Experiencing Antarctica is easier than you think
What do you get the person who has everything? A ticket to Antarctica, of course. With icebergs, penguins, whales and more, it’s the very definition of a bucket list destination.
The White Continent. Terra Australis. The Seventh Continent. The coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and remotest place on the planet. There are many ways to describe it, but every single one of them inspires wanderlust. Fortunately, visiting Antarctica has never been easier than it is now…
We’ve described two of the most popular itineraries below, but guests who want to spend even longer exploring Antarctica should simply ask one of our Destination Experts about the other possibilities.
Option 1: Fly in – 6 days cruising in Antarctica – Fly out
This option starts and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile and allows you to a) maximize your time in Antarctica and b) totally avoid the rough waters of the Drake Passage. The two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica is an attraction in itself, but the real fun begins when you board the Ocean Nova for a five-night Antarctic cruise.
Having so much time in Antarctica means you’ll be able to cover quite a bit of ground and see an extraordinary variety of sights. While there’s no fixed itinerary you’ll certainly be treated to dramatic views of ice-filled fjords, mountainous glaciers and spectacular icebergs and you’ll also see plenty of wildlife: sea birds, penguins, seals and whales. Every day you’ll leave the ship on a Zodiac (a smaller craft) to explore the landscape together with expert polar guides. Back on board you’ll attend informative lectures and presentations, and you’ll also enjoy spectacular views from the elegant lounge.
Check out our Santiago to Antarctica itinerary here. This trip is available from November to March.
Option 2: Sail in – 1.5 days cruising in Antarctica – Fly out
This option entails sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina (the Southernmost city in the world and a gorgeous attraction in its own right) to Antarctica ... crossing the notorious Drake Passage in the process. You’ll sail through the South Shetland Islands, spotting petrels and albatrosses along the way, and once in Antarctica you’ll disembark in Zodiacs to visit a penguin colony. You’ll spend about a day and a half navigating Antarctic waters before flying back to Punta Arenas.
While you won’t get to see as much of Antarctica you’ll still get a great feel for the wildlife and the icy landscapes of the White Continent ... and you’ll be able to tell your friends that you navigated the Drake Passage. Weather permitting you may even be able to disembark onto Cape Horn!
Check out our Buenos Aires to Antarctica itinerary here. Please note that this trip is only available in December and January.
When to visit
Antarctica is far and away the coldest place on the planet (inland temperatures range from -94°F to a positively balmy -40 °F!), so visiting in Winter is out of the question. All of our cruises take place between November and March, during the Antarctic summer season.
November - Early December (Late Spring - Early Summer)
During this time the winter ice pack begins to melt and break up, creating new landscapes of sculpted ice and pristine icebergs. It is the courting season for penguins and seabirds. You can see whole colonies and their displays of courtship rituals. Seals are visible on fast ice and shorelines. Elephant and fur seals establish their breeding territories.
Mid December - January (Summer)
Late December and January are usually Antarctica's warmest months. This is when many bird species hatch their chicks and whales are increasingly numerous. Receding ice may open new channels for exploration. Longer days create great light conditions for fabulous photo opportunities.
February - March (Late Summer)
This season boasts beautiful sunrises and sunsets that create stunning photo opportunities. Whale sighting is at its best, penguin chicks begin to fledge and fur seals are increasingly common on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Ocean Nova
With 72 beds, the Ocean Nova is one of the smaller and more intimate Antarctic cruise vessels. This means you spend more time exploring, as opposed to waiting onboard for your turn to explore: there are strict regulations about how many people from each ship can be exploring at any given time. She is a modern and comfortable expedition vessel, built in Denmark in 1992 and fully refurbished in 2006. Her ice-strengthened hull is ideally suited for expedition travel in Antarctica.
In addition to a glass-enclosed observation lounge and presentation room, Ocean Nova also has a spacious dining room, a bar, a library, a small gym, and an infirmary. The ship has a fleet of seven Zodiac boats that are well suited for disembarking and wildlife watching. All guests aboard Ocean Nova are accommodated in comfortable outside cabins, with three cabin categories: dedicated single, twin and triple cabins. All cabins feature a picture window, a writing desk with chair, a wardrobe, individually controlled heating system, and a private bathroom with shower.
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- 5 Unmissable Patagonian Highlights
- Choosing your Antarctica ship
- A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Tierra del Fuego Patagonia
- 5 Incredible Antarctica activities
- Antarctica wildlife highlights: penguins, whales, seals…
What are you waiting for?
Antarctica has bewitched explorers, scientists and voyagers (read more about Scott and Amundsen’s race to the pole here) for centuries. Now, for the first time ever, it has become accessible to people like you and me. Visit now to experience the glaciers, fjords, penguins and whales before anyone else gets the chance.