Antarctica is unlike any other destination in the world: a vast expanse of nearly untouched, pristine wilderness, striking blue glaciers, and incredible marine wildlife. Once you’ve decided to travel to Antarctica, the question then becomes “What’s the best Antarctica cruise for me?” What are the options, and where do you begin? How can you seamlessly integrate your cruise with the logistics involved in reaching one of the most remote regions on the planet? Below, Knowmad Trip Specialist Krista helps you navigate different vessel and expedition options while outlining important factors to consider and, ultimately, will get you the best savings and rates.
Reach out to Knowmad Adventures’ Antarctica expert Krista today! She will help you navigate which Antarctica cruise is the best for you, seamlessly integrate your expedition with an awe-inspiring trip to South America, and get you best savings and rates. Call 612-315-2894 or email us by filling out the short form above.
Best Antarctica Cruises + How to Choose
Most trips to Antarctica can be divided into three categories based on the regions that are visited:
- Antarctic Peninsula: The majority of trips to the White Continent are 9 to 11-day cruises to the Antarctic peninsula. This classic itinerary is a great introduction to the region and allows you to visit a number of sites, and of course view plenty of penguins. Because the Classic Antarctic Peninsula itinerary is the most commonly sought after, there are many variations available to suit your style of travel. With this itinerary there are a number of excellent expedition and luxury ships, unique programs that can include all activities (kayaking, snowshoeing, etc), or special guest lecturers and themes such as photography, whale watching, and the history of exploration in the region.
- South Georgia & the Falklands: For those looking for one of the best wildlife experiences in the world, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands are paradise. These remote islands, which can only be reached by cruise, have some of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world, including six species of penguins, half of the world’s population of elephant seals, 95% of the Antarctic fur seals, and it’s home to one of the most important seabird breeding grounds on Earth. A cruise that includes South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica will typically take 20-23 days, you will need to have at least a month to travel, and with fewer departures you’ll want to have extra flexibility in your travel dates.
- Antarctic Circle: If you have a few more days and would like to extend your time on the peninsula, you could choose to cross the polar circle. The polar circle crossing can be added to a classic peninsula cruise itinerary, or to an itinerary that visits South Georgia and the Falklands. At this latitude during the summer solstice, you can experience a full 24 hours of sun. Because they go further south, polar crossing voyages give you additional days to explore the beauty of Antarctica, venturing further south where very few have ever traveled.
Important Factors to Consider When Planning An Antarctica Cruise
Travel Dates Cruises to Antarctica sail between November and March. How much flexibility do you have with your travel dates? If there’s a specific itinerary, program, or ship you’re interested in, you’ll likely need to have a wider window of dates in which you’re able to travel. If you have a shorter window for travel, there will be fewer options for cruises. And don’t forget to factor in travel time – you’ll want to depart home at least 3 nights before your cruise embarks in order to avoid delays that could cause you to miss the cruise, and at least one night in South America after your cruise before returning home.
Cruise Style Most Antarctica cruises fall into the category of either an expedition-style ship or a luxury ship. If you are looking for a more active itinerary with basic accommodations, an expedition ship may be a better fit. If you’re looking for more of a luxury experience, both in terms of the ship’s cabins as well as the service onboard, a luxury ship may be more up your alley. Your preferred cruising style can help to match you up with the right ship and program, giving you an ideal onboard experience.
Activities Some cruises will offer additional activities such as kayaking, snowshoeing, camping, or photography lessons in addition to their onboard presentations and programming. Often these activities come at an additional cost and spaces can fill up quickly. If these activities are important to you, you’ll want to check that they’re available before booking. Or if you’d like to participate in as many activities as possible, you may be a good fit for a basecamp-style program that includes all activities for all passengers.
Wildlife/Nature Do you really want to see penguin chicks? Consider the mid-season departures around December and January to maximize your chances of seeing them. Are you a photographer hoping to shoot the most dramatic landscapes possible? The early season departures can provide these photo opportunities as the ice begins to break up and the continent reawakens after a long winter. If you’re hoping to spot whales, February and March sees an increase in Humpback, Minke, and Orca sightings. Each month brings new highlights to Antarctica as spring turns to summer, and summer comes to an end. If there’s a particular animal that you’d like to see, or if there’s a specific sight that’s a priority for you, keep this in mind as you begin the planning process.
Seasickness If you suffer from severe motion sickness, perhaps it’s worth considering forgoing the dreaded Drake Passage and opting for a fly/cruise experience instead. Flying over the Drake Passage can require some flexibility as flights are weather-dependent, but a fly/cruise can also shorten your trip length without cutting out any time in Antarctica. This shortcut does however come at a premium in terms of cost, and there are fewer fly/cruise departures so you may need to be more flexible on your travel dates in order to get your preferred itinerary.
Budget What is your target budget for your cruise? Most Antarctica cruises start around $800-900 per person / per day for an expedition-style boat, and luxury cruises begin around $1,000 per person / per day. Most cruises do not factor in international or regional flights, or pre and post-cruise land extensions you may be considering.
*Insider’s Tip: Many cruises will offer early bird promotions if booking for the following season’s departures. Ask your Knowmad Trip Specialist if you may qualify for any current promotions.
One of the most wild, remote regions in the world, traveling to Antarctica is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. If you’re interested in crafting a custom trip to South America and Antarctica reach out a Knowmad trip specialist today! Contact us at 612-315-2894 or [email protected].
Krista is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She has lived in six countries on four continents and visited more than fifty countries, but is now settled back in her home state of Minnesota where she loves sharing her passion and knowledge with fellow travelers.