Embarking on an expedition cruise to Antarctica presents a truly extraordinary and unforgettable journey—a chance to explore a pristine world of ice and snow, home to an impressive array of penguins, seals, and whales. However, with an increasing number of cruise lines venturing to this ‘white continent,’ choosing the most suitable ship can pose a challenge. Considering that a trip to Antarctica comes with a significant cost, making the right decision is crucial. Some travelers prioritize luxury and comfort, while others focus on the expertise of the onboard expedition team or the availability of advanced tools and gadgets for comprehensive exploration. To assist you in this important choice, I have compiled a comprehensive blog that showcases the best Antarctica Expedition Cruises tailor-made for your remarkable adventure.
Best Antarctica Expedition Cruises-Beyond The Ice Wall
Expedition cruises have experienced a significant surge in popularity, and Antarctica has emerged as an exceptionally sought-after destination, garnering unparalleled interest. This must-visit location captivates a multitude of world travelers in search of awe-inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It entices avid photographers and adventure enthusiasts alike, while also drawing those with the ambition to conquer their seventh continent. To assist and ignite your planning process for an unforgettable journey to Antarctica, here are their top picks of the best cruise line for Antarctica that will undoubtedly inform and inspire you.
G Expeditions serves as the polar division of G Adventures, a renowned global travel company established in 1990 by Bruce Poon Tip. Based in Canada, G Adventures specializes in offering small-group excursions to some of the world’s most captivating destinations. G Expeditions, in particular, stands out for its more budget-friendly voyages, attracting a younger crowd with a strong spirit of adventure. If you seek an unforgettable journey guided by a highly skilled team, opting for a G Adventures tour is a decision you won’t regret. What sets G Expeditions’ Antarctica packages apart is the opportunity to enhance your experience by adding kayaking and camping, catering to the adventurous souls. Additionally, they boast an array of voyages to the White Continent, ensuring that there’s a fitting option for every individual seeking to embark on a cruise expedition for Antarctica.
Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent’s Antarctica expeditions cater to a select group of 199 guests, providing them with a luxurious all-inclusive experience. The tour operator first launched its Antarctica expedition in 1991, and with over 30 years of experience, it has perfected exceptional luxury cruises designed for discerning travelers who wish to explore the remote White Continent. The company places a strong emphasis on safeguarding Antarctica’s wildlife and delicate ecosystem, employing cutting-edge technology, and actively supporting non-profit organizations through A&K Philanthropy. For their Antarctica voyages, Abercrombie & Kent charters the elegant Le Lyrial, one of Ponant’s finest ice-class expedition ships. With a smaller guest capacity, the number of landings in Antarctica is not significantly constrained, allowing for an average of two landings daily and creating a more intimate and immersive experience.
For quite some time, Silversea Expedition has been operating the Silver Explorer in Antarctica, gaining extensive experience in this region. However, in 2022, they introduced the brand-new Silver Endeavour, previously known as the Crystal Endeavour, which replaced the Silver Explorer. This upgrade solidified Silversea’s position as one of the top operators with one of the most opulent and purpose-built expedition vessels in the area. Additionally, their expedition fleet includes the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, both converted from ‘classic’ ships in 2017 and 2022, respectively, offering elevated levels of comfort on board. What sets Silversea apart is its all-inclusive proposition, which ensures you won’t encounter any additional expenses beyond the upfront cost, which admittedly may be high.
Seabourn Quest and the recently launched “ultra-luxury” expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, debuted in 2022. The Seabourn Venture boasts lavish suites featuring private verandas, along with thoughtful amenities such as a heated wardrobe to dry expedition gear. With a team of 24 scientists, naturalists, and expert guides, as well as 24 Zodiacs and two custom-built submarines, thrilling adventures are guaranteed. After exciting expeditions, guests can relish their experiences over delectable cuisine in a choice of eight dining venues, including the Colonnade restaurant, which serves dishes crafted by the renowned chef, Thomas Keller. The itineraries of the voyages vary, with some exploring the Chilean coast and spending six days in the Antarctic peninsula, while others extend to include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, providing even more diverse and captivating experiences.
