Seasons of Antarctica: Best Time to Cruise to Antarctica

Icebergs in Antarctica

Seasons of Antarctica: Best Time to Cruise to Antarctica

Ask anyone who has taken a cruise to Antarctica and you will undoubtedly be regaled with stories about amazing landscapes, historic sites and exotic wildlife. Antarctica is unique and spectacular but the change in seasons affects the experience. So what is the best time to cruise to Antarctica? The austral summer from December to February, for example, brings temperatures above the freezing mark. The remainder of the year has very low temperatures that differ by elevation and other factors. Experienced Antarctica cruise companies know the best times to cruise to the region based on the seasons and your interests.

What is the best time to cruise to Antarctica?

The Antarctica cruise season runs through their spring and summer months from October to March because the rest of the year is too cold, the days are very short and ice prohibits access. Within the cruising season are some differences worth noting.

October, November and December

October, November and December represent Antarctica’s spring and the early portion of its summer; yet the continent is still covered in snow. If you are eager to see stunning landscapes you won’t be disappointed at this time of the year. The icebergs and snow conditions are ideal during this period as the ice pack is not yet laden with birds’ nests and waste.

Antarctic cruise passengers are likely to spot Southern Elephant seals and baby Crabeater seals. The considerable zooplankton draws in whales of the Minke, Humpback and Southern Right varieties. November is also the time of the year when Antarctica’s penguins mate and lay eggs.

January and February

January and February are the summer months in Antarctica with temperatures reaching 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow has dissipated to higher elevations, allowing cruise passengers to spot the stunning rocky headlands. It is a special time of year for more than the considerable warmth; the entire continent is showered with 24 hours of sunlight. With the ice partially melted, extensive cruise expeditions are possible.

The baby penguins and seal pups wander around the region in January and February, providing cruise passengers with some truly precious views of wildlife. You’ll likely spot plenty of penguin parents feeding their hungry little ones during these months. These months are also ideal to spot the region’s whales.


March is fall in Antarctica; with it comes beautiful evening sunsets, dips in temperature and sea ice stemming from nighttime frosts. Though a bit chilly, Antarctica’s fall season features blooming algae that converts ice cliffs to shades of pink and green. Cruise passengers are highly likely to spot whales during the month of March as they have returned to feed. Gentoo penguins are especially interesting to see; some say that they act like miniature Charlie Chaplins. There is also the potential to spot the Southern Lights /Aurora Australis in Antarctica’s skies from March through September.

In the end, the best month to cruise to Antarctica within the season depends on your particular interests. Consider whether you would like to be on the water when the temperatures are mild or chilly. Ponder the types of animals and natural phenomena you would like to see. Once you have settled on your true motivations for visiting Antarctica by cruise ship, you will be able to narrow the window down to a specific month.

Polar Holidays has been traveling and booking expedition cruises to the polar regions for almost 20 years. We are familiar with the seasons, the destinations and the environments. We love to share our deep passion for the polar regions with travelers and explorers. You can expect to be enriched by our in-depth knowledge of the Arctic and Antarctic regions and dazzled by the incredible landscapes and wildlife unique to the area on one of our luxurious cruise ships. Our experienced operators are here to help you choose the best tour for your needs and interests. We offer door-to-door service, taking care of the details so you can enjoy the cruise of a lifetime. Contact us today to get started!


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