In keeping with the spirit of the expedition, dress code on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities and keep in mind that much of the scenery can be appreciated from your cruise ship’s deck – which can be slippery. Often, must-see events such as whale sightings require a dash outside at a moment’s notice. Having your parka nearby and sturdy shoes with non-slip soles ensures safe and quick travel on deck. Pack for multiple layers, as it is comfortably warm aboard the ship, but can be much colder outside.
Cruises to Antarctica require crossing the Drake Passage which takes about 2 days. This crossing isn’t lack-luster, our expeditions have plenty of activities and learning opportunities. Cruises provide educational programs detailing the history, geology, and wildlife of Antarctica. Select itineraries also have photography talks and instruction. Most ships have a library where you can check out books, and Wifi is provided as well. Once you get closer to land – usually after a day of cruising – seabirds will likely start following the ship. Have your camera ready and prepare for great photo-ops from the deck!
Once your Antarctica cruise gets closer to land, get ready to explore! Weather and landing site conditions permitting, you will likely make 2 landings a day – one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Layer up, grab your camera, and hop on the zodiac boat for your ride to shore! These rubber boats will take you to the landing site, usually a 10-15 minute ride. You will stay on land for 2-3 hours, then return to the ship for lunch. The ship will reposition to the next landing site – and the process will repeat again. You are not just “cruising” on your Antarctica cruise – you will disembark to explore the scenery and watch the animals. You will be able to participate in a variety of activities, including wildlife spotting.
Your Antarctica cruise ship has a group of specialists on board. These experts will give presentations about penguins, seabirds, seals, whales, geology, geography and photography. These are great opportunities to ask questions and get a deeper understanding of Antarctica.
There are 3 meals a day. A buffet-style breakfast with many hot and cold dishes, including fresh fruit and ready-made omelets. Lunch choices are usually squeezed in between landings, but you will find delicious dishes, both warm and cold. Dinners are usually set in advance, with a choice from 3 or 4 main entrees. Your cruise to Antarctica will always have a vegetarian option, but Polar Holidays will work with you to cater to any specific dietary needs you may have.
All ships do have a bar. Alcohol can be purchased and is usually available during dinner. Some may be included in your Antarctica cruise cost – this depends on the ship and the Antarctica itinerary. Please reach out to the Polar Holidays team – we will advise if your Antarctica cruise includes alcohol. We can also advise where you can purchase alcohol before getting on the ship.
With very few exceptions, ship cabins have private bathrooms. In addition, there are public bathrooms close to shared areas such as the restaurant, library and meeting room. The standard amenities such as soap and shampoo are provided. The team at Polar Holidays can advise you what specific amenities are provided on the ship and cabin of your choice.
Most ships provide laundry services. Do not overpack, you can have your clothes washed on board. Service turnaround is usually 1-2 days.
Yes! As far away as you will be from permanently inhabited settlements, there are options to buy souvenirs on your cruise to Antarctica. Several countries have research stations in Antarctica, and they have small souvenir shops. Most Antarctica cruises try to visit at least one of these spots. Visits are not guaranteed, as they depend on weather and ice conditions. You can also purchase souvenirs in your departure port. Additionally, most ships have a small souvenir shop with a basic selection of postcards, t-shirts, and mementos.
Yes, we will try to mail your postcards. A few research stations will allow a postcard to be dropped off and mailed from Antarctica. This is available on select Antarctic cruises, and access to those stations is dependent on weather and ice conditions.
Gratuities are welcome, but not required. Details will be provided on your Antarctica cruise. Some itineraries are “all-inclusive” – your team at Polar Holidays will advise you on the tipping policy on your cruise to Antarctica.
Any purchases made on the ship including in the bar, the souvenir shop, for laundry, Wifi – can be made via major credit cards or any major currency.
Most landings last for 2-3 hours, pending weather conditions. The zodiac boat rides from the ship to shore tend to be short, about 10 minutes or so.
Zodiac boats are inflatable rubber vessels that take you from your Antarctic cruise ship to land. In areas where wildlife may be on ice floats, where there are amazing icebergs to see, or where landings are not possible, you will go on 1-2 cruises on these zodiacs. You will see icebergs up close and may see wildlife that you are unlikely to observe on land, for example, leopard seals. If you are really lucky, you may see groups of penguins on their way back to shore!
On sea days, sleep as long as you want – but you might miss breakfast if you sleep in too long. On expedition days, breakfast is usually between 7-8am, and you will be off the ship by 9am.
Your cabin and the public areas of your Antarctica cruise ship have bathrooms, but there are none at the landing sites. Therefore it is recommended that guests use the bathroom before they disembark the ship and ride to shore.
Ready to find your dream cruise? Have questions? Contact Polar Holidays to schedule a free consultation with one of our booking specialists today!