Why AdventureSmith Explorations?
Antarctica Cruises with AdventureSmith
Cruising Antarctica with AdventureSmith is the ultimate way to explore up close and in style. Thousands of travelers have trusted our adventure cruise specialists to help them research, choose, book and plan the right Antarctica small ship cruise at the best price. We are award-winning U.S.-based experts with decades of combined experience. You will benefit from our firsthand knowledge. Our professional crew will help you with everything you need for a seamless cruise package. Why book with AdventureSmith Explorations?
Work with one full-service Adventure Specialist to research, purchase, & prepare for your cruise.
We’re well traveled & savvy to the latest options, including all the new Antarctic itineraries and ships.
Kayaking, camping, skiing… Our staff has experience doing it all & can match your activity interests.
Take advantage of early-booking deals, discounted flights & other cruise perks. We’re here to help you save.
Antarctica Small Ship Cruises,
When choosing an Antarctica vessel, know this: small ships explore where the big ships cannot. Landings are limited to 100 guests on shore. Ships carrying more than 500 guests aren’t allowed to land at all. Smaller is better on Antarctic cruises.
The ships we work with carry 72-200 guests ensuring an active and intimate exploration. We specialize in this size range because we know from experience it’s the most active, fun and sustainable way to cruise Antarctica. Learn more about the unique ships on our Antarctica expeditions. We’ll find your perfect Antarctica ship.
for Every Interest
An expedition is defined as a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose. This perfectly captures the spirit of Antarctica small ship expeditions, which focus on daily off-vessel explorations with expert naturalist guides.
Travelers seeking more adventure can book a range of activities. Choose from sea kayaking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, scuba diving or trekking. There are even South Georgia Island cruises that retrace explorer Shackleton’s steps. Learn more about the active things to do in Antarctica.
Other travelers may delight in the onboard amenities and upgrades on luxury Antarctica cruises. Or seek out cruises with flights to Antarctica to skip sailing the Drake Passage. Let our Antarctica experts help be your guide to the perfect voyage.
Timely Antarctica Cruise Info
Find up to date information on the current, upcoming or future Antarctica seasons. Read about Antarctica 2023 and Antarctica 2024 for the latest updates and information. Check availability or plan ahead to Antarctica 2025. Learn more about what to expect with timely information, as well as the most up-to-date Antarctica travel requirements and COVID protocols to inform your planning.
How to Choose Your Antarctica Cruise
Our original How to Choose an Antarctica Cruise guide contains comprehensive information and advice to help you research and plan your cruise. Start your research here and follow the links for more detailed articles. Or consult with one of our Antarctica experts to plan your expedition.
ANTARCTICA CRUISES – How to Choose:
Why Cruise Antarctica?
When to Go
When to Book
How Much Will it Cost?
Getting to Antarctica
Antarctic Cruising Regions
– Antarctic Peninsula Cruises
– Antarctic Circle Cruise
– South Georgia Island Cruises
– Falkland Island Cruises
– Weddell Sea Cruises
– Ross Sea Cruises
Why Cruise Antarctica?
The White Continent is truly a bucket list destination—a land like nowhere else on Earth. Walk among penguins and view extraordinary whales and wildlife. Experience massive icebergs and glaciers. Antarctic is the ultimate travel adventure. View 10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica Now.
Due to its remote location, infamous Drake Passage crossing and extreme weather, a cruise to Antarctica is no easy endeavor. But the reward is experiencing a remarkable landscape, unique wildlife and a once in a lifetime adventure. Learn more about How to Get to Antarctica and Things to Do in Antarctica.
When to Go
Cruises to Antarctica operate during the austral summer, beginning in November and ending in March. November through mid-December is the early season when you will find prevalent sea ice and courting penguins.
High season is mid-December through mid-February. This is the best combination of long days, good weather and calm seas. The end of February and March are late season, highlighted by the presence of whales.
Within these polar seasons there are several considerations including ice, wildlife, sea conditions and price. Learn more about the best time to visit Antarctica. Find temperature and daylight tables on our Antarctica climate page.
