Antarctica has become very popular. Yes, it’s still a solitary experience, but the number of cruise ships has been increasing season to season. Higher demand drives up the prices, meaning that if you can afford it and have the time, you should go now!
With more than 400 Antarctica cruises every season, there are a lot of choices! Short itineraries, long itineraries; small cruise ships, big cruise ships; basic cabins, luxurious cabins. Should you go early season or late season? Over the holidays, when everybody wants to go? Think about your priorities, budget, and time preferences. If in doubt, reach out to Polar Holidays. Our staff has been on many Antarctic cruises and will be happy to give you recommendations.
What is the weather going to be like? It will likely rain. And snow. And grace us with sunshine. The absolute most likely scenario is that the weather will switch between all of these within a 10-minute time span. Pack for these kinds of conditions — both when you leave home (there are no clothing shops in Antarctica) and when you leave the ship for a landing.
Don’t overpack, but also don’t under-pack. Almost all ships will do laundry for you at a very reasonable rate. Bring two (rather than five!) sets of everything. Layer for the excursions (thin, long underwear, fleece sweater and pants, rain pants and jacket). Don’t forget gloves (light ones are fine) and a hat. Plus, bear in mind that even on overcast days there is UV radiation and a risk of sunburn. Don’t forget to bring sunblock and sunglasses for your Antarctica cruise!
Do you need boots? Not really. There will be rubber boots to use on the ship, for no charge. These are your best option to avoid getting your feet wet when embarking and disembarking the zodiacs. If you wear insoles or orthotics, select a larger size of rubber boots on the ship. Walks to the shore are no more than a mile or two, meaning that, unless you have problems with your feet, the cruise ship’s rubber boots should be fine for you.
Not long ago, there were last minute specials to Antarctica. You were able to find substantial discounts on a cruise by booking a month or less before departure. Some people even went so far as to fly to Ushuaia (a town in the very south of Argentina where most passengers board their Antarctica cruise ships) and wait by the pier. Sometimes this worked, sometimes these people flew back home without going on a cruise. While they did incur the cost of plane tickets and staying in hotels, it was often worthwhile due to the discounts they received on a cruise.
Unfortunately, these days most Antarctica cruises are fully booked months before departure. Can you still go on a discounted Antarctica cruise? Yes, but the better strategy is to book early — 10 to 12 months in advance! There are quite a large number of early-booking discounts on many cruises. You don’t have to pay the full amount: a down payment will reserve your spot and the price. Interested in current specials on trips? Contact the Polar Holidays team.
How much can you save? About $1,000 to $2,000 per person, depending on the itinerary and cabin type. That should easily pay for your flight to South America! Not all Antarctica cruises come with such discounts, but the staff at Polar Holidays can always find you some kind of offer if you can plan ahead.
Air travel! Don’t we all love it? Inclement weather delays, crew timeouts, mechanical failures, and many other scenarios are always possible. Any can result in missing your flight, canceled flights, or creating issues with your travel schedule.
Buenos Aires (likely your first destination) is a popular airport, but there are probably just one or two flights to Buenos Aires from your home airport. Miss your flight and you’ll have to wait until the next day. This means a 24-hour delay. Unfortunately, your cruise ship will not wait. It’s better to arrive a day early and spend some time in Ushuaia. It’s an attractive port, with great sightseeing opportunities and terrific food!
Even with a buffer day or two built in, you may be delayed. You may need a hotel room, or your luggage may arrive a day after you. While none of these events are ideal, travel insurance will help with some or maybe all of the extra expenses. Depending on the coverage you choose, travel insurance can pay for unexpected hotel nights, taxis, and clothing replacements.
In addition, something may happen between the time you book your Antarctica cruise and when you go. You should be booking your cruise at least six months in advance. There’s always the risk you may have to cancel your trip, such as if you or a relative falls sick. Even something relatively minor like a broken arm may prevent you from being able to take your trip. It is safer to insure yourself against such eventualities! We can recommend a few top insurance providers.
You’ve just flown to Buenos Aires, then to Ushuaia. Depending on where you live, you probably spent 10 to 30 hours on planes and in airports. Why not spend a bit of time in South America before or after your Antarctic trip? Although it is very difficult to top an Antarctica cruise experience, there are many things to see in South America. Most of them are only a few hours away (if that) from Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. Patagonia, Iguazu Falls, or even Easter Island could be an add-on trip or pre-cruise experience.
The staff at Polar Holidays have been to the polar regions more than a hundred times. We can help you select the itinerary that is best for you. You will not find a better price elsewhere. Contact us: we will find you the best deal for your dream trip!
Do you like photography? Have you used your camera on a zodiac boat? In blowing snow? Close to saltwater? You may encounter some, or more likely ALL of these conditions on your Antarctica cruise. The Polar Holidays founder is a professional photographer. He has seen cameras fail, cameras dropped on rocks and into salt water, and cameras malfunction for no reason!
Bring a second camera or even a little point-and-shoot camera — these have become really good! Any questions, reach out to Thomas. He can give you specific recommendations on what camera gear to bring. Or check out our resource on photography in Antarctica.
Ready to find your dream cruise? Have questions? Contact Polar Holidays to schedule a free consultation with one of our booking specialists today!