The fifth largest, the coldest, windiest and driest continent on the planet - if these aren't reasons enough, cruise to Antarctica for the penguins, the whales and the seals.
Antarctica cruises or cruises to the White Continent, as they are also known, 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.
The fascination of the White Isle lies in its sheer beauty and in experiencing the imposing, all-powerful force of nature.
This cold, dry and windy landmass is actually a wildlife paradise. Antarctica cruises boast 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, 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 quite a few cruise lines that will sail you to Antarctica. Some of the most experienced operators in these waters are:
Their ships are modern and comfortable. Unlike larger ocean-going cruise ships operating elsewhere in the world, these ships will not come furnished with show venues, water parks, and twenty different dining rooms. What they do offer is a friendly, intimate atmosphere:
If you are looking for a vessel to rival the more mainstream options and transport you in absolute luxury, consider the five-star cruise lines:
Their ships come with exquisite furnishings (think marble bathrooms) and a 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-of-the-way destinations.
Depending on what you want to see, there are two possibilities:
Going at any other time, April to October, would mean seeing spectacular skies but also experiencing extreme temperatures and a lot of darkness.
Many cruise lines will provide warm boots and a waterproof jacket for shore excursions. However, other things need to be taken care of yourself. The following are a must-have on a cruise to Antarctica:
You may not think of it when packing for an Antarctica voyage but do take a swimsuit with. Most cruise lines offer their guests the opportunity to swim in the waters around Deception Island – the waters here are warmer due to volcanic activity.
Antarctica has always been a popular cruising destination due to its amazing scenery and unique wildlife. Cruising is the best way to take in all the sights and sounds and with many cruise liners voyaging through the region, such as Silversea and Hurtigruten, there are many exciting itineraries. Excursions and activities such as cross country skiing are always a popular choice to take part in.