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Top Trip Memories
  • Stepping out of your Zodiac and setting foot on the world’s most remote continent, something only a tiny percentage of people worldwide can claim.
  • Watching mesmerized while chinstrap or Gentoo penguin chicks chase after their parents (or any adult penguin), begging for food.
  • Spotting a humpback or minke whale breaching a few hundred yards from the deck of your ship.
  • Marveling at the aggressive tactics of elephant seals and fur seals during mating season on South Georgia Island.
  • Kayaking through near-frozen waters, making sure to steer clear of passing icebergs.
  • Visiting one of the Antarctic research bases staffed by scientists from around the world.
  • Training your lens on an albatross as it soars overhead while en route to Antarctica.
  • Trekking, skiing or just going for a walk across a vast landscape as white as the highest peak of Hvannadalshnúkur -- which you can see for yourself if you reserve a spot on one of our tour operators' Iceland trips
  • Standing on your ship’s deck after dark, basking in the solitude of the world’s last wilderness.
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Tour Tips
  • The shortest (and most popular) sea crossing to Antarctica goes from Ushaia, Argentina, to the Antarctic Peninsula, via the often (but not always) tumultuous Drake’s Passage.
  • The Drake’s Passage crossing may take from 24 to 48 hours, and seasickness is common -- though waters in Antarctica itself are generally calm.
  • Some Antarctica tours leave from AustraliaNew Zealand or South Africa and visit the Ross Sea area, on the other side of the continent from the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • While most Antarctica tours go by ship, you can also fly in and/or out via the South Shetland Islands to shorten your trip and/or avoid Drake’s Passage.
  • Antarctica tours can be as short as a few days or as long as three weeks or more. Figure at least 10 to 12 days to complete a typical tour by ship.
  • Some Antarctica tours – primarily those that fly into the interior -- offer adventurous options such as camping, skiing, mountaineering, and trekking.
  • Other adventurous options include visits to emperor penguin colonies and the geographic South Pole. Kayaking and SCUBA diving may be available along the coasts.
  • While any trip to Antarctica is an adventurous trip, you don’t have to rough it. Some ships come with five-star amenities, while some land-tour operators offer luxury tent camping.
  • Cruise ships that carry more than 500 passengers are not allowed to make landings, so to set foot on Antarctica itself, you need to take a smaller vessel.
  • Generally speaking, the smaller your ship’s passenger load, the less time you’ll have to wait to go ashore, because ships are limited to landing 100 passengers at a time.
  • Some tours offer visits to the scientific research stations that are run by a number of different countries, including the United StatesGreat Britain, and Canada.
  • There are no “cheap” trips to Antarctica, but look for value such as included airfare, helicopter flights into the interior, and gratuities for the crew.
  • Prices vary considerably by length of trip, cabin, ship amenities, month of travel and other factors.
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Antarctica Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

51 Reviews

Excellent 32 Great 8 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

Fabulous Trip on a Great Ship

Audience with “Kings”

5.0 January 2017 Poseidon Expeditions Recommend: Yes I hadn't heard of Poseidon when I found the company while searching for trips to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands. However, I was reassured by reviews I found online and I am very glad that I trusted what I read. The pre-cruise administration from Natalia was efficient and helpful. The pre-cruise hotel was beautiful with great views. Our cabin was the best we have had on any of our small boat cruises. It was, however, the expedition staff and crew who made the whole trip so wonderful.

Forward planning meant that we were able to avoid storms around Falklands and South Georgia by reversing the itinerary to visit Antarctica first. This was an inspired decision as we had a calm crossing of the Drake Passage, reasonable weather at the start to excellent weather from day three. Every evening there was a recap meeting where we were fully apprised of the itinerary for the next day. Weather, winds and swell were all detailed and the decisions for the next day's landings fully explained. The captain was involved in the decisions and his extensive experience in the region helped our wonderful expedition leader, Jonathan Zaccaria, to make great decisions as to where to land. So good was the planning that we were able to make all but one landing throughout the 19 days, including every important stop planned from the wildlife point of view. This included seeing the fantastic king penguins at St Andrews Bay on South Georgia, where, only the previous week, one person we had spoken to said her cruise was unable to land anyone because of the wind and swell.

