A cruise to Antarctica is according to many nature lovers the most beautiful trip in the world. But how do you find the right trip? And for how long should you go? Especially as it is a very expensive journey. In fact, most people have to save up for a trip to the South Pole. These are my tips for the most popular route that departs and returns from South America.
The city of Ushuaia is located in the southernmost tip of Argentina. It is the departure point for most cruises to Antarctica. You can choose roughly from two types of cruises. Which differ considerably in price, but also in route and excursions that you take along the way.
I cruised the Antarctic and I studied the various alternatives beforehand. And I learned what you need to pay attention to when choosing the right cruise.
For instance, the excursions included. Excursions include trips with a zodiac where you are dropped off at different places along the route. Where you can go out with a guide to see the wildlife, for example. Which also often gives you some free time. So that you can discover things for yourself. And hike a bit or take endless pictures.
The long Antarctica cruise (about 20 days)
The longer version lasts about 16 to 21 days. The main difference with the shorter cruise is that you also visit other places. Those are really worthwhile.
The Falkland Islands are remote but very unique. An unprecedented number of penguins live on these islands. Which you can meet on the golden beaches.
Read my tips for Falkland Islands >
But the highlight is for sure South Georgia. Which is known from BBC’s Frozen Planet, among other things. Millions of penguins live here, as well as countless other animals such as seal seals, whales, and much more.
Read my tips for South Georgia >
South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are unprecedented steep mountains on the way to Antarctica. Usually, no excursions are offered here, but there are cruises that do. So check this carefully. On the other cruises, it is still nice to see the islands from the deck. The South Shetland Islands are an extremely rugged area. And very beautiful.
Read my tips for the South Shetland Islands >
The Antarctic Peninsula is the end of this journey. With good weather, various excursions are offered. Including cruising with a zodiac, but you also go ashore. So that you actually enter the Seventh Continent. In addition, you will also look for the penguin species that live in Antarctica. And as said, not all of them do.
Read my tips for the Antarctic Peninsula >
The journey takes quite a long time. Where you spend about ten days at sea. The other days you are close to land. A diverse ray of excursions are organised. At least when there’s good weather. With many more excursions along the way. But above all, you will see a lot of the Antarctic wildlife. And yes, this cruise also has a (much) higher price tag.
The short Antarctica cruise (about 10 days)
Usually this is a ten-day cruise. Or nine for example. A total of ten days you will then sail through the infamous Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. You make various excursions after which you sail back. You will be at sea for about six days out of ten days. On the other days you have excursions ashore.
The disadvantage is that you will not visit many places in the area and will therefore see fewer types of penguins. Also much less other animals. Relatively speaking, you also travel much more than on the longer cruise. The advantage is a lower price than the longer version. The choice is yours.
The main difference
One of the things I noticed is that I haven’t seen most of the animals in Antarctica but on the islands around it. Including the various types of penguins; the majority are not even found on Antarctica. And if you don’t do those places, that’s a shame.