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A complete guide to Antarctica

Updated On 9th March, 2024

Antarctica is a remote, precious and pristine continent. A place untouched by humans, pure to the core and like no other I’ve witnessed on this planet.

Antarctica was the experience of a lifetime and I will never forget it. I jumped onboard a ship operated by Albatross Expeditions and in this blog post, I will share my experience of Antarctica with you. I will share the best things to do in Antarctica along with my top tips and honest review of this adventure.

Honestly, it was  ‘Am I here?’  moments over and over again. As I hiked across the thick compacted snow on the Antarctic Peninsula, I continued this surreal conversation with myself, rhetorical questions; ‘Am I here? Yes, Is this Antarctica? Yes’. 

‘Am I actually in one of the remote places on the planet? Are those real whale blows on the horizon amidst the 100 or so icebergs?’

An epic adventure; each day was greeted by iceberg castles outside the porthole window, each evening dinner accompanied by tail flukes from humpbacks and each beautiful day was filled with zodiac cruising and treks amongst Earth’s precious wildlife.

So, if you’re a nature or wildlife enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. My name is Kate from  Catch Cait  and I’m here to share with you some of the most beautiful moments as well as key tips and tricks for your journey down south to the phenomenal wonder that is Antarctica.

A complete guide to Antarctica

Getting to Antarctica

The best / easiest way depends really on your budget and your exact location. I had been travelling from Texas, United States for literally a year before I even arrived at ‘fin del Mundo’, quite literally, the end of the world. I have been backpacking and hitchhiking for a long time, so below is an insight into how I did it.

The town I bought my ticket in was Ushuaia, Argentina and while I sat for days looking at departing ships, wondering how would I get there without spending thousands, I eventually concluded, it’s either now or never. I was banking on a possible marriage with a captain, however that never came to fruition so I just bit the bullet and bought the ticket.

I spent a few days shopping around at different operators in the small town of Ushuaia. I eventually found a great deal, for a 17-day trip, which would stop at South Georgia, also known as The Galapagos of the Polar region. Your choice of itinerary depends on your desires. I chose this one as I am super passionate about wildlife, therefore South Georgia was the place to go. However, you can choose other voyages like crossing the circle, that one is really if you are an iceberg fanatic.

A complete guide to Antarctica

Budgeting for Antarctica

Ok, so yes, you must have savings to get to Antarctica. This is a must. Most voyages set you back thousands, anywhere from 6000-20000 and above. This is influenced by expedition type, operator, and how far in advance you buy your ticket. The best thing is, once onboard, food is inclusive and the company I took even included boots, a stunning Antarctica jacket and a memoir book for capturing all those amazing moments. 

Just be sure to read the small print beforehand.

The expedition included stops at the Great Wall Chinese Base Station, 3-4 days in the Antarctic Peninsula and a final 3-4 days in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands. The ship was the Ocean Atlantic, with an ice-class rating of 1B, operated by Albatross Expeditions. 

An amazing crew, a stylish ship, huge buffets; deserts, sushi, homemade cakes each day and would you believe, a champagne celebration on entering the Antarctic circle. I couldn’t quite get the swing of this luxurious style. I had been staying in hostels for so long and then landed on this sort of titanic feel of an atmosphere; lounges, dining rooms, piano bars, beautiful clear windows where one could watch the diversity of wildlife from their dining table. It was all a bit surreal, to be honest. 

We had a sauna, gym and teatime with delicious scones each day at 4 pm, oh and not to forget the surprise chocolates on the bed at night. It felt super cosy to be wrapped up in white robes amid Antarctica eating handmade chocolates. 

As I think back, I am smiling, it was full of those moments, you know, where you have to pinch yourself over and over again.

Accommodation on board:

Before you choose your accommodation, consider what your priorities are if you are prone to seasickness.

The travel agencies will normally offer different types of berths and cabins, however, be assured that the more choosy you get, the more you pay. I wanted the most economical option so I took a two-berth cabin on the lower end of the ship. Please also remember you spend very little time in the berth, so I didn’t see a point in forking out loads of money when all I would do is sleep there. On another side note, they may pop you in with a random stranger, so again, make sure you are comfortable sharing. Ask all these questions beforehand.

Regarding bedding and comfort, I loved my cabin; had a view of icebergs and whale blows at the base of the ship, it was epic. The days were long and exploring/adventuring was the highlight each day. One day, we did get really bad weather and had to abort a mission. The weather is quite temperamental on that side of the world. See the photos below. We had to make it back to the ship real quick. Hot showers and warm blankets made the frozen continent’s weather doable and comfortable.

The berth was super luxurious, with plenty of comforts; robes, slippers, nice lighting and TV which played beautiful wildlife documentaries. There was also a speaker in each cabin,

Where our expedition leader would wake us each morning with our itinerary for the day. I always remember that, the morning call, the daily temperatures, the lectures, the crossing distance overnight and the fun adventures of the day. I smile remembering this.

A complete guide to Antarctica

Getting around Antarctica

This is an interesting topic, as you pretty much are ship-bound for most of the journey. However, depending on your expedition, you will more than likely have 1-2 outings each day, along with lectures and fun events. There is so much to do onboard, you most certainly will not be bored. There is even a library, plenty of books 🙂

The transport for the adventure outings was done by zodiacs, and small powerboats, ideal for navigating the icy waters of the Southern Ocean. If we were travelling long distances on particular days, there were plenty of wildlife lectures organised, including games nights, and karaoke and you could even pop to the sauna, gym or yoga sessions.

The Zodiacs are very comfortable boats. You would depart the ship on the lowest level, boots on, and down the stairs into the polar paradise. There was a structured system for leaving the ship to ensure the full safety of all passengers. We also had ship ‘identity’ cards whereby we would scan on each departure and entry. This ensures we don’t leave anyone on the white continent. Although I quite liked the idea of staying amongst the cute penguin colonies.

A complete guide to Antarctica

Eating and drinking whilst in Antarctica:

If you’re anything like my mum, who had no idea about Antarctica, and her first reaction was ‘What are you going to eat ?’, then not to worry, there is so much food on board, you might even have trouble coming off the ship. I can honestly tell you, the majority of us were on diets by the end of it. We had huge buffets, endless choices, and the most diverse array of flavorful desserts. We also had an a la carte menu to celebrate the journey at the end as well as an outdoor BBQ, (yes it was pretty cold) and a cooking class. It was amazing and the food was top quality. You could also bring snacks if you wanted but there were strict regulations about what you could and couldn’t bring onto the Antarctic Continent. 

We attended mandatory briefings several times throughout the expedition to ensure no flora or fauna would be disturbed. After all, it is the only continent worldwide where indigenous humans have never inhabited. Some scientists live there during the summer months. Fortunately, we did have the opportunity to visit the Chinese base station and it was super cool to view their housing, land vehicles and artefacts. I even got my passport stamped. That was amazing!

A complete guide to Antarctica

Top things to do in Antarctica…

1. swim. do the polar plunge..

Jump from the maiden ship into the iceberg-rich waters. An unforgettable moment and a shot of vodka once back on board.

A complete guide to Antarctica

2. Get a picture with the most epic, vibrant coloured King Penguin. 

Tip : Don’t ever approach wildlife, just bend down, stay still and allow them to come to you.

A complete guide to Antarctica

3. Do some yoga on the top deck.

Whilst you may think being on a ship for three weeks is lovely and relaxing, I also craved movement. Gym and Yoga sessions set me up for the day. Also, it’s pretty cold down there, so you have to find ways to heat up.

4. Make friends with the people around you.

This journey is once in a lifetime. I was a solo backpacker, so it was nice to spend some precious moments with like-minded folk. The crazier the company, the more fun, I believe.

A complete guide to Antarctica

5. Slide down the Antarctic Peninsula.

The location we docked had some beautiful mountainous terrain and a perfectly laid-out snow slide. It was epic, give a little scream and it’s that much more fun.

6. Attend a church service in South Georgia, Grytviken.

This was an unplanned event. We landed when the local navy was docked in the harbour. I went straight to the old Norwegian church to hear the male choir songs. It was a rather unusual experience, although I did enjoy it, I just didn’t expect to be on a Sub-Antarctic Island listening to the navy sing such beautiful melodies.

7. Visit the captain’s deck, if permitted, to whale watch.

Luckily on our trip, the captain was super kind and invited passengers to observe the oncoming whale flukes, blows and many birdlife, including albatrosses.

8. Have a drink/cocktail in the piano bar and listen to some harmonious melodies.

The rocking motion, iceberg views and feeling within your soul will not be beaten.

9. Visit the whaling station, and old ruins and take a guided tour of Grytviken.

So much history lies here and it is vitally important that we, as humans, dependent on the ocean, understand the implications the whaling years had upon our marine life. It is quite eerie to visit a place where thousands of whales were slaughtered, however super extraordinary to experience it and learn from it.

10. Attend a cooking class, or whatever is on schedule on the ship’s itinerary.

Not every day will you have the opportunity for an outdoor adventure, so take up the other ones on offer. This one I try to make dumplings, but the ladies just laugh. They said it didn’t appear to be a dumpling, although I’m still quite proud and you know, the movement of the ship had an influence.

A complete guide to Antarctica

11. Get a seal Selfie.

Millions of seals line the coasts of South Georgia, so it’s a must to get a selfie with one. Be aware though, these seals are not as friendly as they look. They do chase you, don’t worry though, we had some pre-training on how to defend ourselves should one approach us in a non-friendly manner.

12. Make friends with the dining staff on your boat

Imagine, these guys are working season round, so maybe 6 months plus away from their families at sea. It’s such a nice gesture to be amicable and it made the journey more enjoyable for them too. This was Alvin, he used to sing songs at dinner, and this one was dedicated to me. Oh my, I was a bit shy, if I’m honest.

