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How to Visit Antarctica

From how to get there to what to pack, here's what you need to know about visiting Antarctica.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a lifelong traveler and veteran journalist who has visited more than 50 countries across six continents. Her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal , Departures , TripSavvy , and other publications.

how to take a trip to antarctica

There is at least one place left on earth where you really can disconnect: Antarctica.

There is no mobile phone service. There are no town squares, no restaurants, and no tourist traps. The local "airports" are really just ice or gravel landing strips.

Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. It's one of the most remote destinations in the world and the trip of a lifetime for many travelers. It's also easier to travel to Antarctica than one might think.

Lars-Eric Lindblad first took a group of 57 visitors to Antarctica in 1966. "At that time it was more or less like accomplishing a moon landing," his son Sven-Olof Lindblad said. "In those days, we were not as prepared as we are now. There were no satellite ice charts. You were not that different navigationally from the early explorers."

Even now it can be hard to really understand Antarctica. It is the coldest and windiest place on earth and, by some measures, the driest. It has no currency of its own. It is a desert with no trees, no bushes, and no permanent residents. More meteorites are found in Antarctica than in any other place in the world.

"Antarctica is about the wildest place you can go on the planet," Lindblad said.

It's also an increasingly popular place to visit. According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators , tourism more than doubled from 2010 to 2020.

"The conversation around climate change has elevated people's interest and created a sense of urgency," Lindblad said.

The Best Times to Go to Antarctica

The Antarctic travel season lasts from November through March, the Antarctic summer. Temperatures are often below freezing at this time of year, especially in the continent's interior, but they can reach as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best time for penguin spotting is late December or early January. Wait too long and previously pristine penguin colonies get dirty and smelly, said Nik Horncastle , a regional specialist with Audley Travel. For peak whale watching, try February or March.

Other activities, including snowshoeing, kayaking, skiing, camping, snorkeling, diving, and visits to historic sites from earlier expeditions, can be experienced throughout the season.

How to Get to Antarctica

One of the more common routes to Antarctica is by ship via Ushuaia, a city at the southern tip of Argentina. Several companies, including Hurtigruten Expeditions , Quark Expeditions , and Lindblad's namesake Lindblad Expeditions , specialize in Antarctic and polar cruising, offering journeys that range in length from just over a week to a full month and beyond.

On board, expect to mingle with scientists, naturalists, historians, and underwater specialists. "The onboard experience is a conversation around where you are and what does this place mean," Lindblad said. Internet service via satellite is available but comes with a hefty price tag.

Antarctica is one place where smaller boats offer a big advantage. "We don't recommend a boat over 200 people," Horncastle said. "Big boats can only stop at a few sites."

That said, if you want to visit Antarctica on a traditional cruise line, many major carriers can get you there — often on vessels that adhere to that fewer-than-200-guests rule of thumb. Some more affordable lines, like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean , stick to "cruise-only" itineraries, which sail along the Antarctic coast (and offer great views in the process) but don't allow disembarkation on the continent. A number of others, though, from Viking Cruises and Disney Cruise Line to Ponant and Silversea , take passengers right into the Antarctic interior, thanks to on-shore excursions and ships with icebreaker capabilities.

Booking an Antarctica Expedition

Expect to spend between $6,000 and $50,000 to visit Antarctica, depending on the length of the trip and the level of luxury you seek.

"It's an expensive trip," Horncastle said — but there are options if you're traveling on a budget.

Intrepid Travel and G Adventures both specialize in affordable trips to Antarctica, and neither requires single supplements for solo travelers. If you don't feel the need to set foot on the continent, you can also opt for a sightseeing flight. These flights, which cut costs by flying over Antarctica without stopping there, are available from most major cities in Australia at prices that start around $1,200 per person.

To both fly over and step onto the continent, Antarctica21 combines a two-hour flight from Chile with cruises that passengers can board in Antarctica. While this option doesn't give visitors the chance to cruise the famous Drake Passage, it does save time and minimize the risk of seasickness.

"The Drake Passage is a crossing full of unpredictable conditions," said Antarctica21's Francesco Contini. "When the crossing is rough, passengers tend to be not very comfortable."

Packing List for Antarctica

  • Knee-high waterproof boots
  • Waterproof pants
  • A warm parka
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Warm base layers
  • Extra socks
  • A tight-fitting beanie
  • A warm scarf
  • A camera and lenses
  • Seasickness medication

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TRAVEL to ANTARCTICA – Tips and Information Guide (2024 Update)

Here is our complete guide to tell you everything you need to know to travel to Antarctica, based on our experiences of visiting and working on the White Continent six times. 

It may just be the number one bucket list adventure for millions of people around the world – travelling to Antarctica!

The remoteness and expense of this incredible destination makes it an unrealised dream for many, but we’re here to help you on your journey to experience it for yourself!

The White Continent is a truly unique place. From its phenomenal landscapes to diverse wildlife, nowhere else on the planet comes close to its beauty.

And that’s not the only things that make it unique. From a political point of view, did you know that there it is the only continent on earth with no official government and no permanent residents?

That’s because in 1959 a couple of countries signed a treaty that over 40 nations follow to this day.

Visiting Antarctica is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime.

Whether you would love to hang around with emperor penguins or go  kayaking in the company of humpback whales , or perhaps even climb one of the world’s seven highest summits, there are plenty of reasons to want to pack your bags and  t ravel to Antarctica !

So read carefully and find out why you should stock up on chocolate, what you should bring on your expedition and how to make the most of your trip!

Antarctica Travel Guide

We’ve been lucky enough to travel to Antarctica 6 times, with more trips booked in the near future, and we can safely say it was by the far the most incredible place we have ever visited.

That being said, it’s not an easy trip to make, and it’s especially not a cheap one, so if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to embark on a voyage, you’ll be one of only 100,000 people a year that actually visit!

In order to get the most out of your trip you need to be well prepared, so make sure to read through our detailed and informative  Antarctica Travel Guide .

After our very successful tour to Antarctica this season, we are going to be running another exclusive adventure down to the Peninsula in 2025, this time crossing the Antarctic Circle! Check out the  tour page  if you’d like to learn more.

Planning on exploring other parts of the polar regions? Don’t miss our brand new complete guide to help you  travel to South Georgia !

Travel To Antarctica Guide

Quark Ultramarine Review – Best Polar Expedition Ship [2024]

Best antarctica cruise – ultimate guide to who & how [2024], 17 awesome things to do in antarctica (2024 guide), travelling in antarctica: at a glance.

Here are the basics about travel to Antarctica.

Main Destinations

South Shetland Islands, Port Lockroy, Errera Channel, Lemaire Channel, King George Island

Primarily USD on ships.

ENTRY / VISA:

Visitors to Antarctica do not require a visa, however permits are necessary. These will be acquired on your behalf by the tour operator you are travelling with.

English, Spanish, Russian and others depending on the bases.

Travelling to Antarctica comes with inherent risks such as cold weather exposure and possible wildlife encounters. The remoteness of the destination means medical assistance is not instant. All tour operators have trained medical professionals onboard and will mitigate risks to the best of their ability.

ELECTRICITY:

Depends on the ship you are travelling on.

TRANSPORTATION:

The only commercial airport is on King George Island, with charter flights available from Punta Arenas, Chile. Transport around the continent for tourists is primarily done onboard expedition ships and zodiacs.

Don’t Forget to Pack the Most Important Thing: Travel Insurance !

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TOP 5 TRAVEL EXPERIENCES IN ANTARCTICA

With so much to see and do in Antarctica, it really is hard to pick the top experiences.

However, we think that to truly appreciate Antarctica you need to plan to do these 5 activities during your visit.

Step Foot on the Continent

The quintessential experience for anybody visiting Antarctica is to officially step foot on the seventh continent. Make sure you book a tour on a ship that carries less than 500 people (less than 200 ideally) to ensure you can do this.

See our recommended Antarctica cruise operators here .

Kayaking In Antarctica

Go Kayaking or SUPing

Zodiac cruises and shore landings are incredible, but nothing quite beat the silence and connection to nature that you get from kayaking!

Read about how to go kayaking in Antarctica .

Camping Antarctica

Camp Under the Stars

If you love adventure and want real bragging rights, you need to experience the fun of camping the night amongst penguins and icebergs.

Learn about camping in Antarctica .

Polar Plunge

Do the Polar Plunge

Who would jump off of a perfectly good ship into the frigid Southern Ocean? You, you absolute badass! And you’ll get pictures to prove it.

Humpback Dorsal With Quark Zodiac Danco Island

Zodiac Cruise with Whales

In our opinion, the zodiac cruises you take in Antarctica are often better than the shore landings, particularly if you have epic wildlife encounters. Travel late season for humpback whales!

How to Get to Antarctica

EXCLUSIVE – We have partnered with the world’s top polar tour operator, Quark Expeditions, to offer readers of NOMADasaurus a very special deal on any trip to Antarctica or the Arctic! Contact us ([email protected]) if you’d like to learn more.

READ MORE: Check out our latest guide on how to choose the  best Antarctica cruise !

Departures from South America

  • Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands
  • Puta Arenas in Chile
  • Buenos Aires in Argentina
  • Santiago in Chile

Departures from New Zealand & Australia

Can you fly to antarctica.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THESE  OTHER AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN ANTARCTICA

READ MORE...

What to Wear in Antarctica – Ultimate Travel Packing List

Sea kayaking in antarctica – the ultimate guide for 2024, the ultimate guide to camping in antarctica (2024), crossing the drake passage to antarctica (how bad is it), how to travel to antarctica responsibly (must read), best places to visit in antarctica.

There are plenty of amazing places to visit in Antarctica, and while you are limited to where the ship can go based on weather conditions and permits, every location is sure to blow your mind.

At just 1600m wide, the Lemaire Channel is one of the most spectacular vistas on the entire Antarctic Peninsula. Navigating through is never guaranteed, but if conditions allow, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Cuverville Island Penguin Colony Landscape Mountains Intrepid Oe4 2 Jarryd Salem

Cuverville Island

Cuverville Island lies between the Errera Channel and the Gerlache Strait, and is home to over 7,000 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins.

Deception Island

Deception Island

Deception Island is the caldera of an active volcano, and skilled captains can sail their expedition ships right into the heart of it. It is home to an old, abandoned whaling station.

Hanusse Bay Humpback Whale Tail

Hanusse Bay, Antarctic Circle

Hanusse Bay lies south of the Antarctic Circle, and is a wintry, iceberg-riddled and wildlife-dense location on the Peninsula.

Visa Requirements for Antarctica

Antarctica doesn’t belong to any one government or jurisdiction, and for that reason, no visas are required.

That being said though citizens of nations that have signed the Antarctica Treaty’s Protocol on Environment Protection (USA, Canada, EU and Australia) are required to get prior permission before visiting.

Don’t worry though, as this is organised through your licensed tour operator.

5 Interesting Facts About Antarctica

  • It’s the coldest continent in the world, with the temperatures in wintertime dropping below -73°C (-100°F). The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica, and it was a very balmy -89.2°C (-128.6°F).
  • There are no permanent residents of Antarctica, only transit residents (around 1,000), that are usually scientists or workers living in different research stations spread all over Antarctica
  • Since Antarctica is situated in the southern hemisphere, winter is from May to October, and summer is from November to April.
  • Antarctica is actually a desert! That might be surprising to a lot of people, because when we think of deserts we think of hot, dry, large sand surfaces. Since it doesn’t rain or snow in Antarctica it’s considered a polar desert.
  • Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s fresh water!

Keen to learn more? Check out our full list of our favourite  facts about Antarctica !

The Best Time to Travel to Antarctica

Unless you are working for a government organisation, the only time to travel to Antarctica is in the summer.

But what month should you visit in? Well that depends on what you want to see, and what your expectations are.

Read our complete guide on the  best time to visit Antarctica , or read on for more information.

Some may argue that early season is actually the best time to visit Antarctica, because you can see it in its most undisturbed form.

After the long, cold winter, the landscape is covered in a fresh blanket of snow and ice, leaving everything looking clean and pristine (and quite other-worldy).

In terms of wildlife it’s possible to see whales, but not as much as later in the season as the water temperatures are still too cold.

If you visit at this time of year though expect to see lots of penguins, seals and birds.

The main downside to coming in November is that the temperatures are lower and polar ice is still breaking up, which means some areas of the continent are not accessible.

Peak Season – December to February

The peak season coincides with the brief summer, and is by far the most popular time to visit the continent.

Temperatures are at their highest and you get up to 20 hours of sunlight a day!

Whales are starting to visit the waters, baby penguins are plentiful, the birdlife is incredible and you’ll have a much better chance at seeing Antarctica with blue skies.

When we say it is the most popular time to visit though, we mean it. While the tour operators are strictly controlled to where and when they can visit certain areas, you may see other ships around and the foot traffic at the popular spots like Deception Island is much higher.

March to Early April

Late summer in Antarctica is the best time for whale spotting, and while a lot of the other animals have started their migration, you’ll see huge amounts of humpbacks, whales and minkes frolicking in the waters.

This time of year you will have access to almost all areas as the polar ice would have melted.

But with the temperatures slowly starting to drop as the season transitions to winter, it can be unpredictable, and snow storms are more frequent.

We personally believe travelling in the shoulder season is best!

Travel To Antarctica Guide Kayak

Travel Itineraries Suggestions

When you book your trip to Antarctica your itinerary is more or less determined by whichever journey you sign up for. You can’t deviate from this, so it’s important to pick an itinerary that encompasses everything you’d like to see and do.

Most standard Antarctica itineraries start and finish in Ushuaia, and go for 10 days. This includes 2 days each way to cross the Drake Passage, and a few days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.

If you have more time, and would like to see extra places, we recommend looking for a voyage that visits the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as well. These kind of trips usually last for around 17-20 days.

These archipelagos have tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities, and are filled with fascinating history, such as the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

If you want a very in-depth Antarctic Peninsula adventure, you can look at crossing the Antarctic Circle, but only a few select companies do this mission.

We crossed the Circle in 2024 with Quark Expeditions and it was an incredible experience.

Budget for Travelling to Antarctica

We’re going to level with you – A tour to Antarctica is not cheap.

But when you compare everything you get to see and do, as well the remote location of the destination and just what is involved on an expedition, it is actually quite fair.

You can expect to spend anywhere from USD$500 per day right up to $3,000 per day, and this depends completely on the itinerary, the company and the type of berth you want to sleep in on the ship.

If you’re looking to save money on an Antarctica tour, the only way you can do this is to book a ticket last-minute.

Different Styles of Antarctica Tour Packages

When you’re doing your research on trips to Antarctica you might be amazed to see a huge difference in price from one company to the next. So why the fluctuation?

This often comes down to two things – the quality of the ship you will be travelling on, and the reputation of the company.

Cheap Antarctica Tours

Not all companies are created equal, and you need to take this into consideration when booking your trip. If a tour company is super cheap, there’s probably a reason for that.

The service of leaders and staff might not be as good, the ship might be much older, and you might only get a limited number of days on the actual continent.

We’ve seen trips for as cheap as USD$5000. Remember though, you get what you pay for.

Our Secret Tip –  Want to go with a reputable and responsible company to Antarctica, but aren’t ready to pay huge amounts? Book the cheapest cabin on the ship.

You still get the exact same service, same guides, same destinations, same activities, except you’re not paying a huge amount for a fancy room. And the truth is you won’t be spending much time in your cabin anyway, so save your money and just book a cheap berth with a good company.

There are plenty of luxury cruise ships that visit Antarctica, and if this is what you’re into, then perfect.

These ships will have all the creature comforts you’d expect to find on a high-end cruise ship, with hot tubs, swimming pools, masseuses, elevators, etc.

Luxury Antarctic cruises might include charter flight tickets to the Ushuaia too, so you can avoid any complicated flight itineraries and add maximum comfort during your trip.

Sometimes they are part of longer South America trips that start in places like Montevideo in Uruguay or Buenos Aires, and finishing up in Valparaiso in Chile.

But these tailor-made experiences comes at a hefty price, which can go up to $25’000 (or more)!

Is this the best way to visit Antarctica? In our opinion, sometimes – it depends.

You do get what you pay for. You’ll have a newer, better ship with nicer cabins, higher quality food and potentially more experienced expedition staff.

We’ve travelled at both ends of the spectrum – on super budget trips with companies like Intrepid, and high-end luxury ships with Quark Expeditions.

Both had their pros and cons. It comes down to your budget.

Last Minute Antarctica Cruises

So what about these last minute Antarctica cruises that people talk about? Is it really possible to cruise to Antarctica for less than USD$5000?

Short answer, yes. However last minute means last minute, and you’ll often have to travel to Ushuaia and register your interest with a number of tour operators in the town.

If an opening comes up (such as someone cancelling their trip) you’ll be on a waiting list to join the tour. But you may only be given a day or two’s notice, and you may end up spending a week or more down in Ushuaia waiting to hear.

A family we met managed to score some last-minute Antarctica tickets after waiting more than 3 weeks in Patagonia, and when they got the word that it was happening they had 36 hours to drop everything and get to Ushuaia in time to jump onboard.

If you have the time and funds to stay down in southern Patagonia for a few weeks this can be a viable way to visit Antarctica cheaply.

Can I Work on a Cruise Ship to Antarctica?

Yes, you absolutely can. But the idea that you can literally just show up at the dock and get a job cleaning rooms or working in a kitchen is unfortunately not true.

The employees of these companies have months of training and maritime-grade certifications before they are sent on a trip to Antarctica and often have to sign long contracts.

Sorry, to be bearer of bad news, but no, y ou can’t show up in Ushuaia and get a one-off job on a cruise to Antarctica.

Insider’s Tip – Book A Small Group Expedition

Very few people know this when booking their travels to Antarctica, but if you end up on a ship that has more than 200 passengers onboard, your time on the continent is severely limited!

That’s because IAATO rules states that no more than 200 people from any one voyage can get off the ship at any one time, and no more than 100 people can step foot on the continent at once, so if your tour has more than this, you’ll end up spending a lot of time waiting on the ship while the other group is off exploring.

If you have between 100-200 people onboard, you do what’s known in the industry as a ‘split landing’ – basically half the group go ashore while the other half zodiac cruise, then you swap midway through the excursion.

In our expert opinion this isn’t a bad thing. We personally prefer zodiac cruising anyway.

Even worse though, if you end up booking a large cruise ship with more than 500 people onboard, IAATO regulations mean nobody gets off the ship.

That means you won’t even get the chance to do anything more other than simply look at the landscapes from afar.

And while this is still pretty amazing, in our opinion you’re paying all this money to go there – you may as well actually step foot on Antarctica!

Here’s an article to give you some more  tips on how to choose a tour.

Big Mountains Travel To Antarctica

Top 5 Places to Visit in Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the most isolated places in the world and as such it has managed to maintain its pristine nature with minimum human impact (although climate change is reeking havoc down there).

For anyone wishing to enjoy the dramatic landscapes covered in polar ice and beautiful wildlife, make sure your cruise includes our top places to visit in Antarctica!

The Lemaire Channel

The Lemaire Channel is a narrow passage on the Antarctic Peninsula that is stunningly beautiful to navigate. On all sides you’ll be surrounded by towering peaks, tumbling glaciers and glistening icebergs.

It’s also a dream come true for marine life lovers, as you can spot all kinds of seals and even whales, including humpbacks and orcas!

No matter how cold it gets, we guarantee you won’t go below the deck in fear you might miss something!

Deception Island always proves to be a highlight of people’s travels to Antarctica as it is incredibly beautiful, and has a human element to it with the old whaling station.

But why the name Deception Island? That’s because even though it looks like just an island, it’s actually a caldera of an active volcano!

The waters here are a tad warmer than the rest of the seas around, making it a popular spot for people to do the polar plunge.

Vernadsky Research Station

No trip to Antarctica would be complete without spending some time at a functioning science base, and luckily you can do just that at Vernadsky Research Station!

This Ukrainian-run base has a lot of history, and today the scientists working there open their doors to visitors.

It’s even home to the southern-most bar in the world! Read all about it in our article about  Vernadsky Research Station.

South Shetland Islands

The South Shetland Islands are a small group of islands about 120km north of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Their location makes them one of the most visited places on the peninsula, and they are a great place to visit in Antarctica because of the huge population of elephant seals and penguins.

South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands

While  South Georgia  and the Sandwich Islands don’t actually belong to Antarctica (they are part of the United Kingdom), we couldn’t write a list about the top places to visit without mentioning this place.

It has been called the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean due to the abundance of wildlife that congregates there.

You can see hundreds of thousands of king penguins hanging out on beaches, 4-tonne elephant seals battling each other for mates and the largest bird in the world, the Wandering Albatross.

South Georgia can be included on a few Antarctic cruise itineraries, so if you have the time we highly recommend visiting.

Top 5 Travel Experiences in Antarctica

So what exactly is there to do in Antarctica? Plenty!

We wrote this comprehensive guide on the  best things to do in Antarctica , but let us break down some of the highlights here.

Camping Under the Stars

Yes it is entirely possible to go  camping in Antarctica , but only if you join the right tour operator that provides the right gear.

It might sound risky because of the extreme weather conditions, but that’s why you should only do it with a company that takes all safety measures seriously.

You will sleep in winter-grade bivvy sacks with high-quality sleeping bags, and the expedition leaders will monitor the weather systems closely to make sure that it’ll be the optimum evening to do so.

The adventure won’t seem as challenging once night sets and you get thrown into a daze by views of the open sky and stars, with zero light pollution around to hide the universe.

Laying under the stars and waking up to the sun rising over the vast snowy landscape will be etched into your mind forever.

Take the Polar Plunge

How does swimming in the world’s coldest place sound to you? Well you can do just that in Antarctica, and it’s an experience that’ll give you the ultimate bragging rights.

Whether you’re jumping from a boat or do a sprint into the icy waters at the beach on Deception Island, it’s going to be frigidly cold. But the pain only lasts a minute, and you’ll have expert guides around you to warm you up with blankets and hot chocolate.

Climb Mount Vinson

For those that want a serious adventure, and have the skills to go with it, why not consider climbing the tallest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson!

The mountain is 4897m high, but of course this isn’t for the average traveller to Antarctica, and you won’t find a standard cruise ship that goes there.

It’s one of the world’s seven highest summits, making it a must-do for any mountaineer looking to achieve the Holy Grail.

Kayaking With Whales

Sea kayaking in Antarctica is one of the best adventure activities on the continent, and it’s easy to see why.

Surrounded by icebergs, calm waters and huge glaciers, you can spend hours paddling around, being constantly amazed at the scenery.

This is the best way to get closer to Antarctica’s rich marine life, and if you’re really lucky, you might even have a close encounter with a humpback whale!

Hanging Out With Penguins

Hanging out with penguins is everyone’s number one item on their Antarctica bucket list.

There are six types of penguins living in Antarctica and they are one of the few animals on the continent that is pretty much a guarantee to see no matter when you go!

The guideline on interacting with wildlife on Antarctica is that you have to keep your distance, at least 5 meters away from all wildlife, but if they approach you that’s no problem!

