Picking the Best Antarctic Cruise

At Polar Holidays, we work with previous customers to learn about their cruise experiences and to catalogue their feedback. With this input and our own extensive polar travel experience, we are able to help you find your perfect Antarctic cruise!

A unique characteristic of Antarctica is its seasonal ice barrier – you can only take a cruise there between November and March when the ice barrier has receded. Every season, more than 400 Antarctic cruises venture to the region. This vast selection of trips can make picking the best experience an overwhelming process. Everything from prices and ships, to the destinations themselves vary. Plus, each cruise trip has multiple length options depending on which trip you pick.

How do I pick the best Antarctic Cruise for me?

You’ll need to take many factors into account when choosing a cruise. For instance, how much time do you have? What is your budget? What ship size and type do you prefer? What activities do you want to try, and what destinations do you want to visit? 

Below, you will find detailed information about all these factors. When you are done reading, you’ll have a good idea about what is the best Antarctic cruise for you. 

Feel free to contact us! The staff at Polar Holidays have been in Antarctica many times. Tell us a bit about yourself and the reasons why you want to go on an Antarctic cruise. We will send you a set of itineraries for the cruises we recommend. Otherwise, continue reading — we’ll help you figure out what type of cruise will give you the experience you’re looking for.

Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctica Cruise Length

A cruise to Antarctica can last for as few as five days, to as many as 30 days. When planning your trip remember to add at least one day to reach the cruise’s starting point. You may need longer than this depending on where you live. The shortest cruises involve a flight from South America to Antarctica and back. The flights are included in the cruise package. Longer Antarctica cruises start late in the season — between January and March — as only when the sea ice has reduced somewhat are you able to go far into the south. On these longer cruises, you will likely cross the Antarctic Circle and go deep into the Ross Sea!

Types of Antarctic Cruises

No suits are required on a cruise to Antarctica. Still, ships do vary in quality and formality. Don’t worry — whatever you choose, the ship will be pleasant. You will be fed well, have access to a shower, and receive a clean cabin. 

If you choose an older ship, it will likely be a former Antarctica research vessel that has now been converted into a commercial cruise ship. The cabins tend to be a bit smaller on these ships. The newer ships often have more luxuries. Plus, when you take a new cruise ship, you’ll be able to avoid the four days of crossing the Drake Passage (two getting there, two returning) and fly straight to Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins

What Should I Expect For Pricing On An Antarctic Cruise?

The first question customers ask our staff at Polar Holidays is almost always: “How much does a cruise to Antarctica cost?” We understand that budget is a primary concern for most travelers. We work hard to help you select a cruise to Antarctica that will fit your budget. 

Your budget will likely have the biggest impact on what Antarctic cruise will be best for your needs. It impacts everything from cruise itinerary and length, to cabin type and add-on activities like camping or kayaking — yes, you can camp in Antarctica! Better still, there will be a shower waiting for you back on the cruise ship. 

On every Antarctica cruise ship, you have a choice of cabins. The layout and size can differ widely between different trips. The most expensive cabins are on the higher floors, offering panoramic views. If you’re looking to save money, consider booking a twin or triple cabin or opt for one of the older, converted research vessel ships. Furthermore, early in the season in November as well as late in the season in February and March tend to be less expensive times to take an Antarctic cruise. 

Overwhelmed by all of these choices? Email or call us and we will work with you to select an Antarctic trip that fits your budget! 

The Best Antarctica Cruise Ships

Is there a “best” ship for your cruise to Antarctica? Not really. However, there are some factors to consider to ensure that you pick a cruise ship you’ll love. The most important factor is the size of the cruise ship. By size, we don’t mean how long the ship is, but how many passengers it can carry. In our experience, this can impact your cruise experience significantly! Antarctica cruise ships can carry as few as 20 people to more than 500 passengers. Does this matter? Absolutely! Some people prefer the more intimate experience a smaller cruise ship provides; others don’t mind either way. 

To figure out the size of the cruise ship that would best suit you, think about why you want to take a cruise to Antarctica. Is it for the cruise experience? It might be, but probably not. More likely, you’ll want to be ashore once you arrive in Antarctica, not on the ship — to walk among the penguins and see their babies; to watch the seals nurse. 

This is important because most landing sites in Antarctica have restrictions in regard to the number of people who can be ashore at one time. Most have a 100 person limit. In other words, if you travel on a large ship, you’ll have a lot less time on the shore! 

Are there advantages to the larger Antarctica cruise ships? Yes, definitely. They don’t roll as much in rough seas, meaning motion sickness is less of a problem. Larger ships may also have more amenities, like fitness rooms, for example. 

If you want a truly intimate experience, choose a small yacht. These cruises are more expensive, but they allow for a more personal onboard experience.  

 

What mode of travel do we recommend? Here are some options: 

Luxury: Luxury ships do not refer to the size, but rather the class of travel. Aboard a “Luxury” ship you will find luxurious accommodations, spacious public spaces and five-star amenities.  

Expedition: Expedition ships allow you to get close, but adhere to the principals of conservation, therefore having minimal impact on the environment. These ships are designed to carry small groups of passengers for a more intimate travel experience. 

Fly By flying from South America to Antarctica you avoid the stormy seas of the Drake Passage. Board your ship or Join your land-based camping excursion and experience only the best Antarctica has to offer. 

Here you can find a list of some available ships! More are available, please contact us for more information

Our staff at Polar Holidays has been on most of the ships and we review new ones as soon as they become available. Reach out to us info@polarholidays.com and we’ll help you select the ship that is best for your cruise to Antarctica!

glacier, sunset, Kokta Photography

What to Consider to When Picking an Antarctica Cruise 

To pick the best of more than 400 Antarctica cruises (every season!), take into account:

  1. How much time you have — Cruises to Antarctica last from one to five weeks 
  2. When you want to go — The season lasts from November to March 
  3. Your budget — Prices (per person) range from $7k to $30k 
  4. What type of ship you want — Small or large, basic or premium 
  5. Activities — Camping, kayaking, hiking 
  6. How important it is to see penguin babies — Eggs hatch in early December 

If you suffer from motion sickness — There are flights from South America to Antarctica 

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!