Let’s embark on an adventure to the last frontier of pristine wilderness: Antarctica. This dazzling white continent is a unique travel destination unlike any other, offering jaw-dropping icy landscapes, exceptional wildlife encounters, and stories of historical heroism. What better way to embrace this grand adventure than by sailing through its icy realms?
Cruising allows you to explore the wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, witness the majestic emperor penguins, and kayak among icebergs, all while enjoying the cozy comfort of your expedition ship. It’s the ultimate blend of adventure, education, and luxury!
18 Best Antarctica Cruises
Choosing the perfect Antarctica cruise involves considering various factors, from onboard amenities and educational opportunities to environmental stewardship. For first-time cruisers, it’s essential to select a voyage that balances adventure with comfort, ensuring a memorable and manageable experience. Here’s a more detailed look at the first three of our top picks, integrating all the crucial information to guide your decision.
1. Viking Cruises
Viking Cruises offers a captivating journey to the Antarctic, with prices starting at $11,995 and spanning 13-35 days. Their mid-sized ships, the Octantis and Polaris host up to 378 passengers and promise an all-inclusive experience. From kayaking to submarine voyages, the activities onboard cater to the adventurous spirit. Prices can go up depending on room class, the exact time of booking, and any additional offerings you add on.
These cruises set sail from Buenos Aires and include a charter flight to and from Ushuaia, the gateway to Antarctica. Viking provides essential gear, with alcohol included during meals (other drinks come at an extra cost). Although activities vary by room class, and there’s no discount for solo travelers, the level of inclusion ensures a comfortable and comprehensive Antarctic experience.
2. Albatros Expeditions
Albatros Expeditions offers an authentic polar adventure, with expeditions starting at $11.995 USD per person for C cabins for a journey on Ocean Albatros that can last anywhere from 10 to 20 days. As it is common with cruises the price mentioned fluctuates based on how close it is to the departure date.
Their other vessels like the Ocean Atlantic and Ocean Victory can carry up to 186 passengers, they emphasize sustainable polar expeditions that tread lightly on the fragile ecosystems of the Antarctic. However, those looking for expedition cruises other than a C cabin will have to book through travel agents.
When you book with Albatros Expeditions, your cruise package will include meals and all the necessary gear for the cold climate, ensuring you are well-equipped for the educational excursions. Although these expeditions are packed with learning opportunities, some travelers note the lack of onboard entertainment, highlighting that Albatros prioritizes the expeditionary aspect of the cruise over leisure.
Each journey with Albatros allows you to engage with the environment in a meaningful way. Their educational programs are designed to enhance your understanding of the regions you visit, making every outing an informative experience. The cost of your ticket translates into a voyage that’s rich in knowledge about the pristine Antarctic wilderness.
3. G Adventures
G Adventures caters to the younger, more adventurous demographic looking for a less conventional cruise experience. These cruises are particularly appealing to young adults, offering activities and excursions that resonate with their energetic and explorative nature. With prices starting at $9,400 and voyage lengths from 11 to 22 days, this is a cruise line that combines the spirit of adventure with affordability. They can accommodate up to 130 passengers, offering a more intimate and engaged expedition experience.
A standout offering is their “Quest For the Antarctic Circle” trip, a journey designed for those who wish to push the boundaries and explore further south than typical Antarctica cruises. G Adventures ensures that the price you pay varies by room choice and season, with no single supplement, making it accessible for solo travelers. A parka (windproof jacket) and boots for excursions are provided to keep you warm against the Antarctic chill.
While G Adventures may not be the most luxurious option, they don’t skimp on essential comforts. Their expeditions offer a balanced mix of exploration, excitement, and education, aimed at those who prefer a more active and less traditional form of cruising. It’s an ideal choice for travelers who wish to immerse themselves fully in the raw and exhilarating beauty of Antarctica.
4. Intrepid Travel
Intrepid Travel, quite true to its name is for the truly intrepid at heart with cruises starting at a competitive $7,340. Their Antarctica expeditions range from 11 to 21 days, catering to a variety of schedules and interests. The expeditions take place on the Ocean Endeavour, a vessel that can accommodate 200 passengers, ensuring a balance between coziness and ample personal space.