13. Pretend you’re a penguin. 

These memories will last for a lifetime so why not smile and be a bit playful? Here is me, pretending to be a real-life penguin. Can you tell the difference?

A complete guide to Antarctica

14. Whale watching is a MUST.

To be honest, I didn’t sleep a whole lot of hours on board. I was too excited. I wanted to capture as many moments as I could. When the sun was rising, I was making my way to the upper deck and boy did I get a good glimpse of wildlife. Sometimes, there was not a soul to be seen, just the captain’s crew. Oh my, lots of snoring below, hehe.

A complete guide to Antarctica

15. Be present.

This expedition flew by and like time, it did not stop. It’s so important to practice mindfulness, especially when experiencing such life-changing experiences. I took some moments once docked on the islands to fully appreciate what was in front of me; eyes, ears, nose, all senses engaged. I still can feel the presence and power behind each one of these photos. I hope that you can too 🙂

16. Record, write, and document as much as you can.

This is essential, otherwise, where would memories go? So much of life gets buried within the busyness of our minds. I made it a priority of mine to write in my diary each night; experiences, wildlife encounters, feelings and of course, gratitude. We also had no access to the internet, however, sometimes there was a WhatsApp connection, so, at a very odd time, I would update my status there.

“If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.” ― Andrew Denton

A complete guide to Antarctica

Have you ever been to Antarctica?

What questions do you have? Any tips? We’d love to hear from you.

Love Kate  from  Catch Cait

You can see more of Kate’s adventures on her Instagram  here.

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A complete guide to Antarctica




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Middle east, latin america, north america, everything you need to know for your trip to antarctica.

“Welcome to Antarctica – the most beautiful place in the world today!”

That was the salutation that gently woke me up each morning during my trip to Antarctica. The heavy Italian accent made me smile the first morning this greeting came blaring over the ship’s intercom system. The second time, it was the knowledge that it was true. Antarctica is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Small Gentoo penguins fiving from a floating ice berg into the sea

A trip to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With no permanent human habitation and logistically tricky access, it’s no surprise that the “White Continent” is one of Earth’s most isolated and untouched places.

Like so many of Earth’s most majestic natural landscapes, it’s a place where no amount of flowery language or expertly taken photographs can do justice. There’s nothing like witnessing the breathtaking sight of icebergs and glaciers up close, watching penguin colonies waddle their way down snowy slopes, or whales breach as you kayak through one of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet.

Throughout my ten-day expedition voyage with  Poseidon Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula , I stepped outside my comfort zone, faced new challenges, and connected with nature in a profound way.

It sounds a bit Woo Woo, but my trip was truly a transformative experience. The type of experience you want to share with anyone that will listen, but also protect at all costs. To visit Antarctica is to become an ambassador for a remote and distant place that most can only dream of experiencing for themselves.

In this post, I’ll go over why you should consider visiting Antartica, how to get to Antarctica, what to know before you book your trip to Antarctica and some of my favorite Antartica experiences.

Getting To Ushuaia – The Beginning Of Your Antarctic Expedition

an airplane flying through the sky with golden sky and clouds in the distance

Antarctica may be challenging to reach, but it’s well worth the effort! The small town of Ushuaia is located in the southernmost tip of Argentina, and it’s the starting point for most trips to Antarctica  – including the one I went on! There’s no fast way of getting to Ushuaia, but it is relatively straightforward:

First, find a flight to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, and it has an international airport (Ezeiza International Airport) that receives international flights from all over the world.

From Buenos Aires, you’ll need to take a domestic flight to Ushuaia. Several airlines operate flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, including Aerolineas Argentinas, LATAM, and Flybondi. You can book your flight directly through their websites or online travel agencies.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Antarctica

The best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months, from October to March. During this time, the temperature is at its mildest, and the sea ice has melted enough to allow easier access to some landing sites. The long daylight hours also make it possible to spend more time exploring the continent. During the summer, there are micro-seasons to be aware of when planning your trip.

a seal lounging on the ice

Visiting Antarctica In Early Summer (October and November)

Early summer is the Antarctic awakening. Snow and ice are plentiful, and millions of ocean-going penguins and seabirds return to Antarctica to begin their breeding season. Courtship rituals take place, and they lay their eggs. In South Georgia island, gigantic bull elephant seals battle for control of harems on the beaches.

Visiting Antarctica In High Summer (December and January)

High summer delivers the warmest weather, nearly continuous daylight, and frenetic wildlife activity. This is the best time to observe fluffy penguin chicks in their nests. Vast numbers of whales arrive in Antarctica to begin feeding, and king penguins and fur seals pack South Georgia’s beaches.

Visiting Antarctica In Late Summer (February and March)

A late summer cruise to Antarctica is the prime time for viewing maturing penguin chicks and seal pups. An abundance of young animals and their predators set the stage for dramatic events and fantastic photo opportunities. Late summer is also the best time for whale encounters of all kinds.

The timing for my trip to Antarctica

My expedition was from February 8th to the 19th. We had a mix of different weather and saw all kinds of different wildlife. I have zero complaints about when we went, but if I were to go again I think I would like to visit during high summer – probably early to mid-December.

Enjoying the hot tub on board our Antarctic expedition ship with views of the Antarctica landscape

How To Choose An Antarctic Expedition

Choosing an expedition to Antarctica can be a daunting task. Once you start researching, you’ll inevitably find quite a few Antarctica tour packages offering a range of trips with different itineraries, accommodations, and activities.

Ultimately, the best option for choosing a polar expedition to Antarctica depends on your preferences and priorities. The following factors can help you decide what type of trip to Antarctica would be best for you:

Itinerary : Consider the itinerary of each expedition in Antarctica and what sights and activities it includes. Some polar expeditions may focus more on wildlife watching, while others may emphasize visits to research stations or historical sites. Choose an itinerary that aligns with your interests and preferences.

Size and Passenger Count : It’s critical to note that larger cruise ships cannot make landings in Antarctica. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) limits the size of vessels that can make landings to those carrying 500 passengers or fewer. On the other hand, an Antarctic cruise line with a smaller ship carrying between 50 and 200 passengers can navigate the polar waters more efficiently and make landings in the continent’s more remote and pristine areas.

Accommodations : Consider the type of accommodations offered and what level of comfort you require. Do you prefer a basic cabin or a luxurious suite? Keep in mind that the level of comfort often correlates with the cost.

Reputation : Look into the reputation of the tour operator you are considering. Read reviews from previous passengers, and check if the operator has any accreditations or certifications. Expertise: Look for an operator with experienced staff and crew members knowledgeable about Antarctica and its unique environment.

Environmental Responsibility : Consider the environmental impact of the expedition and look for an operator that follows strict environmental guidelines. The best Antarctica cruises take steps to minimize their impact on the region.

Price : Antarctic expeditions can vary wildly in price, so consider your budget when choosing an operator. Flexibility: Consider the flexibility of the itinerary and activities offered. Some Antarctica expeditions may provide more flexibility regarding what activities you can participate in or how long you can stay in specific locations.

a penguin crossing the snowy landscape of Antarctica

How Much Does A Trip To Antarctica Cost?

If you’re wondering how much is a trip to Antarctica, the cost of a trip to Antarctica can vary widely depending on several factors, including the itinerary, duration, level of comfort, and activities offered.

Generally, a trip to Antarctica can cost  anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000  or more per person. Some of the factors that can affect the cost of a trip to Antarctica include the following:

Itinerary : Longer trips with more stops and activities are more expensive than shorter, more basic itineraries.

Level of Comfort : The level of comfort offered can range from basic camping to luxury accommodations with private balconies and en-suite bathrooms.

Activities : Some trips offer more activities, such as kayaking, mountaineering, or camping, which can increase the cost.

Time of Year : The cost of a trip to Antarctica can also vary depending on the time of year, with peak season (December to February) typically being more expensive than shoulder season (October to November and March).

Operator : Different tours to Antarctica have different pricing structures, with some offering more budget-friendly options and others catering to more luxury-minded travelers.

Timing your trip to Antarctica

Cruise lines like to fill their ships before setting sail. This often means they will offer discounted prices as the departure date approaches. I met a girl on my trip to Antarctica who purchased her ticket two days before departure for 50% off.

Of course, this only worked because she was already in Ushuaia and had the time and flexibility to wait for the right opportunity. By waiting until the last minute, you risk missing out altogether. But if you have the luxury of time, it’s something to consider.

By the same token, there are often “early bird” discounts as well. So you can potentially save money by committing to a trip well in advance of the departure date. 

It’s important to note that the cost of a trip to Antarctica often does not include additional expenses such as airfare, visas, travel insurance, tips, and optional activities. For instance, the kayaking and camping experiences offered by Poseidon Expeditions each cost around $300 per person.

These extra expenses can add up quickly, so it’s helpful to decide which activities you’re interested in participating in and budget accordingly.

Tipping on your trip to Antarctica

Tipping for excellent service is a time-honored tradition in the cruise industry. Amounts are at the discretion of each guest, but the standard is generally between $10-20 per person, per day of the trip.

Gratuities are usually pooled and shared between the hotel and catering staff and the expert expedition team. Poseidon Expedition provided us with information about the tipping procedure as well as suggested amounts the day before disembarkment. 

Sailing To Antarctica With Poseidon Expeditions

Until recently, I’d never seriously thought about visiting Antarctica. It’s not that my interest wasn’t peaked; Antarctica just always seemed somehow out of reach. Then, about a year ago,  Poseidon Expeditions  offered to host me on one of their voyages to cruise Antarctica.

I did a deep dive into the company and was impressed by what I saw – positive reviews, lots of repeat passengers, and a commitment to environmentally responsible expeditions.

an Antarctica cruise ship waiting in the sea with snow covered mountains in the distance

Now it was just a matter of deciding where to go. Poseidon offers expeditions all over the Arctic. Including many places at the top of my bucket list – like Greenland and Svalbard. So many choices, so little time!

