Antarctica Cruises - Leaving from the USA, United States
Antarctica Cruise and Adventure Travel With Cool Antarctica
and Expedition Trips
Most trips to Antarctica are cruises that leave from
the port of Ushuaia in Argentina visiting the Antarctic Peninsula
and the islands of the (largely undersea) Scotia Arc (fig 2)
that stretches east from the southernmost tip of Tierra del
Fuego, through 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.
A smaller number of trips leave from Australia or New Zealand and visit the eastern region of Antarctica, sailing time is about 6-7 days there and the same back again. These trips are longer and therefore more expensive, they usually leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand, often leaving from one and returning to the other on alternate trips.
There are a smaller number of trips that leave from Hobart, Australia or Invercargill, New Zealand (frequently leaving from one and returning to another) that visit the more remote Eastern part of Antarctica.
1 - New York, USA
2 - Dallas Tx, USA
3 - Miami Fl, USA
4 - Ushuaia, Argentina
5 - Antarctic Peninsula
|Distances||miles / km|
|New York - Ushuaia, Argentina||6,580 / 10,590|
|Dallas - Ushuaia, Argentina||5,590 / 9,000|
|Miami - Ushuaia, Argentina||6,260 / 10,080|
|New York - Hobart, Australia||10,320 / 16,610|
|New York - Invercargill, NZ||9,370 / 15,070|
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|
The trip may depart and return to the same port or leave from one and return to another in either direction. 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 such as Snares, Auckland and Campbell Islands that lie between Macquarie and New Zealand.
Once having reached 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||1640 / 2640|
|Invercargill - Commonwealth Bay||1720 / 2760|
|Hobart - Macquarie Island||940 / 1500|
|Invercargill - Macquarie Island||690 / 1110|
|Commonwealth Bay - Cape Adare||805 / 1300|
|Cape Adare - McMurdo||470 /760|
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. On the other hand, Eastern Antarctica is entirely within the Antarctic Circle and offers a different kind of Antarctica to the Peninsula region, 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 more common kind of cruise. You will probably not see any other ships during your trip at all and other than visits to research bases, you won't see any people apart from those on your ship.What could you see in the Ross Sea region that you won't see on the Peninsula? You may visit the following places subject to the specific itinerary of your cruise and according to what the weather and sea will allow.
Mount Erebus - The world's southernmost active volcano.
Historic sites - There are historic huts in this region of Antarctica from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration from 1897-1922. Scott, Shackleton and Mawson all left huts behind which are preserved as historic relics and time capsules that can be visited.
The Ross Ice Shelf - A 600 km long wall of ice between 15m and 50m high.
Isolated scientific bases - including the largest in the Antarctic, the American base at McMurdo Sound.
Emperor Penguins - The birds of the deep south that rear their young in the depths of the Antarctic winter, the largest of all penguins.
Sub-Antarctic Islands - On the way south and on the return journey back north. These islands are oases of wildlife, especially birdlife which nest here in their almost countless thousands.
Comparison of cruises to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica to the Peninsula region
- Remoteness - You will see little
if any other shipping and get a greater feeling
of isolation and being at the end of the world,
this is a rarely visited part of the planet.
- You are going where the world's biggest
icebergs are and the most extreme weather
- 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.
- These should be seen as "extreme
cruises", they are more of expedition
than other Antarctic cruises, even if your ship
is luxurious, the conditions encountered might not
- 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 than the more commonly taken Peninsula
trips, 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 - Sample Cruises - 2015 / 2016
|Antarctica Cruise - Discovering the 7th Continent||South Shetlands, Antarctic Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel Optional kayaking, camping and snowshoeing||$6,995 -
|Antarctica Cruise - The Peninsula||Classic Antarctica, pristine scenery, classic sites of scientific and historic interest, experienced naturalist guides. Optional kayaking, camping, cross-country skiing and mountaineering||$6,795 -
|Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise||Fly over the Drake Passage, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Wildlife, Scenery, Ice Optional kayaking and snowshoeing||$9,995 - $18,995||8|
Antarctica Ross Sea Region - Sample Cruises - 2015 / 2016
|The Ross Sea Region - In the Wake of Scott and Shackleton||Auckland Islands, Macquarie and Campbell Islands, Explore the Ross Sea, Historic Huts, Ross Ice Shelf, McMurdo base.||$20,000 -
|East Antarctica - In the Wake of Mawson||Antarctic Peninsula to Ross Sea, Historic Huts, remote East Antarctica, Emperor penguins, sub-Antarctic islands, helicopter excursions||$13,500 -
South Georgia / Falkland Islands / Antarctica - Sample Cruises - 2015 / 2016
|Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands||Vast Colonies of King Penguins, Breathtaking Scenery, Historic sites, optional kayaking||$17,995 -
|Shackleton Centenary Voyage||In conjunction with Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute Cambridge Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula||$13,195 - $21,095||20|
* 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.
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.