Antarctica is a destination for those willing to go to the ends of the earth for adventure and our luxury Antarctica cruises offer a unique way to experience this incredible landscape in style. If you’re up for the ultimate adventure to the Last Continent, our guide to Antarctica and South Pole cruises will help you make the first step. We show you exactly how to reach Antarctica and what experiences you can expect to have when you get there. This includes insight into the places you’ll visit on your Antarctica and South Pole cruise and the kind of wildlife you’ll encounter. Read on to discover the life-changing adventure that awaits you on your journey toward the South Pole.
What can I expect on an Antarctica and South Pole cruise?
You don’t have to be an astronaut to go to outer space these days, and you don’t have to be a scientist to go to Antarctica either. An intrepid sense of adventure and a desire to discover our profoundly beautiful planet are all you need!
Sailing to Antarctica
Each spring and summer, a selection of expedition cruise ships depart from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina (aka The End of the World), and set sail across Drake’s Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Day by day the ship’s tender at different points along the peninsula to introduce you to the incredible landscapes and wildlife the region has to offer. As well as weaving around the icebergs and coastlines by boat, you may even get the rare and privileged opportunity to step foot on Antarctica and even hike up its mountains.
Experiences on an Antarctica and South Pole Cruise
On each outing in Antarctica, you’ll be accompanied by a range of expedition leaders with a full scope of Antarctic insight and expertise whose job it is to make sure the experience is fully enriching and engaging. Professional geographers, historians, and scientists will teach you how Antarctica’s landscapes were formed, tell you stories about the continent’s fascinating history, and give you an insight into how climate change threatens the continent and our earth. Meanwhile, professional naturalists and adventurers will immerse you in Antarctic life by ensuring you sail alongside large whale pods, observe penguin behavior, and learn all about Antarctica’s precious ecosystem. While some of this information is relayed through captivating talks and lectures on board your cruise, much of it is done on exciting land, boat, kayak, and even helicopter field expeditions.
Sail beyond the Antarctic Circle
You can even opt for a cruise that crosses the Antarctic Circle, the furthest point south that any commercial vessel will go, which is a feat for any adventurer. However, the Antarctic Circle is made inaccessible by packed sea ice for much of the year, so these cruises only tend to run through late November to early February.
When can I go on an Antarctica and South Pole cruise?
Since Antarctica’s coast is sealed by sea ice for over half the year, it only becomes accessible to cruises once it begins to melt in October, late spring. As fall approaches in February, the sea ice begins to build up once again and Antarctica and South Pole cruises cease for the season. The window of opportunity to visit the Last Continent, therefore, falls between October and April. During this time, Antarctica’s landscapes and wildlife activity changes drastically along with its accessibility. Therefore, it’s best to plan the dates of your trip around the Antarctic experiences you’d most like to have. For instance, it would be better to visit in late spring/ early summer to see Antarctica layered in snow, whereas late summer is better for wildlife spotting. For a more detailed breakdown of when to visit Antarctica, read our month-by-month guide.
Where will I go on an Antarctica and South Pole cruise?
Every cruise traveling to Antarctica leaves from Ushuaia which is situated at the southern tip of Argentina, crowning it as the world’s southernmost city. Ushuaia also has the distinction of being the capital of Argentina’s renowned Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) region and its national park, one of the top five Patagonia travel destinations. The 63,000-hectare park is defined by its dramatic volcanic mountains, giant glaciers, lakes, beech forests, and rugged coastlines, helping it to attract a particularly adventurous crowd. As well as hikes, wildlife-spotting boat rides, and glacier navigation, Ushuaia visitors can ride the famous Train at the End of the World, and swap enthralling adventure stories over beers with fellow travellers in the local bars.
The Antarctic Peninsula
Crossing Drake Passage
The Antarctic Peninsula is an 810-mile-long mountainous peninsula on mainland Antarctica. Reaching the southern tip of South America 620 miles north, it is the easiest point of Antarctica to reach by boat. Well, theoretically. To reach the peninsula, you have to cross Drake Passage, one of the most notoriously treacherous bodies of water on earth. However, the purpose-built ships and highly trained captains will ensure you cross it safely. Besides, what awaits on the Antarctic Peninsula is all worthwhile.
