Antarctica: Your Guide to An Expedition

by | Antarctica

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cruising to Antarctica will always be a surprise; conditions and weather can change by the hour; it is that unpredictable, surprising, and delightful too!

Before I go further into details, let me share tips for your once-in-a-lifetime polar adventure.

Seasoned Travelers’ Advice For The Antarctica Expedition

1. If your ship offers sea kayaking, sign up. Many say it is one of the biggest highlights of the cruise and well worth pushing yourself, even if you’re a novice.

2. If you are flying from South America to parts of Antarctica and then boarding your cruise, the flights are subject to weather conditions, and the airline calls the shots – not the cruise line.

3. Dress prepared for the 1.3-mile walk between the airstrip and the Zodiacs, ferry passengers to and from the ship. You’ll be exposed to the elements and carrying your pack on a gravel path. A van transports checked luggage and those who need assistance, but everything else is your responsibility.

4. Resist the temptation to overpack: Weight limits on the flights to the South Shetlands are strictly enforced; if your bag is overweight, you’ll leave things behind. Even on luxury lines such as Silversea, Antarctic cruises are casual – no heels or dressed-up evenings. 

5. This is a great excuse to upgrade your cell phone for one with a better camera. And get a waterproof sleeve for Zodiac rides, so you don’t end up with it sitting in a bowl of rice back on board.

6. Read up on the early Antarctic explorers. I loved sitting with my husband in the comfort of our stateroom, looking out across our balcony, and learning about early expeditions – while snacking on caviar and sipping Champagne, of course! Two recommendations: Alfred Lansing’s Endurance, about the Shackleton expedition, and Julian Sancton’s Madhouse at the End of the Earth, about the 1897 Belgian expedition – the first to winter on the continent.

7. Schedule spa treatments before embarkation. For the most part, passengers are on or off the ship simultaneously, so availability is limited.

8. If you have the opportunity to take the polar plunge, do it!


Silversea’s Silver Explorer en route to Hope Bay - Virtuoso

Silversea’s Silver Explorer en route to Hope Bay – Virtuoso

Now that we have the tips for you let’s discover how you can get there in style and luxury!

Discover Antarctica Relaxed Luxury aboard Le Commandant Charcot

All aboard, Ponant’s newest ship, the eco-friendly, 245-passenger Commandant Charcot, marvel at Antarctica’s backdrop of untamed vastness. The whoosh of the whales breathing, plouf of the penguins porpoising through the water, and bird wings flapping in the air will form the soundtrack of your journey. 

Most Antarctic cruises embark from Punta Arenas, Chile, or Ushuaia, Argentina. Experience Le Commandant Charcot’s ice-breaking capabilities and luxury, private-yacht feel. The 492-foot Commandant Charcot’s stabilizers handle squally seas like a dream.

This luxury cruise line will treat you to sumptuous homemade desserts such as macarons, cream puffs, eclairs, and the flakiest tarts this side of Paris and croissants. Treat yourself at Nuna by Alain Ducasse with a multicourse, and à la carte menus change daily and have pairings with fine French and Chilean wines. 

 The ship’s team members give afternoon presentations on local geology, history, wildlife, and the area’s delicate ecosystem. 

A whale prepares to dive off Deception Island - Lorraine Turci

A whale prepares to dive off Deception Island – Lorraine Turci

Voyage to Antarctica: Eastern Peninsula with Aurora Expeditions

Explore the Antarctic Peninsula’s eastern side and less-visited spots, such as Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea with Aurora Expeditions. Chose the 132-passenger Greg Mortimer’s 12-day sail/fly option, which skips the return Drake crossing if you want to experience an uneasy rite of passage. 

Begin your Zodiac landing at a Gentoo colony on Brown Bluff, and all those penguins in their natural habitat had us laughing and snapping away. Other adventures include the option to sea kayak, dry-suit snorkel, scuba dive, and brave the polar plunge. 


The White Continent’s color palette - Korena Bolding Sinnett

The White Continent’s color palette – Korena Bolding Sinnett

Your Journey to Antarctica Through The Silversea Cruises

For those short on time or skittish about the Drake, Silversea offers the option of flying business class between Punta Arenas or Ushuaia and King George Island, skipping the crossing and cutting out four days at sea. Once aboard the Silver Explorer, 144 passengers spread out in 72 suites and cabins, including the 728-square-foot Owner’s Suite with a private balcony, for seven-day Antarctic cruises.

Silversea Expedition to Antarctica - Virtuoso

Silversea Expedition to Antarctica – Virtuoso

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