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Viking Expeditions Zodiacs
Viking Expeditions Zodiacs

The ultimate list of Polar cruise deals to book now and explore later

Ice expedition cruising has been one of the fastest growing travel sectors in years.

It has come in leaps and bounds, with thousands more cruisers heading to the polar regions.

There are an increasing number of lines building ships for these regions, including Viking which earlier this year, announced two new expedition vessels.

And while polar cruising is normally known to come with a hefty price tag, there are some lines which are offering more affordable prices. Hurtigruten has prices as low as $645 per person, per day.

Here’s a cross section of the different ways you can visit the wondrous white polar regions, from top class luxury, to budget and adventurous.

Traditionally Antarctic sailings commence from November through to April, so this is one you can safely plan for the end of the year. And Arctic trips start around May through to September, so you’ve still got plenty of time to book now and cruise later.

Explore Antarctica 10 ways:

Scenic Cruises

The cruise: 13 days, departs Buenos Aires to Buenos Aires, departing 20 November 2020.

Ship features: The Scenic Eclipse offers all-inclusive luxury. The carries only 200 guests to the Arctic and Antarctica. The Eclipse is equipped with helicopters and submarines for excursions above and below the ice. The ship has special custom-built stabilisers to navigate around the rough waters of places like the Drake Passage.

Active discovery excursions can be done by Zodiac, kayak, snorkelling, snow shoe or e-bikes as part of. There’s all-inclusive dining and beverages, Senses Spa, gym, yoga and Pilates studio and indoor and outdoor swimming and plunge pools. There’s also a team of Discovery Leaders onboard, each experts in their fields.

Shore excursions: Scenic offers in depth shore excursions including explorations into South Georgia, the Falkland Islands and the majestic fjords of Chile.

Price: Prices start from $19,975 per person.

Bonus: Take advantage of the $4,995 per person Business Flights Air Credit available on Antarctica, South Georgia & Falkland Islands itinerary 20 November and 8 December 2020 departures.

Ponant

The cruise: 17 days, The Weddell Sea & the South Sandwich Islands departing 4 April 2022 from Ushuaia to Montevideo.

Ship features: Le Commandant Charcot is Ponant’s explorer ship with a total of 270 guests onboard and features 2 restaurants. This very first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG has been designed with the greatest attention to detail in terms of safety and respect for the environment. Everything is included including Zodiac outings and shore visits, excursions, lectures, parkas and boot hire for polar expeditions.

Shore excursions: The Zodiacs are designed to accommodate small groups of 10 passengers. They are easy to step on to from the marina platform at the rear of the ship. Tours include ice-filled channels and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Price: Prices start from $26,490 per person and includes overnight in Santiago including flight Santiago/Ushuaia and transfers.

Silversea

The cruise: 10 days from Ushuaia to Ushuaia onboard the Silver Wind, departing 11 November 2020.

Ship features: The Silver Wind ship caters for 296 guests. Silversea’s Oceanview suites are some of the most spacious in luxury cruising. All include the services of a butler with the highest service ratio at sea and almost all have a private teak veranda.

Onboard, you’ll find enrichment lectures by expedition team leaders, choice of specialty restaurants, your choice of beverages in your suite and more. The ship also features a whirlpool and a fitness centre.

Shore excursions: Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Drake Passage, Kayaking in Antarctica.

Price: Prices start from $13,320 per person and include Economy Class Roundtrip flights, one-night pre-cruise and one day-use post-cruise, transfers (between airport/hotel and ship), in-country flights when required by the itinerary.

Hurtigruten

The cruise: 18 days departing Santiago de Chile, return on January 7, 2021.

Ship features: Roald Amundsen is a large expedition ship that can carry 500 passengers in Antarctica. Built in 2019, The state-of-the-art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.

All cabins are outside. Around half have private balconies, and aft suites features private outdoor hot tubs. There’s an observation deck and Science Centre. The ship has three nordic restaurants. There is an Explorer Lounge, a large gym and wellness centre, plus in- and outdoor Observation Decks with the aft infinity pool and hot tubs.

Shore excursions: Experiences include Patagonia, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, possible landing at legendary Cape Horn, and wildlife watching – penguins, seals, whales and more, exciting ice-cruising and landing activities led by the expert Expedition Team.

Price: From $14,385 per person, including Overnight in Santiago de Chile before the voyage including breakfast, transfer from hotel to airport in Santiago de Chile, return economy flight from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas.

Aurora Expeditions

The cruise: 22 days Antarctica and solar eclipse, departing November 24, 2021 from Ushuaia return.

