Cruising through the spell-binding landscapes of Antarctica – the world’s southernmost continent – is a journey experienced by few, but forgotten by none. Crossing the Antarctic Circle is like venturing into another world and exploring the Southern Ocean’s dramatic islands, unique wildlife and traces of the intrepid explorers who have come before is a once in a lifetime experience. Antarctica and its surrounding islands provide a haven for vast colonies of emperor, rockhopper, chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins, together with migratory seabirds that include albatross, petrels, cormorants, skuas and terns. Its seas are patrolled by leopard, fur, elephant and Weddell seals, while sperm, humpback and the mighty blue whale can be seen breaching the surface. Most Antarctic cruises depart from the port of Ushuaia in Argentina, passing through the wild waters of Drake’s Passage before arriving at the South Shetland Islands and the continent’s most accessible region, the Antarctic Peninsula. The South Atlantic islands of the Falklands, the South Orkneys and South Georgia are also visited on some itineraries, with fascinating wildlife encounters and a rich history to explore.
Our preferred operator in this region is Antarctica21, who pioneered the Air-Cruise model. They offer a two-hour flight from Punta Arenas directly to Antarctica where you board your expedition ship. This allows you to not only save two days of travel each way, but also avoid potential sea sickness while crossing the Drake Passage. Antarctica21 has some of the smallest polar ships in the industry paired with one of the highest guest to staff ratios, making them a preferred option for anyone looking to get the most out of their Antarctic experience.