote destinations, cruisers yearning for less-crowded ports, the urgency spurred by climate change, and Baby Boomers ticking off their travel bucket lists, Antarctica has become a red-hot destination. This means that cruisers now have a wide range of economical and extravagant expedition ships, diverse itineraries, and thrilling excursions to choose from.
⚓ Hurtigruten Expeditions
Expeditions span from 12 to 23 days, with some commencing in Buenos Aires and others starting in Santiago, allowing for more exploration of South America, including Patagonia and the Chilean fjords. Hurtigruten also offers excellent opportunities to discover the Falklands and South Georgia.
Ponant operates five luxurious expedition yachts carrying between 199 to 200 passengers to the White Continent. Many of Ponant’s itineraries range from 11 to 16 days, starting in Buenos Aires or Santiago and sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina.
Seabourn Venture has replaced Seabourn Quest for most of the cruise lines’ polar itineraries, but Quest does still offers lengthy voyages that encompass Antarctica and nearby destinations. Many Seabourn Venture expeditions last 13 days, with five days devoted to exploring Antarctica through treks, kayaks, and Zodiacs.
Itineraries vary from 13 to 22 days, with 13-day cruises starting and ending in Buenos Aires, 19-day voyages including South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, and 22-day journeys encompassing the Chilean fjords. Scenic also offers a unique 15-day Antarctica and the Weddell Sea itinerary, featuring helicopter excursions to Snow Hill Island and its colonies of Emperor penguins.
⚓ Silversea Expeditions
The line operates three 200-passenger ships to Antarctica, with itineraries ranging from 10 to 18 days, and with longer cruises including stops at destinations like the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. To bypass the notoriously rough waters of the Drake Passage, passengers can opt for an Antarctica Bridge sail, a five-to-15-day journey that includes flights to and from King George Island.
⚓ Viking Expedition Cruises
Viking has ventured into the expedition genre with two custom-built vessels, Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis. Most routes span from 13 to 19 days, commencing from Buenos Aires and ending in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Highlights of Antarctica
Cruises to Schollaert Channel, Antarctica, take you to a part of the world that’s virtually untouched. As you glide through the icy waters, majestic icebergs and glaciers set a breathtaking backdrop, while graceful whales and playful seals accompany your voyage. It may seem simple, but the absolute highlight of cruising the Schollaert Channel is keeping your eyes on the horizon and soaking up as much of the surroundings as you possibly can from the deck of your ship. On a cruise through Schollaert Channel, you will likely pass by Anvers Island, an exceptional vantage point to witness the colossal ice formations. The contrast between pure, glistening snow and the deep blue sea will transport you to the realms of an enchanting painting.
The next best thing you can do is spot animals in the wild. Prepare to have your senses awakened as you marvel at penguins’ delightful marches, witness the graceful movements of whales gracefully navigating the icy waters, and be enthralled by seals leaping out of the water. Keep your binoculars close at hand as these awe-inspiring sightings are too extraordinary to miss.
Key Ports to Visit
⚓ Ushuaia, Argentina
The “Gateway to Antarctica”, serving as the embarkation or disembarkation point for most of our unforgettable voyages to Antarctica and South Georgia. Explore the charming town with its fantastic array of shops, cafes, and restaurants, or delve into its rich history at the local museum. Don’t miss the chance to hop on the renowned “End of the World Train” that transports you to the breathtaking Tierra del Fuego National Park.
⚓ Santiago, Chile
Santiago, the capital and largest city of Chile, welcomes travelers from around the globe with convenient direct flights from numerous international airlines. For those embarking or concluding their South Georgia and Antarctica expedition in Stanley, Santiago becomes a significant hub, offering included flight connections.
⚓ Elephant Island, Antarctica
Elephant Island is a striking, desolate, and frozen beauty. Taking its name from the numerous families of elephant seals that gracefully navigate the waters of the Weddell Sea and Bransfield Strait, Elephant Island serves as a captivating sanctuary. With binoculars in hand, you can observe remarkable colonies of penguins and keep a vigilant eye out for the island’s namesake seals. Their captivating trunk-style noses closely resemble those of elephants, adding to their extraordinary charm. These magnificent creatures are truly massive, with adult male elephant seals weighing upwards of 8,000 pounds. As you explore, don’t forget to marvel at the fur seals and their endearing, tiny pups, which happen to be the smallest seal species.
⚓ Schollaert Channel, Antarctica
Experience the wonders of the South Pole’s unforgettable Schollaert Channel. Sail past Anvers Island and Brabant Island, taking in panoramic snowy vistas from the top deck of your cruise ship. Marvel at the energy of leopard seals and dolphins, admire the playfulness of tiny penguins, and be awestruck by the majesty of massive whales. You’ll frequently spot penguin families huddled together on land, while seals gracefully jump in and out of the water, surrounding your cruise ship. As you approach Schollaert Channel, be sure to admire the snow-capped peaks of Mount Parry on Anvers Island, which towers over 8,000 feet tall. This impressive landmark is the largest island in Antarctica’s beautiful Palmer Archipelago and offers breathtaking views of crackling icebergs, pristine white snow, and deep blue waters – a truly panoramic spectacle.
⚓ Paradise Bay, Antarctica
While it may be one of Earth’s coldest destinations, Paradise Bay exudes an otherworldly beauty and tranquility that will leave you in awe. As you embark on a scenic cruise across the bay, your vessel will gracefully glide alongside majestic glaciers, gently bobbing ice floes, and the mesmerizing wildlife that calls these icy waters home. To fully appreciate the breathtaking views of Paradise Bay, make your way to the top deck of your Antarctica cruise, bundled up in your warmest gear.
Spring in Antarctica begins in late October and continues through November. During this time, Antarctica is characterized by cold temperatures, snow, and frozen sea ice. The eagerly awaited season to visit Antarctica truly kicks off in November. As mid to late Spring arrives, the frozen landscape slowly awakens. The days become longer and temperatures begin to rise. Antarctica transforms into a breathtaking wonderland during the summer, which lasts from December until January. The sea ice melts away, revealing enchanting bays, inlets, and passages that lead south to the Arctic Circle. With the subsiding of spring storms, summer in Antarctica offers travelers a greater chance of experiencing calm seas while crossing the Drake Passage. Autumn in Antarctica commences in March and concludes in April. During this time, the days gradually shorten, temperatures drop, and the travel season begins to wind down by late March.
We often get asked, “What is the best time of the year to cross the Drake Passage?”
The notorious Drake Passage lies between South America’s Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula. This stretch of water experiences a convergence of currents, unimpeded by any landmass, and when combined with strong winds, it can result in a challenging crossing during certain times of the year. If you happen to experience smooth sailing across the Drake Passage, consider yourself truly fortunate. For the best chance of fortune, January is the ultimate time to make this journey. When summer reaches its peak, the winds tend to ease up, leading to (hopefully) calmer waters.
Summertime in Antarctica