Choosing a Luxury Antarctic Cruise
Our Antarctica cruise experts have already selected only the finest vessels with the highest level of service for the discerning traveler. Here are some of the criteria used to help travelers decide which luxury class cruise to choose.
Small vs. Large Cruise Ships
One of the biggest factors when choosing an Antarctic cruise is the size of the cruise ship. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) guidelines dictate that ships with over 500 passengers cannot take passengers on shore, so larger ships spend several days cruising through scenic scapes, but without setting foot on Antarctica. Whereas with a small ship, we simply board a zodiac and land where the guide determines optimal. Other reasons we only offer cruises on small ship are because they have the ability to go further south through deeper ice, have more knowledgable, specialized guides, superior lectures, and cruisemates highly interested in the geography, natural history and wildlife of Antarctica. Here are our top choices for small luxury ships:Cruise Length and Itinerary
Our luxury Antarctic cruises vary in length from 6 to 23 days departing from Ushuaia, Argentina or Punta Arenas, Chile. Most cruises are around 12 days long, and depart from Ushuaia, pass Drake's Passage, Cape Horn and onward to the Antarctic Peninsula where travelers spend 4-7 days exploring the white continent. Longer trips of 18-23 days additionally sail to the Falkland Islands and the wildlife rich South Georgia before setting sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.
Antarctic Fly/Cruise vs. Traditional Cruise
If you have limited time, then a flight/cruise combination where you fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George's Island to save a few days of sailing the high seas in transport. On King George's Island we board the Hebridean Sky where days 3-6 of the itinerary are spent sailing between South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula before returning to King George's Island for the flight back to Chile.
If you have specific departure dates in mind, these may guide your decision, as availability for Antarctica cruises can be quite limited. If not, then you will want to consider the following factors, among others:
Size of the vessel
- Some travelers prefer the intimacy of small group travel that often means more time with the guide, more efficient embarkation/ disembarkation, and a cozier feel on board. Boats with fewer travelers (50 or less) also tend to offer more adventure options such as scuba diving, kayaking, and camping. Other travelers prefer the relative spaciousness (cabins still tend to be small on most boats!) and added facilities (Jacuzzi, gym, pool, etc) of the larger boats. Often, though not always, the larger boats tend to have more luxury amenities and also be more expensive for similar itineraries.
- Many of the yachts offer a similar range of itineraries. However, some offer more diversity than others. If you have a special interest such as visiting South Georgia, crossing the circle, or traveling to the Falklands, let our trip coordinator know.
- The cost of Antarctica voyages varies tremendously. If you are working within a specific budget, let our trip coordinators know so that we can match you with the very best cruise. Size of cabins, length of itinerary, facilities on the boat, etc. can all impact the cost. Once we know your priorities, we can help you find the best option!
- Some vessels offer special cruises for divers, kayakers, climbers, campers, photographers, etc. If you have a special interest, please let us know.