But the possibility of a trip to Antarctica captivated my imagination. Sailing with Poseidon Expeditions to Antarctica offers a unique opportunity to experience the polar region’s untouched wilderness and awe-inspiring beauty. Only later did it occur to me that I would also be checking off my 7th and final continent—never a goal of mine, but a fun fact nonetheless.

My Experience on the Antarctic Expedition Cruise

our Antarctica trip route on board Poseidon Expedition from Ushuaia to Antarctica

I chose Poseidon’s ten-day  Antarctic Peninsula – “Realm of Penguins and Iceberg”  trip aboard their Sea Spirit expedition ship. It was an incredible experience! Everything it promised to be and more.

Built-in 1991, their exposition ship—Sea Spirit—felt like home by the end of my ten days on board. Not only were the spaces cozy and welcoming, but the small ship size allowed a pleasant familiarity to blossom between the crew and passengers.

It’s been almost a month since I disembarked, and I’m still communicating with some of my fellow passengers. Friendships were forged over daily tea dates in the library and multi-course dinners. Over time I’ve realized that few things bring people together, like a shared sense of adventure. And as it turns out, a trip to the bottom of the Earth is no exception.

From the informative lectures and the expert team onboard, to the incredible expedition in Antarctica, landings, activities and wildlife experiences, to the great food and even the hot tub on board, every aspect of this Antarctic expedition cruise was a trip of a lifetime. 

The expedition staff and crew members made my trip to Antarctica exceptional, going out of their way to accommodate everyone. The informative lectures during our Drake Passage helped us get the most out of our Antarctic experience. Plus, their passion for the environmental sustainability of Antarctica was evident in everything they did.

Choosing An Expedition Company That Prioritizes the Environment

Antarctica is one of the few places on Earth still largely untouched by human development. The landscape is pristine, and the wildlife is abundant, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. Of course, you can love a destination to death, a danger the expedition staff was well aware of.

The crew took the rules and regulations in place to minimize human impact on the environment very seriously. We weren’t allowed to take our backpacks off or sit on the ground. No exceptions.

huge icebergs in Antarctica

Crossing The Drake Passage To Antarctica

The Drake Passage is the body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. The passage is known for its unpredictable weather and often rough seas, and it is not uncommon for waves to reach heights of 30 feet or more. Most Antarctica tours and cruises complete the crossing in 2-3 days, but it could take longer, depending on weather conditions.

On the way to Antarctica, our crossing was relatively mild – it wasn’t a “Drake Lake,” as it’s fondly referred to when waters are exceptionally calm. But still, nothing to write home about. The return journey. . . not so much. I’m sure conditions can get a lot worse than we had them, but for a day and a half, everyone onboard got the opportunity to put their sea legs to the test.

Besides being generally more hazardous to move around the ship, seasickness is the biggest concern when crossing the Drake Passage. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that quite a few people looked a little worse for wear those last few days.

However, a little Dramamine right before bed did the trick for me. I’m not particularly prone to seasickness, but I didn’t see the point in taking any chances. Plus, they were dispensing it like candy at the front desk. Motion sickness medication works best if you take it before you need it. So that’s what I did – zero regrets.

huge ice bergs floating in clear blue water in Antarctica

Highlights From My Trip To Antarctica

During our first mandatory lecture on board, our expedition leader told us to keep in mind that we were currently embarking on an expedition of Antarctica – NOT a cruise.

The main distinguishing feature was that we needed to let go of ridged ideas about your trip to Antarctica itinerary, expect the unexpected, and learn to go with the flow. I didn’t give this little nugget of wisdom any thought at the time.

But in hindsight, it’s an essential feature of Antarctic expeditions. Once you board any trip to Antarctica, you must be willing to relinquish all control.

It’s essential to approach an Antarctic expedition with an open mind and prepare to adjust your plans and itinerary based on the conditions on the ground. Even during the summer, when conditions are at their mildest, strong winds, high seas, and dense sea ice can sometimes make it difficult or even impossible to make landings or visit certain areas of the continent.

Moreover, wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed. This might mean changing course to take advantage of good weather or changing the timing or location of landings to avoid difficult conditions.

I bring this up now because I’m going to list some of my favorite places from my trip to Antarctica. The thing is, I had no idea we were going to stop at these places.

If I were to sign up for another Antarctic expedition, it would likely be a completely different itinerary, with different landings, weather, and certainly different animal sitings. Antarctica is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get!

Danco Island

a lone penguin walking up the snowy slope of Danco Island in Antarctica with ice bergs floating in the water below

On the third day of our expedition, we woke just offshore from our first landing. Danco Island is a small, crescent-shaped island located off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. It will always hold a special place in my memory as being the first real taste of Antarctica – and my goodness, was that taste yummy.

In some ways, I wish it hadn’t been first because it ended up being my second favorite Antarctica trip location. Right after breakfast, we waited anxiously to hear our group called to the zodiac platform over the intercom. 

a cloudy day in Antarctica with snow covered mountains, floating icebergs and two people in red coats crossing the snowy landscape in the foreground

When it was finally our turn, we sat shoulder to shoulder, whizzing past icebergs and jumping penguins. My face was frozen, but the discomfort of fresh air felt rejuvenating after two days of lounging around the ship.

Mario, our expedition leader, greeted us as we pulled up to the beach. He gave a quick demonstration on how to disembark the zodiac cruise safely, pointed out the trail the team had already marked off, and explained that penguins had the right-of-way. We had two hours to explore at our leisure. We could hike to the top of the island for 360° views. Or not. Of course, we did.

Orne Harbour

a view from above of the expedition cruise ship waiting in the harbour surrounded by snowy mountains

Orne Harbour was our second landing during my trip to Antarctica. By the time we arrived, the weather had deteriorated, and at first, it sounded like our second landing of the trip might not land at all. I was disappointed.

Orne Harbour was our first (and perhaps only) “official” continental landing. Plus, it would be our first chance to see the Chinstrap Penguins. But before I could get too disappointed, our fortunes changed yet again, and before I knew it, we were plowing through large chunks of ice on our way to Orne Harbour’s shore.

From the landing point, it was a short but steep climb to the chinstrap colony and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the Sea Spirit waiting for us in the dark water below.

Port Lockroy

Port Lockroy is one of the most popular destinations for any trip to Antarctica due to its unique history and stunning scenery. The base was primarily used for scientific research, but it also served as a secret military base during World War II. The station was eventually closed in 1962 and remained abandoned until it was restored and opened as a museum in 1996.

a small wooden and red building housing a museum and post office in Antarctica

One of the unique things about Port Lockroy, and my favorite thing about it, is that it has the only post office in Antarctica! The post office was established in 1944 and has been operating ever since. During the summer, the post office is staffed by volunteers working for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. These volunteers sell postcards, stamps, and souvenirs to visitors and process and send mail.

Sending mail from Port Lockroy is a right of passage and a very popular activity for visitors to Antarctica.

Before our landing at Port Lockroy, the makeshift gift shop on the Sea Spirit opened up so that people could buy postcards to prepare for the post office. Unfortunately, they quickly ran out, and I couldn’t purchase any.

I wasn’t too worried because I figured I could buy some at the shop in Port Lockroy. WRONG! They were also sold out! I’m not sure if this is common, but out of a preponderance of caution, I suggest picking up some Antarctica Post Cards in Ushuaia before your departure.

Port Charcot

On most Poseidon Expedition trips to Antarctica, there is an opportunity to camp under the stars on land. The excursion is limited to 20 people, and was booked out before I joined the trip. Despite the poor odds, I went to the camping safety brief and put my name on the waitlist.

At the end of the second day on the Antarctic Peninsula, they announced that that would be the night. Much to my surprise (and secret delight), eight people who had signed up decided they didn’t fancy the idea of sleeping out in the sub-freezing conditions after all.

Quin and I both got off the waitlist, and at 9 PM, we boarded the zodiac excursions and headed for Port Charcot.

camping in Antarctica at night, two people in a dug out snow hole is red jackets and sleeping bags

On shore, we dug out small shelters in the snow and set up camp. As the light faded, the clouds cleared to reveal striking views of the bay and nearby mountain peaks. I snuggled deep into my bivvy and eventually was lulled to sleep by the distant chatter of gentoo penguins. Not much sleep was had at Port Charcot, but it was an experience I wouldn’t soon forget. 

Niko Harbor

If the next Avatar movie were snow-themed, Pandora would look like Niko Harbor. With its vast expanses of ice, snow, and glaciers, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife, Niko Harbor stood out among the other beautiful places we saw on our Antarctica expedition. It was the creme de la creme of the Antarctica trip.

Two women in red jackets on board a zodiac in Antarctica

Ironically, our time in Niko Harbor started with bad news. At breakfast, the expedition team announced that they couldn’t make it to shore, so our morning landing was canceled. Instead, we would go on a zodiac expedition.

As fate would have it, that was the best possible thing that could have happened. Because unbeknownst to us, there was a surprise waiting for us among the towering glaciers and shimmering blue icebergs of Nico Harbor. Whales! Oh, so many whales.

Only a few minutes after our zodiac hit the open water, we received the first call over the radio. There were two whales just north of us. As we slowly made our way in that direction, another call came in, then another, and then the calls didn’t matter because they were everywhere.

It was hard to know which direction to look. Only one thing was certain: no matter where you looked, you would see a whale. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Once In A Lifetime Activities Not To Miss On Your Antarctic Expedition

the front of a kayak during sea kaying in Antarctica

Camping In Antarctica

Camping in Antarctica is a truly unique experience, allowing visitors to spend a night under the Antarctic sky and get a sense of what life is like in this extreme environment. This unique experience is usually organized in small groups and includes all necessary equipment and safety measures.

