After determining which month to visit Antarctica, you then need to decide how to get there and which route and destinations you want to include on your expedition.
Don’t worry, we will make this much easier than it sounds! The info-graph below is designed to give a simple overview of the four main routes on offer – Classic Antarctica, Antarctica & Polar Circle, Antarctica + Falklands + South Georgia, and Complete Antarctica. We have listed out the main wildlife and geographic highlights of each option as well as provided you with an idea of how many nights you will need for your chosen expedition. Continue reading below the chart for an in-depth explanation.
As with the Antarctica Seasonality Chart, the Route & Itinerary Comparison Chart does not include every detail you may want to consider. The best option is to give us a call so we can help you determine which destinations will best suit your desired experience.
Antarctica Routes Comparison Chart
Cruise Only vs Fly & Cruise
The traditional way to visit the white continent is Cruise Only – by boarding your ship in either Ushuaia, Argentina or Punta Arenas, Chile. Occasionally itineraries depart from Puerto Madryn, Argentina which is known for incredible whale watching. Expeditions then head south across the Drake Passage for the next two days if going directly to Antarctica, or cruise to the Falklands or South Georgia first before continuing to the Antarctic Peninsula.
While all itineraries in Antarctica include cruising, there are many itineraries that combine flying from South America to Antarctica or South Georgia then boarding your ship. In general, Fly & Cruise options are pricier, but it cuts off anywhere from 2 to 4 days crossing the Drake Passage. If you are time poor or wary of sea sickness, this is a great way to focus your expedition time on the Antarctica peninsula and cut the 4 extra days crossing the Drake.
The Drake Passage is the body of water between the southern most tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands, part of the Antarctic Peninsula. The crossing takes approximately 2 days in each direction and due to the meeting currents, wind and unpredictable weather, it can produce large swells at any time of year. On the other hand, it is rich in wildlife with dolphins, whales and many kinds sea birds and can provide fantastic viewing as you venture across the sea. There are some Fly & Cruise options that fly just one direction so you will cross the Drake once in plane, and once by sea.
Antarctica Destinations & Routes
In general, all Antarctica cruises include the Antarctic Peninsula – its many islands, bays and channels. The Classic Antarctica route ranges 10-13 days Cruise Only or 6-9 days for Fly & Cruise.
In addition to the peninsula, there are voyages that explore the Falkland Islands and the remote South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These are rugged and beautiful lands teeming with wildlife experiences accessible during the whole Antarctica season. Routes that include these are longer at 18-24 days and are generally more expensive than Classic Antarctica routes.
Lastly, there are Polar Circle Routes which tick the bucket list for many adventurers. In order to cross the magic line – 66°33′48.2″ south of the Equator – the heavy ice needs to have melted. Generally, from January through to the end of the season in March, itineraries can include and safely access the Polar Circle.