The ship's staff in every area could not do enough for us. This included our cabin man, the bar and kitchen staff, and the expedition staff, who managed the numerous zodiacs so brilliantly on the landings.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say that I would recommend Poseidon to anyone on this performance and we are looking at going again on another of their cruises.
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5 star hotel on water run by a 5 star team

Antarctica Classic in Depth

5.0 November 2016 G Adventures Recommend: Yes 5 star hotel on water run by a 5 star team

A wonderful experience of destination, activities, food and company, provided by professional, friendly staff

Antarctica Classic in Depth

5.0 November 2016 G Adventures Recommend: Yes A wonderful experience of destination, activities, food and company, provided by professional, friendly staff.

Absolutely the most amazing experience, the ship was very comfortable, staff were brilliant, food great

Antarctica Classic in Depth

4.0 November 2016 G Adventures Recommend: Yes Absolutely the most amazing experience, the ship was very comfortable, staff were brilliant, food great. You knew that G Adventures staff were making their clients best experiences their number one priority. Read more

all I expected and more, never thought I would see the sea ice packs like that, and to swim in Antarctic waters was just one of the best feelings I've ever experienced

Antarctica Classic in Depth

5.0 November 2016 G Adventures Recommend: Yes all I expected and more, never thought I would see the sea ice packs like that, and to swim in Antarctic waters was just one of the best feelings I've ever experienced.
See all reviews for Antarctica Top Operators & Trips
Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies Ajax Loader...
Classic Itineraries

Antarctica Cruise in 1 Week

Day 1, Punta Arenas: Start your journey in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Day 2, King George Island: Fly to King George Island (this saves you the treacherous journey through dreaded Drake Passage). Tour the Frei Chilean Base and Bellingshausen Russian Base before taking a Zodiac to embark your cruise vessel.

Day 3-6, Antarctic Peninsula: You’ll spend the next three days exploring the mysterious, harsh yet beautiful landscape of Antarctica, The White Continent. Have your camera ready for shots of penguins, albatross, and seals, as well as the incredible formations of ice, fiords, glaciers, and floating icebergs. Enter into the water in a Zodiac for up close viewings, cruise the Lemaire Channel, and visit Port Lockroy.

Day 7, King George Island: Return to King George Island for your flight back to Chile.

See All Antarctica Cruises in One Week

Antarctica Cruise in 2 Weeks

Day 1, Ushuaia: Enjoy a day to explore Ushuaia, Argentina. Do some shopping, or walk around the nearby National Park. Set sail through the Beagle Channel in the evening.

Day 2-3, Drake Passage: Drake Passage can be a notoriously rough crossing. If you get sea sick, prepare accordingly with as many precautions as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for whales!

Day 4, Bransfield Strait: Make your way to the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Shetland Islands on the way, and stopping for your first step onto Antarctic soil.

Day 5-10, Antarctic Peninsula: Kayak among icebergs, observe penguins, and walk through stunning snowscapes. Visit the historic base at Port Lockroy and send a postcard from the only post office on Antarctica. Weather permitting you may cruise through Lemaire Channel or experience the stunning views of Paradise Bay. You may also have the chance to visit an active scientific research station.

Day 11-12, Drake Passage: Sail once again through Drake Passage

Day 13, Ushuaia: Arrive back in Argentina and end your journey.

See All Antarctica Cruises in Two Weeks

Antarctica and Beyond in 3 Weeks

Day 1, Montevideo: Take a walking tour of this city, the capital of Uruguay. Get ready to set sail on your Antarctic adventure!

Day 2-4, Sail to Falkland Islands: Wildlife spotting - dolphins and whales.

Day 5-6, Falkland Islands: Go ashore to meet the local inhabitants. Learn about the history of the Falklands, and spot the incredible and many bird species.

Day 7-12, South Georgia: Head toward South Georgia Island, an important fixture in exploration history, as well as a once prosperous whaling industry. Follow the footsteps of James Cook. Visit Shackleton’s grave, and old whaling stations. Observe King Penguins, elephant seal, fur seals, and hundreds of bird species.

Day 13-15, Scotia Sea: Elephant Island, keep an eye out for whales!

Day 16-20, Drakes Passage: Head back to South America through the oft treacherous Drake Passage. A lot of time to reflect on the incredible experience!

