• Experience Antarctica with the small ship experts
  • Enjoy a free night camping on the ice
  • Close wildlife encounters
  • Adventure options include kayaking, climbing and ice diving
  • Numerous daily landings from our fleet of Zodiacs

How to choose an Antarctica travel experience that suits your style.

When planning an Antarctica travel adventure, it is important to understand there are great differences in the types of ships that travel to Antarctica.

Choosing the right tour operator and ship can make a big difference to your Antarctica travel experience; it all depends on your personal preferences.

What kind of Antarctica trip is right for you?

Ask yourself what kind of Antarctica vacation best suits your personal style. There are more than 30 cruise ships that travel to Antarctica, ranging from small 50-passenger, ice strengthened, ‘expedition-style’ vessels, to large luxury ships that carry up to 3000 passengers.

Small Ships offer more flexibility

Smaller expedition-style ships will often have more flexible itineraries, and the expedition leader can choose to alter course on Antarctica trips to take maximum advantage of the weather or opportunities for watching wildlife or exploring hidden bays and coves.

Going ashore in Antarctica

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), the industry group that sets guidelines for safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica, limits the number of tourists that can land on the continent at any one time to a maximum of 100 people.

If you are travelling on an Antarctic cruise ship with more than 100 passengers, you may not be able to go ashore at some places, or miss out while others take their turn.

If you really want to set foot on the Antarctic continent, a smaller ship that carries less than 100 passengers, can offer travellers a more intimate Antarctica travel experience.

Smaller ships usually offer more opportunities to go cruising in a ‘Zodiac’ (rubber inflatable boat), sometimes up to two or three times per day.

Some large ships do not land on the continent at all and are often restricted in the places they can visit. 

How else do Antarctic cruise ships differ?

Some ships that travel to Antarctica have all the features of a floating hotel, with formal restaurants, bars, gymnasium, swimming pools and scheduled activities. Smaller ‘expedition-style’ ships can be much more basic. Most are converted Russian research vessels, and there is more emphasis on education, than accommodation and onboard entertainment.

How do I decide which company to travel to Antarctica with?

Questions to ask your Antarctica travel operator include how many days you will spend in Antarctica; what is included in the price; how many times you are likely to land or leave the ship; how many ‘Zodiacs’ (rubber inflatable boats) are available to ferry passengers to shore; the experience of the staff and crew; and whether the company is a member of IAATO.

How important is the expedition staff?

Staff and crew experienced in polar regions can greatly improve your Antarctica vacation. The quality and experience of expedition staff is important, as their knowledge of the landing spots, wildlife and history will enhance your understanding and overall experience.

Other factors to consider

Another question to ask an Antarctic travel operator when selecting trips to Antarctica is the atmosphere and culture on board the ship. Some ships provide opportunities to party all night, while others offer a more introspective Antarctica travel experience. Whatever your choice you should make sure you select the right ship and Antarctic travel operator to suit your personal style and comfort level.

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