Aurora Expeditions, an Australian-owned company, has been exploring Antarctica since 1992 with a pioneering spirit. As trailblazers, they were the first to introduce thrilling activities like ice camping and kayaking, and they’ve undertaken daring expeditions to scale mountains and retrace the legendary steps of Shackleton. Their fleet comprises two state-of-the-art vessels, the Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle, both featuring an innovative X-Bow design for smoother and more fuel-efficient cruising. Additionally, sea-level platforms facilitate swift launches of Zodiacs, crucial for shore excursions. For adventurers seeking more, add-on experiences such as diving and ski touring are available. Moreover, some itineraries include traversing the Antarctic Circle, adding an extra layer of excitement to the journey.
Atlas Ocean Voyages
Atlas Ocean Voyages presents a wide selection of all-inclusive voyages to Antarctica, facilitated by their sophisticated and luxurious ice-class expedition yachts. Their approach to luxury expedition cruising is highly inclusive, ensuring a remarkable experience for travelers. Itineraries encompass a diverse range, from shorter Antarctica expeditions and 9- to 11-night round-trip voyages to more profound polar immersions lasting 13 nights or beyond. One of their novel offerings, the “Fly & Sail” expeditions, includes private charter flights to Antarctica’s King George Island, providing travelers with the convenience of skipping the ship crossing through the Drake Channel. Atlas Ocean Voyages’ vessels accommodate less than 200 guests and boast numerous dining options, 98 elegantly appointed suites, solo suites without any single supplements, and comfortable staterooms, all designed to enhance the overall comfort of the journey.
Unveiled in 2019, this super-swanky, 228-passenger “discovery yacht” was the first oceangoing vessel for luxury purveyor Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours — a brand better known for river cruises. Scenic Eclipse also was the first Antarctica-bound cruise vessel to boast helicopters to take passengers on epic (and pricey) Antarctica excursions — and it has a submarine for underwater exploring, too. Having experienced a helicopter excursion from the vessel, I can say that it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Like Scenic River ships, Scenic Eclipse is a high-end vessel with all-suite accommodations (and we’re talking real suites, with separate living rooms), butler service for all, and a wide range of onboard dining options including a sushi restaurant. It has a whiskey bar stocked with more than 110 whiskies and other high-end liquors, plus a spa and a yoga studio.
Hurtigruten Expeditions, based in Norway, is commemorating an impressive 130 years of polar voyages. With multiple ships operating in Antarctica, they can accommodate a range of 318 to 530 guests. Offering a diverse selection of itineraries, spanning from 12 to 23 days, the company allows explorers to fully immerse themselves in the trip to the icy splendor of Antarctica. Having sailed to Antarctica for over two decades, Hurtigruten Expeditions boasts a wealth of experience, making them one of the most seasoned operators in the region. An important aspect of their operations is their commitment to green energy, solidifying Hurtigruten’s dedication to highly sustainable expedition travel. Their ships are a testament to this ethos, with exceptional onboard expedition teams, well-equipped science centers, expansive observation decks, and spacious staterooms and suites with balconies.
Quark Expeditions specializes exclusively in polar regions, focusing solely on Arctic and Antarctic sailings. With a diverse fleet and various price points, they offer a wide selection of enticing itineraries. Among their exceptional offerings is a rare opportunity to journey as far south as the Antarctic Circle, a remarkable experience reserved for a fortunate few. Additionally, in November 2023, Quark Expeditions presents a unique chance to visit Snow Hill Island, home to 8000 pairs of Emperor penguins and one of the few places on Earth where witnessing these majestic creatures with their chicks is possible. Within their fleet, two standout recommendations are the Ultramarine, the newest and fully Quark-owned and operated vessel, and the World Explorer, which commenced its voyages in 2019.
Antarctica 21, a Chilean-owned company, is a pioneer in air-cruise expeditions, a novel approach that allows travelers to bypass the challenging sea crossing of the Drake Passage between the tip of South America and the Antarctic peninsula. Although the Drake Passage can be treacherous with rough waters, the two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island offers an alternative, though it can be affected by adverse weather conditions. Antarctica 21 offers voyages ranging from seven to 17 days aboard three ships: Ocean Nova, Hebridean Sky, and Magellan Explorer. The Magellan Explorer stands out as most of its cabins boast private balconies.
In conclusion, these best expedition cruises to Antarctica promise an unparalleled adventure, delving into the untouched beauty of the icy realm. From towering icebergs to charming penguins, every moment is a testament to the raw power and grace of nature. These transformative journeys leave an everlasting impact, reminding us to cherish and protect our planet’s precious wilderness. So, if you seek a voyage like no other, set sail for Antarctica and be prepared to be enchanted by a world few have the privilege to witness. Take the plunge into this frozen wonderland and create memories to last a lifetime.