These friendly birds are very unfamiliar with humans, so chances are they will come right up to you if you just hang out and wait.

Antarctica Travel Guide

Transport in Antarctica

Unless you’re working on a research station, the only form of transport you’ll get to experience in Antarctica is the floating kind.

Cruise or Expedition Ships

The main mode of transport in Antarctica is by ship, and you have a couple of different options – A luxury cruise ship, or a research expedition ship.

Cruise ships are comfortable and luxurious, but they might also lack the character and sense of adventure that you’d expect from a place like Antarctica.

We most recently travelled on a  polar expedition vessel called the Ultramarine , and it was amazing in that they were conducting real-life science research as we went.

Zodiacs (Inflatable Rubber Boats)

This is the most common, and fun way, to get your way around Antarctica.

They are used for getting from your ship to shore, or for just exploring around the gorgeous seas. They are open-air, which means you’re exposed to the elements, so make sure you wear plenty of protective gear.

We’ve already spoken about kayaks before, but if you have the chance to paddle around the continent you should definitely take it!

Safety in Antarctica

While Antarctica truly delivers on the promise of untouched nature and rich wildlife, one should seriously prepare to be exposed to the harsh climate and one of the most dangerous environments in the world.

But don’t stress too much about it – Chances are you’ll only be travelling to Antarctica in the summer, where the temperatures are warmer anyway.

Plus all Antarctic tours have qualified and experienced medical staff onboard, so you’ll be in safe hands.

Rough Sea Weather

When crossing the Drake Passage, which is a gruelling 48-hour journey, there’s a chance that you will encounter some rough sea weather.

Don’t worry though, because expedition ships are designed to charge through even the most turbulent of seas, so even though you might feel scared, the boats are absolutely fine.

If you’re prone to sea sickness you can take strong medication to help, or if you’re absolutely petrified we suggest booking a trip that has a flight to King George Island instead of boarding the cruise ship in Ushuaia or Punta Arenas.

Walking On Ice

The key to crossing the icy sections of the continent are to have good quality boots.

Sometimes the tour operator will supply you with these boots, but make sure you do your research before you show up.

The guide will offer you some practical advice how to walk across icy sections. Usually those instructions consist of keeping a slow pace and short, confident steps where you plant your feet.

Harsh Climate

The main issue travellers to Antarctica will come across is the harsh climate, so make sure you come prepared.

You need to pack all the necessities before you come, because the right clothing is the most important factor in whether you will have a good time or not.

Learn to layer up, because the temperature can change rapidly, and the last thing you want is to have one giant, warm coat on when the sun comes out, meaning all you have underneath is a t-shirt.

The expedition leaders will keep an eye on the weather to help keep you safe in Antarctica.

Cruise Ship Safety

Most incidents that happen to cruise ships in Antarctica involves the pack ice, but this is an extremely rare occurrence in this day and age.

It’s important to know that your tour operator evaluates all risks and manages the trip around perceived hazards. Safety is their number one priority.

Today we’re able to predict icebergs, pack ice and unexposed hazards with forward-scanning sonar and ice radars, and all cruise ships have them in use.

Transport In Antarctica Travel Guide

Medical System in Antarctica

All tour operators have a medical team on-board for any possible health issues you may encounter.

The only thing up to the traveller to take care of is to make sure you get the proper vaccinations before the expedition.

The vaccines that you should be up-to-date on are:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Diphteria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Polio vaccine

The risk of acquiring of any of those diseases comes from the fact that they’re easily spread from person to person, and the close living quarters.

You will be sharing same space with people from many different parts of the world which carries an increased risk of contracting a disease.

Packing List for Antarctica

Making sure to pack everything you need for your Antarctica travels is the most vital part of your travel preparations.

Some of the tour operators will supply you with adequate waterproof jacket, pants and boots, but make sure to check with them.

Check out our detailed guide on  what to wear in Antarctica  to get you prepared.

Men And Women

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Boots (with the most grip)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Thermal socks x2
  • Merino wool socks x3
  • T-shirts x4
  • Long sleeve shirt x1
  • Hooded jumper x1
  • Down jacket x1
  • Wind/rain jacket x1
  • Glove liners x1 pair
  • Ski gloves x1 pair
  • Buff bandana x2
  • Sunglasses x1

Miscellaneous Items

  • Camera (here’s  our list of the absolute best travel cameras on the market )
  • Wide angle & zoom lens
  • Spare batteries x4
  • SD memory cards x4
  • Waterproof cases for electronics

Travel Tips To Antarctica

  • Wear layers! In some moments when you physically exert yourself you will start feeling a bit hot so then you should take off a layer. Later on when you feel cold again just put it back on – it’s important to regulate the body temperature.
  • Invest in your camera equipment! This is a trip that most people only take once in their lifetime – you want to be sure to  make memorable photos of it.
  • When booking your cruise make sure that somewhere it says ‘step foot on the continent’ because some cruise ships don’t allow passengers to leave the vessel!
  • Think of flying to Buenos Aries before connecting to Ushuaia. It might end up a cheaper and you can arrive a day or two earlier to explore Buenos Aries.
  • Buy a  good travel insurance policy ! Antarctica is so isolated and unpredictable that your travel policy should always include an emergency evacuation charge!

Table of Contents

Read our antarctica blog posts, the best time to visit antarctica – month by month breakdown.

How to Get to Antarctica (A Detailed Guide)

For those of you who love nature and are willing to travel to the farthest reaches of the earth to see it, visiting Antarctica has probably been on your bucket list.

Antarctica is the hardest place on the planet to get to. But, with a rise in tourism, it has never been easier to get to Antarctica, however, it still isn’t easy to get to by normal standards.

Join me as I run through everything you need to know about how to get to Antarctica so that you can begin planning a trip of a lifetime to the “white continent.”

Can You Fly to Antarctica?

Yes, flying to Antarctica is possible and you have two different options to choose from, a flying-over experience and a flying-in experience.

Flying Over

Flying Over involves flying to Antarctica and back in a day. It is essentially a day trip to Antarctica, flying over the continent and seeing the incredible landscapes from the comfort of a plane.

You’ll have an expert who knows everything about Antarctica explaining all the wonderful things you can see from the chartered Boeing 747 window.

If you are short of time and want to see Antarctica, this is a great way of doing it. But, you won’t actually get to set foot on Antarctica and experience it up close or see the wildlife that calls Antarctica home.

Charter flights for this type of experience only depart from Australia with flights operating out of Sydney, Melbourne , and less frequently from Perth.

Flights are limited, so you will need to book way in advance and be a little flexible as weather conditions can delay trips.

In order to fly and land in Antarctica you will have to book a charter flight and they operate from Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia.

The great thing about flying into Antarctica is that you will get to see the interior of Antarctica which you can not see from cruise ships.

Opportunities like spending time with the Emperor Penguin colony, hiking, skiing, ice climbing, going to the South Pole, and climbing to the peak of the Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica become a reality.

Only around 500 people a year or less actually fly into Antarctica’s interior and it certainly would be an experience of a lifetime.

Other benefits of flying in include skipping the long sail and seasickness, but it does cost a lot. Expect to pay around $30,000 for a standard fly-in expedition.

You should also note that to fly to Antarctica requires some flexibility with your dates as flights only operate in good weather windows.

Cruising to Antarctica

Most people visit Antarctica by going on an Antarctica cruise as Antarctic Peninsula Cruises are the most affordable way of getting there and the most environmentally friendly too.

From South America

Around 90% of the cruise ships, aka expedition ships, leave from Ushuaia in Argentina, South America. You can also get on a cruise ship from other ports in South America such as Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and Punta Arenas, Chile.

If you live in Europe, Africa, South America, or North America, flying into Ushuaia via Buenos Aires is your best bet.

It takes about 3 days to cross to the Antarctic Peninsula on a cruise ship. This is, of course, weather dependent as the sea can be rough. You will have to cross the Drake Passage also, which is notorious for rough seas.

Departures may be delayed to avoid dangerous seas, so some flexibility is needed, even with larger ships.

From Oceania

If you live in Asia or Oceania, then you have the option to get a ship from New Zealand or Australia. The crossing from these countries takes 7 days to reach as they are considerably further away.

However, you will get to stop off at some stunning islands such as the Campbell and Auckland islands, as well as Macquarie island too which are all teaming with wildlife.

Taking a ship from Australia or New Zealand often ends up requiring a month-long expedition and is therefore more expensive than leaving from South America.

You should also note that taking a ship from Australia or New Zealand will involve rougher seas and colder weather than from South America. You also won’t get to the Antarctic peninsula and will see less wildlife.

Fly-Cruise Option

The best and most popular way of getting to Antarctica is by doing a fly-cruise trip. It involves flying from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, right at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, which is just a 2-hour flight.

At King George Island, you will board a ship that then cruises around the peninsula. Fly cruise trips are great as they save you around 4-6 days of sailing and you avoid crossing the rough seas of the Drake Passage.

The fly-cruise option is ideal if you get seasick and want to miss the long crossing. But, a fly-cruise expedition is more expensive than getting a ship from South America.

Antarctica Expedition

An Antarctica Expedition can range from 5 days to one month and cost anywhere from $6000 to $98,000 per person, depending on the type of Antarctica Expedition.

There are literally close to 100 Antarctica Expedition itineraries to choose from, the most affordable and most popular of which take you down the Antarctic peninsula and via both King George Island and the South Shetland Islands.

You have the option of visiting the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the South Shetland Islands on an Antarctica Cruise, but these expeditions take longer and cost more.

The most expensive Antarctic Expeditions are to the interior. If you would like to go to the South Pole and summit the Vinson Massif, expect to pay close to $100,000 per person.

How to Get to Antarctica from the USA

There are numerous ways to get to Antarctica from the United States depending on the kind of expedition you would like to do.

To explore the interior, fly from a US hub such as LA or NYC to Punta Arenas, Chile. From Punta Arenas catch your charter flight to the interior.

For a fly-cruise option, you should also fly to Punta Arenas, Chile from one of the major US hubs and board your ship to explore the Antarctic Peninsula.

If you want to cruise the whole way via the Drake Passage, fly into Ushuaia in Argentina via Buenos Aires and board your ship from there.

How to Get to Antarctica from the UK & Europe

The best way to get to Antarctica from Europe or the UK is via South America.

Depending on how you want to get there and your expedition, you can either fly into Punta Arenas, Chile (interior or fly-cruise expedition) or to Ushuaia, Argentina (cruise-only option).

Flights operate out of London, Madrid, Paris, and Amsterdam.

How to Get to Antarctica from Canada

Getting to Antarctica from Canada involves exactly the same options as getting to Antarctica from the USA (see above).

Flights to Punta Arenas, Chile for Fly Cruise and Antarctica Interior Expeditions are available from Ottawa and Montreal.

Flights to Ushuaia, Argentina for a Cruise only expedition are only available from Toronto.

How to Get to Antarctica from Australia

Antarctic cruises from Australia depart from the port of Hobart in Australia and take around one week to get there.

Antarctica trips like this generally take about a month, as it is a week to get to Antarctica, 2 weeks of exploring the continent, and one week to get home.

Flying to Antarctica directly from Australia is very rare and availability is almost zero. If you want to shorten the trip, you are best off flying to South America.

You can fly into Punta Arenas, Chile for Fly Cruise and Antarctica Interior Expeditions from Sydney or Brisbane, or to Ushuaia, Argentina for a Cruise only expedition from Sydney only.

It is actually more affordable to fly to South America for a 10-day expedition than taking the 3 or 4-week expedition cruise from Australia. Also, you will see a lot more wildlife in the Antarctic Peninsula than in the Eastern Arctic where the cruises from Australia go.

How to Get to Antarctica from New Zealand

Antarctica cruises depart New Zealand from the port of Invercargill and are very similar to cruises from Australia. The total expedition takes 3 to 4 weeks and is only to East Antarctica which has huge icebergs but much less wildlife than the Antarctic Peninsula.

Flights to Antarctica directly from New Zealand are close to impossible. If the cruise option from New Zealand isn’t what you are looking for, then flying to South America is your best bet.

You can fly into Punta Arenas, Chile for Fly Cruise and Antarctica Interior Expeditions and to Ushuaia, Argentina for a Cruise only expedition from Auckland only.

Reasons to Visit Antarctica

There are lots of reasons to visit Antarctica and some of them will most likely be quite personal to the traveler in question.

The main reason to visit Antarctica is for an adventure of a lifetime. It truly is the least explored place on Earth. The Antarctic peninsula receives just 50,000 visitors a year and the Antarctic’s interior less than 500.

Between the stunning white landscapes, huge icebergs, giant glaciers, mountain ranges, and the waters that teem with wildlife, it is a bit of heaven on earth.

Hanging out with a King Penguin Colony, watching leopard seals and orcas hunt, as well as seeing all the other wildlife that calls Antarctica home, will be nothing short of mind-blowing.

A trip to Antarctica also involves being truly disconnected from the world and reconnecting with nature.

But, to experience all this, you have to work for it. First, you fly around the world, get on a boat, perhaps cross the infamous Drake Passage, and then live in extreme conditions to see it all.

A trip to Antarctica is life-changing and you will come home seeing the world with a new perspective. It will ignite the adventurer in you and give you a newfound respect for nature.

What to Do in Antarctica

While in Antarctica, you are not going to sit aboard a ship all the time or relax at a research station, you are going to explore it in numerous different ways. Here are some great things to do in Antarctica.

Stand-up Paddle Board Around The Shores

Taking a stand-up paddle board and cruising slowly around the edges of icebergs and the peninsula is nothing short of incredible.

It is just you, the elements, and all the wildlife that happens to swim or fly past. You might encounter seals, penguins, and whales while on your paddle board.

Kayaking With Wildlife

If stand-up paddle boarding seems a bit risky, why not go for a paddle in a kayak? You will look over snow-covered mountains, see and hear glaciers, and paddle with humpback whales and orcas if you are lucky.

Go Scuba Diving

If you are an experienced scuba diver then going for a dive in Antarctica is possible. The waters are crystal clear and you will be able to see all the different colors blues, and icebergs from underwater, and get up close to seals, whales, and penguins.

Small boats will take you to shore where you can hike around Antarctica to see spectacular sites like red waterfalls, glaciers, and lots more.

While hiking, you will also get to hang out with penguins. They are not worried about humans at all which allows you to have close-up experiences.

There are 6 types of penguins in Antarctica, including Gentoo, Adelie, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Chinstrap, and Emperor penguins. You are pretty much guaranteed to spend some time with some of them.

Learn About Antarctica At A Research Station

The research being conducted in Antarctica is about as cutting edge as it gets and there is no better way of learning about Antarctica than visiting one.

Some are open to visitors and will give you an excellent insight into the “white continent” and the discoveries being made.

Go To The South Pole & Climb The Vinson Massif

If you are going on an expedition to the Antarctic interior, you will have the opportunity to get to the South Pole and climb the highest peak in Antarctica, the Vinson Massif.

Doing one or both of these will be the physical and mental test of a lifetime, as well as an adventure that you will never forget and only a few humans have ever accomplished.

Best Time to Visit Antarctica

The only time you can visit Antarctica is between November and March, as in the other months the sea ice is too large and thick, and the sea conditions are intense, to say the least.

Choosing which month to see Antarctica depends on what you would like to see and your budget. The month of November is great for mating penguins and lots of different seal species. The landscapes are also to die for as the icebergs are at their biggest.

December to January sees 20 to 24 hours of daylight, so you can explore for longer in the day. Penguin chicks are out and there are lots of seals to be seen. The icebergs still offer great landscape photography.

February and March are all about whales, penguins, chicks, and seals, plus the ice has melted more so you are able to explore the southern reaches of the peninsula.

March is also the most affordable time to go too, combined with a tonne of whales, I’d say it is the best time to travel to Antarctica.

What to Pack For Antarctica

The key to being comfortable in Antarctica is staying warm, and dry, and having the ability to capture all the stunning things you are seeing. Here is a good packing list to follow:

  • A DSLR camera with multiple lenses to take amazing shots
  • Binoculars so you can spot wildlife at a distance
  • Sunglasses with mirrored polarized lenses to protect your eyes
  • A beanie hat for warmth
  • Waterproof warm jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Merino wool jumpers
  • Thick down jacket
  • Waterproof boots (knee-high)
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Seasickness meds

Frequently Asked Questions

Is traveling to antarctica legal.

Yes, it is legal to go to Antarctica. Anyone can travel there with a tour operator, but tour operators must hold a permit.

What is the cost of traveling to Antarctica?

The cost of visiting Antarctica depends on the type of trip you do and how long it is. You should expect to spend a minimum of $8,000 including flights from home for a shorter cruise package.

Prices then go up to over $100,000 per person for special expeditions to the interior including going to the South Pole and summiting the Vinson Massif.

How long is the flight to Antarctica?

From Punta Arenas, Chile the flight to Antarctica is just over 2 hours. But, if you want to include your flight from home, add around 24 hours to that.

Why is Antarctica guarded?

Antarctica is guarded under the Antarctic Treaty as it is a unique and pristine environment that is vital to the health of the planet.

It is key to understanding our planet and is one of the only left true wildernesses without human influence left on earth.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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a blue iceberg in Antarctic landscape, Arbourg Bay, Antarctica

What to Expect on Your First Trip to Antarctica

Learn why the world’s coldest continent is our hottest ultimate destination.

"Towering mountains rise straight out of ice-clogged seas, icebergs gleam the radiant blue that only ancient ice attains, wildlife congregates in multitudes. In Antarctica, you see things clearly,” says photographer Jim Richardson, whose decades of travel have taken him twice to the white continent.  

a large boat navigating Grandidier Channel in Antarctica

If Antarctica is a destination for clear visions, its tourism visionary was Lars-Eric Lindblad, who pioneered travel to this icy realm 50 years ago. In 1966, the Swede brought 57 goose-down-bundled passengers on a dream cruise to the ends of the Earth.

In the years since, Lindblad Expeditions has pioneered sustainable Antarctic journeys, often in partnership with National Geographic. Traveler tracked down Sven-Olof Lindblad, the founder’s son, to learn why the world’s coldest continent is our hottest ultimate destination.

an emperor penguin chick on the frozen Ross Sea, Antarctica

What always impresses first-time travelers on your Antarctica expeditions?  

The endless beauty and wonder of ice—enormous glaciers, icebergs, ice sheets. Also, the constantly changing light as it illuminates the vastness of this place.

What should travelers expect?  

Antarctica is dramatic and nuanced at the same time. At first it’s overwhelming, but as days progress, the nuances come into play; the shapes and colors of icebergs, the antics of penguins, the pods of whales.

Share with us some of your impressions of Antarctica.

Its palette of whites, blues, and blacks. How nature dictates everything there and human influence is so minor. The miles and miles of ice; on my first visit, I didn’t sleep for two days, I was so mesmerized as we crashed through sea ice.  

How has travel to Antarctica changed since your father inaugurated trips to the ultimate continent?

When my father began bringing people to Antarctica, no one went there. Now, many people go, on all manner of ships. In terms of the guest experience, it’s better now because of advanced technologies to predict weather and ice conditions. In our case, we have hydrophones and ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicles). We also have “undersea specialists,” who take videos of underwater life during the trip for guests to enjoy.

an iceberg in the Gerlache Strait, Antarctica

Why is Antarctica the ultimate trip for those in their seventh decade?  

Seventh decade, seventh continent. Antarctica simply can’t be missed by any traveler driven by curiosity and attracted to 21st-century exploration. This is the wildest, most dramatic place on Earth. Be prepared for constant surprise.  

map of National Geographic Expeditions route to Antarctica

National Geographic Expeditions route to Antarctica

What camera gear should travelers bring to make the most of their Antarctic experience?

  • Nat Geo Expeditions

Whatever camera is comfortable, but understand the camera you choose. Of course, on our ships we have photo instructors—including National Geographic photographers—to help everyone maximize their equipment.

Name one of your favorite Antarctic experiences .

I love watching the goings-on in penguin colonies: their courtships, how they raise their young, their strategies to avoid leopard seals.

What do you expect for Antarctic travel in the coming decades?

A continued growth in interest, with one possible challenge: how to offer a remarkable Antarctic experience to more and more travelers—and do it safely.  

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Can You Go To Antarctica? Yes! How To Get To Antarctica

Happy female in yellow parka lays in snow with penguins, icebergs, a small ship and white Antarctica landscape behind her.

Among the first questions prospective polar travelers consider “ Can you visit Antarctica? ” Yes, you can visit Antarctica, being mindful of any Antarctica travel restrictions . We’ll show you how.

The next question is “ How to get to Antarctica? ” The answer is not as difficult as it seems. The best way to get to Antarctica is via Antarctica cruises from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand or Antarctica flights from Chile.

IN THIS POST – How to Get to Antarctica: Can You go to Antarctica? 10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica Get to Antarctica by Ship Flights to Antarctica Get to Antarctica From Your Home Passport & Visa Requirements The Best Way to Get to Antarctica More Resources

Can You Go To Antarctica?

Yes, you can visit Antarctica. In fact, Antarctica has never been more accessible to travelers.

Do you need permission to go to Antarctica? Travelers do not need permission to go to Antarctica, but tourism operators must hold a valid permit. First, a bit of background on why it is legal to visit Antarctica.

Antarctica is not a country. The continent is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which preserves it for peaceful and scientific use. The treaty and related agreements ensure that all human activity is carefully managed and planned, including environmentally sensitive tourism. As of 2023 the treaty has 56 signatory parties. 

Tourism operators in Antarctica submit stringent permit applications annually. If their planned activities meet all criteria, they are authorized and granted a permit. Traveling with an authorized operator means your permit has been secured for you.

A photographer in a red jacket holding a camera taking a picture of a penguin in front of ice in Antarctica.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Subscribe to stay in the loop on Antarctica & save when you go.

Do you need a visa to visit Antarctica? Because no country owns Antarctica, a visa is not required to travel there.

How many tourists visit Antarctica each year?   During the 2022-2023 season, more than 32,000 travelers visited Antarctica. Will you be next?

Two black and white penguins stand on shore as a futuristic and modern looking white Antarctica cruise ship navigates the ocean past them.

How to Get to Antarctica

The two primary routes travelers use to get to Antarctica are cruising to Antarctica or flying to Antarctica. Below we present everything you need to know about each method. 

Wondering why people want to visit Antarctica. View our top 10 reasons to visit Antarctica now.

Get to Antarctica by Ship

The most common and most affordable way to get to Antarctica is to book an  Antarctica cruise . Over 90% of all visitors travel to Antarctica aboard a small ship. Learn more about the cost to go to Antarctica .

Specially outfitted operators run a fleet of purpose-built Antarctica expedition ships taking travelers to Antarctica. They take care of all the logistics from permits to schedules and itineraries. Shore landings and activities on the continent are an important part of the experience. See our tips on how to choose an Antarctic cruise .

Infographic depicting the steps taken in order to get to Antarctica by boat.

