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Choosing the best Antarctica cruise

Louise Mumford
By Louise Mumford
28 Mar 2017
Choosing the best Antarctica cruise.jpg

Travelling to the far south to the mesmerizing ‘White Continent’ is a big decision. It is perhaps the ultimate destination for adventurous travellers; a destination that truly deserves to warrant the phrase ‘the holiday of a lifetime’.

It is an incredible remote region that offers some of the most spectacular wildlife encounters on the planet in a pristine environment. Conversely it is not easy to get to, you need time to enjoy its wonders and, inevitably, to be a privileged visitor to its shores does come at a price, so you want to get it right!

Crucially, we have been there and will gladly chat to you about what to expect each day on your cruise, what clothing to take or any other aspect of travel to the Polar Regions. Contact our polar experts to chat through your exact requirements so we can source the very best Antarctica experience for you personally. When choosing how, when and where to travel to in Antarctica aboard a luxury Antarctica cruise, here is our expert advice on helping you to make the right choice for this ultimate holiday.

Which Ship? – You are likely to be onboard somewhere between 6 and 22 days so you want to be sure that your cabin is comfortable and that the public areas suit your taste and requirements. All the ships we personally select have the very best state-of-the-art navigational equipment and ice-strengthened hulls suitable for travel in these remote waters. Size also does matter as all the ships we select operate with the Antarctic Treaty guidelines which limit shore landing to a maximum of 100 people at a time. By choosing a ship with around 100 passengers onboard or less, you will maximize the time spent on land among the colonies of penguins and seals.

How to get to Antarctica? – Access to Antarctica is usually from the southern tip of the South American mainland, either from Chile or Argentina, depending on your itinerary and the ship. Even the very closest tip of the Peninsula is some two days sailing across the Drake Passage from Ushuaia before you reach landfall again in Antarctica and its outlying islands. This sea journey is fantastic for spotting whales and seabirds such as albatross and a great time to interact with guides and fellow passengers to learn more about the history, wildlife and scientific research in the Antarctic. If, however, the thought of two days at open sea puts you off, we can recommend options that bypass this sea crossing by flying to King George Island close to the Antarctic Peninsula instead or even into the interior of the continent itself.

What do I do onboard? – Days are spent heading out by small inflatable zodiac craft from your ship to islands and the mainland, observing the incredible wildlife of Antarctica, whether a leopard seal lounging on an ice floe or a cute little Adelie penguin waddling down from her nest to the shore to fish. But it is important to remember that some cruise itineraries offer additional options as well as hiking ashore to see wildlife. If you are active and would like a chance to get under the skin of this spectacular continent, we can help you choose an itinerary that includes camping overnight on the ice, kayaking among stunning blue icebergs or snowshoeing across pristine snowfields in search of wildlife. We can even suggest an amazing journey by small sailboat where you can combine your adventures in Antarctica with a chance to sail in some of the world’s most challenging oceans.

What wildlife will I see? – Penguins of course, and lots of them! Seals, whales and seabirds too. But there is much more to it than that. If you visit the Antarctic Peninsula, you will see many species of penguins but not the largest species, Emperor penguins, unless you visit very specific locations. There are whales present in these waters much of the austral summer but when is absolutely the best time to see them and which types can you expect to see? Would you prefer to see the penguin colonies as the chicks are hatched, in which case you need to time your cruise just right? Everyone has their own reason for visiting such a magnificent destination for wildlife encounters. If there is a particular experience on your wishlist, we will help you choose exactly the right cruise itinerary to maximize the chances of you getting your wish.

What are the Guides like? – Your expedition leaders onboard are the most crucial element of your holiday of a lifetime. They not only accompany you onshore and explain the wildlife, history and geography of the regions you visit, they embellish these experiences with lectures in the evening, they join you for dinner to chat over the day’s encounters and they enhance your special experience in every way they can. We choose the cruises that we know have the very best expedition guides. We can even send you their profiles before you go so you know exactly which experts you are going to meet, from wildlife photographers to marine biologists and historians.

For more information about our unique, tailor-made Antarctica cruises, please contact us