Many people asked me whether I thought this experience was “worth it.” For me, the answer is yes. That being said, I am an outdoor adventure photographer and camping in extreme environments is well within my wheelhouse. It was not a comfortable night, and I didn’t get much sleep, but I knew that going into it. I don’t think camping in Antarctica is for everyone, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Polar Plunge In Antarctica

If conditions allow, most expedition ships offer an opportunity to jump into the water of Antarctica – generally from one of the Zodiacs. Cold water isn’t for everyone, but if you’re tempted, I’d highly encourage you to try it!

Participating in a polar plunge can be a thrilling and unique experience, and it’s a rite of passage for visitors to Antarctica. The cold is short-lived, but the memories last forever! Plus, it’s one of the only free optional activities. At least on our ship, it was!

Keep in mind that the water temperature in Antarctica can be well below freezing, and the shock of the cold water can be dangerous for some people.

Sea Kayaking In Antarctica

Kayaking is a peaceful and intimate way to explore Antarctica’s waters on your Antarctic adventure, allowing visitors to paddle quietly among icebergs, glaciers, and wildlife. This activity is usually led by experienced guides and requires some previous kayaking experience.

What To Pack For An Expedition To Antarctica

walking down the deck walkway onboard an ANtarctica cruise surrounded by icebergs and snowy mountains on a clear sunny day

I wrote a separate blog post with everything you need to pack for Antarctica ! In it you’ll find a complete list of everything I packed for my trip, including clothing and camera gear.

The key to packing for Antarctica is layering. Antarctica has some of the most temperamental weather in the world, so it’s critical to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

You want to bring clothing and gear that can withstand harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. For landings and other excursions you’ll need thermal underwear, fleece jackets, down jackets, and waterproof outer layers. You’ll also want to bring comfortable clothing for days on the ship. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Antarctic Expeditions

Is antarctica a country.

No, Antarctica is not a country. The Antarctic Treaty System, with 54 signatory countries, governs the continent.

Who owns Antarctica?

No one owns Antarctica. The continent is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System. Today, there are 54 signatory countries to the treaty, designed to protect the region’s environment and promote scientific research.

The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on the continent. It also allows for freedom of scientific research and international cooperation and coordination supporting that research. The treaty has successfully maintained peace and stability in Antarctica and has become a model for international cooperation in the peaceful use of resources.

How cold is it in Antarctica?

Antarctica is Earth’s coldest, driest, and windiest continent. Temperatures can reach as low as -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-89.2 degrees Celsius), and the average temperature during the summer months (November-February) is around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Are there any towns in Antarctica?

While there are research stations and bases in Antarctica, there is no permanent human habitation on the continent.

Will I see Polar Bears in Antarctica?

No. Polar bears are native to the Arctic region, located at the opposite end of the Earth from Antarctica. If you’re interested in seeing polar bears, it’s best to visit the Arctic region, such as the Svalbard archipelago or Canada’s northern territories, where polar bears live in their natural habitat.

What animals will I see in Antarctica?

Antarctica is home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife that has adapted to survive in the harsh and extreme conditions of the continent. You’ll likely see various species of penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds.

How is Antarctica’s environment protected?

Antarctica is protected by several international agreements and protocols designed to preserve its unique environment and ecosystem. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 and ratified by 54 countries is the most important.

The treaty designates Antarctica as a scientific preserve and prohibits any military activity on the continent. It also protects Antarctic flora and fauna and requires all visitors to follow strict guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment.

In addition to the Antarctic Treaty, there are several other agreements that protect Antarctica, including the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

These agreements address fishing, tourism, and waste disposal in Antarctica. They are designed to ensure that the continent remains a pristine and unique environment for generations to come.

the icy dark waters of Antarctica surrounded by snowy mountains on a sunny day

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission on any purchase made – at  no additional cost to you . As always, all ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.  I appreciate your support!

More Travel Posts For You!

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Beautifully written. I felt like I was there with you.

Thank you 😊 Jess

Thank you so much Helene! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to check this post out. And glad to hear that you could visit vicariously through the words and photos.

This was an amazing post! I follow you on Instagram and find all of your work really inspiring and it’s helped me plans quite a few trips!

Thanks Niketa! You’re feedback is so helpful and definitely helps motivate me to keep writing travel guides. It’s so nice to hear that you have used some of them in your own travels! That’s the best feedback. 🙂

Sounds like it was the most amazing trip! Thankyou for all of this information. It’s all so well laid out and communicated and will definitely help me when planning my trip to Antarctica (🤞🏼in the next few years)

You’re so welcome Nicole! I hope you are able to plan a trip soon. It’s truly a once in a lifetime destination. So beautiful!

I love your in detail blogposts!❤️ Thank you for taking your time to write them! I wish we would be going to Antartica soon, but at least we know how to when the day comes due to your writings^^ We used your blogs in Mexico a few years back and we found the most gorgeous cenotes of the beaten track thanks to you. So forever grateful 🙌 and always an amazing read 🔥

Amazing! Mexico is definitely one of my all time favorite countries. So many underrated and less explored areas. Fantastic to hear that you had such a great trip. Thanks for stopping by the blog – I really appreciate it.

So good! Beautiful photos and informative blog.

As usual, beautiful content

Thanks so much Pam!

Thank you so much for this super informative post! Planning on going in a couple of years and was a little daunted by where to start. This post answered so many of my questions!

Amazing! Glad you found it helpful. It’s such a magical place. Excited for you!

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17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Antarctica Travel Tips

  • Antarctica / Outdoors

Curious about visiting Antarctica? Here’s everything you need to know.

Stepping foot on our last continent was a dream come true. Thank you, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, for hosting such a memorable trip! 

Before we embarked on our journey, we thought Antarctica was a one-and-done destination, but even during our trip, I started to look up ways I could become a researcher and live there. Penguin counter? Pick me!

Epic doesn’t even begin to describe this frozen wonderland, and if you saw any of my photos and stories, you already know, I couldn’t help but exclaim in ALL CAPS! It was a trip of a lifetime, and I hope it isn’t our last.

Curious about visiting the White Continent? Read our tips to help you plan a trip to the most epic place on earth.

17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Antarctica Travel Tips

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure  for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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  • Best Time to Visit Antarctica
  • How Bad is the Drake Passage
  • How to Choose an Antarctic Cruise

1. How Long Does it Take to Get to Antarctica?

When visiting Antarctica, most people start their cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile. Since we live in Las Vegas, we’ll share our travel times from here (no direct flights from LAS to EZE).

  • Vegas to Dallas – 2 h 40 mins
  • Dallas to Buenos Aires – 10 h 30 mins
  • Buenos Aires to Ushuaia – 3 h 20 mins (left 926 am, arrived 1245)
  • Ushuaia Port to Antarctica on the Scenic Eclipse II – approximately two days through Drake Passage. It can sometimes take longer, depending on wind and swells.

See More: 25 Amazing Places to Visit Before They Disappear

scenic eclipse antarctica

2. Best times to Visit Antarctica? What are High and Low Seasons? When Do I Need to Book?

The best time to visit Antarctica is from November to March, their summer.

  • October – some cruises start at the end of the month. It’s colder, and the days are short, but you get lower fares, enormous icebergs, and pristine landscapes. If you’re on an icebreaker ship, you can even visit remote emperor penguin colonies, the most elusive penguins.
  • November – most cruise lines start their season in November. Adélie, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins start mating and laying eggs. You’ll also see breeding elephant and fur seals with aggressive mating rituals. The snow is still pristine, icebergs are massive, and you can see the rare emperor penguins. Photographers also benefit from the sun being low. 
  • December – the weather warms, and you get 22 hours of daylight. In late December, you’ll see penguin chicks, baleen whales, toothed whales, and humpback whales on the peninsula. Keep in mind that the holidays are the most expensive time to visit.
  • January is peak season with 22+ hours of daylight for maximum wildlife watching. The weather is warmest and most predictable, though never guaranteed, and the ice breaks up for ships to cross the Antarctic Circle. You can visit historic huts during land expeditions. Penguin chicks are hatching, and orcas and humpback sightings are common.
  • February – Temperatures are still decent, and it is the best time for whale watching with more humpback and minke whale sightings. Sea ice retreats to open the Ross Sea and East Antarctica for visits. Adult penguins are molting, and chicks are learning to swim, so leopard seals and orcas are on the hunt.
  • March – the season starts to wind down with colder and more unpredictable weather, but you’ll get better value fares. It’s too late to see penguin chicks, but it’s an excellent time to see young fur seals and whales. It’s another popular time for photographers as the sun dips lower in the sky.

baby gentoo penguin

3. How much does it cost to go to Antarctica?

Most cruises are, on average, $8000 and can go up from there, and pricing depends on your cruise, time of year, how many days, and activities. The cheapest cruises start at $5000 and are sail-by cruises, where you don’t land.

The Scenic Eclipse II is one of the most luxurious vessels traveling to Antarctica and beyond the Antarctic Circle. We did a 16-day cruise that starts at $21,335 (the 13-day starts at $19,225). This pricing includes a chartered flight between Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, excursions (besides helicopter and submarine), 24/7 butler service, nine dining options (three of them set, coursed menu), gratuities, room service, alcoholic beverages with a great selection of wine and top-shelf whiskeys, enrichment lectures, fitness classes, spa facilities. Many other cruises start with a lower base price and offer these additional services a la carte. 

We’ll share a breakdown of these costs across different cruise lines later.

jenny island antarctica

4. How Can I Get to Antarctica? Can you fly to Antarctica? Are There hotels in Antarctica?

Antarctica is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous, making independent travel challenging. Most people visit through guided tours and cruises. If you want to land in Antarctica, only smaller expedition ships can land since IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) rules limit the number of people on land at a given time. On a large cruise ship, you can only sail by.

There are no commercial flights to Antarctica, but certain cruises offer chartered flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to King George Island in Antarctica, where you start your cruise.

No hotels exist in Antarctica. Your options are expedition cruise ships, research stations, and luxury campsites that start at $62,500.

