Antarctica Cruise – A Cruise To Remember All Your Life!

When you are planning a cruise, you want it to be one that you will remember for the rest of your life. If this is the type of cruise that you are looking for, then Antarctica cruises are the ones to check out.

 

Why All The Fuss?

Antarctica Cruise ships are unique. They’re like hotels on water that are complete with everything you need to live, from food to drink and entertainment at every hour of the day. At the same time, these ships take you miles away from home to experience the world. Antarctica cruises are like other cruises except completely unique. After all, how many people can say that they went on a cruise and watched penguins playing on a glacier or that they went to Antarctica at all.

When you are looking for a unique vacation experience, then you’re going to find it on an Antarctica cruise. You get to experience a completely new side of cruising and travel to countries that you never dreamed possible to visit. Instead of seeing costumed cartoon characters, you get to see exotic wildlife, amazing icebergs, and experience the most arid conditions anywhere on earth. It’s certainly not everyone’s idea of a relaxing vacation. However, for a true adventurer, it is a trip you simply must experience to believe. What can you expect to see on an Antarctica cruise?

 

What Is An Antarctica Travel Like?

Antarctica travel is a fascinating experience, visually, aurally, and physically. Upon entering the continent, you will be immediately taken by how cold, dry, and elevated the land can be. Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in the world and 99% of this region is covered in ice! In fact, there is only about 1% of accessible land territory in this artic region. Visitors say the scenery alone makes the trip worthwhile, as you get to see monstrously sized glaciers, ice rivers, and ice towers up close. Typical landmark destinations include the South Pole, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Paradise Bay. Antarctica has been called a freezing desert. It is literally the coldest, driest, and most elevated land anywhere on earth.You will also be astounded by the sheer size of the some of the icebergs, ice towers, and ice rivers. The sights and sounds of the ice-ridden territory are stunning enough.

 

How To Select The Best Antarctica Cruise

When choosing how, when, and where to travel to in Antarctica aboard a luxury Antarctica cruise, expert advice is available to help you to make the right choice for this ultimate holiday.

Which ship? – You are likely to be on board somewhere between 6 and 22 days so you want to be sure that your cabin is comfortable and that the public areas suit your taste and requirements. We highly recommend you should board a ship that has the very best state-of-the-art navigational equipment and ice-strengthened hulls suitable for travel in these remote waters. Size also does matter, and again we recommend boarding a ship that operates with the Antarctic Treaty guidelines which limit shore landing to a maximum of 100 people at a time. By choosing a ship with around 100 passengers onboard or less, you will maximize the time spent on land among the colonies of penguins and seals.

Three major cruise lines offer Antarctic cruises: Celebrity Cruises, Orient Lines, and Radisson Seven Seas. Smaller specialty expedition companies also offer other trips to this destination.

Celebrity Cruises travels to Antarctica with the polar icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, a refitted 1980’s Russian polar research vessel. This ship takes a fortunate 106 passengers to the polar region with the amenities expected from Celebrity Cruises such as pool, sauna, and gym. Accommodations are small by comparison to a cruise ship; staterooms can be as small as 135 square feet while a suite with private bath is only 285 square feet.

Currently Celebrity Cruises has one 11-day trip to Antarctica scheduled for departure February 6, 2006. The price is approximately $10,000 per person. The cruise originates and returns to Ushuaia Tierra Del Fuego, the southernmost town in South America near Cape Horn. As with all cruises in the frozen waters, destinations depend upon actual weather conditions during the cruise.

Orient Lines provides several Antarctic cruises each year aboard its world traveler ship Marco Polo. This ship was originally built in Germany in 1965 and was rebuilt in the early 1990’s. It has twelve decks and carries 826 passengers, a cruise ship not a research vessel like the Kapitan Khlebnikov. Accommodations vary from deluxe and regular suites to a full complement of cabin categories to choose from. Orient Lines has a high reputation for quality and the Marco Polo is a full service ship with many restaurants and amenities.

Orient offers a variety of Antarctic cruises throughout the season from December to February with the option of 11 to 33 day cruises, depending upon point of departure. The longest trip begins in the Caribbean, passes through the Panama Canal and tours the west coast of South America before touring Antarctica. Once the ship reaches the Cape Horn area, regular 11-day cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia Tierra Del Fuego. Other cruises are 15 or 18-day cruises that start in Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prices start at around $5,000 per person for the 11-day cruise.

Radisson Seven Seas provides cruises to Antarctica aboard the ship Explorer II. Explorer II is designed to cruise safely in the polar region. While this vessel carries 300 passengers elsewhere, only 198 people can take the Antarctic cruise. Explorer II is a small cruise ship with all the amenities expected from a luxury and award-winning cruise line such as Radisson Seven Seas.

Radisson Seven Seas provides only two cruises per year in the Antarctic region, both in the month of January. Both cruises are round trip from Ushuaia Tierra Del Fuego and are 12-day trips. While the 2005 cruise itinerary shows cruising the Antarctic Peninsula, the 2006 cruises show only cruising the South Shetland Islands without mention of the Antarctic continent. Prices start at around $7,500 per person for the 12-day cruise.

How to get to Antarctica? – Access to Antarctica is usually from the southern tip of the South American mainland, either from Chile or Argentina, depending on your itinerary and the ship. Even the very closest tip of the Peninsula is some two days sailing across the Drake Passage from Ushuaia before you reach landfall again in Antarctica and its outlying islands. This sea journey is fantastic for spotting whales and seabirds such as albatross, and a great time to interact with guides and fellow passengers to learn more about the history, wildlife, and scientific research in the Antarctic. If, however, the thought of two days at open sea puts you off, other options are available that bypass this sea crossing by flying to King George Island close to the Antarctic Peninsula instead, or even into the interior of the continent itself.

