How to Choose Your Antarctica Cruise

Many adventurers have dreamt of visiting all seven continents, often saving the South Pole for last. However, as one of the most exhilarating and unique places to visit in the world it deserves to be more than just an afterthought. This enchanting white desert captures the imagination of birdwatchers, explorers, and scientists alike.  Step with us into the furthest corner of the world abounding in endless visions of penguins, icebergs, and glaciers. If you have just one more continent to go or are just starting your world expedition, we are here to tell you that an Antarctic Cruise is the best way to experience the South Pole.

Time of Year

The best time to visit Antarctica is during December and January, however the entire season runs from the end of October to March. In October it is very cold but the fares are significantly lower than the peak season.  November brings spring to Antarctica; new life in the form of hatching of penguin chicks and blooming of flowers on subantarctic islands emerge. During the austral summer, from December and January, the long, warm days (reaching up to 50° F) are ideal for spotting wildlife such as sea pups, mating birds, or migrating whales. Be sure to book far in advance to experience the showering of the icy continent in ethereal sunlight at this time of year.  Towards the end of the season more of the ice has melted and the polar cruises can go further towards the pole. February and March are also the best months for whale watching and spotting fur seals before the season comes to a close and a curtain of darkness once again descends on the continent. 

Choose the Right Cruise Ship

When planning a trip the cruise ship that you pick can be almost as important as choosing the right itinerary.  PatagoniaHero in partnership with Antarctica21 offers three vessels; The newer Magellan Explorer, The modern and comfortable Ocean Nova, or the more compact Hebridean Sky.  You can find a side-by-side comparison of the sips on our blog post: Choosing Your Antarctic Cruise Ship.

Pick the Best Itinerary

Travelling to Antarctica is for most of us a once in a lifetime experience. What follows is a brief overview of the different itineraries that we offer.

Humpback Whale Breaching With Glacier Background

Express Cruises  

If you are limited on time or funds, exploring the white continent on a streamlined Express Cruise is an ideal choice.  Leaving from Ushuaia, the expedition sails through the iconic Beagle Channel offering views of the impressive Glacier Alley, the famous penguins of Isla Martillo, and Sea Lion Island. The next morning will greet you with stunning views of the legendary Cape Horn before venturing onto the mystical island for yourself. After taking the Drake Passage to King George Island, magnificent albatross and whales will begin to appear. The ice-filled bays of the South Shetland Islands offer plentiful sightings of penguins and seals, culminating in an onshore visit to a penguin colony.  The last leg of the journey is the exploration of the Chilean Base Frei and the Russian Base Bellingshausen before bidding Antarctic adieu. 

Explore Antarctica on a 6 Day Express Cruise

Classic Cruises 

To avoid the Drake Passage and maximize time spent in the Antarctic, the Classic Cruise starts with a short flight from Puntas Arenas to King George Island. After exploring Chile’s Frei Station and Russia’s Bellingshausen Station, the elegant ship departs towards the frozen fjords.  The voyage cruises between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, weaving through the South Pole’s spectacular icebergs. The variety of marine life seen from onshore and off includes penguins, seals, whales and numerous sea birds. Over the 4 days that the cruise circles the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, expert polar guides aid in the exploration of the Antarctic environment. Explore Paulet Island, Hope Bay, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Deception Island, the Lemaire Channel, or many other magnificent places before ultimately returning to King George for the return flight.

Explore Antarctica on an 8 Day Classic Cruise

Sailing Through The Serene South Shetland Islands
Sailing Through The Serene South Shetland Islands

Polar Circle Cruises  

We begin one of the most adventurous polar expeditions available by flying to Antarctica’s King George Island. The expedition’s goal? To sail as far south as possible, in an attempt to reach the Polar Circle at 66° south of the Equator. Join the daily exploratory excursions aboard the Zodiacs to extraordinary sites to immersively learn about the Antarctic Peninsula. Over the six days of sailing, possible exploration sites might include South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Sound, the Garlache and Penola Straits, and the Crystal Sound.  Not to mention the abundant marine life ranging from tube-nosed petrels to fierce leopards seals.  Wind down each day with drinks in the glass enclosed lounge offering spectacular views. Alternatively, head up to the Observation Deck for amazing landscape photography through the extended daylight hours.

Explore Antarctica on a 10 Day Polar Circle Cruise

King Penguin Colony on South Georgia Island

South Georgia Cruises 

More than 1000 miles east of the tip of Antarctica lies the stunning island of South Georgia, characterized by its glaciers and sheer peaks.  Its notoriety as the final resting place of the explorer Shackelton and as a whaling post set up by Captain Cook rivals its fame for being biologically concentrated in the polar desert of Antarctica.  In fact, 30 million birds live on the island 7 mil of which are penguins in addition to it hosting half the world’s population of elephant seals.  The journey begins with a flight from Puntas Arenas to King George Island before making its way North to South Georgia.  View pods of orcas or humpbacks against dramatic landscapes along the way. Be ready to explore the island and its nutrient rich bays on a kayaking, snowshoeing or hiking expeditions to see some of the largest king and macaroni penguin colonies in the world. Fortuitous voyage conditions will also bring you to Elephant Island, Fortuna Bay, Salisbury Plains, Prion Island, and Elsehul Bay before sailing East to Ushuaia. 

The beauty and scale of Antarctica is beyond words; every expedition is the trip of a lifetime.  The experience of sailing passed glistening icebergs, snowshoeing pristine glaciers or kayaking Antarctica’s smooth glassy waters is truly unforgettable.  And you will not regret summoning your courage to join in the polar plunge. To learn more about our Antarctic Cruises here are some suggestions for further reading.

Travelling to Antarctica: What You Need to Know.
8 Tips for Visiting Antarctica
Antarctica Packing List

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help (Click here to inquire).