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Antarctica Cruises and Holidays - Leaving from the USA - United States

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Fly-Cruise | Antarctic Peninsula | South Georgia / South Sandwich | South Shetlands | Falklands Leave from: NZ - Aus Europe / UK USA

Antarctic sunsetMost trips to Antarctica are cruises that leave from the port of Ushuaia in Argentina visiting the Antarctic Peninsula and the islands of the (largely undersea) Scotia Arc (fig 2) that stretches east from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego, through South Georgia, the South Shetland Islands and back to the west again through the South Orkney Islands before joining the northernmost tip of the Peninsula.

A smaller number of trips leave from Australia or New Zealand and visit the eastern region of Antarctica, sailing time is about 6-7 days there and the same back again. These trips are longer and therefore more expensive, they usually leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand, often leaving from one and returning to the other on alternate trips.

 

Fig 1. Trips to the Antarctic leaving from the USA most commonly leave from the port of Ushuaia, Argentina at the tip of South America and visit the Antarctic Peninsula and often some nearby islands.

There are a smaller number of trips that leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand (frequently leaving from one and returning to another) that visit the more remote Eastern part of Antarctica.


1 - New York, USA
2 - Dallas Tx, USA
3 - Miami Fl, USA
4 - Ushuaia, Argentina
5 - Antarctic Peninsula

Distances - miles / km
New York - Ushuaia, Argentina 6,580 / 10,590
Dallas - Ushuaia, Argentina 5,590 / 9,000
Miami - Ushuaia, Argentina 6,260 / 10,080 
New York - Hobart, Australia 10,320 / 16,610
New York - Invercargill, NZ 9,370 / 15,070

Leaving from New York the trip to Ushuaia takes around 20-30 hours and will cost in the region of $1,500-$2,000 per person return (2012/2013), the return journey takes around 20-40 hours.
Fig 2. Trips to the Peninsula region of Antarctica and South Shetland Islands. Shorter trips visit the Peninsula 6 only and some nearby islands such as the South Shetlands 5. Longer trips may also take in the Falkland Islands 3 and / or South Georgia 4 and possibly some other landings en route.

Cruises usually go down the western side of the Peninsula where there is less problematic sea ice that is more likely to be encountered on the Eastern side in the Weddell Sea.

1 - Ushuaia, Argentina
2 - Punta Arenas, Chile
3 - Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas
4 - South Georgia
5 - South Shetland Islands
6 - Antarctic Peninsula

Distances - miles / km
Ushuaia - Falklands 480 / 770
Ushuaia - South Georgia 1,255 / 2,020
Ushuaia - South Shetlands 610  / 980
Ushuaia - Peninsula tip 724 / 1,165
Punta Arenas - Peninsula tip  870 / 1,395
Peninsula top to bottom 765 / 1,230
Peninsula top to Antarctic Circle 280 / 450
Fig 3. Trips to Eastern Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand. These trips usually leave from Invercargill / Port of Bluff in New Zealand 2 (Invercargill has the airport, Bluff, 30km away has a deep-water port) or Hobart in Australia 1.

It takes about seven days sailing to reach Antarctica from Australia or New Zealand, the journey there and back is usually broken up with visits to the wildlife rich Macquarie Island 3 and others.

Once in Antarctica trips usually spend their time either in the Commonwealth Bay area 4 or the Ross Sea region between Cape Adare 5 and McMurdo 6 with possibly a short trip along the front of the Ross Ice Shelf R.


1 - Hobart - Australia
2 - Invercargill / Port of Bluff - New Zealand
3 - Macquarie Island
4 - Commonwealth Bay
5 - Cape Adare
6 - McMurdo / Scott bases
R - Ross Ice Shelf

Distances - miles / km
Hobart - Commonwealth Bay 1,640 / 2,640
Invercargill - Commonwealth Bay 1,720 / 2,760
Hobart - Macquarie Island 940 / 1,500
Invercargill - Macquarie Island 690 / 1,110
Commonwealth Bay - Cape Adare 805 / 1,300
Cape Adare - McMurdo 470 / 760

Each leg of New York to Hobart or New York to Invercargill takes 20-40 hours with 30 hours being typical, the cost to either is around $2,500 return per person (2012/2013).

The distance to be travelled means that trips to the Eastern side of Antarctica take longer than trips to the Peninsula region from South America and are also subsequently more expensive.

There are also a lot less trips departing from this region than there are from South America meaning less choice of dates and of ship.

On the other hand, Eastern Antarctica is entirely within the Antarctic Circle and a different kind of Antarctica, as remote as it's possible to get on the planet. It is colder than a Peninsula trip and with a higher chance of rough seas at some point. Getting to Antarctica and back again is more of an expedition than the traditional kind of cruise. You will probably not see any other ships during your cruise at all and other than visits to research bases, you won't see any people other than those on your ship.

Comparison of cruises to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica to the Peninsula region
Advantages
  • Remoteness - You will see little if any other shipping and get a greater feeling of isolation and being at the end of the world.

  • You are going where the world's biggest icebergs are and most extreme weather conditions.

  • Visit the huts of Mawson, Scott and/or Shackleton depending on where your particular cruise goes. This is the area where much of the early exploratory history of Antarctica was played out and where historical remains still stand.

  • Exclusivity - of the people who go to Antarctica, only a small proportion visit regions other than the Peninsula.
Disadvantages
(though may also be advantages depending on how you see them)
  • These should be seen as "extreme cruises", they are more of an expedition than other Antarctic cruises, even if your ship is luxurious, conditions encountered might not be!