Cruise to Antarctica From South America

The distance from the tip of South America to Antarctica is about 600 miles. The countries closest to Antarctica are Argentina and Chile. Most of the travel to Antarctica occurs from these countries in South America.  Most cruises begin in Ushuaia, Argentina but some start in other port towns in Argentina and Chile. 

Cruises to Antarctica range from 10-24 Days.  Antarctica cruises from South America are popular because they access the most popular regions including the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands.   

Ushuaia to Antarctica Cruises

Ushuaia to Antarctica is the most popular cruise route. Ushuaia is 680 miles to Antarctica and the closest port making it the primary hub for cruises.

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in South America before Antarctica. It is in the Terra del Fuego province of Argentina and is generally recognized as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is well worth a visit. We recommend travelers going to Antarctica arrive a day or two early.

Ushuaia Antarctica cruises offer the largest variety of itinerary and ship options. The shortest and most affordable Ushuaia cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula. Some cruises from Ushuaia strive to reach farther south the Antarctic circle. More comprehensive Antarctica cruises from Ushuaia include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. 

During the height of the season the port of Ushuaia can host 3-5 Antarctica expedition ships each day. Overall, there may be more than three dozen ships visiting Antarctica from Ushuaia each season. Don’t worry the ships coordinate schedules so ports and landing sites do not become overcrowded. This diverse fleet offers travelers the widest choice of ships, cabins and availability. 

Other Argentina to Antarctica Cruises

While most cruises begin in Ushuaia there are other routes from Argentina to Antarctica. Each year a handful of Argentina Antarctica cruises embark from Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. To reach Port Stanley travelers must fly from mainland Argentina, usually Buenos Aires.   

Chile to Antarctica Cruises

Chile is known for its cruises with flights to Antarctica. But there are some cruises from Chile to Antarctica each year. Chile Antarctica cruises typically embark in the southern Patagonia city of Punta Arenas. 

A Chile to Antarctic voyage will travel through the Chilean Fjords passing by Cape Horn before venturing into the Drake Passage. If you choose a Chilean Antarctic trip it is also possible to combine it with travel to Patagonia or a Chile vacation .

Cruises From Australia and New Zealand to Antarctica

Each year a handful of specialty cruises voyage from New Zealand and Australia to Antarctica. These are true expeditions and take longer than cruises from South America. Just crossing from New Zealand or Australia to Antarctica can take five days or more. The highlight of an Antarctica cruise from Australia or New Zealand is a visit to the Ross Sea. 

The most common embarkation ports for journeys from New Zealand to Antarctica are Invercargill and Dunedin. Cruises from Australia to Antarctica typically depart from Hobart, Tasmania.

Some Antarctica cruises depart from Australia, visit the White Continent, and then return to the same port. Others begin in South America and end in Australia, or reverse. Either way, these cruises are much longer than cruises from South America. Antarctic cruises from Australia and New Zealand range from 25-35 days.  

Voyages will visit sub-Antarctic islands such as Macquarie Island, the Auckland Islands or Campbell Islands. These remote outposts are rich in birdlife and wildlife. They serve to break up the longer ocean crossing.

A small expedition ship in Antarctica sailing through icebergs with the sun setting behind creating pink clouds.

How to Get to Antarctica by Boat FAQ’s

The Antarctic Peninsula lies just over 680 miles (1100 kilometers) from Ushuaia, Argentina in South America.

The Antarctic Circle is about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from Ushuaia, Argentina in South America. 

The voyage from Ushuaia to Antarctic takes about 48 hours by small ship. Antarctic Peninsula cruises will make this crossing each way. So, a typical 11-day cruise will include 4 days crossing at sea and 7 days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. 

Most Antarctica cruises are 10-13 days. Some cruises are 14-20 days. The longest Antarctica cruise is 36 days long.

Most cruises to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia, Argentina. Cruises also leave from Punta Arenas-Chile, Port Stanley-Argentina, Hobart-Australia, Dunedin -New Zealand.

The Antarctic continent is about 1650 miles (2655 kilometers) from Australia. The Ross Sea is about 2200 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Australia. 

The crossing from Australia to Antarctica can take up to 7 days depending on weather.

The Antarctic continent is about 1500 miles (2415 kilometers) from New Zealand. The Ross Sea is about 1800 miles (2900 kilometers) from New Zealand.

The crossing from New Zealand to Antarctica can take up to 5 days depending on weather.

The closest country to cruise to Antarctica is Argentina. 

You cannot see Antarctica from South America. Don’t laugh, people ask. 

Flights to Antarctica

Flying to Antarctica from Chile avoids crossing the infamous Drake Passage and makes the overall trip shorter. Antarctica air cruises are the second most popular way to get to Antarctica. 

Flights to Antarctica are a great option for travelers short on time or concerned about seasickness. A flight to Antarctica takes about two hours, saving two days of cruising. Since most cruises make the crossing twice, flying can shave four days off the overall travel time. Cruises with flights to Antarctica range from 7-17 days long. 

When considering cruises with flights to Antarctica, there are not as many options of ships and itineraries. The season for Antarctica flights is shorter, beginning in December and ending in February. There are not as many flight departures as standard cruises from South America.

Many trips with flights depart and return to the same location. Others will fly one way to or from the Antarctica Peninsula and cruise the other direction. Our experts are here to discuss the details of flights to Antarctica and help you choose the best Antarctic flight. 

There are no commercial flights to Antarctica.  Antarctica air cruise itineraries utilize one-way or round-trip flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Antarctica Peninsula where guests board a ship. Flights to Antarctica utilize the airstrip at the King George Island Antarctica airport. This landing site is associated with Chile’s Frei Station.

Infographic depicting the steps taken to get to Antarctica by airplane.

Fly to Antarctica from Chile

Punta Arenas, Chile, is the primary departure point for cruises with Antarctic flights. These trips fly over the Drake passage, landing on King George Island near the Antarctic Peninsula. Travelers then embark the ship in Antarctica.

Most trips will explore the Antarctic Peninsula, then fly back to Chile. Some venture further to Antarctic Circle, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands. Some trips fly one way from Chile then cruise back or reverse. 

Antarctic Express Fly the Drake Cruise plane with passengers boarding the plane to Antarctica.

How to Fly to Antarctica FAQ’s

Yes, you can fly to Antarctica , but only in conjunction with an organized tour or cruise. There are no commercial flights to Antarctica.

There are no commercial airports in Antarctica. Flights to Antarctica utilize landing strips associated with scientific research stations.

The only way to fly to Antarctica is part of an organized tour or cruise. Flights with cruises depart from Chile.

The flight to Antarctica from Punta Arenas, Chile is about 2 hours.

Travelers get around in Antarctica by small expedition ship. Travelers also get around via zodiacs, kayaks, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and trekking. 

The closest country to fly to Antarctica from is Chile.

No it is not possible to see Antarctica from Chile.

How to get to Antarctica from Your Home

Most cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina. Fly-and-cruise trips depart from Punta Arenas, Chile. There are no direct international flights into these ports, so most travelers must route flights through Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile.

Below is our advice on how to get to Antarctica from your home, using these air travel hubs. Our specialists can assist with your flights to Antarctica.

how to take a trip to antarctica

Get to Antarctica From Your Home: Get to Antarctica From the U.S.A. Get to Antarctica From Canada Get to Antarctica From Australia Get to Antarctica From New Zealand Get to Antarctica From the U.K. & Europe

How to Get to Antarctica From the United States

  • To Buenos Aires : To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from Argentina, travelers need to fly from the USA to Buenos Aires. The most popular Antarctica flights from U.S.A. to Buenos Aires depart from New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Boston. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship. 
  • To Santiago : To fly to Antarctica from the USA, travelers first need to fly to Santiago, Chile. The most popular flight routes from the U.S.A. to Santiago, Chile, depart from Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and New York. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to board your flight to Antarctica. 

How to Get to Antarctica From Canada

There are direct flights from Toronto to both Buenos Aires and Santiago, five days each week. From other regions in Canada, travelers may consider connecting through a gateway in the U.S.A.

How to Get to Antarctica From Australia

  • To Hobart: To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from Australia you will need to travel to Hobart, Tasmania. Popular flight routes to Hobart depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
  • To Buenos Aires: To get to Antarctica from Australia on a cruise departing from Argentina, travelers need to fly to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Australia to Buenos Aires. Travelers going to Antarctica from Australia must consider connecting to Buenos Aires through Auckland, New Zealand, or through Santiago, Chile. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
  • To Santiago : To fly to Antarctica from Australia travelers will first need to fly to Santiago, Chile. Flights from Sydney, Australia, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica. 

How To Get to Antarctica From New Zealand

Most travelers from New Zealand will fly to South America to get to Antarctica from there. If you are on a specialty New Zealand cruise to Antarctica there are numerous options, depending on your departure port. See details below to get to Antarctica from New Zealand.

  • To Invercargill or Dunedin: To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from New Zealand you will need to travel to either Invercargill or Dunedin. Travelers on New Zealand’s South Island may drive to their embarkation port. There are flights to Invercargill and Dunedin from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
  • To Buenos Aires : To get to Antarctica from New Zealand on a cruise departing from Argentina travelers need to fly to Buenos Aires. There are four direct flights each week from Auckland, New Zealand, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
  • To Santiago : To fly to Antarctica from New Zealand, travelers will first fly to Santiago, Chile. Flights from Auckland, New Zealand, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica. 

How To Get to Antarctica From the U.K. & Europe

  • To Buenos Aires : To get to Antarctica from the U.K. and Europe most travelers will first fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There are numerous flights from Europe to Buenos Aires each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
  • To Santiago : To fly to Antarctica from the U.K. and Europe travelers will first fly to Santiago, Chile. There are numerous flights from Europe to Santiago each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Barcelona. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica. 

How to Get to Antarctica From Argentina

To get to Antarctica from Argentina, travelers will first fly to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina has two airports. International travelers will arrive at Ezeiza International Airport (EZE). Then connect from Buenos Aires to Uhsuaia. Flights to and from Ushuaia (USH) operate out of the Jorge Newbery Airpark domestic airport (AEP). So a transfer between airports in Buenos Aires is required.

We recommend the airport shuttle service, Manuel Tienda Leon. Find their colorful booths in the airport to book a transfer for about $30 USD. Shuttles depart every 30 minutes from the EZE arrival terminal.  A taxi can be arranged and may be quicker but more expensive. 

The opposite transfer is required on the return trip. We advise travelers to allow at least four hours between flights for this transfer and check in. Many travelers will consider a stopover in Buenos Aires as part of their Antarctica travel package.

How to Get to Antarctica from Chile

To get to Antarctica from Chile, travelers will first fly to Santiago. International travelers will arrive at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, also known as Santiago International Airport (SCL). Then connect from Santiago to Punta Arenas. Flights to and from Punta Arenas also depart from this airport making connections easy. Many travelers will consider a stopover in Santiago as part of their Antarctica plans.

A massive iceberg floats in the dark blue ocean, dwarfing the 6 level expedition ship and inflatable skiff boats around it.

Antarctica Passport & Visa Requirements

A visa or passport is not required to visit Antarctica. However, the country you pass through to get to Antarctica, such as Argentina, Chile, Australia or New Zealand will require a passport and may require a visa depending on your country of origin. Visas are not required in these countries for U.S. citizens. Your passport should be valid for 6 months after your travel dates, depending on your country of residency.

Countries that have signed the Antarctica Treaty including the U.S.A., Canada, E.U., New Zealand and Australia require that visitors from those countries need permission to visit Antarctica. This is typically provided through the tour operator. 

Argentina Visas – click here to learn if a visa is required to enter Argentina from your country. Chile Visas – click here to find your Chilean consulate. Contact your consulate to learn if a visa is required if a visa is required to enter Chile from your country. In the United States, visa services can answer detailed questions and expedite applications for visas to Argentina and Chile.

What is the Best Way to Get to Antarctica?

The best way to get to Antarctica is by  small ship cruise  across the Drake Passage, or by plane to meet your ship in Antarctica. There are no right or wrong ways to get to Antarctica. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences, schedule and budget. Regardless of how you get to Antarctica, it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Continue your research on how to travel to Antarctica using the links below, or sign up for the AdventureSmith newsletter to stay in the loop on Antarctica travel news and deals. Our experts are here to teach you how to visit Antarctica and to help you get there.

MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES : Antarctica Travel Guide Antarctica Cruises Luxury Antarctica Cruises Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises Cruises with Flights to Antarctica Best Time to Visit Antarctica Antarctica Cruise Cost Things to Do in Antarctica Places in Antarctica Antarctica Ships Best Antarctica Cruise Lines Antarctica Cruise Deals Antarctica Cruise Reviews

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How much cost for the trip from India to Antarctica for one person?

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Hi Ramesh, From ship selection to cabin considerations, trip duration and departure date, there are many factors that can affect the cost of an Antarctica cruise. Start with our helpful article How Much Does it Cost to go to Antarctica , (note the section on solo travelers ). Our experts are your best resource and can ultimately help you determine how much you’ll need for this bucket list destination plus offer money-saving tips in the process. We will be in touch shortly.

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I want to visit in Feb or March 2024. Please give me a price for 2 pax.

Hi Smarajit, You’ve come to the right place. An Antarctica expert will be in contact with you shortly to discuss all your Antarctica cruise options.

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i want to package of antartica via cruise or by air with couple

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Hi Pradeep, We can certainly help! An Antarctica Specialist will be in touch direct shortly. In the meantime you can review more information about Cruises with Flights to Antarctica and Antarctica cruises in general.

Let Our Travelers Explain What Is So Special About Antarctica

The Antarctic cruise was something else; it was an unbelievable experience. The crew were superb. Thanks, AdventureSmith, for getting me into such a grand adventure. I have too many stories.

Antarctica is an out of the world experience. It is nothing like anywhere. Neither was there an experience like this before nor can there be similar one after.

I was blown away by the experience. Antarctica is truly a magical place. By far, the quality and variety of food beyond exceeded my expectations. Camping on land was incredible!!!

One of the best trips I have ever taken. You are only going to Antarctica once most likely, so you want to get it right. I felt like we really did and that was made possible by excellent guidance from Nick and excellent service from all involved on our travels. We were told National Geographic was second to none in terms of naturalist and that was very true. Antarctica was simply amazing. Nothing can compare and you simply have to see it to believe it.

The first time I stepped onto Antarctica, I just closed my eyes and tried to envision the globe and where I was on it at that very moment; definitely a wow moment and a wow trip! Since I prefer masses of wildlife to masses of humanity, I had a wonderful experience. Be prepared to be amazed!

The trip far, far, far, far, far, far exceeded our expectations. I had one "far" in the sentence when we left South Georgia Island after seeing 250,000 King Penguins at St. Andrews Point and added the second when we saw blue whales on two different days. The third "far" was added when we saw hundreds of whales for 6 hours along the iceberg, A68a...

The Antarctic cruise was something else; it was an unbelievable experience. The crew were superb. I have no negative impressions to relate. The scenes of Antarctica from the Professor Malchanov were breathtaking, not to mention in the landings on the peninsula and numerous islands. The gear (coat and rubber boots) was perfect; I never got cold. Penguins were encountered at just about every stop. We saw a couple of seals, too, and a few whales at sea. Those birds are incredibly photogenic and there must have been thousands of pictures taken by my fellow passengers. Thanks, AdventureSmith, for getting me into such a grand adventure. I have too many stories.

Featured in this Traveler Review

  • Antarctic Explorer

Overall trip experience was great, since it had an equal measure of all components-comfortable stay, good food, insights on the continent, well organised landings and great care taken by the expedition head and his team. All the landings were unique in their own way, had different elements of surprise every time. Whale watching from the ship-out of the world experience.

Accommodations Review

Accommodations were convenient and well maintained. Only the camping tent could have been a little larger to accommodate two campers.

Crew & Guides Review

The enthusiasm and professionalism was par excellence. Alex the team leader was very knowledgeable about the continent and its various facets and his alertness and information got us more benefits from the trip. All others were equally competent and knowledgeable. Lyn, Osi, Gerard, Scott, Phil, Mike and others-each had so much energy and enthusiasm to share their knowledge, help and guide us that made your trip so memorable.

AdventureSmith Explorations Review

All info was given in detail. There were regular emails from Nick which helped me a lot. The change in airline schedule was informed in advance so that alternates could be booked. The info about ground transport was also useful.

Traveler Advice

Antarctica is an out of the world experience. It is nothing like anywhere. Neither was there an experience like this before nor can there be similar one after. Anyone who like nature should visit it! Do not have any doubt or inhibition, everything will be smooth. Enjoy and soak in the experience as it seeps in!

  • Antarctic Peninsula Aboard Expedition
  • MS Expedition

I was blown away by the experience. Antarctica is truly a magical place and Oceanwide did an excellent job in showing it to me. The staff and crew were beyond helpful and enthusiastic about their work. By far, the quality and variety of food beyond exceeded my expectations. Safety was paramount and everyone was well taken care of. I would recommend this trip to anyone! Great variety of age, backgrounds, gender, country of origin, etc. on the boat. Everyone was friendly and talkative.

David (Expedition Leader) was very professional, informative, and friendly. He handled any situation that came up quickly and made prompt decisions. He kept everyone informed and had a positive attitude the whole time. The other staff that took us on expeditions was also wonderful (Mal, Koen, Julia, Owen, Werner, Alexis, Andreas, Regis, Daniel, and Trevor).

Itinerary Review

I enjoyed the adventure activities including camping, kayaking, and mountaineering. They allowed me to get close to nature and experience the environment first-hand. It felt like we stayed in the same place for so much of the trip and that was a bit of a disappointment. It would have been nice to see more of the peninsula and move along it each day rather than in the same area. Camping on land was incredible!!!

Meals Review

It was phenomenal! As noted previously, I was blown away by the food variety and quality.

I received great information from AdventureSmith. The only exception would be in regards to the Mountaineering activity. I was told I would need mountaineering boots for this but after purchasing them and getting on the boat, I found out I was not able to do the activity because I did not have prior experience mountaineering.

  • Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Cruise
  • Oceanwide Expeditions

Please note: The primary ship(s) operating the mentioned itinerary can change from year to year, so the ship this guest cruised on may no longer be sailing this exact route.

The arrangements from start to finish were seamless. The staff for the pre-cruise tours as well as on the ship were simply fantastic. Great group of travelers on the ship - we enjoyed the adventurous spirit of all on board. One of the best trips I have ever taken. You are only going to Antarctica once most likely, so you want to get it right. I felt like we really did and that was made possible by excellent guidance from Nick and excellent service from all involved on our travels. We were told National Geographic was second to none in terms of naturalist and that was very true. Not only did we see the landscape and animals but we learned about them - and from people who love them and are experts in their field. That added a richness not possible otherwise.

The Mandarin hotel prior and the National Geographic Orion were exactly as I expected and met all our needs.

The meals on the ship were consistently incredible. The variety of fresh foods and beautiful presentation never got boring.

The pre-tour guide and driver were outstanding. Our guide went above and beyond to make our experience a good one and to give us insight into his country in addition to seeing 'the sights' - it was a true cultural experience which I wanted and appreciated. The National Geographic crew from top to bottom were fantastic.

Antarctica was simply amazing. Nothing can compare and you simply have to see it to believe it. We also enjoyed our day trip to Valpairaiso. The day trip and the drive over with a stop at a local winery gave us a good flavor for the region as well as a day to adjust and get ready for the next leg of the journey.

Nick helped us for more than a year to secure the trip, work on pre-tours and help with all preparations and questions - which were many. He was also professional and responsive and educational in preparing us for the trip. Just what I wanted from a travel agency. Expert advice from people who have been there and can match your wishes and travel style to the right fit for you.

Plan far ahead and research what the actual trip experience will be like. Find the fit that best suits your personality and travel style. Be flexible. The only challenge was a very late night flight out of Santiago to Dallas. The downtime on that final day proved to longer than I would have liked. I would recommend to future travelers that they spend the night in Santiago, taking a morning flight out the following day in order to ensure a less exhaustive end to the trip. Santiago city center is worth seeing but not particularly engaging - at least at the moment. The protests have very much disrupted the flow for tourists and the effects on the city with graffiti and boarded up sites around the city are painful to see.

  • National Geographic The White Continent
  • National Geographic Orion
  • Lindblad Expeditions

The first time I stepped onto Antarctica, I just closed my eyes and tried to envision the globe and where I was on it at that very moment; definitely a wow moment and a wow trip! Penguins, penguins, penguins, penguins, penguins! Gosh, I love them! South Georgia was fantastic. Since I prefer masses of wildlife to masses of humanity, I had a wonderful experience.

The M/S Plancius is a very nice clean ship with comfortable beds. I was impressed that they cleaned the windows many times during the voyage so that you always had a clear view from inside.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of our leaders and thought all were professional and enthusiastic. James Cresswell and Brent Houston were outstanding in their knowledge. 

Chris Harter at AdventureSmith was outstanding in answering my endless questions; also in general he was just a pleasure to talk to, easygoing and friendly.

Be prepared to be amazed!

  • Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica

We particularly wanted to do this trip because of the abundance of wildlife we expected to encounter and selected this ship because they offered the kayaking experience. Overall, the weather was very good. Most people seemed like minded and were there for the adventurous experience.

They upgraded our cabin and we were very pleased with the amount of space and the amenities in the room. We appreciated the twin windows and being able to see humpbacks diving from our cabin. It was kept very clean and it was a treat to have our bed turned down with chocolates on the pillow each night.

We liked the variety and the quality of the food.  There was always something new to try.  The dining room staff was very professional and personable.

Solon was our Principal Trip Leader. He was incredibly professional and it seemed like he was constantly working to maximize the encounters with wildlife and scenery, taking advantage of all the weather opportunities and going to places that they don't often go. He worked very closely with the captain who was very accommodating and caring about us having a memorable voyage. Aymie and Andrew were our kayak guides. We went out to kayak 10 different times and were able to get to know both of them well. They worked hard to keep us safe and well informed. They made sure that we didn't miss out on any land excursions. We've had quite a few kayak guides over the years that we've paddled and we loved these two. Marla was the marine biologist aboard the ship. She was very enthusiastic and had a passion for marine mammals that was infectious. We loved listening to her presentations and looked forward to hearing her voice on the PA saying that there was another whale sighting. Colin, the geologist aboard the ship, was very knowledgeable and able to make difficult subjects understandable to the passengers.

The trip far, far, far, far, far, far exceeded our expectations.  I had one "far" in the sentence when we left South Georgia Island after seeing 250,000 King Penguins at St. Andrews Point and added the second when we saw blue whales on two different days. The third "far" was added when we saw hundreds of whales for 6 hours along the iceberg, A68a. I added another "far" when we kayaked for over an hour with humpbacks all around and another "far" when minke whales were all around the kayaks the next day. The last "far" was added the day we didn't paddle since a leopard seal was all around the kayaks and then an orca came close. We had so many incredible experiences that we could never experience all of them in the same trip again. The guides told us that the close encounters that we had didn't happen very often and that we were very lucky that they all happened on our trip. The only thing that we didn't like was portions of the Drake Passage when it was a tad rough, but that experience gives us something to talk about.

