Antarctica has long been considered the last frontier of exploration and, when it comes to cruising, represents the ultimate adventure at sea. While an Antarctic cruise remains an exclusive experience – only about 40 ships visit and just 40,000 cruise passengers set eyes on the great white continent each year, some just from passing ships – a number of new ships and exciting itineraries are planned for coming seasons.
For the 2015/16 cruise season the number of passengers stepping ashore has risen to 30,000, up from less than 27,000 in the previous season. Two new ships are plying the waters and more Antarctic itineraries and shore excursions are being offered than ever before.
Most cruises head from Ushuaia or other South American ports to the Antarctic Peninsula, though occasionally ships sails from Fremantle in Western Australia or Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in South Africa. More notably, some cruises sail from Hobart or New Zealand ports to explore sub-Antarctic islands and Antarctica’s Ross Sea region.
Cruisers like: This remote, unpredictable place is one of very few cruise destinations impossible to visit as an independent traveller. It boasts superb landscapes of mountains and icebergs, abundant wildlife that includes penguins, whales and seals, and a fascinating history of seafaring and exploration. Global warming is increasingly raising awareness of its environment. Wildlife watching is superb, either from the main cruise ship, from Zodiacs, or on foot across the pack ice, and photography cruises are popular. Increasingly adventurous activities are being offered, including showshoeing, hiking, ski mountaineering, kayaking and even scuba diving.
Best for: Adventurous cruisers, wildlife enthusiasts, keen photographers.