See More: Ultimate Life Bucket List – 1001 Things to Eat, See, and Do

scenic eclipse cabins

5. How bad is the Drake Passage? Will I Experience Seasickness?

This was the question people asked us most. Antarctic waters are generally calm, but getting there is the challenge. The Drake Passage is known as one of the world’s most treacherous bodies of water. I was worried because I get seasick even on the calmest waters, but the patch combined with Dramamine and the bands did the trick.

We were also fortunate to be on the Scenic Eclipse II, one of the first discovery yachts specifically made for Antarctica. We had up to 23 ft (7 m) swells, and because the stabilizers are 50% larger than any other ship this size, the captain told us we were only feeling 10% of the Drake Shake. Meanwhile, we saw footage of other ship guests being tossed around. I’m not sure I would visit any other way.

The worst Scenic has ever seen was 26.2 ft (8 m) with 72 knots (82.9 mph) winds. We saw a plate or two falling off tables, but for the most part, everything felt stable.

6. Meds to bring?

Always check with your PCP before taking medication.

If you’re prone to motion sickness, pack Dramamine, Scopapoline patch, motion sickness bands, and/or motion sickness glasses. I used everything except the glasses. I’m unsure which remedy worked best, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

We packed Dramamine and bands, but Scenic Medical also provided motion-sickness meds and patches in limited supply. They ran out on the way back through the Drake Passage, so we had to get some patches from a friend.

We also always pack Imodium and Lactaid for all our travels, which we didn’t need.

how to survive the drake passage

7. What Should I Pack For Antarctica? How Should I Dress? Are Life Jackets Provided?

Besides the motion sickness remedies mentioned above, you will need good winter gear, and layering is key (packing list coming soon!). Scenic provided a waterproof winter jacket , muck boots, and life jackets that worked well for all our excursions. All you need to pack are base layers, mid-layers, and a waterproof pant layer . I brought a couple of dresses for dinners, but it wasn’t necessary for this expedition-style trip. If you want to wear cute clothes for the ship, that’s entirely up to you.

Also, pack strong enough sunscreen since Antarctica’s ozone layer is thinner , and fresh snow can reflect up to 90% UV radiation.

Pro Tip: Suitcases larger than 30x21x11 in (76x53x28 cms) or weighing more than 50 lbs (23kg) will have an additional excess baggage fee.

See More: The Best Carry On Luggage + How to Pick the Right Suitcase for You

8. How Cold is Antarctica? What Will the Weather Be Like in Antarctica? What is a Discovery Cruise?

Antarctica is the highest, driest, windiest, and coldest continent, with a record low of -128.6°F (-89.2 °C). Ice covers approximately 98% of the continent. 

You will experience much milder temps since you’re visiting Antarctica in the summer and will be along the peninsula instead of interior Antarctica. During the tourist season, November-March, the temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula are around 34°F (0 °C) and can even be up to 50°F (10 °C). Our friends in Canada and the Midwest had colder temps than we did on our trip.

Antarctica has a very dynamic environment, so it’s essential to be flexible and roll with the punches. Discovery cruises have no set itinerary, and plans may change each day depending on the weather.

Luckily, our discovery leader and captain on the Scenic Eclipse II were great at pivoting to find suitable microclimates to give us the best experience possible each day. I don’t know if we had a unicorn of a trip, but each day, we thought it could not get any more epic, and then the following day exceeded our expectations.

See More: 13+ Best Jackets for Travel for Any Weather

9. What is the Best Antarctica Cruise? How to Choose an Antarctic Cruise

There is a lot to consider when choosing an Antarctic Cruise. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your budget?
  • Is time off a limitation? When do you want to go? The time of year will dictate what you see and your destinations.
  • What type of vessel do you want to be on? What amenities, comforts, and services do you look for? Is environmental responsibility a priority?
  • Do you want to step foot in Antarctica or sail by? Is a continental landing important to you vs Antarctic islands?
  • Where do you want to go? Do you want to cross the Antarctic Circle? Do you want to include a visit to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands?
  • Are you looking for specific wildlife encounters? Do you want to see penguin chicks or seal pups? Do you want to catch them during their mating rituals?
  • What about milder temperatures and longer days?
  • Are you a photographer looking for pristine landscapes and a lower sun angle?

We loved our Douro river cruise in Portugal several years ago and were excited to travel to Antarctica with Scenic again. Not only is it the most luxurious cruise, but the Scenic Eclipse II has massive stabilizers compared to other ships that make going through the Drake Passage bearable.

We were also impressed with their commitment to sustainability. The Scenic Eclipse II was built with state-of-the-art technology and exceeds all current environmental standards. They already reduced sulfur emissions by up to 95% and are going carbon neutral by 2025 (that’s next year!). 

Besides the reusable bottles, water stations, and refillable toiletries, they have a sustainability officer on board to help further reduce waste. The “smoke” you see is water vapor, food waste gets composted or dehydrated to use as dyes, and gray water is triple-filtered to turn back into clean water. The ship also doesn’t drop an anchor to preserve coral reefs. Whenever possible, they source from local markets and even have an onboard herb garden, which we saw growing microgreens.

See More: What You Need to Know Before Your First Douro River Cruise

10. What is the Currency Used Onboard? Do you need to exchange money? What about tipping?

Antarctica is not a country and doesn’t have its own currency. The currency on board the Scenic Eclipse II was US Dollars. Most Antarctic cruises take US Dollars or Euros.

If you spend extra days in Buenos Aires, it may be worth exchanging your money for pesos to get a better rate, but our guide told us the locals prefer US dollars to pesos right now because of the unstable economy. We only stayed overnight, and the cafe we ate at took credit cards.

11. Do I need a visa When visiting antarctica?

You don’t need a visa for Antarctica, but you must have a valid passport for six months beyond your trip.

12. Vaccines? Is it Dangerous in Antarctica?

During our time in Antarctica, Avian Flu was spreading in the Antarctic Peninsula, mostly among elephant seals. Scenic avoided any areas with known outbreaks, so we didn’t need to worry about it.

When we travel, we like to use Passport Health for vaccines. They have travel clinics in the US, Canada, and UK, and are perfect for what we need.

elephant seals in antarctica

13. Do I need converters?

We always carry t his power converter and adapter since we have two laptops, two phones, and various other electronics that need charging.

Scenic Eclipse II suites had international power sockets (multi-sockets), USB Type-A sockets, and one 110v 60 Hz United States type power socket with a shaver socket. The onboard electricity is 220 volts and 60 Hz.

For your overnight in Argentina, the standard voltage is 220V. Primary sockets require a Type I or Type C plug.

See More: 15 Carry On Essentials for You to Take On Every Flight

14. What souvenirs to buy when visiting antarctica?

The best souvenirs you’ll bring home when visiting Antarctica are your memories and photos. On our trip, Scenic brought the Point Lockroy team from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust onboard to share more about their work. They also set up a pop-up post office and gift shop where you can buy souvenirs, with proceeds supporting their research.

We typically only buy consumable souvenirs for friends and family, but since this was such a unique opportunity, we sent postcards from Antarctica .

15. What activities do you do in Antarctica? What is a zodiac?

On our Scenic Eclipse II cruise, they had two daily excursions when the weather allowed. These are the activities on our trip.

  • Landings – sometimes included a hike or visits to historic huts.
  • Zodiac cruises – you see glaciers, icebergs, and wildlife.
  • Kayaking was all tandem. It requires calmer conditions.
  • Stand-up paddling – required the calmest conditions. You SUP solo, which can be a quieter, more reflective experience.
  • Polar plunge – they made it fun with hot chocolate or alcohol of choice waiting for you when you got out of the water.
  • Helicopter ride
  • Submarine – this was still being constructed when we were on our trip.

A zodiac is a brand that people now use to refer to a genre of boats. They are durable, inflatable boats we used during our trip to get from ship to land or to view wildlife.

If photographing wildlife is a priority, do a zodiac cruise. It’s easier to get around, and you don’t have to worry about your camera gear as much if you don’t have underwater housing. We preferred to kayak and SUP on days when there wasn’t as much wildlife. 

zodiac antarctica

16. What animals live in Antarctica? Do Polar Bears Live in Antarctica?

Wildlife sightings vary depending on the month and location, but this is what we saw in January.

  • Common: Adelie penguins, Chinstrap penguins, Gentoo penguins, Crabeater seals, Weddell seals, Snow petrels, Skuas, Humpback whales.
  • Less common: Leopard seals, Antarctic fur seals, Minke whales, Albatross
  • Rare: Emperor penguins, Blue whales, South Polar skua, Antarctic petrel, Antarctic fulmar, whole Snow petrel colonies, Ross Sea Killer Whales.

They told us it was rare to see orcas this time of year, but we saw several pods. Polar bears only live in the Arctic.

humpback whales antarctica

17. Is there wifi in Antarctica? How is the wifi or cell signal?

We did not have any cell signal, but on the Scenic Eclipse II, we had complimentary wifi, and we were surprised at how good it was throughout the cruise. They don’t guarantee wifi quality because it’s affected by weather and location, but we could access everything we needed.

One of the days we were on the navigation bridge, we saw staff making phone calls, which is crazy to think about because, just over 50 years ago, people were risking their lives to explore the continent. Some guests were streaming Netflix, but others had trouble opening Outlook, which may be because of cyber security protection.

is there wifi in antarctica

Now, who’s ready for a trip of a lifetime? Do you have any other questions about visiting Antarctica? Any other travel tips you can think of if you’ve been?

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17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Antarctica Travel Tips

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How to Visit Antarctica for Just 1 Day

Antarctica usually falls into the “epic big trips” category of travel, but a new package from cape town’s ellerman house can turn that dream adventure into a day trip..

