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Antarctica Cruises - Leaving from the UK - United Kingdom

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Fly-Cruise | Antarctic Peninsula | South Georgia / South Sandwich | South Shetlands | Falklands Leave from: NZ - Aus Europe / UK USA

The majority of trips to Antarctica Leave from the South American port of Ushuaia in Argentina and visit the Antarctic Peninsula and the islands of the Scotia Arc (fig 2) that stretches east from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego, to South Georgia, the South Shetland Islands and back to the west again through the South Orkney Islands before joining the northernmost tip of the Peninsula.

There are a smaller number of trips that leave from Australia or New Zealand and visit Eastern Antarctica taking 6-7 days to sail there and the same back again so making the trips longer and consequently more expensive. These trips usually leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand, often leaving from one and returning to the other.

 

Fig 1. Trips to Antarctica leaving from the UK most commonly leave from Ushuaia, Argentina at the tip of South America and visit the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby islands.

There are a smaller number of trips that leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand (frequently leaving from one port and returning to another) that visit the more remote Eastern part of Antarctica.


1 - London UK
2 - Ushuaia, Argentina
3 - Antarctic Peninsula

Distances - miles / km
London - Ushuaia, Argentina 8,310 / 13,380
London - Hobart, Australia 10,790 / 17,370
London - Invercargill, NZ 11,800 / 18,990

Leaving from London the trip to Ushuaia takes around 25-30 hours and will cost in the region of 1,000 per person return (2012/2013), the return journey takes 30-40 hours.
Fig 2. Trips to the Peninsula region of Antarctica. Shorter trips visit the Peninsula 6 only and some nearby islands such as the South Shetlands 5. Longer trips may also take in the Falkland Islands 3 and / or South Georgia 4 and possibly some other landings en route.

Cruises most commonly go down the western side of the Peninsula as they are less likely to encounter problematic sea ice that is more likely found on the Eastern side in the Weddell Sea.

1 - Ushuaia, Argentina
2 - Punta Arenas, Chile
3 - Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas
4 - South Georgia
5 - South Shetland Islands
6 - Antarctic Peninsula

Distances - miles / km
Ushuaia - Falklands 480 / 770
Ushuaia - South Georgia 1,255 / 2,020
Ushuaia - South Shetlands 610  / 980
Ushuaia - Peninsula tip 724 / 1,165
Punta Arenas - Peninsula tip  870 / 1,395
Peninsula top to bottom 765 / 1,230
Peninsula top to Antarctic Circle 280 / 450
Fig 3. Trips to Eastern Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand. These trips usually leave from Invercargill / Port of Bluff in New Zealand 2 (Invercargill has the airport, Bluff, 30km away has a deep-water port) or Hobart in Australia 1.

It takes about seven days sailing to reach Antarctica from Australia or New Zealand, the journey there and back is usually broken up with visits to the wildlife rich Macquarie Island 3 and others.

Once in Antarctica trips usually spend their time either in the Commonwealth Bay area 4 or the Ross Sea region between Cape Adare 5 and McMurdo 6 with possibly a short trip along the front of the Ross Ice Shelf R.


1 - Hobart - Australia
2 - Invercargill / Port of Bluff - New Zealand
3 - Macquarie Island
4 - Commonwealth Bay
5 - Cape Adare
6 - McMurdo / Scott bases
R - Ross Ice Shelf

Distances - miles / km
Hobart - Commonwealth Bay 1,640 / 2,640
Invercargill - Commonwealth Bay 1,720 / 2,760
Hobart - Macquarie Island 940 / 1,500
Invercargill - Macquarie Island 690 / 1,110
Commonwealth Bay - Cape Adare 805 / 1,300
Cape Adare - McMurdo 470 / 760

Each leg of London to Hobart or London to Invercargill takes 20-40 hours with 30 hours being typical, the cost to either is around 2,000 return per person (2012/2013).


The distance to be travelled means that trips to the Eastern side of Antarctica take longer than trips to the Peninsula region from South America and are also subsequently more expensive.

There are also a lot less trips departing from this region than there are from South America meaning less choice of dates and of ship.

On the other hand, Eastern Antarctica is entirely within the Antarctic Circle and a different kind of Antarctica, as remote as it's possible to get on the planet. It is colder than a Peninsula trip and with a higher chance of rough seas at some point. Getting to Antarctica and back again is more of an expedition than the traditional kind of cruise. You will probably not see any other ships during your cruise at all and other than visits to research bases, you won't see any people other than those on your ship.

Comparison of cruises to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica to the Peninsula region
Advantages
  • Remoteness - You will see little if any other shipping and get a greater feeling of isolation and being at the end of the world.

  • You are going where the world's biggest icebergs are and most extreme weather conditions.

  • Visit the huts of Mawson, Scott and/or Shackleton depending on where your particular cruise goes. This is the area where much of the early exploratory history of Antarctica was played out and where historical remains still stand.

  • Exclusivity - of the people who go to Antarctica, only a small proportion visit regions other than the Peninsula.
Disadvantages
(though may also be advantages depending on how you see them)
  • These should be seen as "extreme cruises", they are more of an expedition than other Antarctic cruises, even if your ship is luxurious, conditions encountered might not be!

  • You will be at sea for three weeks or more, there is a high chance that at some point you will experience rough seas, getting there and back is not a guaranteed easy ride.

