Best Antarctica Cruises & Cruise Lines

November 1, 2023 • Todd Smith
In this list of the best Antarctica cruises, our experts outline the top cruise lines, why each shines, what makes them unique and tips for choosing between them.
Line of polar travelers in orange coats hikes up snowy hillside in Antarctica as small ship with blue hull sits in distance.

As a leading authority of Antarctica cruises, we are often asked “What is the best Antarctica cruise?” Or “What is the Best Antarctic cruise line?” Below is our answer—a list of the best cruise lines that go to Antarctica. We profile each Antarctic tour company and why you should consider cruising with them.

More important than finding the best Antarctic cruise is finding the right operator, ship and trip for you. Our experts know the differences between cruise lines, ships and polar regions. We will help match you with the perfect fit. See our list below then contact us to find the best small ship Antarctica cruise for you.

IN THIS POST – Best Cruises to Antarctica:
Antarctica 21
Antarpply Expeditions
Aurora Expeditions
G Adventures
Intrepid Travel
Lindblad Expeditions
Oceanwide Expeditions
Polar Latitudes
Ponant
Poseidon Expeditions
Quark Expeditions
Selecting the Best Antarctic Cruise
Our Recommendations
More Resources

FIND YOUR BEST CRUISE

Jump to the top 6 cruises that showcase these best Antarctica cruise lines, or view them all.

The Best Antarctica Cruises

The logistics of operating cruises in Antarctica are formidable and not to be taken lightly. These Antarctica travel companies are the best in the business. Each cruise company is committed to safety, service, guest experience and environmental stewardship. We are proud to partner with the best Antarctica cruise lines in the world. Wondering what cruise lines go to Antarctica? Your answer is below (in alphabetical order):

Antarctica 21

Antarctica 21, an Antarctica only cruise line based in Punta Arenas, Chile, pioneered the concept of air cruises to Antarctica. This innovative concept of combining flights from Chile to the Antarctic Peninsula gave birth to an entire industry. Since their first cruises in 2003, many polar operators have copied the idea. In 2019 they applied their cumulative experience to design, build and launch the Magellan Explorer, custom built their Antarctic Air Cruise.

Why Cruise with Antarctica21

The logistics of operating a fly-and-cruise program in Antarctica are enormous. Antarctica21 has the right mix of strategic partnerships, operational experience and exceptional leadership that it takes to be at the forefront of this unique niche in expedition travel. More than an Antarctic cruise line, they are an air cruise institution. Of all the cruise lines that go to Antarctica, they are the fly cruise specialists. A21 is the best Antarctica air cruise option.

VIEW ALL ANTARCTICA AIR CRUISES

See the full list of itinerary options, plus reviews.

Antarpply Expeditions

Based in Ushuaia, Argentina, and operating only one ship of the same name, Antarpply Expeditions offers some of the most intimate and affordable Antarctic cruises available. Originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the 90-guest Ushuaia is one of the smallest ships operating in Antarctica.

Why Cruise with Antarpply Expeditions

Antarpply keeps operations simple and straightforward, with one ship currently sailing all their itineraries. This offers guests a consistent onboard experience, with more specialized operational touches that only a small Antarctica cruise company, and a small ship like the Ushuaia, can provide. Antarpply is among the best Antarctica tour companies for affordability.

Aurora Expeditions

With a history of pushing the boundaries of expedition travel, Aurora Expeditions is known for pioneering several activities such as scuba diving and climbing in Antarctica. Indeed, they distinguish themselves from other small cruise lines by their selection and quality of extensive off-vessel activity options. They were the first adventure cruise company to introduce a passenger vessel, the Greg Mortimer, featuring Ulstein X-Bow technology. 

Why Cruise with Aurora Expeditions

Choose to cruise with Aurora Expeditions for more extensive adventure such as camping, sea kayaking, snowshoeing, ski and snowboard touring, scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, ice climbing and stand-up paddleboarding. Aurora is also a certified B Corporation, 100% climate neutral, and their Sustainability in Action program features reduced fuel consumption and single-use plastics, women in conservation, environmental volunteer projects, and eco-friendly products aboard and in the office.

VIEW ALL ANTARCTICA CRUISES

See the full list of itinerary options, plus reviews.

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid has been an industry leader for over 30 years, using travel as a force for good. They are the largest travel industry B Corporation, and they’ve been raising standards since 2018, creating benefits for all stakeholders: travelers, staff, suppliers, shareholders, and the environments and communities they visit. The Intrepid Foundation, Intrepid’s philanthropic non-profit, provides visibility, connection and financial support to various organizations around the world.

Why Cruise with Intrepid Travel

Cruising in Antarctica with Intrepid is a feel-good opportunity. Your Antarctica voyage is carbon-neutral; in fact, 125% of emissions are offset. The company is working toward 100% renewable energy. And in Antarctica, Intrepid partners with World Wildlife Fund researchers, sources sustainable seafood, avoids single-use plastics and provides biodegradable toiletries. Also, they can get 100 guests off the ship via an impressive fleet of 22 Zodiacs.

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Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions is a pioneer in small ship expedition cruises and one of the biggest names in small ship cruising today. The company is synonymous with exploration, education and conservation. Operating under the idea that a cruise is passive but an expedition is active, Lindblad delivers an authentic and exhilarating travel experience through all-five-senses engagement with the world’s most exotic locations worldwide.