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How to Visit Antarctica for Just 1 Day

Courtesy of White Desert Experience

Travel to Antarctica for the day? It sounds like a bonkers idea, like something that could only happen on The Bachelor . But thankfully, you don’t need to be on reality TV to explore the icy tip of the Earth’s southern pole for a couple of hours. Cape Town’s swanky Ellerman House hotel recently teamed up with White Desert , Antarctica’s first and only luxury camp, to offer a day trip from the southern tip of Africa to the southernmost continent. The experience is (unsurprisingly) called the “ Greatest Day ” and gives guests the incredible opportunity to spend an afternoon in one of the world’s most untouched places.

How is a quick trip to such a remote and inaccessible place even possible? It’s a feasible question given that the most common way to reach the continent is by cruise ship. But when you consider that the flight time from South Africa to Antarctica’s shore is under six hours, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable after all. Even better, you don’t need a visa and White Desert will take care of securing the permits you do need.

An Antarctic arrival

An Antarctic arrival

The Ellerman House can arrange for a Gulfstream private jet for up to 14 people ($210,000 for the entire plane). The flight is five-and-a-half hours of unadulterated luxury, complete with an in-flight meal of sushi and wagyu beef tartare and cocktails prepared with thousand-year-old glacial ice from Antarctica—because regular ice just won’t do. Once the plane touches down on a specially prepared Novo ice runway near the White Desert camp, guests have five hours to explore as much of Antarctica as they can.

Whichever way you choose to get there, once you hit the ground, there are myriad activities on offer: treks through mazes of iridescent blue ice grottoes, visits to frosty lakes and cliffs, or highlining—the extreme version of tightrope walking—between two ice peaks. Never tried highlining? Expert polar explorers are available to guide you through your ultimate extreme sport experience.

The wonders of the White Desert

The wonders of the White Desert

Those more interested in simply soaking up the unfamiliar landscape can visit Adelie penguins, follow a walking trail, explore in a 4x4 vehicle, or visit the nearby research stations. No matter what you do, the day culminates in a champagne dinner prepared by White Desert’s resident chef, followed by a flight back to Cape Town. Before you can say “I went to Antarctica for the day!” you’ll be sitting on a terrace at Ellerman House, gazing over the Atlantic Ocean, thinking, did that just happen ?

If a day trip experience doesn’t seem like enough of an adventure, White Desert offers longer journeys that go deeper into Antarctica to see emperor penguin colonies and ice tunnels. Guests stay in cozy, heated, fiberglass sleeping pods kitted out with beds, desks, and private bathrooms, in the carbon-neutral camp, which operates on a zero-impact policy. If ever there was a time to explore the Earth’s most far-flung icy regions, it would be now, because in a matter of time, there may be no more icy regions to explore.

>>Next: Coolest Travel Jobs—What It’s Like to Be a Polar Scientist

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Antarctica 360 VR – Inspiring Explorers™ Expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula

Take a trip to antarctica in 360° with our antarctica 360 vr video series.

Filmed during the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to the Antarctic Peninsula 2019, now you can share the journey on your own virtual expedition, kayaking in frozen waters, interacting with penguins, shipwrecks and sleeping out on the Ice along the way.

How to Navigate: Mobile users: Swipe screen / Move Phone PC users: use WASD or hold left mouse button to look around Or use a Virtual Reality headset

For the best experience, change the quality settings on your device to the highest setting

Find out more about the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to the Antarctic Peninsula 2019

Antarctica 360 VR Videos

Antarctica 360 vr – port lockroy.

In this video you’ll be virtually transported to Port Lockroy, an historic Antarctic destination, standing out amongst other Peninsula landings for its unique combination of history, postal and shopping opportunities, wildlife and majestic location all at one site maintained by our sister trust, UKAHT. But most of all: penguins! Lots and lots of penguins…

Please note required distancing from wildlife was maintained.

Antarctica 360 VR – Portal Point

Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2019 alumna, Georgie Archibald, says her favourite moment of the whole expedition was camping out for a night away from the expedition ship.

“It was twilight and we kayaked in the evening light from the ship across to the ice, with fur seals playing next to the kayaks. We had to walk our gear up a small hill and then dig out our holes, ‘shallow graves’ our ship guide called them, put in our bivvy bag set up, and then jump in and zip up. All the while the sun was setting over this fantastic view of the bay, with the bluest of blue icebergs, glaciers, the ship in the distance outlined with lights, and then the soft pastels of the evening light – it was just beautiful.”

–  Inspiring Explorer alumna, Georgie Archibald

Read more on the Inspiring Explorer team blog

Please note overnight camping was under the supervision of experienced professional guides.

Antarctica 360 VR – Paradise Harbour

Climb into the kayak with Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2019 alumna, Leah Stewart, as she takes you on a 360° VR tour of Paradise Harbour in our next edition of 360° Antarctica!

“To begin to describe the scale of the surroundings of the Antarctic Peninsula is very difficult. I have never felt so small, yet so alive. It is truly amazing to breathe the crisp, cold, fresh air while sitting on blue, mirrored waters, surrounded by glaciers and mountains, with the company of their reflections right beside you.”

– Leah Stewart, Inspiring Explorers alumna

Watch the video to experience the thrill of powering through the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula with the rest of the Inspiring Explorers team, right from your computer or device.

Antarctica 360 VR – Half Moon Island

Clamber onto the rocky shore with Inspiring Explorer Rosanna Price and discover the wonders of Half Moon Island, with this Antarctica 360 VR video.

“In the afternoon we made it to Half Moon Island. The water was a bit more choppy, and we got the chance to thread through some rocks close to shore. Again, getting up close to wildlife and being absolutely in awe of the mountainous glaciers all around us. We exited the kayaks onshore and walked around the island to get up close to the animals – including a Weddell seal and some Elephant seals.”

– Inspiring Explorers alumna, Rosanna Price

Antarctica 360 VR – Foyn Harbour

In the last of our Antarctica 360 VR video series, get up close to a piece of Antarctic history by visiting the Governoren Wreck at Foyn Harbour with the Inspiring Explorers™.

Before it was destroyed by fire in 1915, the Governoren was one of the largest whaling factory ships at the time. The ship met its fate when someone accidentally knocked a lamp to the ground during the party celebrating the end of a whaling mission.

Filled with thousands of gallons of whale oil waiting to be hauled back to Norway, the ship quickly succumbed to the flames. Despite this, the captain was able to run the ship aground, allowing the crew of 85 to escape to safety, and later rescue.

Please note kayaking near to the wreck was under the supervision of experienced professional guides.

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The 7 top antarctica cruises for 2024 + tips from an expert.

Plan your next epic adventure to the White Continent.

The Top Antarctica Cruises

The MS Roald Amundsen from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Yuri Matisse Choufour | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

Experience otherworldly beauty on an Antarctica cruise.

An expedition to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for intrepid travelers who want to explore this remote destination at the bottom of the world. The landscapes are surreal, with eerily blue icebergs, towering ice-capped mountains, dramatic weather conditions that change within seconds and species of wildlife that exist nowhere else on Earth – it's hard to imagine until you've made the long journey yourself.

The fifth-largest continent is home to the largest ice sheet on the planet, the Antarctic Ice Sheet, as well as the Transantarctic Mountains, with peaks soaring more than 14,700 feet into the sky. West Antarctica has volcanoes that are part of a tectonically active area around the Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire." This incredibly diverse and magical part of the world also has the coldest temperature ever recorded at -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010.

U.S. News has compiled a selection of seven different Antarctic experiences to help you plan your bucket list adventure to the White Continent.

Book an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Atlas Ocean Voyages: 11-night Ushuaia Roundtrip

Atlas Ocean Voyages cruises kayaking in Antarctica.

Courtesy of Atlas Ocean Voyages

This 11-night expedition with Atlas is available on several dates in 2024. One highlight of the voyage is crossing the Antarctic Circle, along with four days exploring Antarctica and two days spent in the South Shetland Islands. You'll also have two days en route to Antarctica and two days on the return trip on the famed Drake Passage – also known as the "Drake Lake" (on smooth days) or the "Drake Shake" (when the seas are rough).

During your days at sea, take in all the onboard lectures and films about Antarctica, and head outside on the decks to see petrels and albatrosses soaring overhead. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your photography skills before reaching the Antarctic Peninsula, where you want to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.

Atlas' Jan. 14 expedition is on the line's newest ship, World Voyager. The purpose-built yacht-style vessel features a hydro-jet propulsion system that's quieter and less disruptive to the fragile ecosystem. This feature also provides the opportunity for guests to see more wildlife during up-close encounters. Pricing is all-inclusive on board the ship with free open bars; all meals, wines, spirits and craft beers; a stocked in-room minibar; all landings, Zodiac excursions and lectures; the use of kayaks, walking sticks, knee boots and binoculars; and a souvenir Atlas jacket to take home. Fares also include a one-night pre-cruise stay and private charter jet service round-trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Aurora Expeditions: Antarctic Peninsula in Depth

The Greg Mortimer from Aurora Expeditions in Antarctica.

Tyson Mayr | Courtesy of Aurora Expeditions

Aurora offers a 14-night Antarctic intensive voyage sailing round-trip from Ushuaia on Nov. 6, 2024, aboard the 132-passenger purpose-built expedition ship Greg Mortimer. This vessel was the first passenger ship to utilize the state-of-the-art Ulstein X-BOW, which provides a smoother, quicker and more efficient transit across the ocean. The ship also incorporates many environmentally conscious features, including low energy consumption and virtual anchoring, which protects the sea floor and minimizes damage caused by traditional anchors.

Guests will find expansive observation decks and hydraulic viewing platforms for optimal wildlife viewing on board. Other highlights of the expedition are nine full days to explore the Antarctic Peninsula in nearly 24 hours of daylight at the peak of summer. During this time, you can expect to see whales arriving to feed on the plentiful krill, fur seal pups and many entertaining penguins.