Transportation Review

We made our transportation arrangements through another travel agency.

Make sure that you take sea sickness meds. Take advantage of every opportunity to see wildlife.

  • Explorers & Kings

How To Go To Antarctica? On These Trips

Now that you know how to get to Antarctica, start browsing this selection of cruises and trips with Antarctica flights for your best way to get there. Contact our experts to learn more about how to get to Antarctica. We’re here to help with a free, personalized quote and planning advice for your polar expedition.

Contact Us - Can You Go To Antarctica? Yes! How To Get To Antarctica

Travel is best planned one-on-one, and we’re here to help you with your specific needs.

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How to Travel to Antarctica

Last Updated: July 27, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Angela Rice . Angela Rice is a Luxury Travel Specialist and Co-Founder of Boutique Travel Advisors, a luxury travel advising business in Phoenix, Arizona. Angela specializes in consulting and curating highly customized and unique travel itineraries for clients seeking luxury, group, and multi-generational family travel. Angela studied at Arizona State University and The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. She has prior consulting experience in accounting and business, which helps her run her business behind the scenes. Angela has been featured in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, Travel Weekly, USA Today, Travel Market Report, Phoenix Magazine, and MSN. She is also a frequent guest on WBBM News Radio 105.9 FM's Travel Tuesday show. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 19 testimonials and 89% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 877,098 times.

Travelling to Antarctica is one of the most exhilarating trips you will ever take. Although it's expensive, it's truly spectacular. A trip to Antarctica is something that you and your travelling companions will never forget. It is an inhospitable and distant place, so travelling there is unlike travelling almost anywhere else. There are, however, a number of possibilities for intrepid explorers who want to witness the majesty of this frozen continent. Whether you want to take a few weeks exploring on a ship, or fly over it in a day, with some careful planning, and a generous budget, you can have the trip of a lifetime.

Travelling to Antarctica by Ship

Step 1 Travel on a cruise ship.

  • Most voyages to the Antarctic Peninsular region leave from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands and a few leave from Punta Arenas in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina, or Puerto Madryn in Argentina.

Step 2 Decide whether to travel on a larger cruise ship or smaller one.

  • In high seas, larger ships are the most comfortable but the strict guidelines on how many people can visit the shore will limit your opportunities for shore visits.
  • Smaller ships allow for more time on shore. This is because tourist guidelines limit landings of tour groups to 100 people. [3] X Research source
  • All reputable cruise operators will be registered with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), so this is good place to consult during your planning. They support environmentally friendly travel to Antarctica. [4] X Research source
  • The costs for these cruises will vary, but for a ten day trip expect to pay at least $4500, whereas for the longer trips it could be from $12,750-$16,000.

Step 3 Sail to Antarctica on a yacht.

  • For these smaller ships, the conditions are much more treacherous than the larger cruise ships. [6] X Research source
  • This is a very expensive option that could cost more than $1000 a day for each traveller. [7] X Research source

Step 4 Travel on a French re-supply ship.

  • Prices start from around $8,000 for the month.

Flying to Antarctica

Step 1 Take a fly over.

  • Australia is now the only place you can take these flights from. [10] X Research source
  • You need to plan ahead if you want to do this and book early.
  • If you want to get up and close and see the wildlife this is not the choice for you.
  • Depending on your seats, tickets will cost anything from $1,000 to $8,000. [11] X Research source

Step 2 Get a flight that lands on Antarctica.

  • Some adventure holiday companies have deals which involve landing on Antarctica and skiing, camping and climbing. [12] X Research source
  • You can fly to King George Island from Punta Arenas in Chile and stay overnight at a camp there for tourists.

Step 3 Investigate fly-cruise options.

  • This could be a good option if you want to see the ice and wildlife up close, but don’t want to spend so much time travelling on board a cruise ship. But it won’t be any cheaper.
  • Expect to pay something in the region of $10,000 to $14,000 for a two-week trip. [13] X Research source

Step 4 Remember bad weather can ruin your plans.

Planning Your Trip

Step 1 Choose the right time to visit.

  • During November, the pack ice starts to break up and it's mating season for the penguins and other birds.
  • During December and January, the penguin chicks hatch and are fed and nurtured in the breeding grounds.
  • During February and March, the penguin chicks fledge, the adult penguins molt, and the whales are easy to spot. [14] X Research source

Step 2 Expect a large...

  • It is possible to get cheap last minute deals with cruise ships in places like Ushuaia in Argentina. You need to be in town, flexible, and able to set off straight away. This is a risky option, but if it works you could save quite a lot of money. [16] X Research source
  • If you don't want to visit as a tourist, think of other options, such as joining a government expedition to Antarctica. For this, you'll likely need suitable technical, scientific, medical, or other relevant skills like cooking for a large group. You will also need to be considered to have a suitable background for government employment. [17] X Research source
  • Another possibility is to travel as an invited part of a crew. Some people get asked to come along as journalists, photographers, artists, etc., and their trip is covered by whoever invited or sent them along. Again, this will depend on your skills.

Step 3 Understand the health and safety issues.

  • Read up on the gear and clothing you need. You will definitely need excellent waterproof clothing! Your cruise ship will most likely have things to hire if you don’t have them, but they might not be a great fit. [18] X Research source
  • There are no vaccination requirements for Antarctica but you should be fit and in good health because medical treatment will be basic and spread thin among all your passengers. Any medical conditions that you do have should be detailed by your doctor in letter form, especially if you need to bring along medication.

Step 4 Respect the fragility of the Antarctic environment.

  • Don't go too near wildlife and don't do anything to disturb wildlife.
  • Don't litter.
  • Don't deface anything – all human-built structures have historical value and many huts, etc., have heritage listings. Do not engrave anything into rocks or other land features.
  • Take photos and nothing else. Leave all eggs, shells, plants, rocks, fossils, soil, etc., where they are.

Step 5 Enjoy your trip of a lifetime.

Expert Q&A

Angela Rice

  • Reputable tour guides subscribe to the visitor provisions of the Antarctic Treaty; review the contents of this treaty and its accompanying guidelines before you go. Thanks Helpful 54 Not Helpful 28
  • Check with your federal government about how to be a 'good citizen' in the wild. (There is no local sovereignty over Antarctica and your behaviour is governed by your federal government's laws.) Thanks Helpful 19 Not Helpful 8

how to take a trip to antarctica

  • Weather in Antarctica is extreme. Be prepared for intense sun, wild wind, ice, and extreme cold. Thanks Helpful 52 Not Helpful 13
  • Verify with your photo equipment vendor that your photo equipment can withstand extreme weather. Thanks Helpful 43 Not Helpful 20
  • Travel to Antarctica can be very expensive but if you can afford it, it is an amazing tour. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 4
  • Be careful when exposed to sunlight in that area, as it has an ozone hole. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

Things You'll Need

  • Appropriate clothing, footwear, and other items such as goggles, gloves, and a balaclava. Be sure to ask the tour company for its suggested list of items, as well as finding out what the tour company will provide
  • Medications that you normally take with you
  • Books and journals to while away travel time
  • Camera and batteries, check whether they will work in the cold
  • Personal snacks you'd like to have that you know the tour company won't supply
  • Visitor's Guidelines for Antarctica, and the Antarctica Treaty. All this documentation can be accessed via the internet before leaving

You Might Also Like

Treat Hypothermia

  • ↑ Angela Rice. Luxury Travel Specialist. Expert Interview. 18 September 2020.
  • ↑ http://www.coolantarctica.com/Travel/antarctica_travel_home.php
  • ↑ http://iaato.org/home
  • ↑ http://iaato.org/service-providers-and-operators
  • ↑ http://iaato.org/yachts
  • ↑ http://www.goldenfleecexp.co.fk/english/prices_en.html
  • ↑ http://www.discoverfrance.net/Colonies/Marion_Dufresne_ship.shtml
  • ↑ http://adventuresallaround.com/antarctica-flights-review-sightseeing-frozen-continent/
  • ↑ http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/
  • ↑ http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/home#seating
  • ↑ http://www.coolantarctica.com/Travel/antarctica_travel_2.php
  • ↑ http://matadornetwork.com/trips/how-to-travel-to-antarctica/
  • ↑ http://www.usap.gov/jobsAndOpportunities/

About This Article

Angela Rice

The easiest way to travel to Antarctica is to take a cruise ship from Argentina. These cruises generally last between 10 days and 3 weeks and will cost between $4500 and $16,000 per person. If you would prefer to see Antarctica from above, book a sightseeing flight that leaves from Australia, which will cost between $1000 and $8000. You could also fly to King George Island from South Africa, Australia, or Chile, but expect to pay at least $5000 per person. For more ways to travel to Antarctica and what to do when you get there, read on. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Antarctica gear guide: What you need to pack for a trip to the White Continent

Melanie Lieberman

Packing can sometimes be as simple as tossing a few swimsuits into a bag along with some travel-size sunscreen. If you forget something, you can pick it up when you arrive at your destination.

But for expeditions to extreme climates and remote destinations, packing requires careful planning. It won't be possible to buy something after you leave home, and not having the right gear can ruin your trip — or be downright dangerous.

Antarctica is one such destination.

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After I was booked on a December sailing to the Antarctic Peninsula as a guest of Atlas Ocean Voyages on board World Navigator, I received a leather folio with the details of my journey, including a comprehensive Antarctica cruise packing list.

"It's important to layer up when heading out on an Antarctic expedition," the booklet read.

Layers are critical to any outdoor adventure, whether you're heading out for a day hike or traveling to the End of the World . If you've ever packed for a ski trip before, you probably already know (and have in your closet) the basics. Here's everything I brought with me for my nine-night Antarctica cruise — and what I wish I'd packed.

Related: An untamed world: Discovering the wild dreamscape of Antarctica

What I brought to Antarctica

how to take a trip to antarctica

My experience winter camping was helpful when it came to packing for Antarctica, but if you're new to cold-weather adventures, keep this key tip in mind as you create your packing list:

Avoid wearing moisture-absorbing cotton when you're off the ship in Antarctica. Stick instead to wool, high-tech Capilene and synthetics like polyester and fleece. The temperatures during the austral summer, when you'll likely be traveling to Antarctica, will typically be between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to materials provided by Atlas.

But it's the wind (it's the windiest place on Earth, after all) and the wet (you will get splashed on a Zodiac cruise) that can make it feel much colder.

So, you'll want to be prepared with plenty of moisture-wicking, quick-drying performance materials. And remember, water-resistant is not the same thing as waterproof when it comes to considering outer layers and accessories.

Related: Skip the Drake Passage: What it's like flying to Antarctica on a chartered plane

Base layers

I packed a couple of long-sleeve base layer shirts that I rotated throughout the sailing and a pair of long underwear (thank goodness for the luxury of onboard laundry service). I also brought standard synthetic performance leggings (think: Lycra and nylon) that I could comfortably wear around the ship, under waterproof outer layers or at the gym.

A pair of warm fleece leggings and a fitted fleece half-zip also went into my suitcase, along with a couple of full-zip midlayers of different synthetic materials and a lofted vest.

My winter camping friends and I have a saying: "You can never pack too many puffies."

What we mean is, if you wake up in your tent shivering cold, it's nice to know you have a cozy jacket to pull on over everything else.

I have a few of these, and I brought them all: a down Mountain Hardwear jacket, a synthetic Patagonia hooded jacket and a larger Mountain Hardwear down jacket that fits comfortably over both. All three are compressible and can be packed into their pockets to form a little pillow, perfect for camping trips or long-haul flights.

Related: An express flight to the penguins: This new luxury tour gets you to Antarctica faster than most

Outer layers

I packed a single, lightweight waterproof jacket to wear as a shell over my down and synthetic midlayers to cut the wind and keep my layers dry. It was a good thing to have on board when it was snowing or extra windy, but I still wanted to be outside to watch whales swim alongside the ship or listen to glaciers calving in the distance.

My cruise line provided all guests with a heavy-duty parka, so I didn't need to worry about bringing any bulky outerwear. Crafted with an insulating layer and a wind-resistant and waterproof exterior, you'll definitely stay dry and warm in an expedition parka.

What you'll need to bring for your final layer is a pair of waterproof pants, such as a rain shell. Water-resistant trekking pants won't suffice, trust me. I actually bought a second pair on board the ship when I found Helly Hansen waterproof pants I really liked. The point is that your outer layer should be as waterproof as possible, bottoms included.

I didn't need to waste space in my suitcase with clunky boots because my cruise line provided all passengers with waterproof boots to wear outside the ship. This is true for all cruises to Antarctica, so all you'll need to worry about is what you want to wear around the ship. Stick with closed-toe, slip-resistant shoes.

I brought a single pair of white sneakers, running shoes for working out and a pair of lightweight hiking boots that can pass as casual day boots. Remember, the deck can get wet and slippery, so plan your casual footwear accordingly.

Accessories

I brought a handful of hats, a fleece winter headband, two pairs of polarized sunglasses and many pairs of wool and synthetic hiking socks. At times, I'd wear two pairs of socks inside my waterproof winter boots and my toes would still be cold.

After years of backpacking, hiking and camping, here's what I've learned: You can't pack too many socks. You really can't. My first step off the Zodiac when we landed at Half Moon Island resulted in water splashing up over the top of my boots. Soggy feet are miserable, and there is no more gratifying sensation than switching into a warm, dry pair of socks.

Definitely make sure to pack a pair of waterproof gloves and at least one pair of glove liners. My gloves, which are usually sufficient for snowboarding, got soaked one day, so I wish I'd invested in a better outer layer.

I also brought a balaclava (which I've used while snowboarding on particularly cold days) but never used it, though there was at least one time when I found myself thinking about it with longing.

You'll also want a swimsuit so you're prepared for the polar plunge (ladies, I strongly recommend a one-piece) and an after-dinner dip in the hot tub on calm sea days.

Related: Antarctica reading list: These 8 books are must-reads before a trip to the White Continent

Everything else

Antarctica is a desert, which means the air is incredibly dry. By the end of the trip, my lips and hands were cracking. I was glad I packed plenty of lip balm and a heavy-duty salve for my hands and face because I used them liberally.

Environmentally friendly oxybenzone-free sunscreen is also important for your face. I often found myself standing beneath a hole in the ozone layer, blinking against the blindingly bright white light from the sun, which was amplified by the snow and ice. You might be cold, but you can definitely still get sunburned.

Atlas recommended that travelers bring heat packs (such as HotHands hand warmers) as well, which I grabbed at the last minute before heading to the airport. I was really glad to have these, which I would toss into the toes of my boots before going out. You can also keep them in your pockets to warm your hands.

Because trips to Antarctica typically require two days of sailing on the notoriously rough Drake Passage in each direction, I was urged by many to pack meclizine, ginger chews and other seasickness prevention methods (there are patches, bands and an assortment of other tools and tricks to calm queasy stomachs at sea). I am not prone to seasickness and we had a particularly smooth sailing to boot, so I never needed anything in my tiny pharmacy.

Finally, I brought a lightweight REI 18-liter pack with a waterproof stuff sack to carry extra layers, lenses for my phone and an external battery pack (your batteries will absolutely die faster in the cold).

Binoculars were provided for use while on the ship, so I did not bring a pair. Be sure to check in advance if this is a priority for you.

What I didn't bring to Antarctica

how to take a trip to antarctica

I packed so much gear for Antarctica, it hardly seemed possible that I could want for anything onboard. Still, there were a few luxuries I would have appreciated if I'd had more room in my suitcase.

After a few nights on board, for example, I wished I had something nicer to wear to dinner, as the ship is quite upscale. Even though Antarctica cruises are informal ("you can keep it casual and comfortable" while on board World Navigator, the Atlas booklet says), it might have been nice to have a bit more variety in my closet. Still, I made do with leggings and a single pair of jeans, and a handful of lightweight long-sleeve shirts and turtlenecks.

Having another vest would have helped me stay warm on board while also mixing up my wardrobe.

Better waterproof gloves also would have been key, and I wish I'd brought a pair of glacier goggles. These special sunglasses protect the sides of your eyes, allow for less visible light transmission and are generally pretty badass. Some people had ski goggles instead of sunglasses, which seemed smart: More of your face is protected from the biting wind and the UV rays. Ski or glacier goggles aren't necessary, but they make you more comfortable, especially if your eyes are sensitive like mine.

What I wish I'd left at home

Three puffy jackets turned out to be too many with the heavy-duty parka provided by Atlas (just don't tell my camping friends). I would have been happy with one or two to wear around the ship. I never ended up needing them outside during Zodiac cruises or landings.

For this trip, I also decided to try a couple of ShiftCam lenses for my iPhone 12 Pro: a wide-angle lens and a 60 mm telephoto lens. It seemed like a great opportunity to try to enhance my photos without juggling a bunch of camera gear and lenses. I wanted to experience Antarctica, not spend it trying to remember what f-stop to use to get the perfect shot.

The telephoto lens became a real hassle. Even when it was lined up perfectly and didn't cause any vignetting, I could still see some chromatic aberration at the edges of the photos.

The wide-angle lens was much better; it captured beautiful wide-angle shots without causing the kind of distortion you'll find when using the wide-angle lens on your camera. But both were a hassle, and the quality of the photos wasn't so much better that it seemed worth it.

If you're comfortable with a "real" camera and lenses, you won't want to leave yours at home. But if you're not, invest in a new smartphone and leave it at that. Antarctica is stunning: Be sure to take it in with your own two eyes.

Bottom line

Here's the brilliant thing: My Antarctica cruise packing list was long, and I brought a lot of stuff. But because almost everything I mentioned was lightweight, packable and compact, I was able to bring all this and more in a single 27-inch carry-on and a backpack.

The only thing I didn't count on was that I'd pick up more belongings along the way. Antarctica isn't exactly known for great shopping, but the onboard shop was packed with clothing from some of my favorite outdoor brands; in addition to the second pair of waterproof pants, I also came home with some Atlas-branded clothes (including pajamas provided for the charter flight) and my expedition parka.

So, even on a trip to the End of the World, you might want to leave yourself just a touch of breathing room in your suitcase.

how to take a trip to antarctica

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Middle east, latin america, north america, everything you need to know for your trip to antarctica.

“Welcome to Antarctica – the most beautiful place in the world today!”

That was the salutation that gently woke me up each morning during my trip to Antarctica. The heavy Italian accent made me smile the first morning this greeting came blaring over the ship’s intercom system. The second time, it was the knowledge that it was true. Antarctica is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Small Gentoo penguins fiving from a floating ice berg into the sea

A trip to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With no permanent human habitation and logistically tricky access, it’s no surprise that the “White Continent” is one of Earth’s most isolated and untouched places.

Like so many of Earth’s most majestic natural landscapes, it’s a place where no amount of flowery language or expertly taken photographs can do justice. There’s nothing like witnessing the breathtaking sight of icebergs and glaciers up close, watching penguin colonies waddle their way down snowy slopes, or whales breach as you kayak through one of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet.

Throughout my ten-day expedition voyage with  Poseidon Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula , I stepped outside my comfort zone, faced new challenges, and connected with nature in a profound way.

It sounds a bit Woo Woo, but my trip was truly a transformative experience. The type of experience you want to share with anyone that will listen, but also protect at all costs. To visit Antarctica is to become an ambassador for a remote and distant place that most can only dream of experiencing for themselves.

In this post, I’ll go over why you should consider visiting Antartica, how to get to Antarctica, what to know before you book your trip to Antarctica and some of my favorite Antartica experiences.

Getting To Ushuaia – The Beginning Of Your Antarctic Expedition

an airplane flying through the sky with golden sky and clouds in the distance

Antarctica may be challenging to reach, but it’s well worth the effort! The small town of Ushuaia is located in the southernmost tip of Argentina, and it’s the starting point for most trips to Antarctica  – including the one I went on! There’s no fast way of getting to Ushuaia, but it is relatively straightforward:

First, find a flight to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, and it has an international airport (Ezeiza International Airport) that receives international flights from all over the world.

From Buenos Aires, you’ll need to take a domestic flight to Ushuaia. Several airlines operate flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, including Aerolineas Argentinas, LATAM, and Flybondi. You can book your flight directly through their websites or online travel agencies.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Antarctica

The best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months, from October to March. During this time, the temperature is at its mildest, and the sea ice has melted enough to allow easier access to some landing sites. The long daylight hours also make it possible to spend more time exploring the continent. During the summer, there are micro-seasons to be aware of when planning your trip.

a seal lounging on the ice

Visiting Antarctica In Early Summer (October and November)

Early summer is the Antarctic awakening. Snow and ice are plentiful, and millions of ocean-going penguins and seabirds return to Antarctica to begin their breeding season. Courtship rituals take place, and they lay their eggs. In South Georgia island, gigantic bull elephant seals battle for control of harems on the beaches.

Visiting Antarctica In High Summer (December and January)

High summer delivers the warmest weather, nearly continuous daylight, and frenetic wildlife activity. This is the best time to observe fluffy penguin chicks in their nests. Vast numbers of whales arrive in Antarctica to begin feeding, and king penguins and fur seals pack South Georgia’s beaches.

Visiting Antarctica In Late Summer (February and March)

A late summer cruise to Antarctica is the prime time for viewing maturing penguin chicks and seal pups. An abundance of young animals and their predators set the stage for dramatic events and fantastic photo opportunities. Late summer is also the best time for whale encounters of all kinds.

The timing for my trip to Antarctica

My expedition was from February 8th to the 19th. We had a mix of different weather and saw all kinds of different wildlife. I have zero complaints about when we went, but if I were to go again I think I would like to visit during high summer – probably early to mid-December.

Enjoying the hot tub on board our Antarctic expedition ship with views of the Antarctica landscape

How To Choose An Antarctic Expedition

Choosing an expedition to Antarctica can be a daunting task. Once you start researching, you’ll inevitably find quite a few Antarctica tour packages offering a range of trips with different itineraries, accommodations, and activities.

Ultimately, the best option for choosing a polar expedition to Antarctica depends on your preferences and priorities. The following factors can help you decide what type of trip to Antarctica would be best for you:

Itinerary : Consider the itinerary of each expedition in Antarctica and what sights and activities it includes. Some polar expeditions may focus more on wildlife watching, while others may emphasize visits to research stations or historical sites. Choose an itinerary that aligns with your interests and preferences.

Size and Passenger Count : It’s critical to note that larger cruise ships cannot make landings in Antarctica. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) limits the size of vessels that can make landings to those carrying 500 passengers or fewer. On the other hand, an Antarctic cruise line with a smaller ship carrying between 50 and 200 passengers can navigate the polar waters more efficiently and make landings in the continent’s more remote and pristine areas.

Accommodations : Consider the type of accommodations offered and what level of comfort you require. Do you prefer a basic cabin or a luxurious suite? Keep in mind that the level of comfort often correlates with the cost.

Reputation : Look into the reputation of the tour operator you are considering. Read reviews from previous passengers, and check if the operator has any accreditations or certifications. Expertise: Look for an operator with experienced staff and crew members knowledgeable about Antarctica and its unique environment.

