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Antarctic Cruise Tips: Length, Cost and Weather

Antarctic penguins
Antarctic penguins. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
A surprising number of people take cruises to the Antarctic to see one of the coldest places on the entire planet.

A search of a major travel booking site found a total of 42 cruises over a 12-month period. The most popular cruise lasts 10 to 14 nights:

  • Four cruises - six to nine nights

  • 23 cruises - 10 to 14 nights

  • 15 cruises - 15 or more nights

Three cruise companies offer Antarctic cruises at the time of this writing. They are Crystal, Scenic and Silversea.

The price ranges according to each length of time:

  • $17,500 to $18,700 - six to nine nights

  • $1,742 to $22,700 - 10 to 14 nights

  • $17,400 to $34,365 - 15 or more nights

Cruises that last 10 to 14 nights and cost $2,000 or less only go as far south as Elephant Island, which is the northernmost port of call in the Antarctic. Otherwise, they mainly visit South American ports. Cruises that cost at least $18,000 to more than $30,000 will visit multiple Antarctic destinations including Elephant Island, South Shetlands and the Antarctic Peninsula.

The embarkation port is a major factor in how far south the cruises will go. Buenos Aires is the most popular embarkation port. But cruises from Buenos Aires are the least expensive, mainly visit other South American ports and only go as far south as Elephant Island. Elephant Island in the outer South Shetland islands is about 150 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Cruises that go farther south and visit the South Shetland islands and the Antarctic Peninsula usually embark from Ushuaia, Argentina, or Puerto Williams, Chile.

Other departure ports include:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Santiago, Chile

  • Punta Arenas, Chile

  • Lima, Peru

  • Guayaquil, Ecuador

The Antarctic cruise season goes from November through March, which is summer in the southern hemisphere. January is the most popular month to go, followed by February and December.

  • 5 cruises - November

  • 8 cruises - December

  • 17 cruises - January

  • 9 cruises - February

  • 3 cruises - March
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
July 20, 2021