Antarctica FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The most commonly asked questions about Antarctic travel have been compiled here to help you plan your trip. If you do not see the answer to your question here please reach out to us! 

Will we see the aurora borealis in Antarctica?

Your Antarctica cruise operates during the southern hemisphere summer.  You may see a glimpse of the southern lights, but it is not likely – there is simply too much light at this time of year.

How close to the penguins will we be?

Penguin chicks are very curious and they may approach you. While they are adorable, you should be familiar with the general regulations on stewardship and protection of the wildlife in Antarctica. It is very important that we observe best practices when visiting this beautiful and highly preserved continent. 

Will we see orcas?

Orcas and other whales have migration patterns, and the odds of seeing them varies throughout the Antarctic season.  If you go an Antarctica cruise later in the season, you are more likely to see them. We have more information in our wildlife guide, including the best time to visit the Antarctic for wildlife spotting.

Will I see animal babies?

It depends, but most likely, yes.  The beginning of the Antarctica cruise season coincides with the start of breeding for penguins.  In December, most penguin species have small babies.  If seeing penguin babies on your Antarctica cruise is important to you, please reach out to our team at Polar Holidays, and we can help you select the cruise option that will provide baby penguin animal sightings. For more information about penguins, please see the penguin section of our wildlife guide, located here.

What Historical Monuments Can I See on an Antarctic Cruise?

Antarctica’s unique historical monuments are another reason to visit! Cruisers may see historic huts dating back 100 years, industrial tractors and even a nuclear power plant. There are no less than 85 sites and monuments that have been recognized as a historic site or monument by the Antarctic Treaty System.

How many people live in Antarctica?

No one is allowed to take up permanent residence in the Antarctic Peninsula or anywhere else in Antarctica. However, research groups are allowed to stay in Antarctica for limited periods of time. Due to this, the overall temporary population of Antarctica can go as high as 10,000.  

What is the climate like in Antarctica?

Antarctica is the coldest and also the windiest continent in the world. The lowest temperature on Earth was recorded in Antarctica. There are three climatic regions in Antarctica:

  • The interior of the continent: This is the extremely cold area of Antarctica.
  • The coastal areas: These areas have milder temperatures and much higher precipitation rates.
  • The Antarctic Peninsula: This is the region which has a warmer and also wetter climate; above freezing temperatures are common in the summer months.

During the summer months temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula range between -2°C – +5 °C. In the Ross Sea, it can get significantly colder with temperatures down to -20°C. 

What kinds of plants are there in Antarctic

The vegetation at Antarctica is limited to around 350 species of mostly lichens, mosses, and algae. 

Is it dangerous to visit Antarctica?

No, the remote location, frozen landscape, and unpredictable weather can make tourism operations in Antarctica tricky, but Polar Holidays has the right experience, knowledge, and expertise to stay safe in the Antarctic. 

What is the landscape like in Antarctica?

Antarctica consists of two main areas. East Antarctica (Greater Antarctica) and West Antarctica (Antarctic Peninsula). More than 98% of Antarctica is covered with ice. The land is covered with ice and snow. Antarctica’s two parts are separated by the Transarctic Mountains. Furthermore, There are at least two active volcanoes in Antarctica, Mount Erebus (3,794 m/12,448 ft) is the highest and has a permanent molten lava lake. The other is on Deception Island, situated just north of the Antarctic Peninsula, a popular stop-off for tourist ships where it is possible to have a warm bath in the volcanically warmed waters while being surrounded by Antarctic ice and penguins.

 

Is it dangerous to visit Antarctica?

No, the remote location, frozen landscape, and unpredictable weather can make tourism operations in Antarctica tricky, but Polar Holidays has the right experience, knowledge, and expertise to stay safe in the Antarctic. 

What is the landscape like in Antarctica?

Antarctica consists of two main areas. East Antarctica (Greater Antarctica) and West Antarctica (Antarctic Peninsula). More than 98% of Antarctica is covered with ice. The land is covered with ice and snow. Antarctica’s two parts are separated by the Transarctic Mountains. Furthermore, There are at least two active volcanoes in Antarctica, Mount Erebus (3,794 m/12,448 ft) is the highest and has a permanent molten lava lake. The other is on Deception Island, situated just north of the Antarctic Peninsula, a popular stop-off for tourist ships where it is possible to have a warm bath in the volcanically warmed waters while being surrounded by Antarctic ice and penguins.

 

What is the time zone for Antarctica?

The timezone in Antarctica is the same as the time zone in New Zealand:  GMT + 12 hours. On regular Antarctic trips, we operate in the same time zone as Ushuaia, Argentina: GMT – 3 hours. 

Who owns Antarctica?

The Antarctic Continent or any part of it is not controlled by any nation. Instead, it is covered by the Antarctic Treaty, which provides every signatory nation with the ability to conduct non-military related research within the Antarctic Peninsula. Argentina, the U.K., and Chile have all attempted to claim the Antarctic Peninsula in the past, but all three of these nations are currently abiding by the Antarctic Treaty. 

In the event of an emergency, what would be the longest delay for medical attention?

It is very difficult to say as it depends on the distance from where the medical emergency happens to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, or Ushuaia, Argentina. There are no helicopter nor plane evacuation possibility from South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, nor any medical facility that will be able to help with a serious medical situation in this area.

It will take at least 2-3 days from South Georgia to Port Stanley and similar if a medical emergency happens between South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. All scenarios are highly weather-dependent. 

In the Antarctic Peninsula, we have a chance to use the airfield at Frei/Bellingshausen station at King George Island, South Shetland Islands, but this is not a given thing and needs to be arranged in advance. Assuming that such arrangements can be made, evacuation time may be between 1 – 2 days depending on weather conditions. If flight arrangements have been possible to arrange but the weather does not allow the plane to land or the evacuation from ship to shore (only possible via Zodiac), it could delay a medevac or consequently force the ship to Ushuaia in order to complete an evacuation.

We are far away from any possible medical facility in this area and any evacuation scenario takes a lot of time and could have a devastating effect on the rest of the trip for fellow travelers.

Therefore if you are in poor health or in doubt, please consult your physician for a check-up that you are healthy enough to travel to such remote places with limited to no medical facilities.

On our motor vessels, we have a qualified physician onboard on all trips. The infirmary onboard our motor vessels is merely suited for first aid medical care. 

What if I get ill while on the cruise ship?

On board the motor vessels we have a basic equipped physician clinic for small injuries or first aid assistance. If you feel sick or uncomfortable please don’t hesitate to consult the doctor. If you take special medication or if you are allergic to it, inform your doctor in time. Also in case of an emergency, we ask that you contact the ship’s doctor.  

Ready to Book Your Polar Expedition?

Ready to find your dream cruise?  Have questions? Contact Polar Holidays to schedule a free consultation with one of our booking specialists today!