Prices are mostly all-inclusive, with a one-night hotel stay before boarding the ship; all meals, snacks and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages; beer and house wine at lunch and dinner; the use of Muck Boots for the expedition; all shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; educational lectures; and more. Adventurous explorers can add on activities (at an additional cost) such as sea kayaking, snowshoeing, camping, and skiing or snowboarding. The line also offers longer 20- to 24-day expeditions that include South Georgia Island.

Read: Sustainable Cruises: The Top Lines Making Progress

Hurtigruten Expeditions: Antarctica, Patagonia and Chilean Fjords Expedition

The MS Roald Amundsen Antarctica from Hurtigruten Expeditions in Antarctica at sunset.

Dan Avila | Courtesy of Hurtigruten Expeditions

For an extended adventure that includes crossing the Drake Passage twice, spending up to five days in Antarctica and then landing on Cape Horn in Chile (weather permitting), consider the 25-night grand expedition cruise aboard the Hutrigruten Expeditions' MS Roald Amundsen. Additional highlights are scenic cruising in Garibaldi Fjord in Alberto de Agostini National Park to see the Garibaldi Glacier; visiting the town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park ; and seeing the longest Southern Hemisphere glacier outside of Antarctica (which grows by as much as 150 feet a day), the Pio XI Glacier in Bernado O'Higgins National Park. This epic adventure begins March 9, 2024, in Buenos Aires and ends in Valparaíso, Chile.

The ship for the voyage, MS Roald Amundsen, is a hybrid vessel that reduces CO2 emissions by using electrical propulsion – and it's designed specifically for use in polar waters. The vessel carries just 500 guests (to adhere to regulations for visiting Antarctica) and features all exterior cabins with Scandinavian inspired decor. Guests will also find an Explorer lounge and bar, three dining venues, the Science Center, a sauna and spa, and other amenities. Fares are mostly all-inclusive, covering a complimentary expedition jacket; the use of expedition equipment like boots and trekking poles; landing activities; most dining options; and wine, beer and soft drinks at meals.

Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic: Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

A small excursion boat off the Lindblad Excursions National Geographic Resolution ship on Peterman Island, Antarctica.

Ralph Lee Hopkins | Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions was the first company to bring citizen explorers to Antarctica in 1966, pioneering travel to this remote destination. The line's 13-night expedition to Antarctica is offered nearly 20 times throughout the summer season in 2024 on one of three ships. Depending on the ship, guests will have one evening in either Buenos Aires or Santiago, Chile , before flying to Ushuaia the next morning to embark the vessel.

With about five days to explore Antarctica, you'll have time to take in the awe-inspiring landscapes and look for seals and blue-eyed shags up close from Zodiacs. On land, watch thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins as they playfully slide down the snow-covered hills on their bellies – one right after the other – diving headfirst into the icy waters. After the adventure, a private charter flight will return you to either Buenos Aires or Santiago before your return flight home.

The line's newest expedition vessel, National Geographic Resolution, accommodates just 138 guests – and there are two new cabins for solo cruisers . Guests on the Polar Class 5 vessel will have a National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad-National Geographic-certified photo instructor and video chronicler documenting the trip. Onboard amenities include a yoga studio, a wellness specialist, infinity-style hot tubs, two restaurants and a chef's table, and plenty of indoor and outdoor viewing areas. This ship also carries an ROV (a remotely operated vehicle) for underwater exploration and other high-tech video gear.

You can even book an overnight stay in an igloo (on a first-come, first-served basis) and spend the evening under the polar sky. Fares are mostly all-inclusive and include all onboard meals and most meals ashore; nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages; transfers; excursions; a complimentary jacket; and more.

Silversea: King George Island to King George Island (Antarctica Bridge)

The Silver Endeavor in Orne Harbour, Antarctica.

Courtesy of Silversea

Silversea's six-night Antarctica Bridge expedition takes guests round-trip by a business class flight directly to the Antarctica Peninsula, flying into King George Island from Punta Arenas, Chile. This itinerary is offered several times throughout the season for guests who don't have extensive time to travel – or are nervous about sailing the Drake Passage. Silversea 's pricing is all-inclusive, and guests can choose between door-to-door or port-to-port fares.

While the weather determines the specific itinerary in Antarctica, guests can expect to have several excursions in the Antarctic Sound and as many as nine excursions on the Antarctic Peninsula that include hiking, kayaking and scenic Zodiac cruises with the expedition team. There's also one excursion in the South Shetland Islands, where you can look for massive elephant seals. There will be an abundance of bird and animal viewing on wildlife-rich King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, which is home to Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as well as Weddell and leopard seals.

Oceanwide Expeditions and Swoop Antarctica: Quest for the Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island

Emperor penguins on Snow Hill Island in Antarctica.

Getty Images

Swoop Antarctica's 10-night adventure-filled journey takes wildlife and history enthusiasts into the ice-choked waters of the Weddell Sea, past towering tabular icebergs, in search of the emperor penguin's rookery on Snow Hill: one of the most remote penguin rookeries on the planet. The incredible itinerary also sails through the same waters where famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, sank in 1915 – and to the rarely seen west slopes of the Antarctic Sound.

Other highlights include Zodiac and helicopter landings (weather permitting) to additional remote locales, including Seymour Island, where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 to 1904 spent a winter season; Brown Bluff, one of the most scenic places on the northern tip of the Antarctic Continent and home to a large Adélie penguin rookery; and the volcanic crater of Deception Island.

There are two sailings in November 2024 on board the 1A-class, ice-strengthened Oceanwide Expeditions' Ortelius: a 108-passenger former Russian research vessel. Fares includes all meals and nonalcoholic beverages, all Zodiac and shore excursions, educational lectures, helicopter transfers, and group transfers. Optional adventure activities, alcoholic beverages and other personal expenses are at an additional cost.

The onboard helicopter pad is one of the features of the vessel and is used on select expeditions in the Weddell and Ross seas. It's important to note that very few companies offer expeditions to the Weddell Sea that include Snow Hill Island. While Ortelius is not a luxury vessel like other ships mentioned in this list, it is a stable expedition-style ship built for these icy – and at times treacherous – waters and weather conditions.

Viking: Antarctica & South Georgia Island

Viking Octantis in Antarctica with large iceberg in foreground.

Courtesy of Viking

Viking's 18-night Antarctica and South Georgia Island expedition begins with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires followed by a flight the next morning to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The first two stops on the expedition are in the Falkland Islands, where you'll find beautiful scenery with imposing cliffs, many types of marine birds and five species of penguins. In South Georgia, watch for king penguins and seals. Then, it's on to Antarctica for days 12 through 16. Guests will have the option to reserve a spot on the Viking DNV-classed submarine for a thrilling journey into the depths of the frigid waters in Antarctica. The return sailing, by way of the Drake Passage, disembarks in Ushuaia.

In 2024, this itinerary is available Jan. 31 and again Dec. 15 on Viking Octantis. The purpose-built Polar Class 6 vessel accommodates up to 378 guests and offers many of the same venues found on Viking's ocean ships, including the Explorers' Lounge, World Café, Mamsen's, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant and the Nordic Spa. There are also expedition-specific features, such as Expedition Central, the Science Lab and – for educational lectures and briefings – the Aula theater. Viking's fares are mostly all-inclusive, with all meals and wine and beer served with lunch and dinner; 24-hour specialty teas, coffees and nonalcoholic beverages; a keepsake Viking jacket; complimentary use of the excursion gear; and more.

Find an Antarctica cruise on GoToSea.

trip to antarctica youtube

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Expert tips on Antarctica expeditions

There are many factors to consider when planning an Antarctica expedition, including where you want to travel to, the length of the trip and whether you want to sail the famed Drake Passage twice.

To provide helpful insights and information to plan your trip, U.S. News reached out to an expert in the region, Aurora Expeditions' expedition leader, Ashley Perrin , for tips on planning your adventure to the White Continent. Perrin has degrees in both geography and oceanography from the University of Southampton. She was appointed as the first woman boating officer in Antarctica by the British Antarctic Survey in 2009, and has led multiple expeditions to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands.

Which month is best (in your opinion) to travel to Antarctica and why? 

Perrin: "My favorite time to travel to Antarctica is the end of December or beginning of January, because the penguin chicks are starting to come out and you get the most wildlife spotting opportunities, with marine mammals, penguins and albatross – on top of the spectacular scenery."

What length of trip do you recommend for first-time visitors?

Perrin: "The 10- to 12-day Spirit of Antarctica or Antarctic Explorer (with Aurora Expeditions) is a fantastic introduction to the Antarctic Peninsula. If you had the additional time and opportunity, ideally you would also opt for a voyage that visits South Georgia. For many travelers, this is really the jewel in the crown of the Antarctic experience because of the incredible wildlife opportunities here."

What should you look for in an expedition ship/tour when planning a trip to Antarctica?

Perrin: "Travelers should look for a high-quality educational experience, including lectures and opportunities for Citizen Science. This is such a fascinating and important destination, and you want to ensure you can learn and take as much in as you can. A pivotal factor in this is also choosing a company that offers low passenger numbers.

"Travelers don't have enough of an understanding of the impact of this on their voyage. In the Antarctic Peninsula only 100 people are allowed on land at one time, while at some sites it is 30 to 50 people. Having smaller groups enables passengers to have more time off ship exploring and connecting with nature, and this has such a significant impact on your experience.

"If you like to be a little more active, I would also highly recommend an operator that offers activities, such as kayaking in Antarctica. This allows you to see Antarctica from a different viewpoint and the silence is amazing. You still have opportunities to do landings as well, so I think it's the best of both worlds."

Do you prefer the combination fly/sail for the Drake Passage or sailing the Drake Passage both ways?

Perrin: "I prefer to sail both ways as it's how you earn your right to get to Antarctica! You also get more opportunities to see wildlife like seabirds, and it gives you extra time to prepare for the Antarctic experience through pre-lectures and education. Travelers arrive with more of an understanding of what to expect."

