Choose Your Destination
Cruises to the continent of Antarctica begin and end in South America. You can choose a cruise straight to the Antarctic Peninsula, or a Peninsula tour that includes a visit to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands, or the Shetland Islands, or a direct cruise to the Antarctic Circle. The time of year or duration of trip you can take may dictate which cruise will work best for you.
The best cruise ships for Antarctic travel are small, comfortable, and offer varying degrees of luxury and adventure. Often the ships have been converted from research vessels and have ice-strengthened hulls for polar travel and touring.
To fully experience the area, Zodiacs will shuttle passengers to shore for exploring and camping, mountaineering and other shore-based activities when available. Contact your Polar Holidays Travel Specialist to help choose the best cruise for your dream adventure.
Please remember: Antarctica tours, plans and itineraries can change, depending on weather and ice.
- The Antarctic Continent is surrounded by water, and only 2% is ice free.
- It is home to the world’s greatest concentration of wildlife, where penguins, seals and whales are the only permanent residents.
- Most of Antarctica is covered by several thousand feet of ice. There is some geothermal heat beneath the ice, that heat is not able to escape.
- The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica, and winds from its strong storms help create an ocean current that circles the continent. This reduces the amount of warm water that reaches the land.
- Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth.
- The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest single mass of ice on Earth.
- Antarctica is home to about 70 percent of the planet’s fresh water, and 90 percent of the planet’s freshwater ice.
Antarctica, known as the 7th Continent, is one of the most pristine wilderness areas on earth. As you cruise the spectacular waters around the peninsula you will see icebergs in all shapes and sizes, even ice bridges and massive sheets of ice. Jagged mountain peaks rise ten thousand feet out of the sea, and towering glaciers drop giant chunks into the water below.
Fascinating wildlife is abundant around the peninsula. Breeding pairs of penguins gather by the tens of thousands on the ice. Magnificent albatross with a 12-foot wingspan fly past the cruise ships. Elephant, Weddell, crabeater, leopard, and fur seals share the ice and humpback, minke, and Orca whales dine in the ocean waters and are often seen from your ship, or while you are on a zodiac tour.
The stunning Falkland Islands are home to five species of Penguins – Rockhopper, Magellan, Gentoo, King and Macaroni. These islands are also the location of the largest breeding population of Black-Browed Albatross, even though some of the largest groups are on remote inaccessible islands. Seal breed on this island as well, the elephant seal, sea lion and fur seal. There are fifteen species of whales and dolphins that call these islands home, and at least 200 species of birds have been recorded here.
Most cruises to the Falkland Islands also visit the South Georgia Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
South Georgia is home to more wildlife than any other place on the planet – Thousands of King Penguins, plus Wandering Albatrosses and southern elephant seals. Thousands of fur seals breed in this area. The spectacular scenery includes mountains as high as 7,000 feet, glaciers, and fjords.
For the history buffs, you may have the opportunity to visit early whaling stations and the grave site of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Most cruises to the South Georgia Islands also visit the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
We will chart a course through the Drake Passage and along the Antarctic Peninsula with the ambition of crossing the Antarctic Circle. Our tour ships are fully equipped ice-strengthened vessels, and with favorable sea conditions we will get to 66 degrees 33.7′ South. Crossing the Antarctic Circle will put you in rare company — Very few travelers have been below the Antarctic Circle. Enjoy the wildlife of the Peninsula and colossal icebergs along the way. The farther south we go, the more sea ice we are likely to encounter.
Fly the Drake
A two-hour flight takes you from Punta Arenas, in the Chilean Patagonia, directly to Antarctica where you board your expedition ship. You thereby avoid the stormy seas of the Drake Passage and experience only the best Antarctica has to offer.
Feeling more like a private yacht than a cruise ship, our small expedition vessels give us privileged access to Antarctica, allowing you to go where larger ships can’t. Disembarkation is efficient so you spend time exploring, not waiting.