The cruises by Intrepid are focused on providing a comprehensive experience. They have various lengths of tours available, they provide competitive pricing without compromising on facilities onboard, which include a gym, spa, and even a swimming pool.
The focus on educational programs is a significant draw, with the expedition staff offering insights into the continent’s unique ecosystems, wildlife, and geography. Intrepid Travel strikes an appealing balance between adventure and education, making their cruises ideal for those looking to enrich their minds as they satisfy their wanderlust.
5. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises offers a different perspective on Antarctica trips, with a starting price of $2,100 for a 14-day voyage. Their ships, the Celebrity Eclipse and Equinox boast a large capacity, welcoming up to 2,850 passengers. This cruise line is perfect for those who wish to enjoy the majesty of Antarctica without disembarking, providing stunning views right from the comfort of the ship.
Though I found that there weren’t any land excursions, Celebrity Cruises doesn’t skimp on luxury one bit. Passengers can enjoy the indoor pool, saunas, and a variety of dining options. The price includes meals and non-alcoholic beverages, allowing guests to indulge in a plethora of culinary delights. For those interested in alcoholic beverages, Celebrity offers various drink packages at different price points, catering to guests’ preferences and enhancing their dining experience.
The affordability of Celebrity Cruises makes it a tempting option for those who want to experience the allure of the White Continent while enjoying the familiar comforts and amenities of a traditional cruise experience.
6. Oceanwide Expeditions
Oceanwide Expeditions offers a unique polar cruising experience, with prices starting from $8,000 for trips that range from 10 to 33 days. With a focus on educational content and a high guest-to-staff ratio, they cater to passengers seeking an in-depth understanding of the Antarctic’s environment.
Their expedition vessel was previously a research ship and was designed to accommodate up to 100 passengers. It provides basic yet comfortable accommodations coupled with authentic polar expedition feels.
The cruises by Oceanwide Expeditions are tailored to those who prefer an educational journey over traditional entertainment, ensuring that each day is filled with learning and discovery. They also offer last-minute deals, appealing to adventurers who are flexible with their travel plans.
The smaller size of the ships allows for a more personal experience and more time spent exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, King George Island, and other remote locations. While onboard amenities may be more limited, the wealth of knowledge and the intimacy of the voyage are unmatched, making it a favorite among true polar exploration enthusiasts.
7. Poseidon Expeditions
Poseidon Expeditions specializes in luxurious and intimate polar experiences, with journey costs starting at $7,000. Their offerings, which range from 11 to 17 days, ensure that guests have ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. With a passenger capacity of 111, these expeditions are perfect for those looking for a more personalized and exclusive adventure.
Your Poseidon journey is inclusive of meals, snacks, select drinks, and even a luxury hotel stay and airport transfers, ensuring a stress-free travel experience. While the standard package includes a range of amenities, additional activities and alcoholic beverages are available at extra cost, allowing guests to tailor their experience.
With their commitment to providing memorable and opulent polar cruising experiences, Poseidon Expeditions is an excellent choice for those who wish to delve into the wonders of the Antarctic while indulging in high comfort and service. For 40-year-olds traveling solo, this cruise line offers a welcoming and refined atmosphere, making it easy to connect with like-minded adventurers and enjoy a sense of community.
8. Silversea Expeditions
Embark on a journey of luxury with Silversea Expeditions. Their fleet, including the Silver Explorer, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, and Silver Endeavour, redefines comfort on the high seas. These cruises are all-inclusive, covering everything from meals to excursions, and even flights for some itineraries. The real highlight is their expert-to-guest ratio, one of the highest in expedition cruising, ensuring personalized service.
Moreover, Silversea guarantees two landings per day, allowing more time to explore the Antarctic’s untouched landscapes. While this opulence comes at a premium price of $6,500 USD for a 7-day cruise, the value delivered through their comprehensive offerings and exceptional service justifies the investment.