Within these polar seasons there are several considerations including ice, wildlife, sea conditions and price. Read a comprehensive post on the best time to visit Antarctica, with weather and wildlife by month. Find temperature and daylight tables on our Antarctica climate page.
When to Book
Our advice is to book at least 9-12 months in advance. Antarctica rates and sailing dates are typically released 18-20 months prior to the sailing season.
Booking early ensures you will find the right ship, your desired cabin and the best itinerary for your interests and budget. Plus, you’ll find early booking special offers.
How Much To Pay
Cruises start at about $5,000 per person. The average price is $8,000 per person and luxury cruises can cost $15,000 or more per person. Our experts crunch the numbers and outline the considerations that influence Antarctica cruise cost.
Save money with early-booking discounts, last-minute offers and money-saving Antarctica travel tips. Antarctica cruise deals are updated frequently so check back often.
Getting to Antarctica
Getting to Antarctica may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Most travelers will take a cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina. Antarctica air cruises depart from Punta Arenas, Chile.
Some specialty cruises may depart from Tierra del Fuego or Port Stanley in Argentina. Others’ departure regions include New Zealand and Australia. Learn more about how to get to Antarctica. Or simply call our experts to begin planning.
Antarctica Cruising Regions
Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing an Antarctic cruise is where to go. Following is an overview of Antarctica travel regions to help you choose your cruise.
Antarctica can be separated into six broad categories based on where cruises operate. Antarctic cruising regions include the Antarctic Peninsula, the Antarctic Circle, South Georgia Island, the Falkland Islands the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea. Find more advice on where to go with a deep dive into places in Antarctica.
Antarctic Peninsula Cruises
The most popular and affordable Antarctica cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula. Beginning and ending in Ushuaia, Argentina, these routes are the most common. An Antarctic Peninsula cruise will cross the Drake Passage, spend several days along the peninsula’s western shore, then return via the Drake Passage.
Most of these classic itineraries include a stop at the South Shetland Islands. Longer cruises may include Elephant Island or aim to reach the Polar Circle.
From Ushuaia Argentina it takes two days to cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Peninsula cruises range from 10-14 days total.
Antarctic Circle Cruises
Some specialty cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula have the goal crossing the Antarctic Circle. These itineraries include everything a peninsula cruise does with a few added days to travel farther south.
The Antarctic Circle is a circle of latitude that runs about 66.5 degrees south. It marks the northernmost latitude at which the sun can stay continuously below or above the horizon for 24 hours. Crossing the Antarctic Circle is a big deal for some polar travelers.
Antarctic Circle cruises usually occur in the mid- to late-season (January through March). This timing ensures the southern waterways are ice-free. Some Antarctic Circle cruises are combined with South Georgia and the Falkland Islands itineraries for a comprehensive exploration.
The shortest Antarctic circle cruises range from 12-15 days and include the Antarctic Peninsula. Longer Antarctic circle cruises that include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands take 20-23 days.
South Georgia Island Cruises
For those with more time and a larger budget, we recommend cruises that include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. South Georgia is on the bucket list of most polar travelers.
Isolated in the southern Atlantic Ocean, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are home to an astounding concentration of wildlife. There is a massive king penguin colony and thousands of fur and elephant seals.
A visit to the grave of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and historic whaling stations adds a unique element of human history. Adventurous travelers can follow Shackleton’s heroic route across the island on a rigorous 3-day trek.
The voyage from Ushuaia Argentina to South Georgia Island takes 4 days. Cruises including the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia Island range from 17-25 days.
More resources: Find all South Georgia cruises or learn more about the wildlife and history and why to include South Georgia Antarctica.
Falkland Islands Cruises
Located northeast of Tierra de Fuego in Argentina, the Falkland Islands are known for their wildlife and dramatic history. The region is home to 5 species of penguin, 53 species of breeding birds and 70 percent of the world’s population of black browed albatross.
Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands and the largest settlement, is a quintessential British town with pubs, churches and small museums. The town is the site of major battles between Argentine and British forces, and a hub of Falklands War history.
There are Falkland & South Georgia-only cruises. These appeal to travelers who have already visited the Antarctic Peninsula.
Voyages including the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands range from 17-25 days. Cruises to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands take a similar 19-24 days.
Weddell Sea Cruises
Though technically in the Antarctic Peninsula region, expeditions to the Weddell Sea are often routes of their own, not including time on the Antarctic Peninsula proper.
Weddell Sea expeditions aim to visit secluded emperor penguin rookeries. Some include helicopter transfers for a truly once-in-a-lifetime penguin encounter.
Cruises specializing in a visit to the Weddell Sea average 13-16 days.
Ross Sea Cruises
The Ross Sea is a massive shallow bay located far southeast of New Zealand. Its remote location has kept it relatively untouched by humans. It is home to an amazing array of polar birds and marine life.
The Ross Ice Shelf is a massive glacial wonder about the size of France. Cruises to the Ross Sea are true polar expeditions. Some Ross Sea cruises may begin or end in New Zealand or Australia.
Cruises to the Ross Sea are among the longest and can take from 25-35 days.
Contact An Antarctica Expert
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Antarctic Air Cruises
No longer a new option, air cruises offer an alternative to longer routes to Antarctica that sail across the Drake Passage. An Antarctica air cruise utilizes one-way or round-trip flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Antarctic Peninsula where guests board a ship.
When we first began offering these cruises, we thought it was the desire to eliminate crossing the Drake Passage that would be the primary appeal of this cruise. We have learned that it is in fact the shorter timeframe that appeals to most travelers, especially American travelers with limited vacation time.
Antarctica air cruises range from 8-17 days. Shorter air cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula. Longer cruises include the Antarctic Circle or Falkland and South Georgia Islands.
Antarctica Specialty Cruises
Each year there are a handful of specialty expeditions beyond the Antarctica Peninsula. If you have been to Antarctica before or are just seeking the ultimate polar adventure, these cruises might be for you.
Cruises Combining Antarctica with Patagonia
Many travelers will choose to combine their voyage in Antarctica with Patagonia travel. Our Adventure Specialists can help knit two itineraries together into one amazing package, or consider a single booking for an Antarctica Chile cruise.
Choosing Your Antarctic Ship
Your cruise to Antarctica should be a true expedition, and turn you into an ambassador for the region, not just a passer-through. How to achieve this? Stay small and sustainable, on a ship carrying fewer than 200 guests.
Ships, especially in Antarctica, need to be of a certain size for a bespoke, intimate and active experience. Only 100 guests are allowed ashore at one time in Antarctica, so larger vessels have a harder time getting guests ashore as often as a small ship can.
Expedition vessels under 200 guests are known for a more hands-on, small group approach, with guests off the ship twice daily on Zodiac, kayak and on-land adventures. Here we outline the three types of Antarctic cruise ships, size considerations, ice ratings and how to choose a cabin.
Choosing Your Cabin
You may spend a lot of time on your ship so choosing the right cabin is important. The primary factors to consider when choosing a cabin aboard an Antarctic ship are size, amenities, view and location.
Cabins can range from tiny dorm-style rooms to luxurious suites. Be sure you have enough space to be comfortable. Amenities such as view windows vs portholes can be a critical distinction.
Not all cabins have views or windows so find out before you book. Cabins lower on the ship will tolerate rough seas better than cabins higher on the ship.
Learn more about how to choose your cabin on an Antarctica cruise.
Activities Aboard Antarctic Expeditions
A huge variety of off-vessel activities are available aboard Antarctic voyages. We go into more detail on our Things to Do in Antarctica post. Your interest in activities will influence your choice of cruise.
Zodiac cruises and guided hikes are included aboard all Antarctica small ship cruises. Travelers seeking active explorations can choose from a wide array of off-vessel excursions including sea kayaking, camping, mountaineering, skiing or snowboarding, cross country skiing, ice-climbing, snowshoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving or trekking.