Ship features: The Greg Mortimer carries just 126 passengers.  Lectures are included on wildlife, the environment, history and destinations. Built in 2019, this is the first passenger ship to feature the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW, this allows the ship to cross oceans more comfortably and efficiently, and with expansive observation decks to bring passengers closer to the environment. She carries 15 Zodiacs, which guests can board via four dedicated, sea-level launching platforms. The ship features one restaurant, bars and lounges, spa, sauna and gym, library, secure facilities and a choice of cabins and suites.

Shore excursions: In December 2021, a full solar eclipse will occur that will be visible over the Weddell Sea, offering people the rare and historic opportunity to witness this remarkable spectacle in Antarctic waters. Stand among the world’s largest king penguin rookeries, see enormous elephant seals and their pups at their most charming – moulting, scratching and belching, Zodiac-cruise through glassy waters, always on the lookout for sea ice seals having pups on ice floes.

Excursions also include the Drake Passage and Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, Elephant Island for the solar eclipse and South Georgia. Zodiak cruises, photography courses, bird watching tours are all included. Aurora offers a range of add-on adventure activities from kayaking and diving to climbing and ski touring.

Price: From $44,761 per person, and is all-inclusive, with one night’s hotel accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia on Day 1. (Does not include international flights)

Viking Expedition Cruises

The cruise: 13 days from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia departing January 12, 2022.

Ship features: The staterooms and suites on Viking Polaris are touted to be the most spacious and elegant of any expedition ship afloat. She has a fleet of Military Pro zodiacs, and two 12-seater oceangoing RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) built for exploration. A dual water jet system, individually suspended seats and—when converted to a covered RIB—the option to sit in an enclosed cabin are all industry-leading features. There’s an enclosed in-ship marina which permits the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s slipway. Guests can embark on RIBs shielded from wind and waves from a flat, stable surface inside the ship and glide into the water to depart on their excursion. Kayaks and large-capacity submarines are also available.

The trio of pools, each at different temperatures, including an indoor-outdoor pass-through swimming experience are a highlight. The Explorer’s lounge, aquavit bar and terrace, Nordic spa and follow Nordic tradition, as well as the onboard badestamp, located in the Nordic Spa, which is a traditional wooden-sided hot tub. Library, outdoor fire pits, panoramic al fresco auditorium are also onboard. The main restaurant, is award winning Mamsen’s. All cabins and suites feature floor-to-ceiling, distortion-free glass that opens.

Shore excursions: The Viking Expedition Kit provides everything guests need, from the use of boots and binoculars to waterproof pants; plus, for polar regions, a Viking Expedition Jacket to keep. For relevant excursions, specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis are included with the Viking Excursion Gear.

Price: From $20,995 per person. All inclusive.

Viking Expeditions
Viking Expeditions

National Geographic

The cruise: An ocean expedition cruise with National Geographic and Ponant. Aboard Ponant’s fleet of luxury small ships, departing Buenos Aires to Ushuaia on January 25, 2021.

Ship features: This expedition cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Boreal ship, part of the sistership fleet. Le Boreal fits 264 guests. There’s a wellness area with free Hammam, and kids lounge, panoramic decks and a swimming pool. There are two restaurants and a spa and salon.

Shore excursions: Whether on land, aboard the ship or during a Zodiac outing, guests will see icebergs, ice floe and ancient glaciers. Lectures and information sessions are hosted by naturalist-guides, covering wildlife, history, geopolitics, the great explorers, climate and environmental protection. National Geographic Photographers and Experts, who are specialised in the destination are on hand. A highlight excursion is sailing on the Weddell Sea and amid the free-floating pack ice, discovering one of the most famous places of polar exploration.

Price: POA – prices include Return flight Buenos Aires / Ushuaia + transfers.

Quark Expeditions

The cruise: 11 days departing from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia departing November 4, 2020.

Ship features: The Ocean Diamond is a modern, stable super-yacht, and one of the largest small expedition ships. Carrying a maximum of 189 passengers, and with two stabilisers and an ice-strengthened hull, this outstanding vessel is ideal for polar expeditions. There are 101 elegantly designed cabins and suites, all with exterior views, and expansive common spaces, a club lounge, and a spacious restaurant. The ship offers numerous adventure options, plus on-board features such as interactions with photography instructors. After a full day of exploration, passengers can relax, browse books or DVDs in the well-stocked polar library, or enjoy stunning polar scenery from the sun-lit, panoramic observation lounge.

Shore excursions: Shore excursions include hiking tours, zodiac excursions and the Polar Plunge. The Polar Plunge is scheduled once during each voyage. Throughout the journey, the Expedition Leader and Captain constantly monitor conditions in order to choose the optimal time and location. The Polar Plunge sometimes takes place onshore or, in many cases, from the gangway or Zodiac.

