Our tip:

A trip to Antarctica is one of most beautiful journeys in the world. But it’s very expensive. However, there is a way to do it more affordably. It does require flexibility when it comes to time, though.

Head to the harbour of Ushuaia in Argentina where the cruise ships depart. You will notice them where they’re docked to restock and welcome passengers aboard.

Een Weddellzeehond voor de boot op Antarctica.
A Weddell seal in the foreground, my cruise ship in the background. Corno van den Berg

There are roughly two options: there are short cruises of about 8–10 days, and there are longer cruises via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia that take about 15–21 days. I recommend the latter, because you will see many more animals, especially penguins.

You’re likely to see two cruise ships in the harbour. Simply enquire if they are fully booked, which is possible. If that’s the case, you’ll have to try again two days later. There are plenty of opportunities in peak season, which runs from November to late February.

Cruise Antarctica
In Antarctica… Corno van den Berg

But if there are still places available on the cruise, you can often travel for much less than the normal fare. Generally you’ll pay about two-thirds of the full price, and sometimes even half. You’ll have to negotiate a little, and you won’t have a choice in the itinerary or the length of the cruise.

It’s also possible that you’ll get a smaller/less comfortable room. But otherwise, you’ll enjoy all the same things those who paid full price will get, like all the meals, and you’ll have the same itinerary.

I asked around when I was there and was pleasantly surprised. I saw people board several cruises last-minute.