  • A long way to sail which means it takes longer and costs more, these trips are more expensive, even the "cheaper" cabins.

  • There are not many cruises each year to the Ross Sea  region, so limited dates and availability, cruises are often booked up well in advance and have significant waiting lists - book early!
Antarctic Peninsula Region Cruises - (sample cruises)
Special trip offer - Chinese Speaking Guides, Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Luxury Cruise Ship, 10 Days
Depart:  02/05/14 - Return 02/14/14  |  From $4,620
Trip Departure Dates Highlights Ship / Pax Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula 11/15/13 South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire Channel, Paradise Bay, Port Lockroy Expedition Ship

Sea Adventurer - 122

  $4,595 -
$8,995
10 Ushuaia, Argentina
Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise 12/02/13, 12/07/13, 12/12/13, 12/17/13, 12/22/13, 12/27/13, 01/17/14, 01/22/14, 02/01/14, 02/06/14, 02/11/14 Fly over the Drake Passage both ways, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands Expedition Ship

Ocean Nova - 68
  $9,700 -
$17,995
7 Punta Arenas - Airport
Antarctic Peninsula Air-Cruise 11/30/12, 12/11/12 Sail south, fly back, South Shetland Islands, Abundant Wildlife, Lemaire Channel Research Vessel

Polar Pioneer - 54

kayaking
camping
$6,700 -
$11,800
10 Ushuaia, Argentina
return, Punta Arenas Chile
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula - Luxury expedition ship with 5-star service. 12/22/13 Antarctica Cruise - Falkland Islands, The Peninsula Luxury Expedition Ship

Silver Explorer - 132

  $13,750 -
$37,450
13 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula (Active Adventure) 12/10/13, 01/27/14, 02/24/14, 03/06/14, 03/16/13 South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel Research Vessel

Akademik Sergey Vavilov - 92

kayaking,
camping
$5,990 -
$12,190
11 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - Crossing the Circle 2/16/14 Antarctic Peninsula, Sail far South to land on Antarctica inside the circle, visit penguins, icebergs on a luxury ship Luxury Expedition Ship

Sea Spirit - 112

kayaking,
camping
$11,395 -
$24,995
15 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - Weddell Sea Adventure 11/22/13, 1/4/14, 1/13/14, 2/15/14 Antarctic Peninsula, Penguins, Seals, Whales, Historic sites Scenic Exploration Ship

Fram- 240
  $7,876 -
$13,128
10 Ushuaia, Argentina
Trip Departure Dates Highlights Ship / Pax Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Antarctica Cruise - Weddell Sea & Peninsula 2/28/14 Remote Stunning Area, West and East of the Antarctic Peninsula, Seals and Penguins Research Vessel

Polar Pioneer - 56

kayaking

$8,200 -
$13,200
12 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctic Peninsula with Circle Crossing 1/1/14, 2/16/14 Fly over the Drake Passage both ways,
Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands
Expedition Ship

Ocean Nova - 68

  $12,695 -
$19,795
9 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - Across the Circle Antarctic 12/20/13, 2/25/14, 3/9/14 Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Circle, Historic Areas Expedition Ship

Expedition - 68

kayaking
camping
$5,499 -
$12,999
14 Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica - Cruise - The Peninsula
Luxury expedition ship
11/27/13, 12/07/13, 12/17/13, 12/27/13, 01/6/14, 01/16/14, 01/26/14, 02/05/14 South Shetland, Paradise Bay, Lemaire Channel Luxury Expedition Ship

National Geographic Explorer- 148

  $11,990 -
$22,870
14 Buenos Aires / Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula Luxury Expedition Ship 12/2/13, 12/12/12, 1/21/14, 1/31/14, 2/10/14, 2/20/14, 12/2/14, 12/12/14 Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel Luxury Expedition Ship

Silver Explorer - 132

  $9,750 -
$28,550
11 Buenos Aires / Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula with Circle Crossing 2/10/14, 2/19/14 Sail south, fly back, South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire Channel, Spectacular Glaciers Research Vessel

Polar Pioneer - 54

kayaking $7,200 -
$12,200
10 Ushuaia, Argentina
Cruises Visiting South Georgia- (sample cruises)
Trip Departure Dates

Highlights

Ship / Pax

Options* Prices** Days Departure port
Antarctica, Falklands, & South Georgia 11/20/13, 1/31/14 Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites, South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula Research Ship

Akademik Ioffe - 96
kayaking $11,190 -
$21,190
19 Ushuaia, Argentina
South Georgia, Antarctica & the Falklands

2/2/13

Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites - kayaking option Expedition Ship

Sea Adventurer - 122

kayaking

$13,495 -
$25,595

23

Buenos Aires / Ushuaia, Argentina

South Georgia, Antarctica & The Falklands  10/19/13 Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites Research Ship

Ushuaia - 84
  $8,500 -
$13,710
17 Fly to Stanley in the Falkland Islands from Santiago, disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina
Notes
*
options may be at additional cost and are usually booked when the cruise is booked - it may be too late once the cruise has started.
** prices are based per person, the lowest price is usually for triple occupancy in a basic cabin, the highest for double occupancy in the best available suite.

Need a Little Guidance? contact our travel partners who will help you find the best cruise for your requirements


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Lonely Planet travel guide Antarctica
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 Antarctica Cruising Guide
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Frozen Planet 2011
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Shackleton 2002
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The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition
Dramatization with original footage

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