  • You will be at sea for three weeks or more, there is a high chance that at some point you will experience rough seas, getting there and back is not a guaranteed easy ride.

  • A long way to sail which means it takes longer and costs more, these trips are more expensive, even the "cheaper" cabins.

  • There are not many cruises each year to the Ross Sea  region, so limited dates and availability, cruises are often booked up well in advance and have significant waiting lists - book early!
Antarctic Peninsula Region Cruises - (sample cruises)
Trip Departure Dates Highlights Ship / Pax Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Discovering the 7th Continent - The Antarctic
Peninsula
11/16/14
11/26/14
12/06/14
South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire Channel, Paradise Bay, Port Lockroy Expedition Ship

Sea Adventurer - 122

kayaking
camping
snowshoeing
$5,995 -
$14,995
12 Ushuaia, Argentina
Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise 12/02/14
12/07/14
12/12/14
12/17/14
12/22/14
12/27/14
01/22/15
02/06/15
02/11/15
Fly over the Drake Passage both ways, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands Expedition Ship

Ocean Nova - 68
kayaking
snowshoeing
$9,790 -
$18,595
7 Punta Arenas - Airport
Antarctic Peninsula Air-Cruise 02/27/15 Fly south, sail north, South Shetland Islands, Abundant Wildlife, Lemaire Channel Research Vessel

Polar Pioneer - 54

kayaking
scuba
$7,100 -
$12,600
11 Punta Arenas Chile, return Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula - Luxury expedition ship 11/27/14
12/17/14
01/14/15
01/24/15
02/03/15  
Antarctica Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Abundant Wildlife, Lemaire Channel Luxury Expedition Ship

Sea Explorer - 114

kayaking $6,295 -
$16,795
12 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula (Active Adventure) 12/10/14
01/27/15
03/16/15
South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel Research Vessel

Akademik Sergey Vavilov - 92

kayaking,
camping
$6,795 -
$13,095
11 Ushuaia, Argentina
Trip Departure Dates Highlights Ship / Pax Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Antarctica Peninsula - via Cape Horn 12/05/14
02/04/2015
03/04/2015
Cape Horn national Park, Antarctic Peninsula, penguins, icebergs on a luxury ship Luxury Expedition Ship

Sea Spirit - 112

kayaking
camping
snowshoeing
$7,595 -
$19,195
12 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - Land of the Penguins 11/19/14
1/04/15
1/16/15
Antarctic Peninsula, Penguins, Seals, Whales, Historic sites Scenic Exploration Ship

Fram - 240
  $11,073 -
$18,779
13 Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctic Peninsula with Circle Crossing, Air Cruise 01/01/15
02/16/15
Fly over the Drake Passage both ways,
Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands
Expedition Ship

Ocean Nova - 68

kayaking
snowshoeing
$12,995 -
$20,795
9 Punta Arenas, Chile
Antarctica - Cruise - The Peninsula
Luxury expedition ship
11/28/14
12/08/14
12/18/14
12/28/14
01/7/15
01/17/15
01/27/15
02/06/15   
South Shetland, Paradise Bay, Lemaire Channel Luxury Expedition Ship

National Geographic Explorer - 148

kayaking $11,990 -
$22,870
14 Buenos Aires / Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula with Circle Crossing 0 2/19/15 Sail south, fly back, South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire Channel, Spectacular Glaciers Research Vessel

Polar Pioneer - 54

kayaking $7,100 -
$12,600
11 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula Luxury Expedition Ship 12/2/14
12/12/14
1/09/15
1/31/14
2/06/15
2/16/15
2/26/15
12/2/15
12/12/15
Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel Luxury Expedition Ship

Silver Explorer - 132

  $9,950 -
$29,750
11 Ushuaia, Argentina
Cruises Visiting the Ross Sea Region
Antarctica Cruise - Weddell Sea & Peninsula 01/11/15
02/09/15
Scott and Shackleton's Huts, remote East Antarctica, Emperor penguins, sub-Antarctic islands Research Vessel

Spirit of Enderby
 - 56

 

$19,500 -
$28,800
30 New Zealand
Cruises Visiting South Georgia- (sample cruises)
Trip Departure Dates

Highlights

Ship / Pax

Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Antarctica, Falklands, & South Georgia 11/20/14
01/31/15
Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites, South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula Research Ship

Akademik Ioffe - 96
kayaking $11,995 -
$22,695
19 Ushuaia, Argentina
South Georgia, Antarctica & the Falklands

02/19/15

Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites - kayaking option Expedition Ship

Sea Adventurer - 122

kayaking

$15,995 -
$25,995

23

Ushuaia, Argentina / Buenos Aires

South Georgia, Antarctica & The Falklands  10/17/14 Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites Expedition Ship

Expedition
 - 132
  $9,999 -
$15,999
22 Fly to Stanley in the Falkland Islands from Montevideo, disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina
Notes
*
options may be at additional cost and are usually booked when the cruise is booked - it may be too late once the cruise has started.
** prices are based per person, the lowest price is usually for triple occupancy in a basic cabin, the highest for double occupancy in the best available suite.

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Lonely Planet travel guide Antarctica
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 Antarctica Cruising Guide
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Frozen Planet 2011
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Shackleton 2002
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The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition
Dramatization with original footage

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