Environmental Responsibility : Consider the environmental impact of the expedition and look for an operator that follows strict environmental guidelines. The best Antarctica cruises take steps to minimize their impact on the region.

Price : Antarctic expeditions can vary wildly in price, so consider your budget when choosing an operator. Flexibility: Consider the flexibility of the itinerary and activities offered. Some Antarctica expeditions may provide more flexibility regarding what activities you can participate in or how long you can stay in specific locations.

a penguin crossing the snowy landscape of Antarctica

How Much Does A Trip To Antarctica Cost?

If you’re wondering how much is a trip to Antarctica, the cost of a trip to Antarctica can vary widely depending on several factors, including the itinerary, duration, level of comfort, and activities offered.

Generally, a trip to Antarctica can cost  anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000  or more per person. Some of the factors that can affect the cost of a trip to Antarctica include the following:

Itinerary : Longer trips with more stops and activities are more expensive than shorter, more basic itineraries.

Level of Comfort : The level of comfort offered can range from basic camping to luxury accommodations with private balconies and en-suite bathrooms.

Activities : Some trips offer more activities, such as kayaking, mountaineering, or camping, which can increase the cost.

Time of Year : The cost of a trip to Antarctica can also vary depending on the time of year, with peak season (December to February) typically being more expensive than shoulder season (October to November and March).

Operator : Different tours to Antarctica have different pricing structures, with some offering more budget-friendly options and others catering to more luxury-minded travelers.

Timing your trip to Antarctica

Cruise lines like to fill their ships before setting sail. This often means they will offer discounted prices as the departure date approaches. I met a girl on my trip to Antarctica who purchased her ticket two days before departure for 50% off.

Of course, this only worked because she was already in Ushuaia and had the time and flexibility to wait for the right opportunity. By waiting until the last minute, you risk missing out altogether. But if you have the luxury of time, it’s something to consider.

By the same token, there are often “early bird” discounts as well. So you can potentially save money by committing to a trip well in advance of the departure date. 

It’s important to note that the cost of a trip to Antarctica often does not include additional expenses such as airfare, visas, travel insurance, tips, and optional activities. For instance, the kayaking and camping experiences offered by Poseidon Expeditions each cost around $300 per person.

These extra expenses can add up quickly, so it’s helpful to decide which activities you’re interested in participating in and budget accordingly.

Tipping on your trip to Antarctica

Tipping for excellent service is a time-honored tradition in the cruise industry. Amounts are at the discretion of each guest, but the standard is generally between $10-20 per person, per day of the trip.

Gratuities are usually pooled and shared between the hotel and catering staff and the expert expedition team. Poseidon Expedition provided us with information about the tipping procedure as well as suggested amounts the day before disembarkment. 

Sailing To Antarctica With Poseidon Expeditions

Until recently, I’d never seriously thought about visiting Antarctica. It’s not that my interest wasn’t peaked; Antarctica just always seemed somehow out of reach. Then, about a year ago,  Poseidon Expeditions  offered to host me on one of their voyages to cruise Antarctica.

I did a deep dive into the company and was impressed by what I saw – positive reviews, lots of repeat passengers, and a commitment to environmentally responsible expeditions.

an Antarctica cruise ship waiting in the sea with snow covered mountains in the distance

Now it was just a matter of deciding where to go. Poseidon offers expeditions all over the Arctic. Including many places at the top of my bucket list – like Greenland and Svalbard. So many choices, so little time!

But the possibility of a trip to Antarctica captivated my imagination. Sailing with Poseidon Expeditions to Antarctica offers a unique opportunity to experience the polar region’s untouched wilderness and awe-inspiring beauty. Only later did it occur to me that I would also be checking off my 7th and final continent—never a goal of mine, but a fun fact nonetheless.

My Experience on the Antarctic Expedition Cruise

our Antarctica trip route on board Poseidon Expedition from Ushuaia to Antarctica

I chose Poseidon’s ten-day  Antarctic Peninsula – “Realm of Penguins and Iceberg”  trip aboard their Sea Spirit expedition ship. It was an incredible experience! Everything it promised to be and more.

Built-in 1991, their exposition ship—Sea Spirit—felt like home by the end of my ten days on board. Not only were the spaces cozy and welcoming, but the small ship size allowed a pleasant familiarity to blossom between the crew and passengers.

It’s been almost a month since I disembarked, and I’m still communicating with some of my fellow passengers. Friendships were forged over daily tea dates in the library and multi-course dinners. Over time I’ve realized that few things bring people together, like a shared sense of adventure. And as it turns out, a trip to the bottom of the Earth is no exception.

From the informative lectures and the expert team onboard, to the incredible expedition in Antarctica, landings, activities and wildlife experiences, to the great food and even the hot tub on board, every aspect of this Antarctic expedition cruise was a trip of a lifetime. 

The expedition staff and crew members made my trip to Antarctica exceptional, going out of their way to accommodate everyone. The informative lectures during our Drake Passage helped us get the most out of our Antarctic experience. Plus, their passion for the environmental sustainability of Antarctica was evident in everything they did.

Choosing An Expedition Company That Prioritizes the Environment

Antarctica is one of the few places on Earth still largely untouched by human development. The landscape is pristine, and the wildlife is abundant, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. Of course, you can love a destination to death, a danger the expedition staff was well aware of.

The crew took the rules and regulations in place to minimize human impact on the environment very seriously. We weren’t allowed to take our backpacks off or sit on the ground. No exceptions.

huge icebergs in Antarctica

Crossing The Drake Passage To Antarctica

The Drake Passage is the body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. The passage is known for its unpredictable weather and often rough seas, and it is not uncommon for waves to reach heights of 30 feet or more. Most Antarctica tours and cruises complete the crossing in 2-3 days, but it could take longer, depending on weather conditions.

On the way to Antarctica, our crossing was relatively mild – it wasn’t a “Drake Lake,” as it’s fondly referred to when waters are exceptionally calm. But still, nothing to write home about. The return journey. . . not so much. I’m sure conditions can get a lot worse than we had them, but for a day and a half, everyone onboard got the opportunity to put their sea legs to the test.

Besides being generally more hazardous to move around the ship, seasickness is the biggest concern when crossing the Drake Passage. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that quite a few people looked a little worse for wear those last few days.

However, a little Dramamine right before bed did the trick for me. I’m not particularly prone to seasickness, but I didn’t see the point in taking any chances. Plus, they were dispensing it like candy at the front desk. Motion sickness medication works best if you take it before you need it. So that’s what I did – zero regrets.

huge ice bergs floating in clear blue water in Antarctica

Highlights From My Trip To Antarctica

During our first mandatory lecture on board, our expedition leader told us to keep in mind that we were currently embarking on an expedition of Antarctica – NOT a cruise.

The main distinguishing feature was that we needed to let go of ridged ideas about your trip to Antarctica itinerary, expect the unexpected, and learn to go with the flow. I didn’t give this little nugget of wisdom any thought at the time.

But in hindsight, it’s an essential feature of Antarctic expeditions. Once you board any trip to Antarctica, you must be willing to relinquish all control.

It’s essential to approach an Antarctic expedition with an open mind and prepare to adjust your plans and itinerary based on the conditions on the ground. Even during the summer, when conditions are at their mildest, strong winds, high seas, and dense sea ice can sometimes make it difficult or even impossible to make landings or visit certain areas of the continent.

Moreover, wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed. This might mean changing course to take advantage of good weather or changing the timing or location of landings to avoid difficult conditions.

I bring this up now because I’m going to list some of my favorite places from my trip to Antarctica. The thing is, I had no idea we were going to stop at these places.

If I were to sign up for another Antarctic expedition, it would likely be a completely different itinerary, with different landings, weather, and certainly different animal sitings. Antarctica is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get!

Danco Island

a lone penguin walking up the snowy slope of Danco Island in Antarctica with ice bergs floating in the water below

On the third day of our expedition, we woke just offshore from our first landing. Danco Island is a small, crescent-shaped island located off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. It will always hold a special place in my memory as being the first real taste of Antarctica – and my goodness, was that taste yummy.

In some ways, I wish it hadn’t been first because it ended up being my second favorite Antarctica trip location. Right after breakfast, we waited anxiously to hear our group called to the zodiac platform over the intercom. 

a cloudy day in Antarctica with snow covered mountains, floating icebergs and two people in red coats crossing the snowy landscape in the foreground

When it was finally our turn, we sat shoulder to shoulder, whizzing past icebergs and jumping penguins. My face was frozen, but the discomfort of fresh air felt rejuvenating after two days of lounging around the ship.

Mario, our expedition leader, greeted us as we pulled up to the beach. He gave a quick demonstration on how to disembark the zodiac cruise safely, pointed out the trail the team had already marked off, and explained that penguins had the right-of-way. We had two hours to explore at our leisure. We could hike to the top of the island for 360° views. Or not. Of course, we did.

Orne Harbour

a view from above of the expedition cruise ship waiting in the harbour surrounded by snowy mountains

Orne Harbour was our second landing during my trip to Antarctica. By the time we arrived, the weather had deteriorated, and at first, it sounded like our second landing of the trip might not land at all. I was disappointed.

Orne Harbour was our first (and perhaps only) “official” continental landing. Plus, it would be our first chance to see the Chinstrap Penguins. But before I could get too disappointed, our fortunes changed yet again, and before I knew it, we were plowing through large chunks of ice on our way to Orne Harbour’s shore.

From the landing point, it was a short but steep climb to the chinstrap colony and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the Sea Spirit waiting for us in the dark water below.

Port Lockroy

Port Lockroy is one of the most popular destinations for any trip to Antarctica due to its unique history and stunning scenery. The base was primarily used for scientific research, but it also served as a secret military base during World War II. The station was eventually closed in 1962 and remained abandoned until it was restored and opened as a museum in 1996.

a small wooden and red building housing a museum and post office in Antarctica

One of the unique things about Port Lockroy, and my favorite thing about it, is that it has the only post office in Antarctica! The post office was established in 1944 and has been operating ever since. During the summer, the post office is staffed by volunteers working for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. These volunteers sell postcards, stamps, and souvenirs to visitors and process and send mail.

Sending mail from Port Lockroy is a right of passage and a very popular activity for visitors to Antarctica.

Before our landing at Port Lockroy, the makeshift gift shop on the Sea Spirit opened up so that people could buy postcards to prepare for the post office. Unfortunately, they quickly ran out, and I couldn’t purchase any.

I wasn’t too worried because I figured I could buy some at the shop in Port Lockroy. WRONG! They were also sold out! I’m not sure if this is common, but out of a preponderance of caution, I suggest picking up some Antarctica Post Cards in Ushuaia before your departure.

Port Charcot

On most Poseidon Expedition trips to Antarctica, there is an opportunity to camp under the stars on land. The excursion is limited to 20 people, and was booked out before I joined the trip. Despite the poor odds, I went to the camping safety brief and put my name on the waitlist.

At the end of the second day on the Antarctic Peninsula, they announced that that would be the night. Much to my surprise (and secret delight), eight people who had signed up decided they didn’t fancy the idea of sleeping out in the sub-freezing conditions after all.

Quin and I both got off the waitlist, and at 9 PM, we boarded the zodiac excursions and headed for Port Charcot.

camping in Antarctica at night, two people in a dug out snow hole is red jackets and sleeping bags

On shore, we dug out small shelters in the snow and set up camp. As the light faded, the clouds cleared to reveal striking views of the bay and nearby mountain peaks. I snuggled deep into my bivvy and eventually was lulled to sleep by the distant chatter of gentoo penguins. Not much sleep was had at Port Charcot, but it was an experience I wouldn’t soon forget. 

Niko Harbor

If the next Avatar movie were snow-themed, Pandora would look like Niko Harbor. With its vast expanses of ice, snow, and glaciers, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife, Niko Harbor stood out among the other beautiful places we saw on our Antarctica expedition. It was the creme de la creme of the Antarctica trip.

Two women in red jackets on board a zodiac in Antarctica

Ironically, our time in Niko Harbor started with bad news. At breakfast, the expedition team announced that they couldn’t make it to shore, so our morning landing was canceled. Instead, we would go on a zodiac expedition.

As fate would have it, that was the best possible thing that could have happened. Because unbeknownst to us, there was a surprise waiting for us among the towering glaciers and shimmering blue icebergs of Nico Harbor. Whales! Oh, so many whales.

Only a few minutes after our zodiac hit the open water, we received the first call over the radio. There were two whales just north of us. As we slowly made our way in that direction, another call came in, then another, and then the calls didn’t matter because they were everywhere.

It was hard to know which direction to look. Only one thing was certain: no matter where you looked, you would see a whale. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Once In A Lifetime Activities Not To Miss On Your Antarctic Expedition

the front of a kayak during sea kaying in Antarctica

Camping In Antarctica

Camping in Antarctica is a truly unique experience, allowing visitors to spend a night under the Antarctic sky and get a sense of what life is like in this extreme environment. This unique experience is usually organized in small groups and includes all necessary equipment and safety measures.

Many people asked me whether I thought this experience was “worth it.” For me, the answer is yes. That being said, I am an outdoor adventure photographer and camping in extreme environments is well within my wheelhouse. It was not a comfortable night, and I didn’t get much sleep, but I knew that going into it. I don’t think camping in Antarctica is for everyone, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Polar Plunge In Antarctica

If conditions allow, most expedition ships offer an opportunity to jump into the water of Antarctica – generally from one of the Zodiacs. Cold water isn’t for everyone, but if you’re tempted, I’d highly encourage you to try it!

Participating in a polar plunge can be a thrilling and unique experience, and it’s a rite of passage for visitors to Antarctica. The cold is short-lived, but the memories last forever! Plus, it’s one of the only free optional activities. At least on our ship, it was!

Keep in mind that the water temperature in Antarctica can be well below freezing, and the shock of the cold water can be dangerous for some people.

Sea Kayaking In Antarctica

Kayaking is a peaceful and intimate way to explore Antarctica’s waters on your Antarctic adventure, allowing visitors to paddle quietly among icebergs, glaciers, and wildlife. This activity is usually led by experienced guides and requires some previous kayaking experience.

What To Pack For An Expedition To Antarctica

walking down the deck walkway onboard an ANtarctica cruise surrounded by icebergs and snowy mountains on a clear sunny day

I wrote a separate blog post with everything you need to pack for Antarctica ! In it you’ll find a complete list of everything I packed for my trip, including clothing and camera gear.

The key to packing for Antarctica is layering. Antarctica has some of the most temperamental weather in the world, so it’s critical to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

You want to bring clothing and gear that can withstand harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. For landings and other excursions you’ll need thermal underwear, fleece jackets, down jackets, and waterproof outer layers. You’ll also want to bring comfortable clothing for days on the ship. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Antarctic Expeditions

Is antarctica a country.

No, Antarctica is not a country. The Antarctic Treaty System, with 54 signatory countries, governs the continent.

Who owns Antarctica?

No one owns Antarctica. The continent is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System. Today, there are 54 signatory countries to the treaty, designed to protect the region’s environment and promote scientific research.

The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on the continent. It also allows for freedom of scientific research and international cooperation and coordination supporting that research. The treaty has successfully maintained peace and stability in Antarctica and has become a model for international cooperation in the peaceful use of resources.

How cold is it in Antarctica?

Antarctica is Earth’s coldest, driest, and windiest continent. Temperatures can reach as low as -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-89.2 degrees Celsius), and the average temperature during the summer months (November-February) is around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Are there any towns in Antarctica?

While there are research stations and bases in Antarctica, there is no permanent human habitation on the continent.

Will I see Polar Bears in Antarctica?

No. Polar bears are native to the Arctic region, located at the opposite end of the Earth from Antarctica. If you’re interested in seeing polar bears, it’s best to visit the Arctic region, such as the Svalbard archipelago or Canada’s northern territories, where polar bears live in their natural habitat.

What animals will I see in Antarctica?

Antarctica is home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife that has adapted to survive in the harsh and extreme conditions of the continent. You’ll likely see various species of penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds.

How is Antarctica’s environment protected?

Antarctica is protected by several international agreements and protocols designed to preserve its unique environment and ecosystem. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 and ratified by 54 countries is the most important.

The treaty designates Antarctica as a scientific preserve and prohibits any military activity on the continent. It also protects Antarctic flora and fauna and requires all visitors to follow strict guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment.

In addition to the Antarctic Treaty, there are several other agreements that protect Antarctica, including the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

These agreements address fishing, tourism, and waste disposal in Antarctica. They are designed to ensure that the continent remains a pristine and unique environment for generations to come.

the icy dark waters of Antarctica surrounded by snowy mountains on a sunny day

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission on any purchase made – at  no additional cost to you . As always, all ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.  I appreciate your support!

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Beautifully written. I felt like I was there with you.

Thank you 😊 Jess

Thank you so much Helene! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to check this post out. And glad to hear that you could visit vicariously through the words and photos.

This was an amazing post! I follow you on Instagram and find all of your work really inspiring and it’s helped me plans quite a few trips!

Thanks Niketa! You’re feedback is so helpful and definitely helps motivate me to keep writing travel guides. It’s so nice to hear that you have used some of them in your own travels! That’s the best feedback. 🙂

Sounds like it was the most amazing trip! Thankyou for all of this information. It’s all so well laid out and communicated and will definitely help me when planning my trip to Antarctica (🤞🏼in the next few years)

You’re so welcome Nicole! I hope you are able to plan a trip soon. It’s truly a once in a lifetime destination. So beautiful!

I love your in detail blogposts!❤️ Thank you for taking your time to write them! I wish we would be going to Antartica soon, but at least we know how to when the day comes due to your writings^^ We used your blogs in Mexico a few years back and we found the most gorgeous cenotes of the beaten track thanks to you. So forever grateful 🙌 and always an amazing read 🔥

Amazing! Mexico is definitely one of my all time favorite countries. So many underrated and less explored areas. Fantastic to hear that you had such a great trip. Thanks for stopping by the blog – I really appreciate it.

So good! Beautiful photos and informative blog.

As usual, beautiful content

Thanks so much Pam!

Thank you so much for this super informative post! Planning on going in a couple of years and was a little daunted by where to start. This post answered so many of my questions!

Amazing! Glad you found it helpful. It’s such a magical place. Excited for you!

Hello Thank you very much with the detailed info in the trip. We are planning to go this coming summer but still researching timing and operator but for sure duration 8-10days If you could give a little more insight to Cost, early bird specials, best time to go etc It would be great Rgds Jamil

Hi Jamil. I believe that I have actually covered all of those topics above in some detail. However, if you are looking for more information on cost, you will likely need to contact the various different expedition ships or an agency that specializes in Antarctica bookings. They should have details prices for the upcoming season.

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The 7 top antarctica cruises for 2024 + tips from an expert.

Plan your next epic adventure to the White Continent.

The Top Antarctica Cruises

The MS Roald Amundsen from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Yuri Matisse Choufour | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

Experience otherworldly beauty on an Antarctica cruise.

An expedition to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for intrepid travelers who want to explore this remote destination at the bottom of the world. The landscapes are surreal, with eerily blue icebergs, towering ice-capped mountains, dramatic weather conditions that change within seconds and species of wildlife that exist nowhere else on Earth – it's hard to imagine until you've made the long journey yourself.

The fifth-largest continent is home to the largest ice sheet on the planet, the Antarctic Ice Sheet, as well as the Transantarctic Mountains, with peaks soaring more than 14,700 feet into the sky. West Antarctica has volcanoes that are part of a tectonically active area around the Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire." This incredibly diverse and magical part of the world also has the coldest temperature ever recorded at -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010.

U.S. News has compiled a selection of seven different Antarctic experiences to help you plan your bucket list adventure to the White Continent.

Book an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Atlas Ocean Voyages: 11-night Ushuaia Roundtrip

Atlas Ocean Voyages cruises kayaking in Antarctica.

Courtesy of Atlas Ocean Voyages

This 11-night expedition with Atlas is available on several dates in 2024. One highlight of the voyage is crossing the Antarctic Circle, along with four days exploring Antarctica and two days spent in the South Shetland Islands. You'll also have two days en route to Antarctica and two days on the return trip on the famed Drake Passage – also known as the "Drake Lake" (on smooth days) or the "Drake Shake" (when the seas are rough).

During your days at sea, take in all the onboard lectures and films about Antarctica, and head outside on the decks to see petrels and albatrosses soaring overhead. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your photography skills before reaching the Antarctic Peninsula, where you want to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.

Atlas' Jan. 14 expedition is on the line's newest ship, World Voyager. The purpose-built yacht-style vessel features a hydro-jet propulsion system that's quieter and less disruptive to the fragile ecosystem. This feature also provides the opportunity for guests to see more wildlife during up-close encounters. Pricing is all-inclusive on board the ship with free open bars; all meals, wines, spirits and craft beers; a stocked in-room minibar; all landings, Zodiac excursions and lectures; the use of kayaks, walking sticks, knee boots and binoculars; and a souvenir Atlas jacket to take home. Fares also include a one-night pre-cruise stay and private charter jet service round-trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Aurora Expeditions: Antarctic Peninsula in Depth

The Greg Mortimer from Aurora Expeditions in Antarctica.

Tyson Mayr | Courtesy of Aurora Expeditions

Aurora offers a 14-night Antarctic intensive voyage sailing round-trip from Ushuaia on Nov. 6, 2024, aboard the 132-passenger purpose-built expedition ship Greg Mortimer. This vessel was the first passenger ship to utilize the state-of-the-art Ulstein X-BOW, which provides a smoother, quicker and more efficient transit across the ocean. The ship also incorporates many environmentally conscious features, including low energy consumption and virtual anchoring, which protects the sea floor and minimizes damage caused by traditional anchors.

Guests will find expansive observation decks and hydraulic viewing platforms for optimal wildlife viewing on board. Other highlights of the expedition are nine full days to explore the Antarctic Peninsula in nearly 24 hours of daylight at the peak of summer. During this time, you can expect to see whales arriving to feed on the plentiful krill, fur seal pups and many entertaining penguins.

Prices are mostly all-inclusive, with a one-night hotel stay before boarding the ship; all meals, snacks and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages; beer and house wine at lunch and dinner; the use of Muck Boots for the expedition; all shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; educational lectures; and more. Adventurous explorers can add on activities (at an additional cost) such as sea kayaking, snowshoeing, camping, and skiing or snowboarding. The line also offers longer 20- to 24-day expeditions that include South Georgia Island.

Read: Sustainable Cruises: The Top Lines Making Progress

Hurtigruten Expeditions: Antarctica, Patagonia and Chilean Fjords Expedition

The MS Roald Amundsen Antarctica from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Antarctica at sunset.

Dan Avila | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

For an extended adventure that includes crossing the Drake Passage twice, spending up to five days in Antarctica and then landing on Cape Horn in Chile (weather permitting), consider the 25-night grand expedition cruise aboard the Hutrigruten Expeditions' MS Roald Amundsen. Additional highlights are scenic cruising in Garibaldi Fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park to see the Garibaldi Glacier; visiting the town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park ; and seeing the longest Southern Hemisphere glacier outside of Antarctica (which grows by as much as 150 feet a day), the Pio XI Glacier in Bernado O'Higgins National Park. This epic adventure begins March 9, 2024, in Buenos Aires and ends in Valparaíso, Chile.

