Antarctica, The White Continent, is widely regarded as the ultimate cruise destination, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that captivates and inspires those who make the journey there. Calving glaciers, glassy sapphire icebergs, penguin colonies, leopard seals and whales await the adventurous travellers who traverse the turbulent Drakes Passage in anticipation of reaching this stunning place. Following in the footsteps of iconic explorers, they marvel at such an untouched region; a rare wilderness of sublime beauty and raw nature, uninhabited except for a few scientists, mainly home to deserted whaling stations, research buildings and the greatest concentration of marine mammals on the planet.
Specially built vessels visit Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, generally from November to March. Polar class ships, with ice strengthened hulls, cruise in various sizes and specifications. Larger vessels, such as the Crystal Serenity, scenic cruise the coastline whereas smaller expedition class ships penetrate deeper into the landscape, reaching remote landing sites and wildlife points where guests go ashore. Zodiac crafts and kayaks allow passengers an up-close experience as onboard experts share their knowledge and passion. Hurtigruten and Lindblad pride themselves on the authenticity of their cruises, remaining true to the utilitarian and scientific nature of those famous pioneers who went before. Other lines, such as Seabourn and Silversea, combine purpose built exploration ships and enrichment without compromising on the luxury and service synonymous with their brand.
Itineraries to Antarctica often include The Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Chilean Fjords, Patagonia and Cape Horn. Flexibility is key on an Antarctic cruise as landings depend largely on weather and environmental conditions and the Captain may change planned excursions when necessary.
Photos courtesy of Hurtigruten