Sitting at the center of the southern hemisphere, Antarctica’s summer months stretch between October and March, and its winter months stretch between April and September. Since Antarctica is a rather inhospitable place to be in the winter, it’s only open to tourists during the summer when the days grow longer and the sea ice that entraps the continent all winter begins to melt. Our luxury Antarctica cruises operate during this time and offer the ultimate experience in comfort and style.

While there are Antarctic cruises running throughout the summer, December to February are the most opportune months to join one. During this time, temperatures range between an average of 40-47 °F (4-8 °C), which is as warm as it gets on the white continent! As the days get warmer and the sea ice melts, it becomes possible for cruise ships to sail further toward the center of Antarctica and reach more remote and interesting landing sites. Plus, Antarctica becomes a playground for penguins, whales, and sea lions at the height of summer, so your chances of seeing them also increase. While the beginning and end of the summer don’t offer as many exploration or wildlife-spotting opportunities, these months are ideal for enjoying Antarctica’s unimaginable icy landscapes. Expect to pass by giant icebergs as you break through the thick sea ice towards the snow-covered mountains — a true winter wonderland.

Antarctica in January & February 

Best Time to Visit Antarctica

Considering the height of summer and the mid-point of the Antarctic cruise season, January and February are the best months to visit the Last Continent. The days are longer, the sea ice has receded to its farthest point, and there’s a greater chance of seeing whales, penguins, and sea lions. The receded ice opens up passages for cruise ships to explore that wouldn’t be possible in the earlier months, making the journey to Antarctica even more adventurous. This also means you’ll be able to sail closer to the South Pole than cruises departing earlier in the season. In fact, your captain is likely to make it his mission!

Antarctica in March & April

As April draws closer, the Antarctic cruise season draws to a close. But while April’s angry seas, harsh winds, and dropping temperatures are too feisty for fair sailing, March is still relatively mild in all aspects. It enjoys easy navigation to a wide range of landing sites and excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting since the sea ice has mostly receded. On the other hand, the continent’s iconic white and blue angular landscapes aren’t quite as bold as they can be in earlier months (although still completely captivating) due to the melted snow on the mountains and dissipated icebergs. However, you’re likely to benefit from some tempting cruise prices!

Antarctica in May & June

It is not possible to visit Antarctica as a tourist during these months.

Antarctica in July & August

It is not possible to visit Antarctica as a tourist during these months.

Antarctica in September & October

Best Time to Visit Antarctica

After a harsh winter at the center of the southern hemisphere, the days begin to get longer and warmer. By late October, there’s enough warmth and daylight for Antarctica’s cruising season to slowly begin. Since the sea ice hasn’t had a proper opportunity to melt, cruises don’t reach as far towards the south pole as they do in later months and there isn’t as much opportunity for wildlife spotting. However, October cruise prices and deals make up for it. Besides, there’s no better opportunity to see the continent’s vast snowy mountains, frozen seas, and giant icebergs in all their glory. 

Antarctica in November & December

Arch shaped iceberg in AntarcticaThe Antarctic cruise season really picks up during November and December as summer in the southern hemisphere takes full swing. The sea ice is quickly receding and making a clear path for the cruise ships to navigate further toward the south pole. Along the way, expect to see penguins, whales, and sea lions abound at an array of landing points. While this time of year promises an optimal Antarctic experience, it is the most popular time of year to visit (especially with Christmas around the corner) which makes prices higher and crowds larger. 

While it’s only possible to travel to Antarctica between October and March, the experience you get may vary greatly depending on whether you choose to go at the beginning, middle, or end of its cruise season. To help you decide, you should assess what you’d most like to experience on your Antarctic cruise. The main factors to consider are:

  • Wildlife spotting opportunities
  • Weather and hours of daylight
  • Navigational possibilities
  • Antarctica’s icy landscapes

If you need a little extra help deciding or want to enquire further about Antarctic cruises, our experts will be happy to answer your questions, provide their first-hand knowledge, and offer their professional advice. Click here to contact us, or give us a call today.  

We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. – Ernest H. Shackleton (last Antarctic expedition of Shackleton and the Endurance)