All participants wear a tethered harness and plunge into the polar waters from the side of Zodiac or safety of the gangplank cheered on by fellow passengers and the Expedition Team. All Zodiac transfers are included as per the daily program. Formal and informal presentations by the expedition team and guest speakers are scheduled. A photographic journal documenting the expedition is also included.

Price: Starting from $11,000 per person, all inclusive (does not include international flights).

Celebrity Cruises

The cruise: 14 nights, departing Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, on January 30, 2022.

Ship features: Celebrity Silhouette is one of the largest explorer ships with capacity for 2,886 guests. Earlier this year, she had an upgrade where she has features like the Lawn Club, a new eatery for outdoor grilling and 85 per cent of the ships’ staterooms have verandas. These ships are child-friendly with the Camp at Sea program, and there are more than 500 activities designed for junior cruisers.

Shore excursions: The ship takes guests past the views of some of Antarctica’s most majestic waterways, like Schollart Channel and Gerlache Strait as well as Paradise Bay and Elephant Island.

Price: Prices start from $6,049 per person. This is not all-inclusive.

Peregrine Adventures

The cruise: 11 days departing Ushuaia, return on November 4, 2020.

Ship features: The Ocean Endeavour has regular excursions by Zodiac, a comprehensive onboard lecture program presented by experts and some special guests plus a state-of-the-art ship with health and wellness facilities. It’s one of the few polar expedition ships in Antarctica with a focus on health and wellness, it also has one crew member for every eight travellers. With a gym, library, wide range of cabin types, modern Zodiacs and 360° views from the unique flydeck, she carries a maximum of 200 passengers and Naturalist guides, ornithologist, marine biologist, historian, photographer, geologists. There’s a polar library, as well as a spa, sauna, gym and pool.

Shore excursions: Enjoy regular excursions by Zodiac, a comprehensive onboard lecture program presented by experts and some special guests plus a state-of-the-art ship with health and wellness facilities. Whereas most polar expeditions of this kind have a crew-to-passenger ratio of ten, 15 or 20 to one, Peregrine expeditions on the Ocean Endeavour have an expedition crew member for every eight passengers.

Price: From $10,919 per person. This price includes all meals and zodiac excursions.

Explore The Arctic and the North Pole 7 ways

Scenic

The cruise: 11 days from Oslo to Oslo departing 23 July 2022.

Ship features: The Scenic Eclipse offers all-inclusive luxury. The carries only 200 guests to the Arctic and Antarctica. The Eclipse is equipped with helicopters and submarines for excursions above and below the ice. The ship has special custom-built stabilisers to navigate around the rough waters of places like the Drake Passage.

Shore excursions: Explore the wonders of Norway, the Arctic Islands of Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and Atlantic Canada in all-inclusive luxury on board Scenic Eclipse. The Svalbard Archipelago’s rugged glaciers and frozen tundras are a fragile and remote area of vast environmental significance, with Spitsbergen the largest island. The voyage sails in at prime time for wildlife spotting, with opportunities to spot Polar bear and several species of whales.

Price: Start from $17,395 per person.

Bonus: Take advantage of the $4,995 per person Business Flights Air Credit available on Antarctica, South Georgia & Falkland Islands itinerary 20 November and 8 December 2020 departures.

Ponant

The cruise: Arctic cruises with Ponant depart between May 2021 and September 2021 and include a range of itineraries from 10 to 24 days.

The details: 25 days departing Reykjavik return to Nome, departing 7th September 2021.

Ship features: Aboard the Commandant Charcot, the first hybrid electric polar exploration ship, Le Coromandel is the main fine dining restaurant onboard with a French theme. There’s a spa, pool, library, salon and gym onboard. Discovery excursions can be done via zodiac.

Shore excursions: Cross the Northwest passage and spend time with a traditional Inuit Village. Ponant features unique shore excursion facilities such as hovercraft, snowmobiles, a hot air balloon, kayaking, ice fishing, polar diving, hiking, zodiacs, dog sleds and participative science excursions.

Price: Prices start from $50,050 per person and are all-inclusive. International flights are not included.

Silversea

The cruise: 13 days from Reykjavic to Tromso, on the Silver Cloud departing July 3, 2021.

Ship features: Silver Cloud is one of the most spacious and comfortable ice class vessels in expedition cruising. She has large suites, with 18-brand new Zodiacs and a pole to pole expedition itinerary. She has four restaurants, numerous observation lounges, a gym, whirlpools, salon and swimming pool.

