A cruise to the White Continent will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
This ice-covered region of the Southern Hemisphere draws in fewer than 20,000 cruise passengers annually and is not for those who expect a mainstream cruising experience. If you want to savour the delights of vibrant onboard shops and casinos, then a cruise to Antarctica is not for you! Instead, the fascination of the White Isle lies in its sheer beauty and in experiencing the imposing, all-powerful force of nature. For this coldest, driest and windiest landmass on the planet is actually a wildlife paradise; Antarctica boasts an unrivalled abundance of flora and fauna. Spending a few days sharing your world with seals, penguins and flocks of screaming birds will be a thrilling experience. Excursions will see you hiking and kayaking and whale watching, and in the evenings you will be treated to informative lectures on the climate and geography of this dramatic landscape.
There are a surprising number of cruise lines that will sail you to Antarctica. Some of the most experienced operators in these waters are Oceanwide Expeditions, Quark Expeditions, and Holland America Line. Their ships are without fail modern and comfortable. Unlike larger ocean-going cruise ships operating elsewhere in the world, these ships will not come furnished with show venues, waterparks, and twenty different dining rooms. What they do offer is a friendly, intimate atmosphere, cosy bars and dining rooms, and panoramic lounges. If you are looking for a vessel to rival the more mainstream options and transport you in absolute luxury, then you should consider the five-star cruise lines Seabourn and Silversea Cruises. Their ships come with exquisite furnishings (think marble bathrooms) and 24-hour butler service. All vessels cruising these waters have ice-strengthened hulls to ensure absolute safety. Some of the more robust expedition and research cruise ships are actually icebreakers that can cut paths through the ice to reach the more out-the-way destinations.
Since this is a region dominated by its climate, it is impossible to create precise itineraries with exact timings. Scheduled stops may go 100% according to plan during your journey, or you may have to bypass a stop and spend longer elsewhere. Likewise, flexible flights pre- and post-cruise should be booked to allow for the possibility of a slightly lengthened holiday! The majority of cruises depart from Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia’s port marks the key access point to the Southern Ocean and what lies beyond, and as such is a major commercial port. Framed by the stunning Martial mountain range, the town is worthy of a visit all on its own. From here, ships will spend around two days crossing the famous Drake Passage, the famous body of water which lies between Southern America and Cape Horn, and The South Shetland Islands and Antarctica. The main body of the cruise will consist of exploring the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula and its surrounding islands whilst undertaking a wide range of land and water-based excursions. Do not forget to bring your binoculars on this trip of a lifetime!