Why Cruise with Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad’s reputation for being at the top of the expedition market is well deserved. A cruise aboard any one of Lindblad’s small ships is marked by a top-notch expedition team with some of the best service in the industry. Despite Lindblad’s luxury price tag, the onboard atmosphere is casual and practical in an expedition style. The true value is in the naturalists, historians, undersea specialists, guest lecturers, highly trained guides and partnership with National Geographic. Lindblad Expeditions is the best Antarctica cruise line if you are seeking the highest quality onboard educational programs and intellectual stimulation.

Oceanwide Expeditions

Oceanwide Expeditions is a Dutch vessel operator specializing only in polar cruising. Like the Dutch cartographers of their namesake ships, they follow meticulous attention to detail and refinement because safety and experience depends on it. Their fleet of three expedition ships are not fancy but known for excellent standards of service and comfort. Oceanwide operates a unique Antarctica basecamp cruise which is popular with travelers seeking ample opportunities for active exploration.

Why Cruise with Oceanwide Expeditions

A five-time winner of the World’s Leading Polar Expedition Operator award, Oceanwide is passionate about polar expedition cruising. The company distinguishes itself from other operators with an emphasis on educational lectures by experienced guides and by delivering an active shore program.

Polar Latitudes

Founded in 2010 by a group of veteran polar specialists, Polar Latitudes wanted to buck the trend of ever larger ships with more berths. The company aims to preserve the atmosphere and camaraderie, as well as the level of service, that can only be sustained aboard smaller vessels.  

Why Cruise with Polar Latitudes

People and passion distinguish Polar Latitudes. The company only cruises in Antarctica and this singular focus results in a deep knowledge of the continent. They are founder-owned-and-operated and it may be the only Antarctica cruise line where you might find an owner driving you on a Zodiac excursion.

Ponant

Ponant is the world’s only French cruise ship operator specializing in intimately sized luxurious small ships all flying under the French flag. Their fleet of small expedition ships are the finest available. The “French touch” is exemplified by the presence of French Naval officers, elegant cuisine and internationally recognized interior design. French and English are spoken on board.

Why Cruise with Ponant

If you are seeking to explore aboard the most luxurious Antarctica ships available, Ponant is for you. You will not sacrifice experience for comfort as the off-vessel expedition program is exceptional. Ponant is the best Antarctica luxury cruise.

Poseidon Expeditions

Poseidon Expeditions is one of the leading providers of polar expeditions in the cruise industry. Founded in 1999, the company is a recognized leader in icebreaker cruises. Poseidon is very well known for their Arctic cruises and has successfully navigated to the North Pole well over 100 times. The company brings this expertise to Antarctica with an experienced expedition crew, a luxury expedition ship and a commitment to sustainability. 

Why Cruise with Poseidon Expeditions

Poseidon offers an upscale ship and one of the best staff-to-passenger ratios in Antarctica. Choose this Antarctica cruise line to combine the spirit of adventure with a generous measure of onboard comfort and well-being.

A female traveler in sunglasses and a blue jacket leans against the railing of a ship in Antarctica with the calm ocean and white-capped mountains behind her

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Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions is a recognized leader in polar cruising and offers the widest array of Antarctic expeditions on the planet. The company boasts a number of firsts including the first non-scientific visits to emperor penguin rookeries, first circumnavigation of Antarctica for commercial passengers, and the discovery of the emperor penguin rookery at Snow Hill Island. In 2015 they were recognized as the World’s Leading Specialty Cruise Line at the World Travel Awards.

Why Cruise with Quark Expeditions

When you cruise with Quark Expeditions, you can rest assured that you are traveling with one of the most conscientious companies in the polar expeditions industry, from safety standards to customer service and sustainability. Many of the most interesting itineraries and routes are offered by Quark Expeditions. 

How Does AdventureSmith Select the Best Antarctica Cruises & Cruise Lines? 

We created this list of the best Antarctica tour companies based on several factors. First and foremost is operational safety and experience in polar cruising. Off-vessel exploration and activity program logistics are an important consideration. Onboard programs, lectures and the experience of the expedition crew are critical for a top ranking.

The ships themselves must be polar class but ship amenities are a secondary consideration. There are ships for every style and budget, from simple research ships to extravagant luxury expedition ships. Take a deep dive to learn more about Antarctica expedition cruise ships

We personally inspect every ship and work with Antarctic cruise companies for many years before they make it on our best list.

Which Antarctica Cruise Lines Do We Recommend?

Each of the Antarctica cruise lines on our list is a good choice. We feel it is not our role to play favorites. Our job is to match the traveler with the right itinerary, ship and cruise line for their interests, budget and schedule. We take this commitment to our clients seriously and endeavor to personalize our recommendations. Ultimately the best cruise to Antarctica is the one that fits your style and budget.

View our full selection of partner small ship cruise companies and our full list of small expedition ships. Learn more about choosing a cruise in our Antarctica travel guide.

Two female travelers in AdventureSmith branded hats stand arm over shoulder of another on a beach in front of a glacier

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MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES:
Antarctica Travel Guide
Antarctica Cruises
Luxury Antarctica Cruises
Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises
Cruises with Flights to Antarctica
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica Cruise Cost
How to Get to Antarctica
Things to Do in Antarctica
Places in Antarctica
Antarctica Ships
Antarctica Cruise Deals
Antarctica Cruise Reviews

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