Traveling to Antarctica is one of the most expensive trips a person can make. The combination of the distance and the allure drives the price-tag north of most other trips. Shopping around for our trip we learned a few tips to help get you there yourself, but most importantly, we found out that visiting Antarctica is worth every penny.
The key fact is that all the operators offer essentially the same three cruises. For marketing distinction they use different names, but don’t be fooled, they follow almost the exact same itineraries with slight variations in landing spots. The biggest difference that drives the price are the accommodations. There are luxury ships down to backpacker vessels, all which offer last-minute deals, so choosing an Antarctic trip requires two key decisions: itinerary and comfort level.
The three standard trips are:
Antarctic Peninsula-far and away the most common trip offered by all ships during each season, this is the basic Antarctic trip. This is what we took and highly recommend for Antarctica interested, but budget conscious. Being the most common trip there are great last-minute discounts for those with flexible schedules. Generally lasting 10-11 days.
Antarctic Circle-Following the same route as the Antarctic Peninsula voyages, the “Circle” voyages add two days on Antarctica while crossing the Antarctic Circle. If there is space available this is probably a better deal than the basic Antarctic Peninsula as you get more landings. Generally last 12-14 days.
South Georgia, Falklands and Antarctica (often called Shackleton voyages)–The voyage of voyages, this is the trip to take if you have the time and money. The world’s largest Albatross colony in the Falklands islands will whet your appetite for what’s to come. Next up is the “Galapagos of the Atlantic”, South Georgia, where you’ll be overstimulated with wildlife including the incredible King Penguins. Then you’ll steam south to Antarctica, spending four days exploring the Southern Continent. It will be 20-24 days of your life you’ll never forget.
The reality is that you won’t be disappointed by any of these standard tours. We desperately wanted to take the South Georgia, Falklands and Antarctica trip, but there was no space available during our dates. Debating between returning later to do the long trip or take one now, we chose the Antarctic Peninsula voyage aboard the Plancius and were blown away…it far exceeded our expectations.
Most ships offer camping and kayaking options. We chose to camp on Antarctica and would highly recommend it. Warm sleeping bags and bivies are provided for you to sleep out on the ice. Camping was a highlight for us, the photo above, from roughly midnight, shows how peaceful, beautiful and bright the Antarctic summer is. Kayakers had rave reviews, but sacrificed some landings to explore Antarctica by sea. While their experiences were stunning (including scary encounters with Leopard Seals), it seemed to be best for those who love to kayak than for your average Joe.
If you want a real Antarctic adventure, Oceanwide Expedition’s Basecamp Plancius is for you. With all activities included in the price (kayaking, camping, mountaineering, and more), it is all Antarctic action, all the time. This is truly a unique trip for the modern explorer.
If you’ve ever dreamed of Antarctica, you have to make the trip. It is truly a trip of a lifetime.