Reaching the peninsula
To reach the peninsula itself, ships must break through miles of sea ice and weave around hundreds of house-sized icebergs which is an extraordinary sight to witness in itself. Since the peninsula is geographically ideal for a host of seasonal and migratory animals including whales, seals, penguins, and albatross as well as cruise ships, you’ll be sure to spot them along the way.
Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
Since Antarctic weather conditions are too harsh to properly sustain human life, it’s one of the few places left on earth that remains largely uninhabited and free of infrastructure. This leads some to wonder what there is to do when you get there. The truth is, the best thing to do is appreciate its untouched snowy mountainscapes, stillness, and quietude. While that may sound a little simple in theory, nothing can prepare you for how awe-inspiring it is in reality. That said, you’ll be sure to get in a few hikes, wildlife-spotting walks, and even visit a research or military base on the peninsula.
South Georgia Island
South Georgia is a small uninhabited British island some 870 miles east of the Falklands in the South Atlantic Sea discovered by Captain Cook. It consists of 100 miles of dramatic mountains which fork into deep fjords and ice sheets which cascade into bays. Like Antarctica, its environment is too harsh to sustain human life year-round, but it’s a paradise for penguins, whales, and seals. While the island’s breathtaking nature is a huge draw, visiting the small settlement of King Edward Point, home to the British Antarctic research station and South Georgia Museum, is a particularly unforgettable experience.
The Falkland Islands is a temperate archipelago of islands situated 300 miles east of Argentina’s Patagonian Coast. It’s known for its sparse highlands, rugged coastlines, and abundance of sea lions, birds, and penguins. In fact, there are around 1500 emperor penguins in the Falklands, which is almost half of its human population. As well as its eerily wistful landscapes and unique wildlife, the Falklands is known for its short and controversial war for sovereignty between Britain and Argentina in 1982. Today, the archipelago’s colonization history and British governance are just as much of an intrigue as their breathtaking nature.
The Antarctic Circle is a geographical latitudinal line that runs around 66.5 degrees south of the equator, encircling the continent of Antarctica. The line is significant because it marks one of only two coordinates on earth (the other being the Arctic Circle) where the sun stays above the horizon for the entire 24-hour period of the summer solstice. While some travelers seek to travel to the Antarctic Circle for this very reason, most seek to travel there for a much simpler reason. Much of the Antarctic Circle falls along the coastline of Antarctica which is sealed off by impenetrable sea ice for much of the year. This makes sailing to the circle on an Antarctica and South Pole cruise impossible during the winter, and remarkably difficult even during summer. Therefore, there’s a great sense of pride and achievement to be found by anyone who makes it that far toward the South Pole.
Which are the best Antarctica and South Pole cruises?
Let the experts at Totally Latin America math you with the best Antarctica and South Pole cruises. We offer a myriad of Antarctic cruises ranging from 8 to 23 days, each with an exciting and enriching itinerary. Between them, you can cross the Antarctic Circle, follow the path of explorer Ernest Shackleton, stand amongst millions of emperor penguins in South Georgia, and even fly on a charter plane across Drake Passage. Our team plan trips aboard the finest vessels navigating Antarctica. Comparable to a luxury 5-star hotel, the (roughly) 200-passenger ships feature super spacious suites with private balconies, sumptuous public spaces, ample wildlife viewing platforms, a spa and sea-view sauna, theater, fine-dining restaurant, and much more. They are even equipped with Zodiacs, kayaks, and helicopters for greater polar exploration.
Step foot on the Last Continent on an Antarctic and South Pole Cruise in 2024
An Antarctic and South Pole Cruise is more than just an adventurous vacation, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As one of the farthest, most remote, and most desolate places on earth, few have the opportunity to see it with their own eyes and feel that satisfying sense of freedom and achievement when they do. If you want to be one of the privileged few to visit the Last Continent on an Antarctic and South Pole Cruise, speak to our experts here or call toll-free at +1 855 217 9045.