Not all these activities are available aboard all ships and cruises. Furthermore, most optional activities must be reserved in advance at an added cost. Be sure to sign up for optional activities when you book your cruise. Optional activities sell out early.
Some adventurous cruises such as the Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Cruise or National Geographic Antarctica cruises include all activities in the price.
Rough Seas & Seasickness
Travelers to Antarctica should be prepared for the possibility of rough seas. Cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula cross the Drake Passage, which is known as one of the roughest seas in the world. From Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, it takes 2 days to cross the Drake Passage each way.
Once ships arrive in Antarctica, seas tend to be calm as ships cruise in protected waters close to shore. Longer expeditions that include the Falkland Islands, South Georgia or Ross Sea require additional days at sea, which can also cause seasickness, depending on current conditions. Read our tips to combat seasickness aboard small ships.
Best Antarctica Travel Insurance
Antarctica is a unique destination with special considerations when it comes to travel insurance. The cost of an emergency medical evacuation from Antarctica can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So Antarctica travel insurance is important.
Virtually all operators require emergency medical evacuation insurance. Most require a minimum amount of emergency medical evacuation insurance coverage, generally over $200,000. This coverage is typically not included in your personal health insurance. When considering travel insurance be sure to check the emergency medical evacuation coverage.
The best travel insurance for Antarctica is a policy that includes both emergency medical evacuation and trip cancellation coverage. Trip cancellation covers you if you become ill or cannot travel prior to departure, or have an issue along the way. Polar travel is a huge investment, worth covering with a quality Antarctica travel insurance policy.
A select few Antarctic outfitters include insurance in the cruise cost. Be sure to check the inclusions of your expedition. We recommend travelers consider a comprehensive Antarctica travel insurance policy that will include emergency medical evacuation as well as cancellation coverage. Learn more about the benefits and coverages of comprehensive travel insurance.
Choosing & Comparing Antarctic Cruise Lines
The logistics of operating cruises in Antarctica are formidable and not to be taken lightly. We only partner with the operators who specialize in polar travel. We pride ourselves on matching our clients with the best Antarctica cruise lines for their interests, ability, budget and timing.
Solo Travelers in Antarctica
Solo or single travelers have lots of options in Antarctica. Many ships have double, triple or even quad cabins that are available on a share basis.
Sign up to share with same-sex roommates, and you can save a bundle. In most cases travelers are guaranteed the share rate, even if a roommate is not found. This helps solo travelers keep costs down.
If you prefer to have your own cabin, there are ships that offer single accommodations. For those ships that do not have single or solo cabins, you can book a double cabin as a single but expect to pay a single supplement. Antarctica single supplements are usually 1.5-2 times the standard double rate for one person.
Solo travel is more common in Antarctica than other destinations, so finding a roommate share is usually not a problem and ships are accustomed to catering to single travelers.
Online Reviews of Cruises
There are now innumerable websites on the internet showcasing Antarctica cruise reviews. Many offer trusted advice, but some need to be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t rush to judgement if you read a poor review about an Antarctic expedition or ship.
We have found that poor reviews are often the result of a mismatch between the interests of the traveler and the type of cruise they were on. For instance, if a traveler is expecting extensive activity but books a cruise with limited options, they will be disappointed.
The best type of Antarctica review is a personal referral. We are happy to put you in touch with a past client who has traveled to Antarctica on a comparable cruise or ship. Reputable agencies will gladly refer their past clients, helping you choose the best cruise.
Do Your Research
If you have made it this far in our how to choose Antarctica guide, congratulations! You obviously like to do your homework. An expedition to Antarctica is a considerable undertaking and we encourage travelers to do as much research as possible. Find links to in depth articles below.
In advance of any Antarctica voyage, we encourage you to learn about the wildlife you’re going to see, plus any conservation organizations and research stations operating in Antarctica. While visits to research stations cannot be guaranteed on any route, knowing what research is being conducted and being informed about the environment enriches your journey.
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