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Cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica is the last truly pristine marine ecosystem left on our planet. A magnificent natural playground not many people get to experience.

An Antarctic cruise is undoubtedly a highlight in any traveller’s logbook. Follow in the footsteps of the Antarctic heroes and discover a world that is beyond your wildest imagination. 

It has barely been more over 100 years since humans first set foot on the continent of Antarctica, and a mere 195 years since sailors first cast their eyes on the Antarctic Peninsula. Yet even before they witnessed it, most early explorers were convinced a large, southern continent existed. It was commonly described as ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ – the Unknown Southern Land.

Until recently, Antarctica was a destination for nobody but the hardiest of polar explorers – legends such as Scott, Amundsen, Mawson and Shackleton. It still has no permanent residents, but there is now an excellent range of Cruises to Antarctica; an opportunity of a lifetime to encounter remarkable wildlife, such as penguins, seals, whales and orcas, up close and in abundance amidst pristine, awe-inspiring scenery with only a minimal footprint. You can either join a cruise to Antarctica departing from southern Argentina or, if you are on a tight schedule, there are now flights to and from King George Island where a cruise to Antarctica can be boarded without the need to sail the Drake Passage.

Discover the remote Falkland Islands, the wildlife paradise of South Georgia, the spectacular landscapes of the Antarctic Peninsula and cruise to Antarctica and cross the Polar Circle, the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises. This wild and isolated world will leave you breathless due to its astonishing vistas and extraordinary wildlife that few people experience.


How much is an Antarctic cruise?

Antarctica cruises have been notoriously expensive for years although the sheer demand and stiff competition among cruise companies have driven the overall price down considerably over the last few years. The cost of a cruise to Antarctica will highly depend on a few factors:

1) where you’d like to cast off from

2) where in the Antarctica region you’d like to go (add South Georgia and the Falklands, for example, and the price increases)

3) when you’d like to set sail (pre, during or post the height of cruising season?)

4) what kind of luxury level are you happy to pay for

5) how long you’d like to cruise

The most affordable Antarctica cruises are ‘Classic Routes’ departing Ushuaia and visiting the Antarctica Peninsula for about 10-11 days (NZD 7,500 at time of writing), followed by slightly longer cruises crossing the Antarctic Circle (14 days, NZD 12,000). Add the Falklands and South Georgia to the plan and you’re looking at about NZD 21,000 and, if you set sail from New Zealand/Australia, you can look forward to a magnificent, month-long adventure to the wild east of Antarctica, one that will set you back about NZD 27,500. Given the array of ship, itinerary and starting date choices, however, do know that there are A LOT of in-between budgets, so do enquire with us when you have specifics in mind.

Are there any Antarctic cruise deals?

At Viva Expeditions, we keep our eyes firmly peeled on the ‘special deal fronts’, which include:

- early-bird sales

- last-minute deals

- special charters

- introductory deals on new vessels

Our Specials Page is constantly updated with new deals as they’re offered and do note that the list can cover all cruise itineraries: from classic routes to extended itineraries including South Georgia and the Falklands, Antarctic Circle cruises and plenty of Fly+Sail options, whereby you fly to King George Island, bypassing a crossing of the Drake Passage, and join a shorter cruise from there.

When it comes to mitigating costs, note that booking months in advance (both flights and cruises) can actually save you a neat bundle, oftentimes more than if you were to simply wait for a deal on the cruise alone. Moreover, know that being among the first or last cruise passengers in Antarctica can also slash the cost considerably, as the great majority of visitors head down over the Christmas break, making December and January the busiest and most expensive months of all. Early and late Antarctic cruises also offer unique advantages that go beyond savings – the former offering pristine landing sites with not a footstep to be seen and, the latter, sensational whale-watching galore.

When is the best time to travel to Antarctica?

The Antarctic cruising season starts in late October and runs until March. These are the only months of the year when temperatures are known to reach above 0 degrees Celsius during the day on the Antarctic Peninsula, and through the east tends to be colder, it is still more tolerable at this time of the year. 

What should I pack for an Antarctica Cruise?

Weather in Antarctica is unpredictable, in addition to the cold temperatures, it is often windy as well.

