Preparing for a cruise to Antarctica will be unlike any holiday you've had before. You'll be exploring the world's coldest continent, with the nearest city over 1,000 kilometres away. It'll be one of the most life-changing trips you can experience on Earth, but it's not something to just wing on the departure date.
To get the most out of your trip, here are a few way you can prepare for your first Antarctic voyage.
How to prepare for your trip to Antarctica
Getting to Antarctica
Our Antarctic expeditions begin and end in either Argentina or Chile. First, you'll need a passport that is valid for least six months after the date of your return trip home, as well as the appropriate visas for your destination.
- Both Australian and Canadian passport holders will be required to pay a reciprocity fee online prior to travelling to Argentina.
- If you're travelling to Chile on a US, Canadian or Australian passport, you will need to pay a reciprocity fee upon arrival in Santiago. However, you will not require a visa for entry into Chile if you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, South America, the EU, Australia or New Zealand.
As these entry requirements are subject to change, contact your local Chilean or Argentine embassy to find out more. A number of airlines will operate flights into Santiago or Buenos Aires, but you'll need to arrange domestic transport to the appropriate port for your Antarctic voyage.
We recommend that anyone wanting to travel to Antarctica be in good health and have good mobility to navigate embarking and disembarking Zodiacs as well as exploring on our excursions. We don't have an age limit for our Antarctic expeditions, but we do require that all passengers present a signed medical form from their GP six to three months before your date of departure.
As you sail across the historic Drake Passage between Argentina and the Antarctic peninsula you'll get a chance to adjust to life on the Polar Pioneer and steady your sea legs. Some passengers may feel the effects of sea sickness more than others, and may wish to arrange motion sickness medicine to take on their voyage. Please consult your GP prior to departure to confirm which solution is right for you.
Read more: Tips for surviving the Drake Passage
Insurance for Antarctica?
Just like any overseas holiday, you'll need to take out insurance for your Antarctic voyage. Whichever provider you choose to go with, ensure you have a comprehensive policy that covers emergency evacuation from Antarctica.
Packing for your Antarctic expedition
In order to make your Antarctic voyage as comfortable as possible, we suggest that you incorporate plenty of layerable items into your packing rather than large, chunky ones. The principle behind this is that the trapped air between the layers of your clothing can act as insulation. We recommend silk and wool over cotton.
Waterproof and windproof outerwear is a must, as well as a polar fleece jacket. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must, as the sun can reflect strongly off the snow and ice. You'll receive a complimentary Aurora Expeditions polar expedition jacket to wear throughout the voyage – it also makes for a great souvenir to take back home!
Learn more about our clothing packing recommendations here.
Electronics and photography gear
The Polar Pioneer uses 220-volt ports for two-pin European plugs, so be sure to bring the appropriate adaptors to charge your devices. As you'll undoubtedly be wanting to take a few photos on your trip, you'll need to consider protection for your gear against the elements.
Even if your photography equipment is weather-sealed, a plastic bag can often work as an extra layer of protection against sea salt spray, especially whilst in the Zodiac boats. Dry bags are vital for protecting your camera, as well as helping to prevent condensation on your lens or sensor. You may also want to consider a UV filter to protect the front lens element if you are using a DSLR, as well as spare batteries – they tend to lose their charge a lot quicker in cold climates. A zip-lock bag can make for a simple dry bag hack for your cellphone.
What you should expect on your Antarctic holiday
Life on board the Polar Pioneer
For the duration of your Antarctic voyage, you'll come to call the Polar Pioneer home. Our polar exploration vessel allows up to 54 passengers on board, making it a smaller, more manoeuvrable ship. Accommodation styles range from our Captain's Suite with a separate bedroom, to our twin and triple cabins, with basic amenities for your time on board.
However, you're more likely to be spending time in the dining room tucking into delicious, healthy meals prepared daily by our chefs. Alternatively, you may relax in our lounge and fully stocked bar, where you can enjoy Captain's drinks, trivia nights and charity auctions.
Of course, the main attraction is the observation deck, where you can gaze out at some of the most breathtaking, unique scenery in the world. Keep an ear out for the captain's announcements of a passing pod of whales, or an opportunity for a spontaneous Zodiac excursion.
Climate and conditions in Antarctica
As you'll no doubt anticipate, when you travel to the coldest continent in the world, the climate can be a shock to the system. Our voyages visit Antarctica during the summer, meaning you can expect temperatures from -2 to 8 degrees Celsius, with the potential of dipping to -8 degrees.
However, as the famous saying goes; "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing". In order to manage the elements, we suggest you take the time to carefully consider our packing guidelines.
If you're feeling the cold after an exciting day of excursions, you can also head to the onboard sauna to warm up.