Travelling to Antarctica is a great adventure, fortunately today, this adventure can completed in some comfort and style aboard a modern polar cruise ship

Antarctic Cruise and Travel Guide - What will I do and what will I see?

Trips to Antarctica, Adventure Travel With Cool Antarctica and Ice Tracks

Information: Antarctic travel basics | more travel details | FAQ's | Request Contact | clothing | boots
Regions:  Antarctic Peninsula | South Georgia | South Shetland Islands | Falkland Islands

First of all you will cross some of the most excitable seas that there are, The Drake Passage. This may happen in the night and you may be blissfully unaware of it. It may happen during the day time when you are very aware of it. Make the most of the experience, it's like a rite of passage, earning you your place in the South. Alternatively there is now an opportunity to fly across the Drake passage in one or both directions if you want to save time or can't face the potential sea state, which incidentally may be contrary enough to be like a mill pond the time you go across it.

You will cross the Antarctic convergence, an area of upwelling sea water where deep water flowing north from the edge of the Antarctic continent meets deep south-flowing water, the two then flow upwards bringing dissolved nutrients to the surface to power the huge seasonal biological abundance during the long endless light of the summer days. The circumpolar convergence is a barrier that snakes around but is very stable in the long term. So much so that virtually no fish species have managed to travel and establish themselves in either direction in the 25 million years since it arose. The convergence has also acted as a barrier to Decapod Crustaceans - crabs, crayfish, lobsters etc. These abound elsewhere in the world's seas, but are very rare in the Antarctic.

South of this you are in the "Southern" or "Antarctic" Ocean, this is where Antarctica starts. You will see ice-bergs in quantity, and other types of ice too with a multitude of names, pack, brash, bergy bits and growlers to name but a few.

Albatrosses, seals, penguins, myriad other birds and if you're lucky - whales, will follow the ship for a while or just come for a look.

You will see some of the most beautiful scenery that the planet has to offer, seascapes, icescapes and landscapes that you only dream about. Except there you are - part of it all.

You will go on visits ashore generally of short duration (around 3 hours), of moderate intensity (less than 100 people), and of a frequency that depends on your tour operator. Typically there are 1-2 landings per day. Landings are made using Zodiacs (rubber inflatable boats) or if the ship is so equipped also by helicopter. Other activities by visitors to Antarctica include mountain climbing, camping, kayaking and scuba diving, there is even the occasional Antarctic marathon (yes honestly!).

Tour operators usually co-ordinate their itineraries so that ships do not see each other or allow shore parties from different ships overlap, this helps to maintain the "wilderness experience".

On your trips ashore you will see Antarctic wildlife up close and personal.

You can expect to see

  • Colonies of Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins - that vary between large and huge, in the summer months, they will be anywhere from courting and nesting building to nearly fledged chicks depending on the time you go. You will probably also see King, and Macaroni penguins if you visit sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia. If you go far enough south you may see Emperor penguins.

  • Seals - Crabeater, Southern Elephant, Leopard, Fur and Weddell seals are to be found here, chilling out in the ocean, floating around on ice-floes or relaxing on rocky Antarctic shores.

  • Whales - humpback whales and killer whales are present and may pose for visitors, if you are lucky you may see other whale species, even the blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived.

  • Albatrosses - the "bird which made the wind to blow" with the largest wingspan in the world. Antarctic skuas, snow petrels, blue eyed shags, American sheathbills, cape pigeons, giant petrels, and tiny dancing Wilson's storm petrels amongst others may pass by.
Just remember that unlike in a zoo, you're in the cage and in an environment where you don't belong. This was the animals home long before we realised that it even existed.
antarctic travel

Popular places to visit

  • Deception Island - a collapsed volcano that forms a natural harbour. It is situated among the South Shetland Islands at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The main attraction for tourists is the thermally heated water of Pendulum Cove. There are also the remains of scientific bases abandoned after a volcanic eruption in 1969.

  • Lemaire Channel - this used to be known as the 'Kodak Gap' (there's a reference foe the teenagers!) because of its popularity with tourists and usage of photographic film that resulted. The Lemaire Channel is a narrow waterway formed between the cliffs of the Antarctic Peninsula and offshore Booth Island.

  • Paradise Harbour - On the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, spectacular glaciers and scenery - once you've been, the name will make obvious sense.

contact our travel partners who will help you find the best cruise for your requirements

  What trips are available?

There are far more trips to the Antarctic Peninsula region leaving from the tip of South America than to the more difficult to get to Eastern Antarctica leaving from New Zealand or less commonly Australia. The travel time to the Antarctic Peninsula is significantly less meaning shorter trips and less cost to get there with many more trip options. It is also possible to fly one or both ways so saving sailing time. The relatively fewer Eastern Antarctic trips are usually booked up at least a year in advance.


