Cruise to Antarctica
There are three options for traveling to Antarctica by air. The first option is an “overflight”, a single day option. The second is a standard flight, and the third is what is known as an “air cruise”. All three options have their positive and negative points
The other advantage of this way over flying to Antarctica, of course, is time. The overflights last less than a day and you don’t need to plan two weeks of your vacation, as you would with a cruise.
Therefore, you will need to book early to avoid disappointment. Depending on your seat, flights cost between $900 and $7,500 for a 12-hour round trip on a Boeing 747. Check www.antarcticaflights.com.au for full details and to make reservations.
Where you want to go will largely depend on where you need to depart from. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, is Antarctic Logistics Centre International, which flies to the Russian research base at Novolazareskaya (known as Novo Air Base).
Requirements for travel to Antarctica
Due to its location at the end of the South American continent, getting to Antarctica is a long mission, and the part of the continent you want to visit, and your budget, will influence your decision to travel by plane or by ship.
The most widely used and economical way to get to Antarctica is by ship, usually departing from the lower end of South America, either from Ushuaia in Argentina or from Punta Arenas in Chile.
Another benefit of sailing to Antarctica is that there are more departure dates (the air travel season is mainly from December to February due to the weather), whereas the ship season covers from November to the end of March.
This is because more than 90% of all Antarctica-bound ships depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, as the southernmost tip of South America is geographically close to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The voyage to Antarctica from Ushuaia is approximately 2 days, and you will have the opportunity to cross the Drake Passage, one of the most infamous ocean channels on the planet. Since the ship tends to move quite a lot sometimes if you are unlucky it can move on its axis of rotation up to 30 degrees.
Travel to Antarctica prices
In the world there are five cities that hold the title of “gateway to Antarctica”: Cape Town, in South Africa; Christchurch, in New Zealand; Hobart, in Australia; Punta Arenas, in Chile and Ushuaia, in Argentina. Of all these places, the capital of Tierra del Fuego is the closest point to the White Continent, since it is only 1,000 kilometers from the Antarctic Peninsula.
From Ushuaia, Antarctica can be visited only by sea, this being the most popular option among travelers. The cruise season starts in late October or early November and ends in March, when summer ends in the southern hemisphere.
Antarctic cruise tourism has an important educational component, since on board there are guides and lecturers who give talks on various topics such as fauna, natural aspects, history and the preservation of the continent. This type of tourism can be considered as a way to contribute to the conservation of the Antarctic continent.
Flights to Antarctica
On board the ship the weather is pleasant. It is best to have warm clothes (like my tights and the pink T-shirt in this photo) that can be worn under other clothes when boarding (what I am showing to the camera are the stamps in our passport that we got at one of the scientific bases).
What can you do in Antarctica? The first thing to keep in mind is that all life takes place on board the cruise ship. That is to say: you sleep, eat and travel on the ship. Although everything is subject to the weather, each departure has a programmed itinerary, so it is possible to know what will be visited during the trip. There are basically three types of excursions:
Zodiac navigations: these are tours aboard these semi-rigid vessels that allow you to approach the Antarctic landscape in a more direct way, to see icebergs face to face, to enjoy the fauna from another perspective. In my opinion they are much more diverse than the landings and there is never a navigation equal to the other.
Although logic would say yes (being at a pole the auroras exist), the truth is that for that you would have to travel to Antarctica in winter and go further south, and that is out of the tourist possibilities. As I mentioned before, the trips are made in spring-summer season, when there is more light, and that prevents the show.