The ship for the voyage, MS Roald Amundsen, is a hybrid vessel that reduces CO2 emissions by using electrical propulsion – and it's designed specifically for use in polar waters. The vessel carries just 500 guests (to adhere to regulations for visiting Antarctica) and features all exterior cabins with Scandinavian inspired decor. Guests will also find an Explorer lounge and bar, three dining venues, the Science Center, a sauna and spa, and other amenities. Fares are mostly all-inclusive, covering a complimentary expedition jacket; the use of expedition equipment like boots and trekking poles; landing activities; most dining options; and wine, beer and soft drinks at meals.

Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic: Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

A small excursion boat off the Lindblad Excursions National Geographic Resolution ship on Peterman Island, Antarctica.

Ralph Lee Hopkins | Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions was the first company to bring citizen explorers to Antarctica in 1966, pioneering travel to this remote destination. The line's 13-night expedition to Antarctica is offered nearly 20 times throughout the summer season in 2024 on one of three ships. Depending on the ship, guests will have one evening in either Buenos Aires or Santiago, Chile , before flying to Ushuaia the next morning to embark the vessel.

With about five days to explore Antarctica, you'll have time to take in the awe-inspiring landscapes and look for seals and blue-eyed shags up close from Zodiacs. On land, watch thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins as they playfully slide down the snow-covered hills on their bellies – one right after the other – diving headfirst into the icy waters. After the adventure, a private charter flight will return you to either Buenos Aires or Santiago before your return flight home.

The line's newest expedition vessel, National Geographic Resolution, accommodates just 138 guests – and there are two new cabins for solo cruisers . Guests on the Polar Class 5 vessel will have a National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad-National Geographic-certified photo instructor and video chronicler documenting the trip. Onboard amenities include a yoga studio, a wellness specialist, infinity-style hot tubs, two restaurants and a chef's table, and plenty of indoor and outdoor viewing areas. This ship also carries an ROV (a remotely operated vehicle) for underwater exploration and other high-tech video gear.

You can even book an overnight stay in an igloo (on a first-come, first-served basis) and spend the evening under the polar sky. Fares are mostly all-inclusive and include all onboard meals and most meals ashore; nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages; transfers; excursions; a complimentary jacket; and more.

Silversea: King George Island to King George Island (Antarctica Bridge)

The Silver Endeavor in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Courtesy of Silversea

Silversea's six-night Antarctica Bridge expedition takes guests round-trip by a business class flight directly to the Antarctica Peninsula, flying into King George Island from Punta Arenas, Chile. This itinerary is offered several times throughout the season for guests who don't have extensive time to travel – or are nervous about sailing the Drake Passage. Silversea 's pricing is all-inclusive, and guests can choose between door-to-door or port-to-port fares.

While the weather determines the specific itinerary in Antarctica, guests can expect to have several excursions in the Antarctic Sound and as many as nine excursions on the Antarctic Peninsula that include hiking, kayaking and scenic Zodiac cruises with the expedition team. There's also one excursion in the South Shetland Islands, where you can look for massive elephant seals. There will be an abundance of bird and animal viewing on wildlife-rich King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, which is home to Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as well as Weddell and leopard seals.

Oceanwide Expeditions and Swoop Antarctica: Quest for the Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island

Emperor penguins on Snow Hill Island in Antarctica.

Getty Images

Swoop Antarctica's 10-night adventure-filled journey takes wildlife and history enthusiasts into the ice-choked waters of the Weddell Sea, past towering tabular icebergs, in search of the emperor penguin's rookery on Snow Hill: one of the most remote penguin rookeries on the planet. The incredible itinerary also sails through the same waters where famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, sank in 1915 – and to the rarely seen west slopes of the Antarctic Sound.

Other highlights include Zodiac and helicopter landings (weather permitting) to additional remote locales, including Seymour Island, where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 to 1904 spent a winter season; Brown Bluff, one of the most scenic places on the northern tip of the Antarctic Continent and home to a large Adélie penguin rookery; and the volcanic crater of Deception Island.

There are two sailings in November 2024 on board the 1A-class, ice-strengthened Oceanwide Expeditions' Ortelius: a 108-passenger former Russian research vessel. Fares includes all meals and nonalcoholic beverages, all Zodiac and shore excursions, educational lectures, helicopter transfers, and group transfers. Optional adventure activities, alcoholic beverages and other personal expenses are at an additional cost.

The onboard helicopter pad is one of the features of the vessel and is used on select expeditions in the Weddell and Ross seas. It's important to note that very few companies offer expeditions to the Weddell Sea that include Snow Hill Island. While Ortelius is not a luxury vessel like other ships mentioned in this list, it is a stable expedition-style ship built for these icy – and at times treacherous – waters and weather conditions.

Viking: Antarctica & South Georgia Island

Viking Octantis in Antarctica with large iceberg in foreground.

Courtesy of Viking

Viking's 18-night Antarctica and South Georgia Island expedition begins with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires followed by a flight the next morning to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The first two stops on the expedition are in the Falkland Islands, where you'll find beautiful scenery with imposing cliffs, many types of marine birds and five species of penguins. In South Georgia, watch for king penguins and seals. Then, it's on to Antarctica for days 12 through 16. Guests will have the option to reserve a spot on the Viking DNV-classed submarine for a thrilling journey into the depths of the frigid waters in Antarctica. The return sailing, by way of the Drake Passage, disembarks in Ushuaia.

In 2024, this itinerary is available Jan. 31 and again Dec. 15 on Viking Octantis. The purpose-built Polar Class 6 vessel accommodates up to 378 guests and offers many of the same venues found on Viking's ocean ships, including the Explorers' Lounge, World Café, Mamsen's, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant and the Nordic Spa. There are also expedition-specific features, such as Expedition Central, the Science Lab and – for educational lectures and briefings – the Aula theater. Viking's fares are mostly all-inclusive, with all meals and wine and beer served with lunch and dinner; 24-hour specialty teas, coffees and nonalcoholic beverages; a keepsake Viking jacket; complimentary use of the excursion gear; and more.

Find an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea.

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Expert tips on Antarctica expeditions

There are many factors to consider when planning an Antarctica expedition, including where you want to travel to, the length of the trip and whether you want to sail the famed Drake Passage twice.

To provide helpful insights and information to plan your trip, U.S. News reached out to an expert in the region, Aurora Expeditions' expedition leader, Ashley Perrin , for tips on planning your adventure to the White Continent. Perrin has degrees in both geography and oceanography from the University of Southampton. She was appointed as the first woman boating officer in Antarctica by the British Antarctic Survey in 2009, and has led multiple expeditions to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands.

Which month is best (in your opinion) to travel to Antarctica and why? 

Perrin: "My favorite time to travel to Antarctica is the end of December or beginning of January, because the penguin chicks are starting to come out and you get the most wildlife spotting opportunities, with marine mammals, penguins and albatross – on top of the spectacular scenery."

What length of trip do you recommend for first-time visitors?

Perrin: "The 10- to 12-day Spirit of Antarctica or Antarctic Explorer (with Aurora Expeditions) is a fantastic introduction to the Antarctic Peninsula. If you had the additional time and opportunity, ideally you would also opt for a voyage that visits South Georgia. For many travelers, this is really the jewel in the crown of the Antarctic experience because of the incredible wildlife opportunities here."

What should you look for in an expedition ship/tour when planning a trip to Antarctica?

Perrin: "Travelers should look for a high-quality educational experience, including lectures and opportunities for Citizen Science. This is such a fascinating and important destination, and you want to ensure you can learn and take as much in as you can. A pivotal factor in this is also choosing a company that offers low passenger numbers.

"Travelers don't have enough of an understanding of the impact of this on their voyage. In the Antarctic Peninsula only 100 people are allowed on land at one time, while at some sites it is 30 to 50 people. Having smaller groups enables passengers to have more time off ship exploring and connecting with nature, and this has such a significant impact on your experience.

"If you like to be a little more active, I would also highly recommend an operator that offers activities, such as kayaking in Antarctica. This allows you to see Antarctica from a different viewpoint and the silence is amazing. You still have opportunities to do landings as well, so I think it's the best of both worlds."

Do you prefer the combination fly/sail for the Drake Passage or sailing the Drake Passage both ways?

Perrin: "I prefer to sail both ways as it's how you earn your right to get to Antarctica! You also get more opportunities to see wildlife like seabirds, and it gives you extra time to prepare for the Antarctic experience through pre-lectures and education. Travelers arrive with more of an understanding of what to expect."

Any other tips, advice or comments you'd like to share?

Perrin: "Do your research into the operator you are choosing and their different offerings – things like passenger numbers, expedition team experience and off ship activities – as these can all have a significant impact on the travel experience. There is also a big difference between traditional cruise operators and expedition operators and what travelers can expect. We ensure that our passengers are exploring and getting off the ship as much as possible.

"I would also add that it's important to do your research into the areas that you're most interested in. For example, it could be history, exploration and walking in someone's footsteps (such as Sir Ernest Shackleton), or the types of wildlife you might see. Having a deeper understanding of the history and the region really does enhance the experience once you are there."

Frequently Asked Questions

An expedition where you get off the ship and make landings on the Antarctic peninsula typically costs about $10,000 per person for a 10-night voyage. However, depending on the cruise line, the ship and dates of travel – and whether you sail or fly the Drake Passage – you could spend as much as $29,000 per person for a 12-night expedition or more. There are slightly lower prices for some expeditions, such as a few with Hurtigruten Expeditions, and you can find reduced fares and deals with lines like Atlas Ocean Voyages and Quark Expeditions. In addition, there are extended polar expeditions that range from a 14-night trip to the 94-night Pole-to-Pole Ultimate Bucket List Expedition Cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions, which is priced at close to $48,000.

If you're not interested in getting off the ship in Antarctica to see penguins and seals up close (but no closer than 15 feet, according to the Antarctic Treaty), you can opt for a voyage on a large cruise ship that sails around the continent for a much lower cost. Just know that you won't be able to disembark at any point in Antarctica. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night Antarctica and South America voyage that makes a round trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, for as low as $999 per person. You may be able to find even cheaper fares from lines such as Celebrity Cruises or Princess Cruises.

It's important to note that by the rules set forth in the Antarctic Treaty, only ships carrying 500 or less passengers are permitted to make landings on the Antarctica peninsula. The Antarctic Treaty, along with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, has strict conservation protocols and regulates that no more than 100 passengers are allowed to go ashore at one time. The IAATO works with more than 100 Antarctica outfitters to create the guidelines and safety procedures to protect the fragile environment and wildlife in this remote part of the world.

The following cruise lines offer small ship expeditions in Antarctica with no more than 500 passengers. You can also look at tour companies – such as Abercrombie & Kent, G Adventures, Adventure Life and Swoop Antarctica – that exclusively charter ships or help navigate the decision-making process for their clients and book individual expeditions with the cruise lines.

  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Aurora Expeditions
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
  • Hurtigruten Expeditions
  • Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
  • Seabourn Cruise Line

These larger cruise lines offer sailings around the Antarctic Peninsula, which may include scenic cruising in and around the Gerlache Strait, Elephant Island, Paradise Bay and Schollart Channel.

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

The answer depends on the expedition. The majority of passengers will depart from South America in either Ushuaia, Argentina – which is also known as the "End of the World" – or Punta Arenas, Chile. Then it will take approximately two days to cross the Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Some lines also offer chartered flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, which only take about two hours. Some passengers who have taken the flight say it can be as unnerving as sailing the Drake Passage, since weather conditions can delay the flight for up to several days where you could potentially miss the trip.

Cruises on larger ships that only sail around the Antarctic Peninsula may embark in Buenos Aires; Santiago, Chile; Puerto Williams, Chile; Rio de Janeiro; ports in Florida or New Zealand; or even the South Shetland Islands.

The expedition and cruise season to Antarctica extends from November to March, which is during the austral summer in the Southern Hemisphere. But Antarctica is still the windiest, coldest and driest continent on Earth, so weather conditions are unpredictable and can change quickly – even during the summertime. One minute the sun may be out, and the next minute it can be snowing and extremely windy and cloudy.

Visitors in November can expect temperatures between a low of 25 degrees to a high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures are typically in January, when you'll find days ranging between 33 to 36 degrees before they start to drop again in February.

Most expedition companies provide jackets that you can take home, so you won't need to bring a heavy parka if it's given to you on board. They may also provide waterproof boots that you'll need to use for wet landings. It's best to check with your expedition line to see what's available on the ship, what you can rent or buy, and what you'll need to pack and bring with you. Due to the unpredictable weather, it's advisable to bring different types of layers.

Here are some of the items you'll want to pack:

Layers: Pack at least two top and two bottom quick-drying base layers (or more, depending on the length of your expedition) that wick moisture, such as those made of silk, wool or bamboo. It does get toasty when you're layered up and moving around ashore, so choose lightweight options that will layer easily under the rest of your clothing and keep you warm and dry. For your mid-layer top, go with a lightweight polar fleece or vest; for the bottom, quick-drying warm tights or fleece pants are a good option.

You'll also want to layer what's on your feet, starting with a wicking pair of socks made from silk or synthetic polypropylene, followed by a good pair of merino wool socks from a brand like Smartwool. Glove liners are another must, especially if your hands tend to get cold. If you can, buy insulated waterproof gloves with removable liners to save packing an extra item. You may also want to toss a few hand and foot warmers in the suitcase in case you need extra warmth. Bring a lighter pair of insulated gloves for warmer days off the ship.

And don't forget a lined wool beanie, a set of earmuffs, and a balaclava or fleece neck gaiter to keep your ears and face warm and your nose and mouth protected from the cold air and wind.

Waterproof gear: The parka and tall waterproof boots may be provided on the ship, but if they're not, you'll need to bring your own. You'll also need wind- and waterproof pants to go over your base layer and mid-layers. If they're tapered at the bottom, you should be able to tuck them into your boots. Perrin says this is one of the most important items you should purchase and pack for your expedition.

Comfy clothes ­and shoes for around the ship: Most people dress casual on Antarctica cruises, so bring clothes that will be comfortable for days and evenings around the ship. It can get rough when crossing the Drake Passage, so you'll want flat or low-heeled shoes for those days at sea.

Other items you'll want to pack:

  • Waterproof dry pack
  • Sea-Bands and medications for motion sickness
  • Camera and accessories with a waterproof cover
  • Hiking poles (unless the ship has them available)
  • Swimsuit (you may want to take the polar plunge!)
  • Other necessary medications
  • Hydrating lip balm and a good protective moisturizer
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Books on the history of early exploration in Antarctica and the incredible wildlife

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on the Mississippi River, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. She has also cruised on a traditional masted sailing ship and on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica crossing the notorious Drake Passage twice. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • Cruise Packing List
  • Alaska Cruise Packing List
  • The Best Alaska Cruise Lines
  • The Best Time to Cruise to Alaska
  • The Best Cruise Insurance Plans

Tags: Travel , Cruises

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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How To Visit Antarctica?

  • Classic Antarctica
  • Polar Circle
  • Antarctica Express
  • Antarctica & South Georgia
  • Patagonia & Chilean Fjords
  • Falklands (Malvinas) & South Georgia
  • Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica
  • The Falklands
  • South Georgia
  • Magellan Explorer
  • Magellan Discoverer
  • Explorers House
  • Download Your Brochure
  • Our Flights to Antarctica
  • Promotions & Adventure Activities
  • Antarctica21 Travel App
  • Essential Travel Tips
  • The A21 Journal
  • A21 In the News
  • Sustainability

A Quick Guide to Visiting Antarctica

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

  • Expeditions
  • Travel Tips

How to Visit Antarctica?

If you are asking yourself how to visit Antarctica, you’ve arrived at the right place. Read through some of the most common questions we get when planning a visit to Antarctica. 

How much vacation time do I need to visit Antarctica?

There are a few ways to get there. First, take into consideration the time it takes to get to the 7th Continent. Plan for two full weeks away and some buffer time in your arrival destinations, like Santiago and Punta Arenas , Chile. It takes at least a full day of travel to Santiago, Chile, and then another four and half hour flight to get to Punta Arenas, the gateway to our air-cruise Antarctica expeditions. 

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

The Antarctic travel season is during the Austral Summer, starting in November to the end of February. The most popular time to travel is during December and January, and it’s essential to book your trip in advance to get the dates you want. The other months often offer Antarctica wildlife and weather surprises, so you should consider traveling then as well. There is no wrong time to visit Antarctica; read here for a full overview of when to visit. 

What is the right kind of Antarctica expedition for me?

There’s a lot to choose from when thinking about how to visit Antarctica. What kind of trip do you want to take, when you want to go to Antarctica, and how to get there.

If you’re short on vacation days or want to skip over the infamous Drake Passage, we suggest taking one of our Antarctica air-cruises. An air-cruise allows you to save on time getting to Antarctica with a short and comfortable 2-hour flight . With this flight, you also don’t have to worry about rough sea crossings.

We offer  four types of air-cruises , each offering you something different for your Antarctica trip.

What should I consider when choosing an Antarctic cruise company?

Finding the right expedition to Antarctica also means looking into the value of your trip. Antarctica is one of the most remote travel destinations in the world. Getting there is an investment of time, energy, and, of course, money. Different companies have different models, but we believe that cruising Antarctica on a small ship adds value. 

  • Guest to Guide Ratio: Antarctica expedition guides are some of the most exciting people around. Imagine spending your time in Antarctica with an expert in glaciers, snowshoeing with someone who has climbed Everest, or an Oceanographer who knows the secrets of migrating whales; that’s the crew who will travel with you. We have 12 guides per departure.  
  • No Waiting in Line: The rules for landing in Antarctica only allow 100 people to disembark at once. Having a ship with only 75 guests on it means you don’t wait in a group to set foot on land; you just put your boots on and get outside. 
  • Flexibility:  Antarctica is one place where you are totally at the whims of mother nature; that is part of the adventure. For Antarctica21, operating on a small scale affords us more flexibility, which is an operational advantage. For example, if there is inclement weather, we can react faster and move to a different daily plan quicker by being small. 

How do I prepare for travel to Antarctica?

Traveling to Antarctica also means planning your travel way ahead of time. International flights, visas, travel insurance – it’s all a part of the planning process. Here’s help on how to plan the perfect Antarctic expedition !

You will need clothing similar to ski gear and to think about how to pack light. If you are taking an air-cruise, there is a weight limit for baggage (including hand luggage) of 20 kg (44 Lb.). During the austral summer, the Antarctic Peninsula’s average temperature, where most Antarctica cruises sail, is about 0º C (32º F). But it may feel lower because of the wind chill factor.

For more planning advice, read our travel tips page here . Also, one of the best things you can do to prepare for Antarctica is to read the IAATO’s guidelines for visiting Antarctica. Find them here . 

Do you have more questions about how to travel to Antarctica?  Let us know , and we will be happy to help you! 

How to Visit Antarctica? Sandra Walser in Antarctica, with Ocean Nova in the background

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This essential guide includes:

  • Insider information on flights to Antarctica
  • The pros and cons of sailing and flying to Antarctica
  • Weather information and detailed flight statistics
  • Expert tips to consider before booking

Doing research for your trip? You can’t miss this guide!

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  • Travel Guide

How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica: A Guide

Penguins gather on the tundra as an Antarctic cruise ship passes by.

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A trip to Antarctica is a bucket list item for only serious travelers. Despite — and because of — its frozen-wilderness status as one of the most remote places on earth, the Antarctic region receives up to 50,000 visitors each summer. However, a visit to the seventh continent is not only about checking boxes. It is a journey that requires serious commitment and a lot of preparation. So, the earlier you start planning, the better chances there are for you to secure a tour of your choice, at your price.

Why visit Antarctica?

  • To see the unique landscape. Snow-covered mountains, active volcanoes, glaciers, and icebergs.
  • For the abundant wildlife. Think penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds.
  • Sunshine, lots of sunshine. Up to 24 hours a day at certain times of the year!
  • For the adventure activities. Diving, kayaking, trekking, climbing and exploring, to name a few.
  • Bragging rights. Follow in the footsteps of revered 20th-century explorers.
  • To discover a landscape few have had the opportunity to enjoy.

When to visit Antarctica?

When to go to Antarctica

It is best to visit Antarctica during the warmer summer months. When speaking about Antarctica, remember that warm is a relative term, by warm we mean not too far below zero. During winter, Antarctic temperatures drop to fifteen or more degrees below zero. In summer, temperatures hover around zero, ranging between two and minus two degrees Celsius.

An Antarctic summer lasts approximately five months, starting in November and ending in April. There are three distinct Antarctic tourist seasons. The high season, the low season, and the shoulder season. October, November, and March make up the shoulder seasons. During this time temperatures are relatively mild with long hours of sunlight and limited tourist activity.

During the high season (December to February) tours are in full swing, with a number of vessels departing for Antarctica. You can expect pleasant weather with between 20 and 24 hours of sunlight each day. These are the best months to hit the shore, take in the sights, and appreciate the brilliant wildlife at its best. The low season lasts between April and October. There are no tours running during this time due to poor weather conditions.

For more information, refer to our best time to visit the Antarctica guide.

What does a trip to Antarctica cost?

When it comes to Antarctic tours, the sky is the limit, literally. You could take a fly-over tour and see Antarctica by plane if that appeals to you. You can also opt to fly in from Cape Town . It takes just a few hours, to see the South Pole and fly out on the same day. You can book a 30-day ship cruise to explore both the eastern and western peninsulas, or set on a 6 to 12-day tour to the Antarctic from Ushuaia, which takes you to all the highlights at a reasonable price. There are tour options to suit every taste, style, and budget. It is important to set a budget during the early planning stages or your Antarctic tour could run into uncomfortably high figures.

How long should an Antarctic tour last?

As mentioned above there are tours to suit all tastes. How long you choose to spend touring Antarctica will depend on the pace you wish to travel at and which elements of an Antarctic tour appeal most to you. A mid-range tour will last 12 days to two weeks. It will include a few of the Antarctic Islands which are rich in wildlife. A few days traveling from your country of departure to Antarctica, and a few days in Antarctica sailing around the major ports. There should be at least a few days dedicated to offshore activities in which to explore the major geographic and historic sights. See all of our Antarctica cruises here .

Entry requirements

Many visitors ask whether Antarctica has any visa requirements. While no visas are required for entry to Antarctica, an Antarctic permit is required for visitors from certain countries. Permits are arranged through the tour operators. There may be visa requirements or tour levies payable depending on your country of origin and the country from which your tour will be departing.

How do I get to Antarctica?

Your mode of transport will be either ship, plane or a combination. Most ship tours to Antarctica depart from Argentina. Some depart from Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. The combination fly-cruise tour departs from Chile and the one-day fly-in-fly-out tour option is available from Cape Town, South Africa.

For more information, go through our guide on How to get to Antarctica .