9. Lindblad Expeditions
Step aboard Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Explorer or Orion, and enter a world of educational adventure. These ships aren’t just modes of transportation; they’re platforms for discovery, enhanced with advanced exploration tools. A starting cost as low as $3960 per person for a 6-day cruise also makes it one of the more affordable options.
What distinguishes Lindblad is its pioneering spirit, commitment to conservation, and emphasis on providing immersive educational experiences. They boast expert guides, undersea specialists, and a robust program of guest lecturers that transform your expedition into a deep dive into Antarctic ecology and preservation efforts.
10. Quark Expeditions
For those seeking adrenaline-filled adventures, Quark Expeditions delivers, offering trips that include unique experiences like ice diving and camping. With a starting cost of $5000 USD, passengers can choose from a wide range of trips spanning 8-23 days. Quark’s flexibility is also notable, offering flying options for quicker access to Antarctica and pricing that varies based on trip type, length, and room category.
Their ships exude luxury and come with expert guides who make each excursion memorable. Yet, it’s their dedication to sustainability that truly stands out, ensuring their operations don’t compromise the Antarctic’s fragile environment.
11. Hurtigruten Expeditions
When it comes to Antarctica cruises, Hurtigruten Expeditions carries a storied legacy, deeply rooted in Norway’s rich history of Antarctic exploration. With cruises starting at $8000, they offer budget-friendly options without skimping on the essentials — flights, meals, parkas, boots, and enriching lectures are all included.
While their larger ship means less time on land, with only 100 passengers disembarking at a time, their itineraries are crafted for maximum learning and discovery. And here’s a fun twist: excursion booking happens through a lottery, adding an element of surprise to your Antarctic adventure!
12. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Infusing German precision with a zest for adventure, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises brings a touch of luxury to the wild Antarctic terrain. They strike a delicate balance between amenity and thrill, providing passengers with plush accommodations and heart-racing Zodiac excursions.
Their expedition ships aren’t just vehicles to the White Continent; they’re floating five-star hotels with top-tier onboard facilities, ensuring that the journey is just as exhilarating as the destination. Prices depend on the type of expedition since the options are practically limitless.
13. Aurora Expeditions
Well known for its adventurous spirit, Aurora Expeditions offers immersive activities like trekking, camping, and scuba diving. The prices start at $16,465 USD per person for a 12-day cruise.
The real game-changer is their innovative ship design, including the Greg Mortimer, which allows for smoother sailing and closer wildlife encounters. Their focus on expedition cruises ensures that every voyage is a deep dive into the natural wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula and beyond.
14. Ponant Cruises
If you were to take French sophistication and set it against the backdrop of Antarctica’s rugged landscapes; you’ll get Ponant Cruises. They stand out with their high-tech Explorer Class ships, including the world’s first electric hybrid polar icebreaker, and an all-inclusive approach featuring exquisite meals, drinks, and shore excursions.
What truly sets Ponant apart is its blend of luxury amenities with exclusive experiences, promising an Antarctica cruise that is as elegant as it is adventurous. From enjoying a glass of fine wine on deck as you cross the Drake Passage to close encounters with emperor penguins, it’s an experience par excellence. Pricing information is relative to the time of booking and changes frequently. However, prices hover between $5000 and $8000 USD per person.
15. Seabourn Cruises
Seabourn Cruises takes the concept of luxury cruises to a whole new level, offering an ultra-luxury experience that starts from an alluring price of approximately $9,999 USD per person. With Seabourn, every iceberg feels more majestic, and every wildlife encounter more intimate, thanks to their bespoke itineraries and unique shore experiences.
Whether you’re sipping champagne while sailing the Weddell Sea or partaking in an impromptu penguin species count, every moment on a Seabourn cruise is a slice of extravagance.
16. Scenic Cruises
Their prices start from a cool $38,490 for their “Antarctica in Depth” expedition, Scenic Cruises redefines all-inclusive luxury. They don’t just offer cruises; they offer journeys curated by a unique Discovery Team, ensuring that each itinerary provides a profound connection with the natural beauty of visiting Antarctica.
