Sunrise, Antarctica

Antarctica Cruise

Antarctica. View from the cruise ship

Antarctica. View from the cruise ship

Very few people can say that they’ve been to Antarctica; it is a destination for extreme adventure-seekers. Antarctica is one of the only continents on the planet that has no inhabitants, no nationality, and no economy. It is, however, becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination considering its barrenness. Approximately 30,000 tourists visit Antarctica every year.

Antarctic cruises are a popular option for people who wish to explore this empty continent. Although they pale in comparison to the expeditions planned by past adventurers, this makes them extremely safe. Most begin by traveling to the South Shetland Islands along the Antarctic Peninsula, which is over 1000 miles long. The breathtaking Antarctic scenery and wildlife is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travellers.

Itinerary

Penguin

Penguin

There are a number of different Antarctic itineraries, most of which begin at the southern cruise port of Ushaia, Argentina. Most people fly in from Buenos Aires in Argentina or Santiago in Chile. Most trip plans are highly dependent on the weather, as conditions can turn extreme in a matter of hours. Trained ship captains are responsible for making the decision to dock the ship near land or sail onwards.

Most itineraries require passing through an area of ocean called the Drake Passage, which is known for its high winds and waves. Keep in mind that being on board a boat in these conditions isn’t always pleasant, but it’s part of the experience.

There are two main itineraries for Antarctic cruises. The first, called “Classic Antarctica,” involves 11 to 14 nights on the ocean. It features a tour of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. The second itinerary features a tour of the Falkland Islands. It’s longer, generally 14 to 19 nights at sea, and usually includes amazing glimpses at wildlife on the islands.

Highlights

Antarctic cruises boast a number of highlights that are unlike anything passengers have ever seen. What they lack in culture, shopping, dining, and people, they make up for in amazing scenery. Most cruises feature the following main highlights:

Port Lockroy, British Antarctic Base, Antarctica

Port Lockroy, British Antarctic Base, Antarctica

Deception Island: This is a popular landing spot that actually an active volcano. It features dark-colored vistas and a crevice called “Neptune’s Bellows.” There is also some abandoned equipment from past expeditions and some wonderful short hikes which offer views of the ocean.

Port Lockroy: This old station on Wienke Island was used during the second world war to spy on enemy activities. The abandoned building is like a glimpse into history, with objects straight from the 1960′s. This is one of the only stops to feature a small museum and a shop with souvenirs.

The Lemaire Channel: This waterway is known for it’s picturesque blue seas and hilly mountain terrain on either side. Although ships don’t dock here, it is a good opportunity for photos.

Zodiac small excursion boats on expedition

Zodiac small excursion boats on expedition

Tips

Penguins posing for photographs

Penguins posing for photographs

There are a number of things to keep in mind when preparing for an Antarctic cruise. Firstly, the weather is extreme, so a heavy winter jacket, splash pants, and gloves are essential. It’s also important to bring enough warm clothes so that some can dry when you get wet, which sometimes happens when you’re on deck. Boots are also a must, for landings. Try to get a pair that is both waterproof and well-insulated. Layering clothing is a good idea and many people find that a pair of long underwear provides the perfect amount of insulation from the cold. You can usually rent the gear from the port of departure if you don’t have it and don’t want to invest too much money.

Finally, another necessity is a camera. One of the main highlights of any Antarctica cruise is the scenery and you won’t want to miss a single postcard-perfect vista on the route. Make sure you equip your camera with a waterproof case to protect against damage.