  • Typical trip 10-12 days
    6-16 days available
  • Fly-cruise from 6 days
  • Fly cruise available as fly-fly / fly-sail / sail-fly
  • Sail time 2 days each way to reach Antarctica
  • Antarctic Peninsula is very wildlife rich
  • Cruises visit Peninsula sites and some islands en route
  • Longer trips may cross the Antarctic Circle and/or enter the Weddell Sea

Peninsula, Falklands, S. Georgia

  • Typical trip 20 days
    15-24 days available
  • Shorter trips have less time in the Peninsula region
  • Some trips include flights across Drake Passage or to the Falklands
  • Sail time 2 days across Drake Passage, 2 days to South Georgia
  • Antarctic Peninsula is very wildlife rich, South Georgia especially so
  • Visits Peninsula sites and some islands en route
  • Longer trips may cross the Antarctic Circle
  • Possibly the best all round trips due to diversity of scenery and wildlife and time spent at sea.
  • There are also trips of 15-20 days that only  visit South Georgia and the Falkland Islands

Eastern Antarctica

  • Typical trip 26-30 days
  • Usually leave from New Zealand, more rarely Hobart
  • No flight options
  • More time spent travelling at sea than on Peninsula trips
  • The whole region is in the deep south inside the Antarctic Circle
  • The Eastern Antarctic region is much less rich in wildlife compared to the Peninsula
  • Trips include stops at wildlife super-abundant sub-Antarctic islands, havens for bird-watchers
  • Trips usually visit historical huts from the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration

contact our travel partners who will help you find the best cruise for your requirements

  What do I need to take? Clothing and equipment

When your feet are cold, cover your head. - Inuit saying.

As your trip will be in the Antarctic summer, you won't need to take any real extreme cold weather gear. Temperatures on many or most days will hover around freezing point, maybe dropping to an extreme of -10°C (20F) or rising to +10°C (50F). Obviously people adapt to the cold in different ways and I've seen some tourists in the Antarctic in light-weight clothing while others are wrapped up like the Michelin man in the same conditions. Layering is the key, then you can be flexible according to conditions.

Rain wear is the best bet for your outer layer, even though you probably won't get any rain, you may well get some not especially cold (and therefore quite wet) snow and will almost certainly get splashed significantly by sea water at some point while riding on a zodiac, you'll probably have to sit in a wet zodiac too at some time, so waterproof pants/trousers as well as a jacket are also needed.

Boots are very important, the neoprene-topped super-welly type are an excellent choice. These have a good solid rugged sole that can deal with rough terrain, are waterproof for wet zodiac landings and are close fitting around the calf so are much warmer than traditional style rubber wellington boots that pump warmed air out as you walk along. These neoprene topped boots can be worn with a single pair of socks which will be enough to keep you sufficiently warm throughout your trip. On return they are ideal for winter walking in the cold and wet.

Hire Gear - Many ships cruising Antarctica will have equipment for hire. You will need to make your requirements known in advance especially for sizes. As well as not spending money buying things you may rarely if ever need again, hiring gear cuts down your luggage weight and bulk considerably which can be an important factor if you have a charter flight with a strictly restricted baggage allowance, and can be far and away the more environmentally friendly option.

clothing Essentials
Lofoten Gore-Tex Insulated Jacket - Women's Bogs - Classic High
Wind and water
proof outer layer
Men's  Women's
Insulating layer/s
Men's  Women's
Men's  Women's
Head and ear
Men's  Women's
Good quality
warm gloves
Men's  Women's
Good boots
Men's  Women's
More details on clothing for your Antarctic trip

Other Stuff
Get a quality camera
Good quality sun-glasses
with u.v. protection
to lug your stuff around in
Take a decent pair of
Ships cabins don't
always have a lot of sockets

Antarctic Peninsula - Sample Cruises - 2021 - 2022

Trip Highlights Prices USD* Days
Antarctic Peninsula Expedition South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel. $8,050 -
Antarctica Basecamp Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp cruise offers hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, mountaineering, and camping out under the Southern Polar skies free of charge. $8,050 -
Antarctic Circle Quest Sail down the Antarctic Peninsula and cross the Antarctic Circle, South Shetland Islands, Wildlife, Scenery. $8,995 - $45,995 10-14
Antarctica Ross Sea Region Cruise

Antarctica Ross Sea Region - Sample Cruises - 2021 / 2022

Trip Highlights Prices USD* Days
Ross Sea and Historic Huts Explore the Ross Sea, Historic Huts, Ross Ice Shelf, McMurdo base, Auckland Islands, Macquarie and Campbell Islands. $23,000 -
Ross Sea region and the Peninsula with helicopters Semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica from the Peninsula to the Ross Sea, Ross Island, Scott and Shackleton's huts, Mt. Erebus and Terror, Dry Valleys, huge penguin colonies, sub-Antarctic wildlife rich islands. $27,400 - $39,500 33
Antarctica Ross Sea Region Cruise

South Georgia / Falkland Islands / Antarctica - Sample Cruises - 2021 / 2022

Trip Highlights Prices USD* Days
Shackleton's Final Quest Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites, 100 years after the death of Shackleton at South Georgia signaling the close of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. Optional 5 day pre voyage historical extension to Montevideo. $17,995 -
Epic Antarctica, South Shetlands, Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands All the major Antarctic highlights, anticipate penguins, whales, seabirds and seals as well as magnificent scenery. $18,545 - $129,592 23
Antarctica, South Shetlands, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands All the major Antarctic highlights, anticipate penguins, whales, seabirds and seals as well as magnificent scenery. $12,600 - $31,495 19
South Georgia in depth with the Falkland Islands A spring trip to South Georgia and Falklands when breeding and inwards migration are at a height, South Georgia hosts the most wildlife per square meter in the world. $15,446 - $27,596 17

* 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.

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.

Contact me about my trip to Antarctica!

Our partner company, Ice Tracks, UK based and ATOL protected, will help you find the perfect trip to Antarctica, all enquiries will be answered from our office in Warwickshire, England.

Please complete the form
and an Antarctic Expert will contact you

Please note - we cannot help directly to find employment in Antarctica, please do not use this form to request information other than for Antarctic tourist trips

Departures from late October to early March

Dozens of trips - unique combinations of ship + itinerary

Choice of ships - 108 to 139 passenger capacity

$8,050 to $40,000

10 to 33 days

ice berg, antarctica
gentoo penguins