Top tour booking tips

  • Ninety percent of Antarctic cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina . These cruises focus mainly on western Antarctica.
  • There are also cruises leaving from Australia and New Zealand, which explore the Ross Sea and the eastern part of Antarctica.
  • When booking a cruise, double-check to make sure that you will actually be setting foot on the continent and not just sailing through.
  • Most trips departing from South America don’t include crossing the actual South Pole. If that is your objective, look for a tour that specifically mentions polar crossing.

Refer to our guide, for more tips on getting an Antarctica tour on a budget .

What to pack?

  • Sunblock. The sun at the south pole is reflected off the snow. Prolonged exposure can cause severe sunburn. A sunblock with a minimum SPF of 45 is a necessity. Sunglasses and lip balm are great for sun protection too.
  • Camera. Don’t miss out on those awesome photo opportunities. If possible, try to keep your camera in a waterproof bag to avoid damage during zodiac excursions.
  • Waterproof boots. A good pair of wellies will ensure that you can stomp around in the snow to your hearts delight.
  • Thermal underwear. Come prepared for freezing temperatures.
  • Anti-nausea medication. You would not want to miss the best parts of the journey by being ill, so come prepared for seasickness.

Health and safety

  • Listen carefully to any health and safety precautions provided by the tour.
  • In order to avoid dehydration, it important to drink plenty of water. The consumption of alcoholic beverages, tea and coffee should be limited as they contribute to dehydration.
  • Try to resist the temptation to stay awake for prolonged periods as this can affect many of the body’s metabolic processes. Even though days are long with extended hours of sunlight, try to keep to normal sleep patterns.
  • Make sure you sign up for travel insurance. Plan activities and be sure to book excursions in advance. Ensure that any activities you plan on doing are included in your travel insurance.
  • While it is not strictly necessary to be young and fit to travel to Antarctica, it certainly helps to be in good physical shape.
  • It is wise to prepare for the physical exertion of balancing on a swaying vessel, landing on rocky shores and walking up hills by getting in some exercise in the weeks ahead of your trip.

Travel tips

  • If you are departing from Argentina, allow a day or two to explore Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
  • On a similar note, hundreds of cruisers miss the ship’s departure time due to lost luggage or delayed flights. It’s a good idea to arrive at the departure port a day or two earlier.
  • Travel light. Not only is it important to ensure that your luggage comes in under the ship’s maximum weight restriction, you also don’t want to be tripping over unnecessary clutter in your cabin. Keep in mind that even the most luxurious ship cabin is relatively small.
  • Make the most of the opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Have an open mind and try to be tolerant of others.
  • Dress in layers that are easy to remove if necessary. This will ensure that you are neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Bigger ships are less susceptible to the movement of the ocean. One advantage of a larger vessel is that the chances of motion sickness are lower. On the other hand, larger vessels may not always be able to dock at smaller ports. There are also longer queues with only a hundred people at a time allowed to go ashore.
  • If you are staying on a smaller vessel, keep in mind that rooms on the lower decks are less affected by motion sickness.

Antarctica is a vast and remote wilderness and a trip to Antarctica promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This dramatic landscape offers the perfect backdrop for fun, exploration, contemplation and adventure. Be sure to partner with a professional and experienced tour operator and do lots of research up-front. Even if you have an idea of what to expect from your trip to Antarctica , you can be sure that the journey will far surpass your expectations.

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The Awkward Traveller

The #1 Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica: Big Ballin on a Budget!

I am a participant in affiliate programs, so basically I earn a small commission if you use any of the affiliate links on this post - at no extra cost to you! Dope right?

how to take a trip to antarctica

Okay okay, with such a HUGE ticket price, everyone wants to know HOW to pay for Antarctica – but what if you don’t really wanna pay? You’re sitting here, looking at this $7,000 USD shared cabin on the bottom deck of a boat for a 10 day Antarctica cruise and you’re like….mmm, yeah. Just show me the hands down CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica.

No amount of overtime or second job is gonna get me there. Not without losing my mind first.

AND I GET IT. In fact, while I don’t regret paying (almost) full price for my trip, I do wish I had known a few of these factors beforehand. I mean, they wouldn’t have worked for my situation necessarily…but I learned after the fact about the cheapest way to visit Antarctica that would’ve cut my prices in half – or more.

But don’t worry. Lucky for you I’m a blogger and I’m here to share the cheapest way to visit Antarctica with you!

For the low low price of $299 for a consultation call and signing up for my newsletter!

Lol jk girl it’s gonna be in this post (for free), just keep reading haha.

Table of Contents

How Much is Antarctica?

Before we get into the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, I gotta put the price range into perspective for you. If we’re JUST looking at the cruise ticket, then honestly it depends on which Antarctica cruise company you go with because factors like trip duration, ship accommodations and amenities, and which (if any) additional activities are added on!

Depending on what you want to do and see, versus what you’re okay on skipping out on, it could affect which cruise (and it’s ticket price) are better suited to your preferences. For example, if you’re not interested in kayaking or camping on ice, then you might not want to pay for a ship where those additional activities are built into the price. Or if you KNOW you really want a more luxurious experience with an indoor hot tub with a scenic view and multiple in-room tv channels, then a humble ship more focused on getting outside for wildlife viewing might not be for you.

Okay okay, but what are the prices? Typically for a single person in a double room, prices range from $7000 to $20k+ , again, depending on the ship and trip duration. Yeah…we’re gonna need to cut some of these costs down. Sure you could go with the cheapest Antarctica cruise, but do you still want to pay thousands and not see what you want?

The Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica

I usually go on and on with backstory and the who what when why how of a post, but honestly you came here for one thing and one thing only. What is the CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica. So here’s the answer:

Don’t buy a ticket.

Wait…WHAT??

No, I’m not talking about stowing away on a cruise ship and popping out when you reach the 7th continent. In fact, for both safety and legal reasons, I strongly advise against doing that.

What I mean is…do not buy a cruise ticket. Just go to Ushuaia, Argentina (where 95% of Antarctic cruises depart from). If you’re a detailed oriented person and a travel planner, that advice is probably KILLING you to hear, but trust me, it’s the cheapest way to visit Antarctica.

It doesn’t matter if you fly straight to Ushuaia or if you hop around South America for a bit on a longer journey, but once you end up in Ushuaia, that is where your Antarctic journey begins. So why exactly is this the cheapest way to visit Antarctica?

Because once you’re in Ushuaia, you’re going to find multiple ticket booths selling discounted Antarctica tickets. And by discounted…I mean like 50% OFF. Maybe even more.

Let me paint a picture for you.

I had already bought our Antarctica tickets by the time we landed in Ushuaia, but since my boyfriend didn’t know we were going to Antarctica (LOL long story for another time), he was super intrigued by all of the ticket booths offering Antarctic cruises.

“Let’s just pop in to see how much tickets are!” he said, eyes sparkling. “I know it’s going to be a lot, but let’s just see so we can know how much to plan for in the future.”

Little did he know.

Since I couldn’t spoil the surprise, we popped into one of these booths. There are a few different ones, but honestly they all operate the same. Basically cruise companies and Antarctic tours sell their un-booked rooms to these booths at a LOW LOW PRICE. Then the booths sell the last minute rooms to people in person for also a low price. It’s the cheapest way to visit Antarctica. It’s a win for the cruise companies, a win for the booths (a third party), and a win for YOU – the customer!

What’s the Catch?

Does it sound too good to be true? There’s gotta be some catch to this cheapest way to visit Antarctica, right?

Well, the pro is obvious. Instead of paying, for example $7000 USD to visit, you could now get that same exact ticket for $3000 USD. Still, yanno, a good chunk of change, but WAY lower than the retail value.

But what are the cons?

Well, there are a few. The biggest, and arguably the one that is the most important, is that this cheapest way to visit Antarctica, just showing up in Ushuaia and going from there, is unpredictable. It’s a gamble. Not in the sense that there will or won’t be last-minute tickets – there WILL be 99% of the time, but…a gamble in what kind of ticket you will be getting.

When you buy your ticket in advance, you are able to choose which tour is best for your preferences, which dates work in your schedule, etc etc. The tradeoff for getting the cheapest way to visit Antarctica is giving up those choices.

When you show up at one of the last minute sales booths, they will give you a list of the upcoming rooms available. It could leave in a few days, next week, or even NEXT DAY – so you’ll want to make sure you have an Antarctica packing list already in mind. You also don’t get to choose the duration, so it could leave tomorrow and be a 10-day trip, or a 20-day trip. And, not surprisingly, you don’t get to choose the tour company either.

So it could be a small intimate cruise with only 100 guest passengers, or a huge ship with 400, which will affect the locations the ships can dock at and how many people can be on land at a time. The company could be on the more humble side in terms of accommodations, or the super luxurious National Geographic tour, which even at 50% off is over $10,000. So…it really is a gamble.

Who Can Take Advantage of This?

All this to say – this method doesn’t work for everyone. If you want to take advantage of the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, the bottom line is that you have to be flexible. In literally ALL aspects.

how to take a trip to antarctica

First and foremost, you have to be flexible with time. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of getting the cheapest way to visit Antarctica. Even if you are not flexible in any other way, if you have a flexible time window, eventually the right tour for the right price will become available. It’s just not guaranteed when.

So if you take a big block of time off anywhere between November-March (or if are able to work remotely), I’d recommend not leaving the Ushuaia-Antarctica bit for last, so you have more of a window to get something that works for you. Plus, if there’s a trip available the next week, you could even leave Ushuaia and come back!

The second area to be flexible in is the Antarctic experience itself. If you don’t really care about HOW you experience Antarctica and you just want to get there, then it doesn’t matter as much which company you go with as long as the ticket is in your budget. If you’re okay potentially not camping or kayaking in Antarctica, or the duration of the ship (which will determine if you cross the Antarctic Circle or visit the Falkland/South Georgia/South Sandwich Islands) – or if you don’t necessarily NEED the most plush expedition ship, then go for it!

Tricks and Deals

We unfortunately cannot all just show up to Ushuaia and go from there. For me personally, I have a non-remote job with a specific amount of paid time off. Plus, the friends I did the cruise with were getting married, so even if I did know about the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, it wasn’t guaranteed that their cruise would have had last-minute rooms available.

And it didn’t haha.

For the vast majority of people who work non-remote jobs, or have pets, or kids, or routine doctor’s appointments, or school obligations…we don’t have unlimited flexibility on time. And that’s okay! Booking in advance isn’t the CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica, but you can still get some good deals to at least help nudge the price down a little!

The first, look at booking your trip farther in advance (like, 1.5+ years!) and/or around major sale holidays like Memorial Day, Black Friday, Labor Day, etc. Antarctic tour companies usually post about their upcoming cruises at least a year-2.5 years in advance. For example, I went to Antarctica with Poseidon Expeditions , and as of today (Mar 1st, 2023), they already posted Antarctic Cruises listed for Nov 2024- Mar 2025 and are ready to book! Booking those would qualify for their “ super early bird special”, which on average gives a $2000 USD discount.

My ticket was 1.5 years in advance and I got the “early bird discount” knocking $1300 USD off the ticket price! Scoreee. Plus, buying in advance can also help you figure out how to pay for Antarctica after you put the deposit down. Do you need to pick up some extra shifts for a while? Maybe go on a budget or more aggressively save? You have time and now…a motivating deadline!

How to go to Antarctica for FREE???

But wait…TECHNICALLY wouldn’t the cheapest way to visit Antarctica would be to do so for free? Okay okay, you got me. Technically yes…and you CAN travel to Antarctica for free…it’s very limited who can. If you are a fairly prominent travel blogger or influencer though–

–wait…you’re reading my blog?? Lil ol’ me?

Can you give me a shoutout on IG or something?

Hahah kidding (👀👀), but if you are, then you can host a group trip to Antarctica! The only company I’ve heard of doing this (so far) is Chimu Adventures, so I’m going to share their stats. Basically how it works is that, as an influencer, you are convincing people to book their Antarctica cruise through them, and in turn, if you get at least 15 people to sign up, then your spot is covered!! If you get 30 people, you get 2 free spots! You need at least 10 people to sign up for the trip to happen, and in that case you will at least get a discount yourself.

how to take a trip to antarctica

This could also work if you are planning on doing a fun group trip anyway – why not make it to Antarctica?? That would really be the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, and everyone else would get a nice bulk-booking discount too!

The only travel influencer I know and would recommend is Kesi from Kesito and Fro ! I’m not sure which company she is partnered with, but she has such infectious good energy and her last Antarctica group trip looked like it was a BLAST! Highly highly recommend checking her out, especially if you want a good lively environment!

Working in Antarctica?

Wait…so basically am I telling you can one-up the cheapest way to visit Antarctica and actually get PAID to visit Antarctica?

That’s exactly what I’m telling you.

Antarctica isn’t like typical destinations. It isn’t like anywhere else in the world, actually. If you want to “live” in Antarctica, albeit temporarily, then the only way are on bases stationed there. The USA has three bases, but I believe 74 countries have at least one base somewhere on the massive continent. If you’re a scientist of some sort – GREAT! Because they’re research bases!

how to take a trip to antarctica

If you’re not…well, don’t worry, you can still get a support job! For example, as an American, the U.S. Antarctic Program deploys roughly 3,000 people to Antarctica every year, mostly during the austral summer from October through February. There are also programs for artists, writers, and journalists to operate out of an Antarctic base!

Outside of bases, you can also apply to work on an Antarctic cruise, either as an expedition guide if you are adventure inclined, or as a crew member! This would technically involve you being more at sea than on land, but hey, you still get there somehow.

I don’t personally have any experience or insight into this, but I’d recommend checking out Michelle at Wander Eat Write who got paid to live in Antarctica by working at one of the bases. Michelle has gotten paid to travel to every continent, so she knows her stuff!!

Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica: Conclusion

Kay posing in her Poseidon Expeditions parka and life jacket

Wow, I’m surprised I kept this post on topic, haha. But there you have it, the cheapest way to visit Antarctica – plus a few extra for discounts! It’s still not CHEAP by any means, but hopefully this post gave you some reassurance that there is a cheapest way to visit Antarctica. It’s not a race though, so don’t feel compelled the shell out thousands now, but something to keep in mind for sure!

If you’ve been to Antarctica, let me know what you think of these penny pinching ways to make the cruise a taddd more affordable. Or…if you have your own cheapest way to visit Antarctica, PLEASE (for the greater good!!), let me know in the comments below!

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Thank you Kay! SO much good information <3

Yayyy! I’m so glad it was helpful! Thank you for reading!

This was SO helpful!!! I’ve been thinking about going for a while and I do happen to have the flexibility to go down and figure it out! Thank you SO much!!

YAYAYAYAY thank you so much for that feedback! I’m so happy this was helpful for you! I can’t wait for you to visit – it’s going to be amazing!!

Amazing information! It’s on my bucket list to visit!

omg thank you!! Looking forward to when you do!

Thank you so much for the good info Kay!!

Ahh the pleasure is ALL MINE!!! Thank you for reading! 🙂

Thanks for this info. Planning for 2025.

Thank you so much for reading! I’m glad you found it useful!!

I tried in late October 2017 in ushuaia and had no such luck. I couldn’t see any of the booths. Went to a few shops with no deals and just saw one advertised on a notice board in the street with 15% off, which is still way overpriced😏 just hope I find some deal this time round or better still get a job like a dishwasher/deckwasher and get to go for free 😁

Yesss!! Let me know how your experience goes the next time around!

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Travel? Yes Please!

How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica- Things to Consider When Choosing an Antarctica Cruise

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A trip to Antarctica is without a doubt a bucket list worthy experience. From towering icebergs and majestic glaciers, to close encounters with an extraordinary amount of wildlife, Antarctica will fill even the most seasoned of travellers with wonder.

If you plan a trip to Antarctica you can look forward to seeing large icebergs and glaciers.

The far-off, remote location, and the high cost of travel to Antarctica, mean that the White Continent is likely a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people. Such an important trip requires thoughtful planning and crucial decisions to be made so that your dream vacation turns out to be everything you expected and more.

Colony of Adelie penguins in front of an iceberg.

How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica- Tips and Things to Consider When Choosing a Cruise to Antarctica

Since the most common and easiest way of travelling to Antarctica is by cruise ship (how we visited the continent), we wanted to share some things we took into consideration when choosing a cruise to Antarctica. 

Gentoo penguins with an Antarctica cruise ship in the background.

There were a lot of decisions to be made when planning a trip to Antarctica, including determining our budget, how long to be away from home, what wildlife and scenery we most wanted to see, and the type of ship we wanted to travel on. 

Gentoo chick.

Once we determined the kind of experience we hoped to have, it made it easier to choose a cruise to Antarctica that met our wishes.

A whale's fluke sticking out of the water.

As you start to plan a trip to Antarctica, here are some essential things to consider before choosing a cruise to Antarctica.

An Antarctica Cruise ship in front of glaciers.

Choosing an itinerary is not as daunting as it appears when you first start to plan a trip to Antarctica. Yes, there are a lot of options, but the main differences are cruise length (from 8 to 30+ days) and price. 

Adelie penguin walking in the water.

Most cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina and less often from Australia or New Zealand. You can also find shorter “air cruise” itineraries which involve a 2 hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to the South Shetland Islands where you then board a ship.

Antarctic cruise ship docked at the port in Ushuaia.

All cruises departing from South America will visit the Antarctic Peninsula, since it’s only about 1,000 km from the southernmost tip and has the mildest climate in Antarctica. Cruises leaving from Australia and New Zealand explore the Ross Sea and East Antarctic coastline. 

Big group of Adelie penguins on rocks down by the water.

A classic Antarctic cruise that only visits the peninsula is done in 10 days, only 4 of which are typically spent on land. Longer itineraries will add in a visit to the South Shetland Islands and perhaps more time on the peninsula.

Seals sleeping on the snow.

If you have the budget and time for a 17- 21 day trip, we recommend choosing an Antarctica itinerary with South Georgia and the Falkland Islands . This option allows you to see a subantarctic landscape, a larger variety of wildlife (including king penguins which don’t live in Antarctica), and some important historic sites like the Grytviken whaling station where famed polar explorer Ernest Shackleton is buried.

King penguins in South Georgia.

If you want to up your budget and trip length even more, you could choose a cruise that will attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle or one that will visit the Ross Sea.

Big iceberg floating in Antarctica.

When planning an Antarctica trip, you’ll notice that the itineraries are not as specific as cruises to other destinations. For example, they’ll say “Days 3-4 cruising the Drake Passage, Days 5-9 South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula.” This is because expedition cruising is very dependent on the weather, so the itinerary will be flexible without guarantees about where you visit and how much time you spend there.

Iceberg floating in front of a glacier.

For that reason, you can pick an itinerary that will attempt to explore certain regions, like South Georgia Island, but you won’t be able to choose specific places you visit there, such as the Salisbury Plain king penguin colony . The ship will land wherever conditions at the time allow. 

Chunks of ice floating in front of a glacier.

When choosing a cruise to Antarctica, you should definitely consider the rough itinerary and select something that is aiming to have more days in areas you’re most interested in, but realize that Antarctica trips are very much “go with the flow” and “you get what you get” type of experiences.

Leopard seal floating on ice in Antarctica.

Time of Year

A big decision you have to make when planning a trip to Antarctica is what time of year you want to visit. You’ll be limited to November through March, since the Antarctic cruise season takes place when the weather is the warmest.

Whale showing its fluke while swimming.

The month you choose to travel to Antarctica not only determines the price, but the type of scenery and Antarctic wildlife you’re more likely to see.

Leopard seal.

November and March are typically the least expensive months to go to Antarctica. Early in the season you’ll see a lot more snow and ice, since the pack ice is just starting to melt, so ships may be limited where they can go. Later in the season (February and early March) is great for whale sightings, but penguins start returning to sea so you’ll see less of them at rookeries. The icebergs are also smaller and beaches aren’t snow covered.

Colony of gentoo penguins on a rocky beach.

December and January are popular (and more expensive) months to travel to Antarctica. In December the weather is warming up, whales are arriving, and penguins are laying eggs. January is one of the warmest months in Antarctica and the best time to see penguin chicks. There’s also less sea ice during this time so ships can visit more places. 

Gentoo penguin nesting with chicks.

You’ll pay a premium to cruise to Antarctica in January, but we recommend it if it’s your first trip to Antarctica . We went in January and felt like we had the complete experience, getting to see icebergs, glaciers, whales, adult penguins (some still nesting with eggs), penguin chicks, seals, and more.

Gentoo penguin laying on an egg.

A trip to Antarctica is a major investment, so of course price is going to be a deciding factor when choosing a cruise to Antarctica.

Adelie penguins and chicks.

Since prices are determined by many aspects, including the itinerary, time of year, type of ship, and the amount of people in a cabin, you’ll find a wide range of price points when you start to plan a trip to Antarctica. 

Long iceberg in Antarctica.

On the lower end, you can expect to pay around $5000 US for a shorter cruise to the peninsula. Mid-range prices are typically $6,000- $13,000 US. Longer cruises that include the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and Antarctic Circle can go for around $18,000 US and more. The most expensive Antarctica cruises I found were over $50,000 US for journeys of 30+ days. 

Glacier flowing down to a bay.

Sometimes you can get last minute discounts on cruises to Antarctica while in Ushuaia. If you have a flexible travel schedule and aren’t picky about your ship or cabin, then booking last minute in Ushuaia could be a way to save money.

Chinstrap penguin.

Another way to save money is by planning your trip to Antarctica way in advance, like 1.5 years before you intend to travel, because many companies offer early booking discounts.

Adelie penguins running into the water.

When I started to plan a trip to Antarctica, I quickly realized that ship size was going to be one of the most important factors, after the itinerary, that we would take into account when choosing a cruise to Antarctica.

The Sea Spirit Antarctic cruise ship.

Travel in Antarctica is highly regulated to protect the environment, so there are rules limiting cruise ship access and the amount of people that can disembark the boat. Only 100 people can be ashore at a time (less at some landing sites) and vessels with over 500 passengers aren’t allowed to make shore landings at all.

Gentoo penguin walking in the water.

These restrictions mean that if you’re on a ship with over 100 people, you will get less time on land with the wildlife. Passengers will be arranged into groups and then take turns going on land at each stop. When it’s not your group’s turn to be on land, you could be doing a zodiac cruise (which is also fun) or waiting on the ship.

A zodiac cruising along the shoreline and past a small iceberg.

If you’re on a cruise ship with over 500 people, you won’t be able to set foot on the continent and will instead have to admire the scenery from the boat. That’s obviously not ideal if you want to truly experience Antarctica.

Gentoo chicks in the nest.

For us, a small ship was crucial and I wanted one in our price range that had as close to 100 passengers as possible. We ended up choosing a 114 passenger ship and were happy with the amount of time we got to spend on land. I wasn’t going to travel that far and spend years worth of savings if I could only go on land half the time!

An Antarctica Cruise ship. The vessel you choose is one of the most important decisions to make when you plan a trip to Antarctica.

