How to get to Antarctica


Antarctica travel FAQs

How do I pick the right itinerary?
There is a wide range of customisable Antarctica tours that will allow you to create the perfect experience. You can take into account your budget, as well as the time that you have available for this adventure. To pick the right trip, first figure out what would be most important to you, then speak to a tour operator.

What is there to do while on the ship?
Some Antarctic cruise ships have such luxuries as gym, sauna and small pools, but they are rare. Most ships have a lecture theatre, library, bar and restaurant, and of course the main deck. All offer lectures focusing on the geology, history and wildlife of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to help you prepare for what lies ahead. You can meet the crew and expedition team and your fellow passengers in the ship’s common areas. Be sure to bundle up and spend some time on deck, taking in the spectacular scenery and scanning the horizon for whales, seals and seabirds. You can also do this from the comfort of the lounges and observation decks.

Can we go on shore?
Shore landings are a feature of Antarctic cruises and one or two excursions are usually planned per day, weather permitting. You usually get to land in a Zodiac, a sturdy, inflatable, open-air boat that can travel quickly in shallow water.

What is there to do on shore?
Shore landings are mainly for watching penguins, seals and nesting birds, though itineraries often try to include a visit to a scientific base. Some cruises offer activities such as kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, mountaineering and even overnight camping.

IAATO procedures require that tour operators coordinate their itineraries so that no more than one vessel visits a landing site at any one time. So your group will always be the only visitors on shore in that location at that time. Also, no more than 100 passengers are allowed ashore at one time, with a guide-to-passenger ratio of up to 1:20. Consequently, shore excursions might have to be conducted in shifts, with passengers going on shore at staggered times.

How many people will be on the ship?

The number of people on board varies depending on the ship, but most ships carry between 50 and 150 passengers. A few of the mega-yachts and purpose-built cruise ships carry around 250 passengers. Ships carrying more than 500 passengers are prohibited from making landings in Antarctica.

How often are trips cancelled? What happens if my trip is cancelled?
Tour operators do their best to stay on schedule and conduct trips as planned. However, there are cases when unforeseen issues pop up and, to ensure the safety of their guests, operators may have to cancel a trip. If this happens, staff will be on hand to help you figure out next steps, whether that’s rescheduling a few days later or rebooking for a later date. It’s disappointing when a trip of a lifetime is cancelled, but the companies will do their best to make it right for you.

What is the food like on board?
Food on board the cruise ships is excellent. Breakfasts and lunches tend to be buffet style, with dinners generally served to your table and featuring three and sometimes four courses with variations for dietary restrictions. Because visitors come from around the world, the range of food is diverse with professional chefs preparing a wide selection of gourmet dishes.

Is it safe to go to Antarctica?
Yes. Tour operators consistently monitor weather conditions and will always provide you with the best possible adventure without risk of injury to you or damage to the vessel. While some activities may need to be rescheduled or cancelled due to the weather, every effort is made to have a contingency plan.

Will I get seasick?
It is true that at times the Drake Passage can be rough, but the cruise vessels are built for maximum stability and comfort to ensure that even in rough conditions, sea and motion sickness is kept to a minimum. Ships also have a host of services and facilities to help if you are affected. If you are particularly prone to seasickness, perhaps investigate the possibility of flying over the Drake Passage. Speak to your expedition company about this option.

Will I need travel insurance?
It’s highly recommended that you have travel insurance. There are a number of factors that can cause tour operators to cancel or delay trips, such as a problem with the ship or extreme weather conditions. Most operators will try to switch you to a later trip or give you a refund. But you may still have incurred costs for flights, hotels, etc. With the right travel insurance you may be able to recoup some of those costs.


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