  • Knee high waterproof boots
  • Waterproof pants
  • Base Layers
  • Warm socks
  • Hat, gloves and scarf
  • Sunscreen
  • Everyday clothes to wear on board

Other gear;

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Backpack
  • Waterproof camera
  • Waterproof camera bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Seasickness medication
  • Something to read 


Will I need vaccinations to cruise to Antarctica?

No, special immunisations are not required when cruising to Antarctica. However, you can consult your doctor about taking a drug to combat sea-sickness, the sea can be quite rough between Ushuaia and Antarctica.

Can you fly to Antarctica

Although you cannot fly to the Antarctic Peninsula proper, there is an option to fly to the South Shetland Islands, a sub-Antarctic archipelago that floats off the peninsula’s northern coastline. The airport at King George Island offers fantastic Fly+Sail options for those who are short on time and/or just wish to bypass the Drake Passage. Simply board a plane in South America, fly to King George and board your cruise ship there.

You can choose to fly only once (and cruise the Drake once) or in both directions, depending on just how much time or Drake-apprehension you have. This fly+sail option is available on almost every route, whether you want to only sail around the Peninsula, had beyond the Polar Circle or visit the Falklands and South Georgia as well. Do note that Fly+Sail options are not available for cruises departing directly from New Zealand or Australia.

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Some of the main Attractions

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Antarctic Peninsula

Visiting the Antarctic Peninsula is the most convenient way to get a glimpse of Antarctica, since it is the shortest distance from South America. irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures, incredible glaciers and millions of penguins.

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The Weddell Sea

Part of the Southern Ocean the Weddell Sea holds incredible dramatic landscapes of rugged snow-capped mountains and mesmerising glaciers. It is the best region for spotting immense icebergs, including, if you are lucky, the illusive Emperor penguin.

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East Antarctica

Cruises to East Antarctica will generally depart from New Zealand or Australia and are bound for historic Commonwealth Bay. On the way you can also visit Macquarie Island, Campbell Island, the Auckland Islands and the rugged East Antarctic coast.

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The Polar Circle

The Polar Circle is located at a latitude of 66° 33’ south and is the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises. You can witness amazing ice formations and spot fascinating wildlife including whales, leopard seals and penguins.

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The Falkland Islands

The wildlife-rich Falkland Islands are home the majestic King Penguins, royal albatross and much more. Be amazed by the fascinating human history, from the war stories to the current local cultures and traditions in this wild a remote archipelago.

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South Georgia

South Georgia is teeming with wildlife. Breath-taking scenery and soaring cliffs greet you with hundreds of Antarctic fur seals and king penguins on hand. Here you will find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, an inspirational leader of the 20th century.

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Our Vessels

Ocean Endeavour | Antarctic Cruise Ship

199 Passengers

MS Roald Amundsen | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

530 Passengers

M/V Ushuaia | Antarctic Cruise Ship

88 passengers and 38 staff Passengers

Ocean Diamond | Antarctic Cruise Ship

189 Passengers

World Explorer | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

125 Passengers

M/V Ortelius | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

106 Passengers

MV Hondius | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

176 in 83 cabins + 72 Staff & Crew Passengers

Le Boréal | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

264 Passengers

Le Soléal | Antarctic Cruise Ship

264 Passengers

L'Austral | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

264 Passengers

Le Lyrial

260 Passengers

Island Sky | Antarctic Cruise Ship

108 Passengers

Akademik Shokalskiy | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

48 Passengers

Ocean Atlantic | Antarctic Cruise Ship

195 Passengers

M/V Plancius | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

116 Passengers

Greg Mortimer | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

160 (120 in polar regions) Passengers

M/S Expedition | Antarctic Cruise Ship

134 Passengers

RCGS Resolute | Antarctic Cruise Ship

146 Passengers

Navigator "Akademik Ioffe" | Antarctic Cruise Ship

96 Passengers

MS Midnatsol | Antarctic Cruise Ship

970 Passengers

Sea Spirit | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

114 passengers plus 72 crew Passengers

M/V Ocean Nova | Antarctic Cruise Ship

68 Passengers

Hebridean Sky | Antarctic Cruise Ship

114 (70 crew) Passengers

Magellan Explorer

Passengers: 100 maximum Passengers

MS Fridtjof Nansen | Antarctic & Arctic Cruise Ship

530 Passengers

MS Fram | Antarctic & Arctic Cruise Ship

max. 318 Passengers