Choosing a Program
There are four main types of programs when it comes to cruises to Antarctica, summarized below. The most popular by far and most classic is the Antarctic Peninsula program. Next, there is the Antarctic Circle program, going another day further south. For those with even more time, a third option is to combine Antarctica with South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands. Fourth, there are the Fly & Cruise options, where you fly down to Antarctica and start the cruise from down there, then fly back. Most of the ships we offer do the first three of these programs at some point during the Antarctica season. There are a limited number of Fly & Cruise options, but this is an increasingly popular way to travel to Antarctica. Some of the main differences between these four main program types are summarized below, and our Antarctica specialists are happy to answer any questions you have and steer you in the right direction:
Antarctic Peninsula Cruises offer the most popular and most classic Antarctic voyage, one that showcases the dramatic scenery and wildlife for which Antarctica is famous. You’ll explore the beauty of the Peninsula, an area home to penguins, seals, whales, and other wildlife, and magnificent mountain scenery. Typically 10-12 days in length, with 4 to 6 days spent in Antarctica (the rest traveling down and back and overnighting in Ushuaia), this classic program is offered on virtually all of the vessels going to Antarctica, at widely varying price points depending on the vessel and cabin.
Antarctic Circle Cruises follow the same route as the Antarctic Peninsula cruises but then add a couple days to make it far enough south to actually cross the Antarctic Circle. It’s important to keep in mind that there is less wildlife as you travel farther south, and the scenery is generally not quite as dramatic, but the sense of remoteness is remarkable. Typically 12 to 14 days in length, these are just a few days longer than the Antarctica Peninsula programs and accordingly cost a bit more. There are typically 6 to 8 days total spent in Antarctica.
South Georgia Island and Falklands Cruises let you combine your classic Antarctic exploration with these off the beaten path island highlights in the far South Atlantic. South Georgia and the Falklands are not part of Antarctica, but they combine well with an Antarctic cruise, and both offer remarkably high concentrations of wildlife. South Georgia in particular is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular places on the planet, with towering mountains and almost unimaginably vast colonies of majestic king penguins. These are longer, often 20 days or more at sea, but if you have the time, it’s an extraordinary and unique travel opportunity.
Antarctica Fly & Cruise trips let you skip either one way or both ways of the biggest sea crossing involved in most Antarctica trips, the fabled Drake Passage, which is 2 days of sea travel in each direction. Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, you can fly directly to the Antarctic Peninsula to meet your ship. These are a good option for people with less time, or who are more prone to seasickness. These trips require a bit of flexibility in terms of the travel schedule, as there can be weather delays on either end with the flights. Some are happy to avoid cruising over the Drake Passage; others view it as an integral part of the experience and an opportunity to spend time hearing lectures and meeting guides and other passengers before arriving to Antarctica itself. Please contact us with any questions about any of these options. Our Antarctica specialists are here to help you with anything you need.