Their custom-built ships, like the Scenic Eclipse, are marvels of maritime engineering, designed to navigate the Southern Ocean with grace and stability. Imagine kayaking in pristine polar regions with expert guides, all the while knowing a warm, luxurious cabin awaits you—this is the Scenic promise.
17. PolarQuest Expeditions
PolarQuest takes the concept of small ship expedition cruises to heart, emphasizing small-group expeditions for truly intimate experiences, with prices for bunk bed triple cabins starting from USD $14,690.
Their dedication to responsible tourism and environmental conservation means travelers can enjoy the surreal beauty of South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and beyond, all while knowing they’re treading lightly on this precious ecosystem.
Their smaller vessels mean more time on land, closer wildlife interactions, and a familial atmosphere that large cruise ships just can’t match. With PolarQuest, every iceberg, every whale breach, every Zodiac excursion will be truly magnificent to experience.
Why Opt for an Antarctica Cruise
Choosing an Antarctica cruise offers unparalleled access to some of the most remote locations on Earth, far beyond the usual routes. These expeditions provide an in-depth educational experience, as experts and researchers on board bring the fragile ecosystem closer to you through comprehensive lectures and discussions.
From meeting colonies of penguins on the South Orkney Islands or the South Shetland Islands to spotting whales off the coast of King George Island, the wildlife encounters are unmatched. Plus, the convenience and comfort of expedition cruise ships mean you can explore these harsh landscapes with all the comforts of home.
Best Destinations in Antarctica
The Antarctic Peninsula: Often dubbed the ‘Gateway to Antarctica,’ the peninsula is a spectacular extension of the Andes Mountains, teeming with incredible wildlife and scenic beauty. It’s a must-visit for its dramatic icebergs, historic research stations, and, of course, its charismatic penguin colonies! Fun fact: It’s also the ‘warmest’ part of the continent, making it a popular spot for those first-time Antarctica cruisegoers seeking an unparalleled polar experience.
South Georgia Island: This remote outpost is rich in wildlife and history. Imagine a place where you can follow in the footsteps of the legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton, all while navigating beaches crowded with seals, a plethora of penguin species, and massive colonies of seabirds. South Georgia is not just a stop; it’s an adventure back in time!
The Falkland Islands: A unique blend of wildlife and culture awaits here. The Falklands are a birder’s paradise, with various species fluttering around the rugged landscape. Add to that a touch of British charm, and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable stop on your Antarctica itinerary.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle: Now, this is a bucket list achievement! Venturing this far south is a feat few can claim. Beyond this icy border, daylight extends for 24 hours during the summer, creating endless moments of breathtaking scenery. Remember to give yourself a pat on the back as you cross this legendary line.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Antarctica?
The optimal time for Antarctica trips spans from November to March during the southern hemisphere’s summer. Early in the season, you’ll witness pristine snowscapes and blooming wildlife; come January, the warmer temperatures allow for further exploration southward, and late summer offers dramatic whale-watching opportunities.
Each phase of the season presents a unique aspect of Antarctic life, making any voyage within this timeframe a spectacular adventure.
Tips for Booking an Antarctica Cruise
- Choosing the Right Itinerary: Reflect on what you want from your Antarctica expedition. Are you interested in extended treks on the mainland, sea kayaking among icebergs, visiting research stations, or wildlife watching in places like the South Shetland Islands? Consider the length of various Antarctica voyages, as they can range from a brief 10-day sojourn to epic month-long explorations.
- Booking in Advance: Given the short window for safe travel (November to March), spaces on Antarctica cruise lines fill up quickly. Booking 12-18 months in advance not only secures your spot but can also snag you early-bird discounts. Last-minute bookings are possible but you’ll likely face limited choices and higher prices.
- Preparation for the Voyage: Pack appropriate gear, including waterproof layers, insulated clothing, and UV-protective sunglasses. Don’t forget essential documentation like your passport and emergency medical evacuation insurance. Since most Antarctica trips begin in South America, exploring vibrant cities like Buenos Aires or Punta Arenas before your cruise can add extra flair to your journey.
