There are many reasons why Antarctica tours are on so many people’s bucket list: surreal icy landscapes, endemic wildlife, total isolation, and a captivating history spanning centuries. As you sail into remote frozen territories that seals, penguins, whales, and a vast variety of seabirds call their home, you’ll be mesmerised by this untouched, frozen land.
Our Antarctica cruises are accompanied by knowledgeable leaders and expedition staff who share their expertise about the places you visit. Sailing on purpose-built ships designed to cut through frozen waters, you’ll be navigated to regions that can’t otherwise be reached.
Zodiacs (heavy-duty inflatables) will take you even closer to the action and an expert will always be on hand to impart fascinating information. There are also optional activities available, including sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and camping on ice.
Antarctic polar cruise fleet
Small ships make the difference. The key to making the most of your trip to Antarctica is to ensure maximum shore and Zodiac time. Ships with more than 200 passengers often find their landing sites are limited, and the logistics of disembarking the ship’s complement into Zodiacs can be slow.
Our small expedition cruise ships generally offer twice-daily ‘off-ship’ activities – both morning and afternoon – with waiting time being almost non-existent. Our ships are all ice-rated vessels, specifically designed for polar waters, and are able to travel to areas other ships only dream about accessing. You can also expect great cuisine food on-board. Every guest will benefit from the technical advances of this superb fleet.
For more information see our Polar Fleet page.
On board your ship
You’ll find a laid-back, friendly atmosphere on board your Antarctic cruise. You’ll mix with like-minded passengers from around the globe along with our expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts. There are spaces on the ship to relax or learn more about Antarctica, from the observation lounge and library to the intimate lecture theatre.
Our Antarctic cruises are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean, and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.
All polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only – it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility, and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations, or the expert opinion of the crew on board may lead to adjustments to the route you see online and in brochures, in order to maximise your overall experience of the trip.
Zodiac excursions from the ship allow you to explore the many bays and channels as well carrying you to the landing sites each day.
On the longer Zodiac cruises, you’ll be sitting still for most of the time with the potential for sea spray and a cold headwind – if you are not appropriately dressed you will get cold. However, the chance to observe penguins gliding through the water and seeing seals lounging on ice floes more than makes up for the chill! Curious whales, such as Minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs too, giving us a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals.
On the shore excursions, most of the landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle-deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (Wellington boots are issued to all passengers on Antarctica cruises).
There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain, and sometimes deep snow. The expedition team will advise where you are free to explore during a landing and make suggestions as to what you can see. On some landings there may be the option to do a guided walk – the expedition team will let you know the details in advance.
We work with some of the leading Expedition Leaders and Polar Cruise Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, polar history, geology, ornithology, and ocean sciences. During the time at sea, presentations will be scheduled to prepare you for the coming adventure.
In addition to regular shore landings and Zodiac excursions, on some departures in Antarctica there are other optional activities on offer which you may wish to experience:
On many of our Antarctic cruises there’s the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship, and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are expertly guided and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available.
Camping on ice
Spending a night camping on ice is a unique experience that we offer on some of our Antarctic tours. No previous experience is needed to participate in our camping option. We provide the equipment: you contribute a desire for a personal and intimate connection with the continent.
Combining surfing with kayaking or canoeing, stand-up paddle-boarding will give you a personal and unique perspective on Antarctica. Guided by experienced staff in small groups in good weather conditions on calm bays and harbours, reservations for a limited number of paddle-boarders will be taken at time of booking. Other paddle-boarding opportunities may be offered via sign-up, on board ship, on a first-come, first-served basis.