Exploring the ice waters of Antarctica on a cruise
Large Emperor Penguin colony gathered on snow in Antarctica
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Antarctica - Best Tours & Trips 2019

The White Continent, a vast icy wilderness at the bottom of the world, may be cold and remote, but it may also top more bucket lists than any other destination. That’s partly because only about 30,000 tourists a year get to visit Antarctica. For those travelers who do get to go, it’s typically a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so you want to be sure to navigate confidently through all the options – and Stride is here to help steer you safely across the ice.
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DEPARTURE DATES

 
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Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 1,745 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

Company

Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

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Top Antarctica Experiences and Attractions

Top Antarctica Experiences

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.

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.

Standing on your expedition cruise ship’s deck after dark, basking in the solitude of the world’s

last wilderness.

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 white landscape.

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Antarctica Trip Reviews

97 Antarctica Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 82
Great 14
Average 1
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.8
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.8

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Excellent

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

The best in the business!

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Operator AdventureSmith

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

Absolutely incredible

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Such an amazing expedition. Paul Goldstein moves heaven and earth to ensure
that the most is gained from the trip and no time is wasted. We cannot
recommend this experience highly enough, and would do it all again in a
flash.
The sheer majesty of the place and the overwhelming abundance of the
wildlife. Being able to get so close to penguins and seals who have no fear
of humans is a real privilege.


Inspirational and a human Duracell Bunny!


Book well in advance and as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed!


No


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Operator Exodus Travels

5 star hotel on water run by a 5 star team

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

5 star hotel on water run by a 5 star team

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Operator G Adventures

18 days of some of the most amazing sites, experiences, and wild life I never thought I would get to see

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Everything about this trip was beyond amazing. I wasn't originally supposed to go with Poseidon but my first two tries to go on an Antarctic expedition cruise were cancelled...but I am glad they were now because it led me to this longer and I think better cruise company. Everything from the food to the staff to the lectures and to the landings absolutely was beyond expectations. We had Anja as our expedition leader and she was fantastic! She made everyone feel right at home! I achieved a lifetime milestone on this cruise as well, and that was stepping foot onto the Antarctic mainland, knocking off my 7th and final continent! The expedition crew made sure this happened as it was an important feet that a lot of people wanted to do at least once. The landings were all phenomenal. Our first stops were the Falkland Islands (2 days) where we saw tons of beautiful albatros and learned lots of history. Next was South Georgia (where we spent 4 days) and saw so many penguins...100's of thousands of penguins in their breeding colonies. Salisbury Plain, St. Andrew's Bay, and Gold Harbour were my favorites among the landings in South Georgia. And the last stops were on the Antarctic Peninsula/South Shetland Islands..and this was all beautiful. The icebergs completely blew my mind. We did some whale watching down here too and had humpbacks within 15 feet of us a couple of times. Absolutely mind blowing! The at sea days we spent learning about the places we were going/had just been in the lectures conducted by the expedition team and I attended just about every one of these. They were VERY informative. They showed movie clips, full movies, and Power Point slide shows, all ranging from stuff to learn to the actual experience and stories from the staff them selves. We had 3 full meals a day, usually a buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, and then a full 3 course dinner every night. The food was all amazing...each and every day and it amazed me how EVERY meal was different..on this 18 day cruise. You would think it would repeat on this long of a cruise..but it never did! The ship itself, the m/v Sea Spirit is a smaller ship and we had just 90 people or so on our cruise...and there were about 70 crewman on board too...which is almost a 1:1 crew/passenger ratio! The waiters all knew us by name in the restaurant as well very early on in the cruise as well! The expedition crew did everything they could to make sure we got out on as many landings as possible. Some days we couldn't do landings due to weather, others we did 3 in a day. If the weather was good and opportunity was there, we were out on those zodiacs. Some were after dinner ones too and we were out to 11pm one night. Keep in mind it is 24 hour daylight down here during the Antarctic tourist season (November to January) so darkness is not an issue! I believe overall, we had 18 total outings, 13 of them were landings. The other 5 were zodiac cruises where you go out on the zodiacs and cruise around, but not actually land anywhere. I would do this whole experience over again in a heart beat.

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Operator Poseidon Expeditions

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

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

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.

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Operator G Adventures

Antarctica Tours and Travel Guide

Antarctica Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Antarctica video

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.

Top Antarctica Travel Companies

All Antarctica small ship and expedition cruises and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all Antarctica trips.

114 trips from 51 tour companies with 97 reviews

More Antarctica Guided Tours

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