A spectacularly wild and pristine frontier land of dramatic topography, weather and wildlife, Antarctica is almost entirely covered in perpetual ice. During the long days of the austral summer, expedition cruises depart from the southern tip of South America, the shortest and probably most scenically impressive approach. Visitors to Antarctica generally must brave rough sea crossings aboard ice-strengthened vessels, but those who do so are rewarded with amazing scenery and tremendous and unique wildlife.
Our preferred accommodation
Cruise ship - ex Ushuaia (ex Punta Arenas for air cruises)Quick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 114 (71 on air cruise) | Duration: 5-21 nights | Length: 296 feet | Cruising speed: 14.5 knots | Operator: Polar Latitudes and Antarctica 21
A very comfortable expedition ship with spacious cabins, a library (with internet access), exercise room, bar, lounge, dining room and observation deck. An elevator serves all passenger decks. She operates Classic Antarctica itineraries to/from Ushuaia, and a longer one to include the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, plus shorter air cruises which include a flight from the South America mainland (Punta Arenas).
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 112 | Duration: 10-20 nights | Length: 296 feet | Cruising speed: 14.5 knots | Operator: Polar Latitudes
A very comfortable expedition ship (sister to Hebridean Sky) with a couple of lounges, a library (with internet access), a bar, indoor dining room, Al fresco dining area (used when the weather allows) an observation deck, sun deck and infirmary. A lift serves all passenger decks and there is a zodiac boarding platform at the rear of the ship for easy access. The Promenade deck has a complete wrap around outer deck.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First Class | Passengers: 170 | Duration: 9-20 nights | Length: 353 feet | Cruising speed: 15 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Built in 2019, Hondius is the world's first-registered Polar Class 6 cruise ship, and is also one of the most environmentally friendly vessels in Antarctica. She has an ice-strengthened hull, and was designed specifically for polar exploration. Hondius has a large observation lounge, a presentation room, library, dining room, bar and infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 116 | Duration: 10-18 nights | Length: 302 feet | Cruising speed: 14.5 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Built in Poland in 1989, Ortelius is a comfortable, stable ship with an ice-strengthened hull and is designed specifically for polar exploration. She is manoeuvrable, quiet and fast, with good outside deck space and a large accessible bridge. She also has two dining rooms, a bar/presentation room, sauna, library and infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 114 | Duration: 9-20 nights | Length: 293 feet | Cruising speed: 10.5 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Plancius was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy. She was bought by Oceanwide Expeditions in 2006 and has been re-built as a comfortable ice-strengthened passenger ship with a restaurant/lecture room, a spacious observation lounge with panoramic views, large open deck spaces, a library, small gym, sauna and an infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex Punta Arenas or UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: | Passengers: 100 (73 on air cruise) | Duration: 5-14 nights | Length: 298 feet | Cruising speed: 14 knots | Operator: Antarctica 21
The first expedition ship custom designed for Antarctic air-cruise operations. She carries a Polar Class 6 ice-class, features stabilizers, bow and stern thrusters and an ice-detecting radar. She is also equipped with an energy-recovery system that recycles the heat produced by the engines to warm up the ship and its water supply. There is a library, gym, sauna, bar, lounge, dining room and observation deck. The ship operates a selection of fly/cruise itineraries, most of which start and finish in Punta Arenas. The most popular is the Classic Antarctica Air Cruise which is 7 nights. There are also longer cruise options taking in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
Cruise ship - ex Ushuaia (ex Punta Arenas for air cruises)Quick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 72 | Duration: 5-7 nights | Length: 240 feet | Cruising speed: 12 knots | Operator: Antarctica 21
Ocean Nova is a comfortable small ship built in 1992 in Denmark, and was later refurbished to include a glass-enclosed observation lounge and presentation room on the top deck. There is a window-lined dining room, library, exercise room, lounge, bar and clinic, and a limited amount of outdoor deck space. The ship is generally based in the Antarctic Peninsula and passengers fly there from Punta Arenas in Chile - a so-called 'air cruise'.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 90 | Duration: 9-19 nights | Length: 278 feet | Cruising speed: 12 knots | Operator: Antarpply Expeditions
A comfortable ice-strengthened polar vessel, originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). She had an observation lounge, lecture theatre, dining room, bar and library and an outside viewing deck.