- Evaluating Inclusions and Exclusions: Expedition cruise packages can vary widely. Most include meals, accommodation, and excursions, while others offer comprehensive options with flights, hotels, and all activities included. Ensure you’re clear about what your chosen package entails — especially concerning possible additional costs like gear rental, extra excursions, or tips.
- Understanding the Drake Passage: Prepare for potentially rough seas while crossing the infamous Drake Passage. This rite of passage can be challenging, but many find the eventual tranquility of the Antarctic waters to be a rewarding contrast.
- Choosing the Right Ship: From small, nimble vessels to larger, more stable ships, the choice of an expedition cruise ship can impact your experience. Smaller ships often offer more landings and a more intimate connection with the wilderness, while larger ships provide more amenities.
- Sustainability and Environmental Conservation: Opt for cruise lines like Quark Expeditions or Lindblad Expeditions, known for their strong focus on preserving the fragile Antarctic environment. They often follow stricter waste management protocols and contribute to local conservation efforts.
- Ensure Physical Fitness: Some activities like ice climbing, extended hikes, or sea kayaking require a good level of physical fitness. Ensure you’re prepared for the demands of your specific itinerary.
- Embracing Flexibility: Antarctic weather is unpredictable, and itineraries are always subject to change. Embrace the adventure, trust your expert guides, and remain flexible.
- Look for Exclusive Experiences: For a truly unique experience, look for itineraries that offer visits to less-traveled places like Snow Hill Island or the Ross Sea, or those that include special features like a polar plunge or camping under the Antarctic sky.
- Post-Cruise Options: Consider extending your journey. Many Antarctic expeditions offer extensions that include visits to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, or additional time exploring the sub-Antarctic islands or South America.
Embarking on an Antarctica cruise is more than a vacation; it’s a life-altering journey to the last frontier of pristine wilderness. This remote continent offers unparalleled beauty, from colossal icebergs and glacial labyrinths to unique wildlife encounters.
Whether you’re drawn by the thrill of setting foot where few have trodden, the allure of witnessing majestic creatures like penguins, seals, and whales, or the educational enrichment provided by onboard experts and researchers, an Antarctic expedition promises profound impact.
However, this once-in-a-lifetime adventure requires thoughtful consideration of personal preferences, comfort levels, and desired experiences. From intimate, small-ship expeditions focused on sustainability to luxurious cruise liners replete with every amenity, there’s an Antarctic voyage suited to every explorer’s dreams. Seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in this awe-inspiring world and create enduring memories.
What is the best month to cruise to Antarctica?
The ideal time to cruise to Antarctica is from mid-December through mid-February. These months constitute the Antarctic summer, offering milder temperatures, longer daylight hours, and accessible wildlife. The warmer climate allows for smoother sea conditions and passage through ice. It’s also the breeding season for penguins and seals, offering unique opportunities for wildlife observation.
What cruise line takes you to Antarctica?
Several esteemed cruise lines offer voyages to Antarctica, including Silversea Expeditions, Lindblad Expeditions, Quark Expeditions, Hurtigruten Expeditions, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Aurora Expeditions, Ponant Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, Scenic Cruises, and PolarQuest Expeditions. These lines are renowned for their Antarctic expeditions, though there are other providers as well that haven’t been mentioned.
How much is a cruise in Antarctica?
Antarctica cruise costs can vary significantly, starting at around USD$5,000, and may increase exponentially depending on a variety of factors. These prices fluctuate based on several factors including cabin selection, specific itinerary, destination, length of the voyage, and included amenities. The extensive range indicates options for various preferences and budgets.
How much is a cruise for 2 to Antarctica?
A cruise to Antarctica for two people averages around $16,000 USD, equating to approximately $8,000 USD per person. This cost can vary widely, influenced by factors like the ship’s luxury level, cabin type, duration of the journey, and the specific expeditions and amenities included in the package. It is always a good idea to check if the specific cruise has other hidden charges and bring an additional $1500 USD.