What do I do on board? – Days are spent heading out by small inflatable zodiac craft from your ship to islands and the mainland, observing the incredible wildlife of Antarctica, whether a leopard seal lounging on an ice floe or a cute little Adelie penguin waddling down from her nest to the shore to fish. But it is important to remember that some cruise itineraries offer additional options as well as hiking ashore to see wildlife. If you are active and would like a chance to get under the skin of this spectacular continent, you can choose an itinerary that includes camping overnight on the ice, kayaking among stunning blue icebergs or snowshoeing across pristine snowfields in search of wildlife. We can even suggest an amazing journey by small sailboat where you can combine your adventures in Antarctica with a chance to sail in some of the world’s most challenging oceans.

What wildlife will I see? – Penguins of course, and lots of them! Seals, whales, and seabirds too. But there is much more to it than that. If you visit the Antarctic Peninsula, you will see many species of penguins but not the largest species, Emperor penguins, unless you visit very specific locations. There are whales present in these waters much of the austral summer, yes there are indeed various species of whales that can be found in the waters of Antarctica. Because of this whale watching is one of the most common activities that the region’s visitors enjoy.

Overall, every traveler has their own reason for visiting such a magnificent destination for wildlife encounters. If there is a particular experience on your wishlist, it’s important to choose exactly the right cruise itinerary to maximize the chances of you getting your wish.

What are the guides like? – Your expedition leaders on board are the most crucial element of your holiday of a lifetime. They not only accompany you onshore and explain the wildlife, history, and geography of the regions you visit, they embellish these experiences with lectures in the evening, they join you for dinner to chat over the day’s encounters, and they enhance your special experience in every way they can. Make sure you choose the cruises that you know have the very best expedition guides. It’s important to check their profiles before you go so you know exactly which experts you are going to meet, from wildlife photographers to marine biologists and historians.

When to go for Antarctica cruise? – According to experts, the best time to take a cruise to Antarctica is between November and March as this is the period when the region gets sunshine for practically twenty-four hours.

However, from experience it is suggested that you plan for cruise either for November or early part of December. This is the time when spring season begins here and you will see signs of new life emerging. Birds like penguins, giant petrels, skuas, snow petrels and cormorants begin their breeding and start nesting. During this time, you will get an opportunity to see penguins court each other, and it will truly be a remarkable experience that you will never forget.

If you want to see the humpback whales, then plan your cruise to Antarctica during December and January. You will be able to see these magnificent creatures swimming looking for krill, their staple diet. This is also the time when you will be able to see birds like the albatross, petrels and skuas with their chicks. In addition, different species of seals will come on to ice floes and thrill you a great deal.

In February and March, the breeding cycle of the animals and birds comes to an end. The chicks of the birds are become big enough to start exploring their surroundings. If you are not squeamish, then you will marvel at the sight of leopard seals waiting to devour baby penguins who enter the water for the first time. Also, be prepared to spy fur seals, orcas and minke whales, which are a kind of baleen whales measuring about 25 to 30 feet in length. During these months, the days begin to shorten as the region prepares for the winter season, but the sunsets are spectacular and leave you spellbound.

Based on the aforementioned information, you can plan your cruise to Antarctica, depending upon what you want to see and experience.

 

Recommended Itineraries

On Antarctica cruises, you get to explore not only Antarctica, but Ushuaia on the Southern tip of South America, explore the arctic waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and cruise around the South Shetland Islands. In addition, everywhere you look, there is wildlife that you may have never experienced before, including whales, petrels, birds, albatrosses, and more. Leave in December, and you’ll be able to experience a truly white Christmas. Here are the recommended top Antarctica cruise holidays:

  1. Follow in the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton – Voyage into the heart of Antarctica following in the footsteps of the legendary explorers, Scott and Shackleton. Here you will visit historic huts as well as see an abundance of wildlife.
  2. Birding in Antarctica – Cruise the islands and waters of Antarctica and spot a large number of seabirds, some of which are endemic to the area, as well as comical and fascinating penguins.
  3. A classic Antarctic cruise – Enjoy a classic cruise departing and finishing in Ushuaia and exploring such destinations as the Beagle Channel, the Drake Passage, the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.
  4. Explore the Sub-Antarctic Islands – Here you’ll visit fascinating islands such as the Falkland Islands and South Georgia where you’ll experience the true Antarctic wilderness.
  5. An expedition cruise in Antarctica – An expedition cruise is ideal for those seeking an adventurous holiday in Antarctica and they often offer exhilarating activities such as camping, kayaking, cross-country skiing and mountain climbing in this challenging yet undeniably beautiful environment.
  6. One of the most popular destinations on the Antarctic Peninsula is the Port Lockroy harbour on Goudier Island. This harbour has a long and colourful history, which started in 1903 when the whaling expeditions arrived. Tourists can, in fact, still marvel at the full fin whale skeleton that has been preserved at the old whaling base.
  7. The South Sandwich Islands can only be reached by sea and lie 750km south east of South Georgia in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. There are twelve islands in the group and their total area is 337sq.km. If a cruise ship does visit this small, curved island chain, it will stop at Zavadovski Island, which was first visited by Fabian von Bellingshausen, the famous Russian explorer, in 1819.

Overall, we hope you have the time and money to experience this great adventure, Antarctica is a place you will never forget and by joining one of many cruises you will be guaranteed the experience of a lifetime. Bon Voyage!

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