When deciding on which Antarctic Cruise to go on, the choices can be overwhelming. With different size ships all offering a range of activities and inclusions, we know how tricky it can be to decide on the perfect Antarctic Cruise suiting both your budget and your interests.
To help your decision making process along, we’ve put together some factors and things to think about that will hopefully help you select the best Antarctic Cruise for you!
When planning a trip to Antarctica its important to know that the only time you can visit, is during “summer”. Between late November and early March is the only time that cruise ships travel to and from Antarctica. Depending on what wildlife you want to see and which islands you want to visit, each month has its perks.
Late November is the coldest of the expedition months. To visit during this time, you have the best opportunity to witness breeding elephant seals as well as massive icebergs. In addition, if penguins are on your ‘must see’ list, venture to the Weddell Sea where you can see Emperor penguins or cruise the east coast to observe Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap penguins.
December-January boasts warmer temperatures and the best wildlife viewing of all the time periods. During this time, seal pups can be found on the beaches of South Georgia and because Sea ice is beginning to break up in the Ross Sea, visits to East Antarctica and the historic huts of Shackleton and Scott are possible. Given the December – January popularity, these cruises sell out months in advance, so it’s important to plan ahead.
February is also one of Antarctica’s warmer months. Travel during this time offers every opportunity to see whales and other wildlife including penguin chicks.
Although the temperatures start to get much cooler in March, there are less cruise ships around and wildlife viewing is exceptional. Although it’s freezing cold, you still get to see the wildlife wonders of Antarctica.
When choosing a cruise ship, consider the following: The larger the ship, the less time you’ll have ashore. Most cruise ships have occupancy of approximately 100 – 500 guests. If you want to go ashore as much as possible, it’s best to choose a vessel with a capacity below 200. There are heavy restrictions in place regarding the landing of vessels. Any vessel with more than 500 people is not allowed to land and although ships with upwards of 300 guests are allowed to land in some areas, they are not permitted to do so in most.
Most vessels have quad, triple and twin occupancy, with very few offering single occupancy. However many cabins operate on a share basis, so if you’re a solo traveller, you can share with a roommate, or stay in a twin. Expect to pay a single supplement with this option, which is usually 1.5 – 2 times the standard room amount. Depending on your budget, it’s fairly easy to decide on which cabin you want to stay in. Due to the restrictions on larger ships, we recommend smaller vessels for a truly authentic Antarctic experience.
Antarctica offers a few different regions, each vary slightly in price and what you see when you get there:
Trips to the Antarctic Peninsula are usually the most popular and the most affordable. Starting and finishing in Ushuaia, voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula cross the Drake Passage and many include visits to smaller islands on the Lemaire Channel.
If you’ve got more than 15 days for an Antarctic Cruise experience then include South Georgia and Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands offer the opportunity to witness the King Penguins (normally not seen anywhere else). In addition, five of the worlds seventeen penguin species summer in the Southern Ocean.
In South Georgia visit the site of explorer Shackleton’s grave. There are also whaling museums and a research station as well as many penguin species including King Penguins and the largest population of Macaroni Penguins.
Cruises that venture to the Weddell Sea don’t always include the Antarctic Peninsula, however the ones that do, offer brief explorations with the majority of the time spent exploring the Weddell Sea.
While you will see many penguin colonies, one of the most amazing aspects of the Weddell Sea, is the gigantic icebergs which have broken from ice shelves creating exceptional scenery and amazing photograph opportunities.
Voyages that venture Deep South go below the Antarctic Circle and provide stunning landscapes as well as opportunities to witness Adelie penguin rookeries and tabular icebergs drifting north from the Bellingshausen Sea.
An Antarctic Cruise Expedition is truly one of the most incredible travel experiences you can have. See glistening icebergs and gigantic ice shelves through to amazing wildlife populating the many gorgeous islands across the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding regions. Antarctica is a destination like no other and any voyage there will definitely be unforgettable.
We hope the information provided helps you decide which cruise is right for you and if you have further questions or would like to book a cruise please don’t hesitate to contact Antarctic Travel Specialists.