Another reason to choose a small ship cruise to Antarctica is that disembarking at landing sites is faster with less passengers. Boarding the zodiacs that shuttle people to land can take a while and we didn’t want to spend our time in Antarctica waiting in line. 

Zodiac cruising towards a big iceberg.

Another thing you’ll have to consider when planning a trip to Antarctica is the type of ship you want to be on. You’ll be spending a couple of full days at sea, so choosing a ship that’s comfortable for you is important.

Ice floating in front of a thick glacier.

Antarctica ships can be divided into three main categories- luxury ships, expedition ships, and luxury expedition ships. The ship you choose will depend a lot on your budget and the type of experience you want to have.

Antarctica cruise ship sailing in front of a glacier.

Luxury ships are typically the most spacious and well-appointed. They have more facilities and amenities like a pool, hot tub, fitness centre, spa, lounge, library, theatre, sun deck, staterooms with private balconies, several restaurant options, and refined service.

Wrap around deck of an Antarctic cruise ship.

Expedition ships tend to be smaller with more basic decor, but still have facilities for socializing and recreation like a library, lounge, lecture/presentation room, and plenty of deck space.

Antarctica cruise ship and floating ice.

Luxury expedition ships offer the best of both worlds, mixing onboard comfort with a focus on off-ship adventure. We chose an older, but refurbished luxury expedition ship because the cabins were spacious and outward facing, it had an outdoor hot tub, and the ship was small and designed for adventure. The ship also had an open bridge policy so we could go see the captain at work.

The Sea Spirit Antarctic cruise ship anchored in front of mountains in South Georgia.

A few other things to look for when choosing your ship are deck space (a deck that wraps around the ship makes wildlife viewing easier), and ship stability (a hull that is ice-strengthened with stabilizers can decrease ship sway and the risk of sea sickness).

Floating ice in Antarctica.

After you choose your ship, the next decision is the type of cabin you want. Antarctic cruise ships have everything from three and four person cabins with bunk beds to superior staterooms and suites with king beds.

Stateroom on the Sea Spirit Antarctic cruise ship.

The location of your cabin on the ship is important too. Lower deck cabins will have portholes instead of full windows, but won’t experience as much sway in rough seas, especially if in the centre of the ship. Staterooms on a higher deck will have bigger windows and possibly even a private balcony.

Cabin on the Sea Spirit Antarctic cruise ship.

Activities- Included and Optional

As you plan a trip to Antarctica and start to compare cruises, you’ll want to consider what activities are included in the price and what costs extra.

Adelie penguins getting splashed by waves on the shore.

Activities that are always included are shore excursions, zodiac tours, lectures, and onboard social events. Other activities that are typically included are guided hikes, photography instruction, interactive citizen science programs, and the polar plunge. You may find kayaking included on some of the very expensive luxury cruises.

Zodiacs cruising in floating ice.

Activities that usually cost extra are kayaking, camping, stand up paddle boarding, polar diving and snorkeling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. These activities may not be available on all cruises and require signing up in advance of your trip.

Kayaking in Antarctica. When you plan a trip to Antarctica don't forget to consider the price of optional activities.

Once you find some Antarctica cruises that have the optional activities you want, then you should compare prices for those activities. I’ve seen full kayaking programs offered for $900- $1000 US! 

Chinstrap penguin on a sloped rock face.

The expedition crew on an Antarctica cruise can really enhance your trip if they are experienced in polar region travel, are well-educated naturalists, and have a passion for their field of expertise. You may want to ask about staff qualifications, as well as the staff to passenger ratio, before you choose a cruise to Antarctica. 

Zodiac cruising along the icy shoreline.

A crew that includes biologists, historians, anthropologists, and geologists will ensure that you get a well-rounded education about Antarctica during your trip. An expert photographer on staff is a nice addition as well.

Adelie penguins on a rock.

Other Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Antarctica

Here are a few more things you should look for when choosing a cruise to Antarctica:

  • Includes one pre-voyage hotel night and transfer from the airport to hotel
  • Group transfer from hotel to ship on embarkation day and from ship to airport at the end of the cruise is provided free of charge
  • Parkas are included in the price and are yours to take home
  • Rubber boots are available to use during the cruise for shore landings
  • Sea sickness medication is available on board free of charge
  • The ship has a 24 hour tea and coffee station
  • A welcome and farewell cocktail is provided
  • Organized social activities are planned such as quiz nights, live music, wine and dessert tastings, movie nights etc.
  • A digital voyage log and photos of the trip (taken by the ship’s photographer) are provided at the end of the trip for free

Adelie penguin carrying a rock with its beak.

More Tips for How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica

Planning a trip to Antarctica can be both fun and overwhelming. Reading the different itineraries and trip descriptions gets you excited for what you’ll see, but all the ship choices can lead to analysis paralysis.

Iceberg.

It helps to have an itinerary in mind before you seriously start to plan a trip to Antarctica. Do you just want to visit the peninsula? Or do you also want to travel to the Falklands and South Georgia Island? Is crossing the Antarctic Circle important to you?

Gentoo penguin nesting with chicks.

Once you know the regions you want to visit, this narrows your cruise choices so there’s less information to sift through.

Adelie penguin colony with an iceberg in the background.

To eliminate more options before you dive into looking at cruise trips to Antarctica, set a budget as this will determine whether you look at luxury or expedition ships, as well as decide the length of your trip.

Leopard seal floating on ice.

Travelling to Antarctica is a rewarding experience and we had no doubt that it was worth all the time and money it took us to get there!

Iceberg floating in front of snow covered hills.

Search, Compare and Book Cruises to Antarctica

Here is a helpful and reputable site you can use to search for and compare cruises to Antarctica . There’s a variety of tour operators, vessels, and itineraries all in one place for easy comparison. You can even read reviews from other travellers. Once you find a trip you love you can book it!

Accommodations in Ushuaia

For your convenience, here is a list of  HOTELS IN USHUAIA , departure point for cruises to Antarctica. Please consider booking your Ushuaia accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

More Antarctic and Subantarctic Destinations and Travel Guides

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how to take a trip to antarctica

5 Possible Ways for Ordinary Individuals to Travel to Antarctica

W hen we think of Antarctica, we usually imagine floating icebergs, vast colonies of penguins, and a place that seems distant and otherworldly, almost like a planet outside of reality, based on what we’ve seen on TV. Antarctica covers 9.2% of the Earth’s land surface. Since the first humans set foot there in 1821, Antarctica has become a bucket-list destination for explorers and travelers for over 200 years. However, finding someone in our surroundings who has been to Antarctica is like finding a needle in a haystack. So, is it possible for ordinary tourists to visit Antarctica, the southernmost continent on Earth? Of course, if you’ve studied Antarctic-related subjects, you could visit as a scientist or research facility staff member. Professionals like chefs, beauticians, and plumbers can also apply to work at Antarctic research bases. However, in this article, we’ll focus on purely travel-related ways for people like us, ordinary individuals, to visit Antarctica. Here are five ways for normal individuals to travel to Antarctica.

1. Embark on a Cruise Journey

The most common way to reach Antarctica is through a cruise journey. Most cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, in South America. Typically, you can choose from 10-day to 3-week packages. However, it’s important to note that the grand luxury cruises we often imagine are not feasible due to the difficulty of navigating the large Antarctic ice. The available ships range from 45 to 280 passengers. Remember that these cruise packages can cost anywhere from a minimum of $4,500 to as much as $16,000 for a 10-day trip.

2. Take a Day Trip by Plane

The quickest way to reach Antarctica and see the entire continent in one go is through a day trip by plane. However, you won’t be able to step on the continent and can only enjoy the Antarctic view through the plane’s windows for a few hours. Tour guides provide snacks inside the plane and kindly explain the surrounding landscapes and history. Currently, these day trips by plane to Antarctica depart exclusively from Australia. Reservations are usually fully booked, and prices can range from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on seat availability and peak/off-peak seasons.

3. Reserve a Luxury Airline + Ski + Camping Package

Luxury airline packages, available only a few times a year, are offered in Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Some of these packages include camping, skiing, and hiking courses. Camping for one night and two days can be arranged for around $4000, but ski or hiking packages spanning one to two weeks can cost between $40,000 and $55,000. Prominent companies offering these packages include The White Desert, The Antarctic Company, and Adventure Network International.

4. Board the French Supply Ship

By signing a contract for a €8,030 (approximately $9,000) package with the travel agency Mer et Voyages in Paris, you can embark on the French supply ship called Marion Dufresne II, which departs from Réunion Island in the southeastern part of Africa and travels to Antarctica for a month. It’s worth mentioning that ordinary individuals can also board this supply ship.

5. Participate in Extreme Marathons or Ski Competitions

That’s right. The Ultra Ice Marathon and Half Marathon occur annually in Antarctica. By paying around €15,000 (approximately $16,500), which includes the cost of the flight departing from Chile, anyone can register for these events. Additionally, through the company Ski Antarctica, you can apply to participate in the Antarctic ski competition.

5 Possible Ways for Ordinary Individuals to Travel to Antarctica

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Home News What it would be like to live permanently in Antarctica

What it would be like to live permanently in Antarctica

how to take a trip to antarctica

On 25 October 1991, I made my first trip to the US’s  Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station . I vividly remember landing on the ice runway onboard a ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules transport.

Upon exiting the aircraft, I experienced a blast of cold air that — despite having lived and worked in chilly Alaska — was somehow profoundly different.

The temperature was a brisk -53.6°C with a windchill of -75.5°C and a wind speed of 9 knots. The physiological altitude was equivalent to being 3370 metres above sea level. We were constantly warned to take it easy upon arrival to avoid experiencing any of the symptoms of  high-altitude sickness , such as pulmonary edemas.

This is one of the highest, driest, and coldest places on Earth where humans have a permanent presence.

Only the Russian  Vostok Station  is higher in altitude further up the polar plateau, and therefore colder, with the lowest ever ground temperature of −89.2°C recorded in the southern winter of 1983.

how to take a trip to antarctica

The physical and mental challenges

Living in such conditions comes at a price that people pondering an ice change may not be prepared to pay — both physically and mentally.

Antarctic stations must bring in all supplies from the outside and the costs of keeping the stations running and their crews fed and housed are as extreme as the environment itself. Supplies are brought in by plane and sometimes by  tractor traverse  — or across the ice. The South Pole station is 1353km by air and 1601km by tractor traverse from McMurdo Station on the coast.

Energy has been traditionally provided by  diesel generators burning AN8 , a jet fuel mixture suited for the cold temperatures of Antarctica. Approximately  1.7 million litres  are used at the station each year and in 2012 it was  estimated  that fuel cost between USD$9.25 to $10.60 a litre by the time it travelled from the beginning to the end of the supply chain. The cost has likely increased since.

So, not only is Antarctica high, dry, and cold, it is costly for humans to be there on a permanent basis.

Antarctic Coastline With Snow Capped Mountains And Low Clouds

Although coastal Antarctic conditions are not as extreme as the middle of the continent, it is still cold, windy, subject to storms, and extremely isolated from any human population centres. The sustainability of a permanent settlement with little to no outside support would be fraught with problems.

For example, the ability to grow food is problematic. Greenhouses could potentially work, however, during the long dark winters, grow lights would be needed. Grow lights consume energy and energy, in the form of fossil fuels, must be brought in from the outside.

There is potential for other  renewable sources of energy  involving wind and solar. Whereas the South Pole is a good candidate for solar during the southern summer, given it has many cloudless days and 24 hours of sunlight, the coast of Antarctica is much more subject to cloudy conditions.

Wind may be a reasonable alternative on the coast, but the extreme cold temperatures are very hard on equipment, thereby making wind generators challenging to maintain.

Early Antarctic expeditions, such as  Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition , took advantage of marine mammal and bird resources for food during their winter-over periods. However,  the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty  today prohibits any molestation of the flora and fauna.

Why anyone would want to live in Antarctica permanently?

Antarctic research stations are crewed by adults that are a mix of scientists and support personnel, for example mechanics and electricians. They are there for the sole purpose of scientific research.

Winter-over crews rotate through on a mostly yearly basis. Social and psychological research has documented a wide variety of psycho-social and physiological stresses experienced by winter-over crew members.

Long periods of isolation and confinement can lead to increases in  tension, anxiety, fatigue  and  depression . Research has also found that people’s abilities to adapt to these conditions and seek social support over time  can be influenced by their cultural background .

Indians at Maitri Station reported the highest levels of depression, the Chinese at Great Wall Station reported the highest levels of confusion, whereas the Russians at Vostok Station reported the highest levels of anxiety in contrast to the Americans at South Pole Station who reported the lowest.

However, it is important to note  the important role of group dynamics : some winter-over groups do better than others in terms of group cohesion and this impacts overall levels of depression, confusion and anxiety experienced by crew members. We can only imagine how these psychological and physiological stressors would play out if people lived permanently on the continent.

A scientific base in Antarctica

I have worked with the Iñupiaq Alaskan Natives in northwestern Alaska, and they have a culture that has specifically adapted to the isolation and extreme environmental conditions. Permanent settlements would equally require the emergence of an adaptive culture, and all that it entails, in order to survive and flourish.

Antarctica is isolated and hard to get to. Family and friends cannot just hop on a plane and visit. On the other hand, there are stations in Antarctica that do have whole family units living, working, and going to school at the station.

Both  Chile  and  Argentina  have stations that include families in moderate numbers. These stations are on the Antarctic Peninsula where conditions are less extreme, and the bases are nearer geographically to both Argentina and Chile. They are the closest thing to a ‘normal’ community on the continent.

Nevertheless, the stations still need significant outside support for supplies, families still miss out on important life events back home, and residents rotate through on a periodic basis so in essence their stay there is not permanent.

Reasons to stay

There have been permanent settlements that have existed historically in other extreme and isolated areas — such as  South Georgia Island , a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The island has an important historical connection to Antarctica.

As a part of Ernest Shackelton’s failed Transantarctic Expedition, he sailed 1253km from Elephant Island off the Antarctic Peninsula to South Georgia Island in a small lifeboat to save his crew after the ship  Endurance  was caught in the ice and crushed in the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Shackelton, one of the greatest Antarctic explorers,  is buried on South Georgia Island .

There were seven whaling stations on the island from 1904 to 1965. The island had a community of workers and government officials, some with families. There was a Norwegian Lutheran Church and a meteorology station.

Despite being isolated, a community emerged on the island to service the whaling industry for well over 60 years, a company town of sorts. The island was eventually abandoned following the decline of whaling.

how to take a trip to antarctica

Antarctica has a variety of precious minerals and other unexploited natural resources. The mining and extraction of these resources would have the potential for more ‘company towns’ to emerge, not unlike what happened on South Georgia Island.

Economics is a powerful incentive and, without constraints, the emergence of mining settlements in Antarctica would not be beyond the realm of possibility.

Under current treaty agreements  this is not permissible .

Professor Jeffrey C. Johnson is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He has conducted extensive long-term research supported by the National Science Foundation comparing group dynamics of over-wintering crews at the American South Pole Station, with those at the Polish, Russian, Chinese, and Indian Antarctic Stations. He has also done research funded by the National Science Foundation on Iñupiaq Alaskan Natives traditional ecological Knowledge of sea ice and climate change.

Originally published under  Creative Commons  by  360info ™.

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  1. How to plan a trip to Antarctica

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  2. How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica

    how to take a trip to antarctica

  3. Travelling to Antarctica: What to expect

    how to take a trip to antarctica

  4. How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica

    how to take a trip to antarctica

  5. You Can Travel to Antarctica—and Here’s How

    how to take a trip to antarctica

  6. Planning a Trip to Antarctica? How I Chose How I'm Getting to

    how to take a trip to antarctica

VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. How can I travel to Antarctica?

    There are two big obstacles to getting to Antarctica this year. One is the lack of cruises - most operators have cancelled their schedules for the remainder of the this year and early next year. If cruises can happen at all this season it will be towards the end of the usual period of operation. Hurtigruten has cancelled Antarctica departures ...

  2. How to Travel to and Visit Antarctica

    That said, if you want to visit Antarctica on a traditional cruise line, many major carriers can get you there — often on vessels that adhere to that fewer-than-200-guests rule of thumb. Some ...

  3. How to get to Antarctica: The pros and cons of flying vs. cruising

    At Silversea, which offers both types of Antarctica trips, eight-night fly-cruise itineraries start at $16,600 per person, including flights — more than $2,000 per day. Fares for Silversea's traditional Antarctica sailings that involve a crossing of the Drake Passage start at $11,900 per person, about 40% less.

  4. 41 Things to Know BEFORE You Travel to Antarctica

    It's important to understand that you are one of the few lucky people on earth traveling to such a fragile environment, and Antarctica must be treated with the utmost respect. Penguins on a penguin highway in Neko Harbour. Stay on the designated trails, don't touch wildlife, and, god forbid, don't litter.

  5. How to Visit Antarctica: Getting There, Best Things to Do, and Tips

    Ship. Taking a boat is the most common and economical way to get to Antarctica. Approximately 90% of travelers depart by boat from Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city in South America, although it's also possible to leave from other port towns in Argentina or Chile.

  6. How to get to Antarctica

    You can get to Antarctica by boat or plane. Sailing the Drake Passage from the tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula takes 48 hours. Flying to Antarctica takes 2 hours. Approximately 54,000 visitors make the journey each year, with around 50 expedition vessels sailing Antarctic waters each season.

  7. TRAVEL to ANTARCTICA

    SAFETY: Travelling to Antarctica comes with inherent risks such as cold weather exposure and possible wildlife encounters. The remoteness of the destination means medical assistance is not instant. All tour operators have trained medical professionals onboard and will mitigate risks to the best of their ability.

  8. You Can Travel to Antarctica—and Here's How

    12 min read. Antarctica. The 7th Continent. The land mass at the bottom of the globe, completely encased in ice. Its remote wilderness featured on nature documentaries and in our science and history books. And for those reasons, it might seem somewhat abstract and hard to reach. Perhaps even impossible. But it's not.

  9. How to Get to Antarctica (A Detailed Guide)

    The best and most popular way of getting to Antarctica is by doing a fly-cruise trip. It involves flying from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, right at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, which is just a 2-hour flight. At King George Island, you will board a ship that then cruises around the peninsula.

  10. What to Expect on Your First Trip to Antarctica

    April 06, 2016. • 6 min read. "Towering mountains rise straight out of ice-clogged seas, icebergs gleam the radiant blue that only ancient ice attains, wildlife congregates in multitudes. In ...

  11. Can You Go To Antarctica? Yes! How To Get To Antarctica

    To Santiago: To fly to Antarctica from the U.K. and Europe travelers will first fly to Santiago, Chile. There are numerous flights from Europe to Santiago each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Barcelona. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica.

  12. 3 Ways to Travel to Antarctica

    1. Travel on a cruise ship. [1] By far the most common way to travel to Antarctica is on a special cruise ship. These trips vary, but are typically between 10 days and three weeks long. [2] You can take various routes to the Peninsula depending on where you are departing from.

  13. Antarctica: Everything You Must Know to Plan a Trip to the ...

    The main way to reach Antarctica is by taking a cruise or expedition ship from one of the many embarkation ports like Puerto Natales in Chile, Ushuaia in Argentina, Hobart in Australia, and Bluff in New Zealand. One thing to note is that you should plan your Antarctica trip way ahead of time to get the best deals, cabins, and the opportunity to ...

  14. Dreaming of Antarctica: How to book the trip of a lifetime

    You can book "The Greatest Day" package for a one-day trip from Cape Town, South Africa, to Wolf's Fang, Antarctica. It takes five hours one-way to arrive there. You'll pay "just" $13,500 for one person, or $150,000 for the whole jet, which seats 12 — talk about an epic party.

  15. Antarctica gear guide: What you need to pack for a trip to the White

    Related: Antarctica reading list: These 8 books are must-reads before a trip to the White Continent. Everything else. Antarctica is a desert, which means the air is incredibly dry. By the end of the trip, my lips and hands were cracking. I was glad I packed plenty of lip balm and a heavy-duty salve for my hands and face because I used them ...

  16. Everything You Need to Know For Your Trip To Antarctica

    If you're wondering how much is a trip to Antarctica, the cost of a trip to Antarctica can vary widely depending on several factors, including the itinerary, duration, level of comfort, and activities offered. Generally, a trip to Antarctica can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 or more per person.

  17. The 7 Top Antarctica Cruises for 2024 + Tips From an Expert

    Guests will have the option to reserve a spot on the Viking DNV-classed submarine for a thrilling journey into the depths of the frigid waters in Antarctica. The return sailing, by way of the ...

  18. How To Visit Antarctica? A Quick Guide to Antarctic Travel

    International flights, visas, travel insurance - it's all a part of the planning process. Here's help on how to plan the perfect Antarctic expedition! You will need clothing similar to ski gear and to think about how to pack light. If you are taking an air-cruise, there is a weight limit for baggage (including hand luggage) of 20 kg (44 Lb.).

  19. How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica: A Guide

    During the high season (December to February) tours are in full swing, with a number of vessels departing for Antarctica. You can expect pleasant weather with between 20 and 24 hours of sunlight each day. These are the best months to hit the shore, take in the sights, and appreciate the brilliant wildlife at its best.

  20. The #1 Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica: Big Ballin on a Budget!

    First and foremost, you have to be flexible with time. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of getting the cheapest way to visit Antarctica. Even if you are not flexible in any other way, if you have a flexible time window, eventually the right tour for the right price will become available. It's just not guaranteed when.

  21. Planning a Trip to Antarctica- How to Choose an Antarctica Cruise

    Other Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Antarctica. Here are a few more things you should look for when choosing a cruise to Antarctica: Includes one pre-voyage hotel night and transfer from the airport to hotel. Group transfer from hotel to ship on embarkation day and from ship to airport at the end of the cruise is provided free of ...

  22. How Much Does It Cost to Visit Antarctica? [+ How to Visit For Free]

    14 mins read. Kieren. Any visit to Antarctica is sure to be one to remember, but planning a voyage to the White Continent isn't cheap. The average trip to Antarctica costs between $7,000 and $40,000 per person, including pre- and post-adventure travel. But some ultra-luxury voyages can cost as much as $140,000 per person while budget-friendly ...

  23. How to plan a trip to Antarctica

    In addition, there are many variations on these itineraries, as well as specialist departures appealing to specific interests. The Classic 10-11 day trip takes you on an awe-inspiring journey down to the Antarctic Peninsula giving you around 6 days exploring the peninsula and surrounding Islands. To reach the Antarctic Circle you need a little ...

  24. 5 Possible Ways for Ordinary Individuals to Travel to Antarctica

    2. Take a Day Trip by Plane. The quickest way to reach Antarctica and see the entire continent in one go is through a day trip by plane. However, you won't be able to step on the continent and ...

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  28. What it would be like to live permanently in Antarctica

    Energy has been traditionally provided by diesel generators burning AN8, a jet fuel mixture suited for the cold temperatures of Antarctica.Approximately 1.7 million litres are used at the station each year and in 2012 it was estimated that fuel cost between USD$9.25 to $10.60 a litre by the time it travelled from the beginning to the end of the supply chain.