See All Antarctica Cruises in Three Weeks

Antarctica Trips & Tour Advice

Ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad built the first expedition-style cruise ship to take passengers to visit Antarctica in 1969, adventurous travelers have aspired to follow in their wake. Today about 40 vessels – mostly expedition-style vessels but some yachts as well -- make the run to the White Continent, leaving primarily from Argentina or the Falkland Islands, carrying as few as six and as many as 500 passengers.

Most of the Antarctic-bound ships, though, carry fewer than 100 passengers. Visitors go in search of the last real wilderness on earth, whose sole permanent residents are penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses and other abundant marine and bird life. Besides the stunning array of wildlife, you’ll see glaciers, snow-covered mountains, icebergs, and, on some tours, historic sites (such as early Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s huts) and perhaps one of the 20 scientific research stations that have welcomed visitors since 1969.

Antarctic Peninsula

The most common destinations on sea tours leaving from South America are the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands -- all havens for wildlife. (The latter two are not part of Antarctica.) The primary destination in Antarctica itself is the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up from the rest of the mainland and is closest to South America. A few icebreakers challenge the often frozen Weddell Sea in search of emperor penguins to the peninsula’s east. And some ships make the journey from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the Ross Sea on the other side of the continent; emperor penguin colonies are accessible from there by helicopter.

While some 100 tourist sites have seen landings in Antarctica over the years, fewer than 10 receive the bulk of the visitors. Port Lockroy, site of the British Antarctic Survey, is the most visited site, drawing more than 10,000 visitors per year. Passengers board Zodiacs (rubberized rafts) to go ashore, with most ships making one to three landings per day on the mainland.

Protecting the Ecosystem

Strict standards Antarctic tour operators must follow strict environmental protection guidelines mandated by the international Antarctic Treaty as well as the voluntary guidelines of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO); all itineraries must be approved in advance so they don’t harm the wildlife or the fragile ecosystem.

The Antarctic tourist season runs from late October or early November to March or early April, the summer months when the waters off Antarctica are comparatively ice free. The earlier months bring penguin and elephant seal courtship rituals, while the later months see the birth of penguin chicks and seal pups. By March the adult penguins are mostly headed out to sea, but whale and seal sightings increase. December and January bring the most daylight hours, prime time for photographers.

With so many variables in itineraries, vessels, levels of luxury, price, and trip lengths to wrestle with, it makes sense to let Stride help you sort through all the possibilities. And sooner than you may think, you can experience the same wonders that have captivated polar explorers for more than a century. 

Travel to Antarctica: Before you go

Warning: obvious statement ahead. It gets cold! So pack very warmly. Consider thermal undergarments, and breathable layers. Some excursions will involve being out on the water among icebergs, so also consider waterproof outer-layers. Cold can be alarmingly disorienting, so if you get cold easily, talk to your doctor about any precautionary measures or tips they recommend.

You may also want to consider any anti seasickness measures. Waters can be unpredictable, and you’ll be spending a lot of time aboard ship. Some tips to keep in mind: eat lot’s of crystallized ginger! Dramamine is also extremely effective for some. Talk with a doctor to figure out what will work best for you.

Visas

Antarctica does not have a governing body, and no permanent residents. All visitors, whether business or pleasure, are temporary. For this reason, you only need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to your trip. No visa is required if you plan to stay less than 90 days.

Safety Considerations When Traveling to Antarctica

Keep in mind is that there are no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctors offices in Antarctica. If you get sick or hurt, you will be relying on your cruise’s available resources, which while sufficient for normal ailments, will be minimal for anything extreme.

As mentioned above, be prepared for the cold and bring any anti seasick measures.

As highlighted by the CDC, you will be traveling with people from all over the world, in close quarters, and for an extended period of time. The risk of influenza, measles, and mumps is increased because of this, so especially for older travelers and children it will be important to ensure you are up to date on all these vaccines.

Related Guides

Continent:             

Antarctica and the Arctic

Local Attraction:  

Port Lockroy, Drake Passage, Deception Island, Beagle Channel, Antarctic Peninsula and Many More

Top Activities:      

Wildlife Sightseeing, Expedition Cruises & Zodiac Cruises

Similar Destinations:                    

Arctic, Alaska

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