Preparing For Your Cruise

Polar Holidays' Expert Recommendations

To make the most out of your cruise, a bit of preparation helps. But fear not, with more than 100 polar cruises under our belt, we will tell you what to expect and what to bring. Unless you have very specific cravings, all the food on board is included, from breakfast to dinner – you will be well fed. Clothing and camera equipment are more important – there are no shops en route! Do read our recommendations and feel free to reach out if you have additional questions! 

Getting to Your Embarkation Point 

All international flights arrive into the Buenos Aires International airport Ezeiza, airport code EZE. Connecting flights to your port of embarkation, Ushuaia or Puerto Madryn, leave mostly from the domestic airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, airport code AEP. The transfer takes about 45 minutes, but we suggest a minimum of 3 hours connection time. Traffic can be bad in Buenos Aires! The main airline for domestic flights is Aerolineas Argentinas. More information is available at Aerolineas.

What is the Best Way to Get There?

 No matter where you live, you will fly to Buenos Aires and fly south to Ushuaia from there. If you spend some time in South America before your Antarctica cruise, you may fly directly to Ushuaia from other airports. Please reach out to us  regarding more specific questions or if you would like some additional help in planning your trip. 

When Should I Arrive? 

We strongly suggest that you arrive in your port of embarkation (usually Ushuaia) one day before your Antarctica cruise ship leaves for Antarctica. Flight delays and the ship will not wait if you are late! When do I get on the ship? Embarkation is typically mid-afternoon, and your cruise to Antarctica begins within an hour or two. When do I get off the ship? Most cruises to Antarctica end early morning, with plenty of time to catch a plane back to Buenos Aires or other South American destinations. 

polar lighthouse under the aurora borealis

What Should be the Date For My Return Flight Home? 

Most international flights leave Buenos Aires in the evening. You can connect to these on the same day you get of your Antarctica cruise ship.

Do I Have to Bring Food? 

Food is not allowed on land in Antarctica, to ensure that the environment stays pristine and that animals never get a chance to eat food made for humans. You can, of course, bring snacks for the ship days, but unless you have very specific desires (e.g., chocolate or gummi bears!), there is no need to bring food. The team at Polar Holidays will advise where the last place to shop is before you enter the ship for your cruise to Antarctica.  

Do I Need Formalwear? What Types of Clothing Do You Recommend?

No, formalwear is not necessary. Only a handful of cruises to Antarctica have formal dinner arrangements. Bring comfortable clothes to wear while on the ship. Our team at Polar Holidays has put together a list of clothing items that work well on your Antarctica cruise. 

The team at Polar Holidays has been testing equipment for close to 20 years.  People’s tolerances to colder climates do vary a lot, but our packing list will help you be prepared for your Antarctica cruise.  Almost all tours include the free use of rubber boots for the journey, and a weather-proof parka o take home.  No formal wear is required, and laundry is usually available – do not overpack!  On the ship, bring casual wear, no suit, no ties, and no fancy dresses.

Suggestions for clothing to bring for landings:

  • Base layer – long underwear (polypropylene or silk work well – no cotton!)
  • Fleece sweater and pants
  • Socks (thick)
  • Gloves – liners and shell (waterproof)
  • Hat – with ear cover
  • Scarf or balaclava
  • Waterproof pants (do NOT forget these!)
  • Sunglasses, sunblock

Other equipment:

  • Waterproof bag or backpack
  • Swimsuit (you may get an opportunity for a “polar plunge”)
  • Ear plugs and eye shade if you are a light sleeper (and do not know your cabin mate)
  • An electrical adapter (get a multi-prong one)
  • Don’t forget a basic medical kit – band-aids, aspirin…,any medications you take
Norway sailing at sunset

What Happens If I Am Predisposed to Motion Sickness? What Are My Options?

Antarctica is separated from South America by the Drake Passage. Crossing it takes 2-3 days. Yes, it can be rough. It can also be the Drake Lake – smooth as a mirror! If you know that you are very prone to motion sickness please contact our team at Polar Holidays – we will help you select a fly and cruise” itinerary. Those expeditions take a plane across the Drake Passage, and you actually board your Antarctica cruise ship in Antarctica! There are, of course,  a variety of medicines to combat motion sickness, from oral medications to wristbands. And even if you are a bit sea-sick, once you are in Antarctica, you will be fine, as you are sheltered from the rough seas. We would be happy to provide you with some recommendations from some of our seasoned travelers.  

Is There a Doctor On the Ship? 

There is an emergency physician on the ship. If you any existing conditions, it is best to introduce yourself at the beginning of the cruise. Please do not forget to bring your medications. No dental services are available. 

Can We Bring Hiking Poles? 

Yes, of course. If you do, bring collapsible ones. Most ships DO have a supply of poles as well. We rarely run out. The terrain in Antarctica can be slippery and uneven  – poles may help. But you always have a choice of hikes, staying on the beach, or just sitting down and taking in the wildlife and scenery. There are plenty of things to do and to enjoy in the polar regions for everyone.

Do I Need a Long Lens For Photos? A Flash? A Tripod? 

Our staff has put together a special section on photo equipment that is located here. Generally speaking, there is a lot of light in Antarctica, so unless you carry heavy lenses, a tripod is not necessary. You may consider a small collapsible one, for video clips. Phone cameras have become very good, and we have many clients who have just taken their phones. Flashes are not needed unless you are taking a lot of photos inside the ship. We do not want to flash the animals!  

Polar Holidays was founded by award-winning photographer Thomas Kokta.  His images have been published by National Geographic and are displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of National History in Washington.  His tip – travel light.  Consider a mirrorless camera.  Watch the animals to understand their behaviors. Here is what Thomas suggests to bring! As always, feel free to reach out to us with any specific questions.

Recommended camera equipment:  

  • Camera (consider a second body if photography is a big reason for your Antarctica cruise) 
  • Lenses (if not built in) – wide angle (~20 to 24mm) to 300mm 
  • UV filter (to protect the lens from water) 
  • 2nd battery 
  • Lots of memory cards 
  • A storage device (unless you bring lots of memory cards) or tablet/laptop 
  • Tripod – consider a light and small one, for video clips 

What About Bringing Boots?

Almost all cruises to Antarctica include the free use of a pair of boots during the trip. While our cruise experts at Polar Holidays help you plan your trip, we will ask you for your shoe size. Boots will be waiting for you on the ship. If you find that they are too big or small,  you will have an opportunity to swap them for a different size. We want you to be comfortable on your Antarctica cruise! 

What Kind of Jacket Do I Need? 

Do bring along thermal underwear and a comfortable fleece or down jacket. Yes, your Antarctica cruise occurs during the Antarctic spring and summer, but it may still be chilly. Most cruises provide you with a waterproof jacket (with a bit of insulation) that you will receive on the ship and can take home. The Polar Holidays team will ask you for your jacket size while preparing for the cruise. On the first or second day of the cruise, you can swap for a different size if your jacket is too small or large. 

Ready to Book Your Expedition?

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