Shore excursions: Some of the shore excursions include a visit to the bird cliffs at Latrabjarg and Hornbjarg. In Iceland, the team will take you to Vigur Island, Akureyri (northern Iceland’s most important town). You can also cruise by Zodiac amongst ice floes and icebergs or heading ashore for a guided walk in Svalbard. Silver Cloud offers kayaking adventures in small groups.

Price: From $21,690 per person and includes return economy flights.

Hurtigruten

The cruise: 13 days departing Reykjavik to Oslo on 25 May 2021

Ship features: The MS Fram takes 318 passengers and brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions. Fram means ‘forward’ and was built in 2007.

The restaurant is located in the aft of the ship, on your way there you walk through an exhibition of original artefacts from the historic expeditions of Amundsen and Nansen. There’s a fitness room, sauna and outdoor hot tubs.

Experts on the expedition team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics. Passengers are free to use the ship’s Science Centre which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes.

The ship also has a program called Citizen Science, where guests can assist with live scientific research. Professional onboard photographers give top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos.

Shore excursions: Include escorted landings with small expedition boats, loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities, complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket, expedition photographers help with your camera settings before landings.

Prices: Start from $ 8,385 per person including transfer from the ship to the airport in Longyearbyen after the expedition cruise and flights in economy class from Longyearbyen to Oslo after the expedition cruise.

Aurora Expeditions

The cruise: 25 days from Kirkenes, Norway to Reykjavik, Iceland departing 8 August 2021.

Ship features: The Greg Mortimer carries just 126 passengers. There are lectures on wildlife, the environment, history and destinations. Built in 2019, this is the first passenger ship to feature the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW. She carries 15 Zodiacs, which guests can board via four dedicated, sea-level launching platforms. The ship features one restaurant, bars and lounges, spa, sauna and gym, library, secure facilities and a choice of cabins and suites.

Shore excursions: Sail past Spitsbergen’s narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, look for polar bears on the pack ice or hike through colourful tundra.

Price: Start from $24,395 per person, all inclusive. (Does not in include international flights)

Viking

The cruise: 13 days from Tromso to Tromso, departing 9 September, 2022.

Ship features: The staterooms and suites on Viking Polaris are the most spacious and elegant of any expedition ship afloat with a fleet of Military Pro zodiacs, and two 12-seater oceangoing RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) built for exploration. There’s a dual water jet system, individually suspended seats and—when converted to a covered RIB—the option to sit in an enclosed cabin are all industry-leading features.

The enclosed in-ship marina permits the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s slipway. Guests can embark on RIBs shielded from wind and waves from a flat, stable surface inside the ship and glide into the water to depart on their excursion. Kayaks and large-capacity submarines are also available.

There’s a trio of pools, each at different temperatures, including an indoor-outdoor pass-through swimming experience. There are also several bars including The Explorer’s Lounge, aquavit bar and terrace. In the Nordic Spa, there is a traditional wooden-sided hot tub. Books are strewn throughout Viking’s ships and there is an extensive library onboard. The main restaurant is Mamsen’s, an ode to chairman Torstein Hagen’s mother’s recipes. All cabins and suites feature floor-to-ceiling, distortion-free glass that opens.

The Viking Expedition kit provides everything guests need, from the use of boots and binoculars to waterproof pants; plus, for polar regions, a Viking Expedition Jacket to keep. For relevant excursions, specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis are included with our Viking Excursion Gear.

Shore excursions: In the Arctic Circle shore excursions begin on Bjørnøya, “Bear Island,” Svalbard’s most remote and southerly island, where over a million seabirds gather to breed annually. Guests can explore the rest of the archipelago, look out for arctic foxes, seals and whales, or enjoy the sounds of nature and views of the surrounding unspoiled wilderness.

Price: Start from $18,495 per person, all inclusive.

National Geographic

The cruise: National Geographic has partnered with Ponant. Onboard the line’s luxury fleet, guests will find National Geographic photographers, lecturers and more. There is 13-day expedition cruise along the north-east coast of Greenland departing Reykjavik, departing June 24, 2021.

Ship features: Onboard Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot ship. Le Commandant Charcot is the explorer ship with a total of 270 guests onboard and features two restaurants. The very first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG has been designed with the greatest attention to detail in terms of safety and respect for the environment. Everything is included: Zodiac outings and shore visits, excursions, lectures, parkas and boot hire for polar expeditions.

Shore excursions: Begin at Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, and head towards the eastern Greenland region of Ittoqqortoormiit, the remotest inhabited community in the western hemisphere. Guests can venture into Northeast Greenland National Park, the largest national park in the world and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is completely uninhabited. The cruise also attempts to reach the site of the fated Ile de France, which was discovered by the Duke of Orleans in 1905.

Price: POA.