Any other tips, advice or comments you'd like to share?

Perrin: "Do your research into the operator you are choosing and their different offerings – things like passenger numbers, expedition team experience and off ship activities – as these can all have a significant impact on the travel experience. There is also a big difference between traditional cruise operators and expedition operators and what travelers can expect. We ensure that our passengers are exploring and getting off the ship as much as possible.

"I would also add that it's important to do your research into the areas that you're most interested in. For example, it could be history, exploration and walking in someone's footsteps (such as Sir Ernest Shackleton), or the types of wildlife you might see. Having a deeper understanding of the history and the region really does enhance the experience once you are there."

Frequently Asked Questions

An expedition where you get off the ship and make landings on the Antarctic peninsula typically costs about $10,000 per person for a 10-night voyage. However, depending on the cruise line, the ship and dates of travel – and whether you sail or fly the Drake Passage – you could spend as much as $29,000 per person for a 12-night expedition or more. There are slightly lower prices for some expeditions, such as a few with Hurtigruten Expeditions, and you can find reduced fares and deals with lines like Atlas Ocean Voyages and Quark Expeditions. In addition, there are extended polar expeditions that range from a 14-night trip to the 94-night Pole-to-Pole Ultimate Bucket List Expedition Cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions, which is priced at close to $48,000.

If you're not interested in getting off the ship in Antarctica to see penguins and seals up close (but no closer than 15 feet, according to the Antarctic Treaty), you can opt for a voyage on a large cruise ship that sails around the continent for a much lower cost. Just know that you won't be able to disembark at any point in Antarctica. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night Antarctica and South America voyage that makes a round trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, for as low as $999 per person. You may be able to find even cheaper fares from lines such as Celebrity Cruises or Princess Cruises.

It's important to note that by the rules set forth in the Antarctic Treaty, only ships carrying 500 or less passengers are permitted to make landings on the Antarctica peninsula. The Antarctic Treaty, along with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, has strict conservation protocols and regulates that no more than 100 passengers are allowed to go ashore at one time. The IAATO works with more than 100 Antarctica outfitters to create the guidelines and safety procedures to protect the fragile environment and wildlife in this remote part of the world.

The following cruise lines offer small ship expeditions in Antarctica with no more than 500 passengers. You can also look at tour companies – such as Abercrombie & Kent, G Adventures, Adventure Life and Swoop Antarctica – that exclusively charter ships or help navigate the decision-making process for their clients and book individual expeditions with the cruise lines.

  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Aurora Expeditions
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
  • Hurtigruten Expeditions
  • Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
  • Seabourn Cruise Line

These larger cruise lines offer sailings around the Antarctic Peninsula, which may include scenic cruising in and around the Gerlache Strait, Elephant Island, Paradise Bay and Schollart Channel.

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

The answer depends on the expedition. The majority of passengers will depart from South America in either Ushuaia, Argentina – which is also known as the "End of the World" – or Punta Arenas, Chile. Then it will take approximately two days to cross the Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Some lines also offer chartered flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, which only take about two hours. Some passengers who have taken the flight say it can be as unnerving as sailing the Drake Passage, since weather conditions can delay the flight for up to several days where you could potentially miss the trip.

Cruises on larger ships that only sail around the Antarctic Peninsula may embark in Buenos Aires; Santiago, Chile; Puerto Williams, Chile; Rio de Janeiro; ports in Florida or New Zealand; or even the South Shetland Islands.

The expedition and cruise season to Antarctica extends from November to March, which is during the austral summer in the Southern Hemisphere. But Antarctica is still the windiest, coldest and driest continent on Earth, so weather conditions are unpredictable and can change quickly – even during the summertime. One minute the sun may be out, and the next minute it can be snowing and extremely windy and cloudy.

Visitors in November can expect temperatures between a low of 25 degrees to a high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures are typically in January, when you'll find days ranging between 33 to 36 degrees before they start to drop again in February.

Most expedition companies provide jackets that you can take home, so you won't need to bring a heavy parka if it's given to you on board. They may also provide waterproof boots that you'll need to use for wet landings. It's best to check with your expedition line to see what's available on the ship, what you can rent or buy, and what you'll need to pack and bring with you. Due to the unpredictable weather, it's advisable to bring different types of layers.

Here are some of the items you'll want to pack:

Layers: Pack at least two top and two bottom quick-drying base layers (or more, depending on the length of your expedition) that wick moisture, such as those made of silk, wool or bamboo. It does get toasty when you're layered up and moving around ashore, so choose lightweight options that will layer easily under the rest of your clothing and keep you warm and dry. For your mid-layer top, go with a lightweight polar fleece or vest; for the bottom, quick-drying warm tights or fleece pants are a good option.

You'll also want to layer what's on your feet, starting with a wicking pair of socks made from silk or synthetic polypropylene, followed by a good pair of merino wool socks from a brand like Smartwool. Glove liners are another must, especially if your hands tend to get cold. If you can, buy insulated waterproof gloves with removable liners to save packing an extra item. You may also want to toss a few hand and foot warmers in the suitcase in case you need extra warmth. Bring a lighter pair of insulated gloves for warmer days off the ship.

And don't forget a lined wool beanie, a set of earmuffs, and a balaclava or fleece neck gaiter to keep your ears and face warm and your nose and mouth protected from the cold air and wind.

Waterproof gear: The parka and tall waterproof boots may be provided on the ship, but if they're not, you'll need to bring your own. You'll also need wind- and waterproof pants to go over your base layer and mid-layers. If they're tapered at the bottom, you should be able to tuck them into your boots. Perrin says this is one of the most important items you should purchase and pack for your expedition.

Comfy clothes ­and shoes for around the ship: Most people dress casual on Antarctica cruises, so bring clothes that will be comfortable for days and evenings around the ship. It can get rough when crossing the Drake Passage, so you'll want flat or low-heeled shoes for those days at sea.

Other items you'll want to pack:

  • Waterproof dry pack
  • Sea-Bands and medications for motion sickness
  • Camera and accessories with a waterproof cover
  • Hiking poles (unless the ship has them available)
  • Swimsuit (you may want to take the polar plunge!)
  • Other necessary medications
  • Hydrating lip balm and a good protective moisturizer
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Books on the history of early exploration in Antarctica and the incredible wildlife

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on the Mississippi River, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. She has also cruised on a traditional masted sailing ship and on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica crossing the notorious Drake Passage twice. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

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Antarctica Cruises & Tours

Pair of travellers smiling standing on an ice platform in the Antarctic Circle, with waters behind

Explore Antarctica on an out-of-this-world adventure 

With us, it’s good trips only. And as far as good old-fashioned adventures go, this is the big one. You’ll cross the infamous Drake Passage and set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore ice-dotted bays by Zodiac. Marvel at waddling gentoo penguins and spot migrating blue whales. The reasons why you should visit Antarctica are endless. By traveling with us, you'll experience this incredible part of the world in a way that builds human connection and gets closer to nature while respecting the environment. 

'Antarctic cruises' doesn't really do it justice. These are Antarctic adventures. 

Our Antarctica trips

The ocean endeavour: inside our expedition ship.

The Ocean Endeavour, is built tough to withstand even the harshest conditions, yet provides additional comforts like warm, 3-course meals, spacious common areas and extra amenities – including our day spa. With an enviable 1:8 crew-to-passenger ratio, you’ll enjoy a more personal, informative and comfortable trip. 

Why choose us

Our Ocean Endeavour is built tough; designed to handle the harsh Antarctic wilderness with ease while ensuring your safety at every step of the adventure.

Our experienced expedition team are at the top of their fields. You’ll find out everything you want to know from our Antarctic experts, including naturalists and ornithologists.  

We don’t call them hands-on, feet-on adventures for nothing. Get closer to the action with, not one, but two daily excursions on land and, via Zodiacs, at sea. 

Our onboard creature comforts will warm you up after your Antarctic outings. Expect 3-course meals, 24/7 tea and coffee and fascinating evening seminars.  

We’re committed to providing the highest safety standards, which is why the Ocean Endeavour, and all our operations teams undergo regular safety audits.

We’re deeply committed to being a responsible business and take considered steps to minimize our impact, support vital research and promote conservation in the Antarctic.  

Antarctica tour reviews

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Journey to the Antarctic Circle (Ocean Endeavour)

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When your day job is leading expeditions to the bottom of the earth in Antarctica 

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Arctic vs Antarctic cruises: How to choose your polar expedition

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Antarctica Optional Experiences

Antarctica Camping

Polar Kayaking Adventures

Antarctica Snowshoeing

Antarctica photography

Antarctica Day Paddle

Antarctica Stand-up Paddleboarding

Extend your adventure

Beyond the Ocean Endeavour

Popular regions

Antarctica at a glance.

(UTC+13:00) New Zealand



Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)

Learn more about Antarctica

Eating and drinking.

Eating and drinking in Antarctica is done aboard your expedition ship, with all meals provided for the duration of your journey. Tea and coffee, as well as soft drinks and juices, are ready to greet you when you come back from a shore landing and at meal times, while alcoholic beverages are also available, but for an additional price.

Breakfasts and lunches tend to be buffet style, while dinners are typically served tableside and usually feature three courses. The range of food is diverse, with professional chefs preparing a wide selection of gourmet dishes, and a vegetarian option is always included. Afternoon tea, with pastries or cookies, is also provided every day.

If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, please let us know before the trip starts. If you have a more restrictive dietary requirement (vegan, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, etc) it is likely you can be catered for. Unfortunately, we are unable to cater for a kosher diet.

There may not be any stores on the Antarctic Peninsula, but that doesn't mean you can't do any shopping. The Ocean Endeavour has its very own polar boutique equipped with every little knickknack and thingamabob you might need to help commemorate your journey to the seventh continent (think all the essentials, clothing and souvenirs).

Geography and environment

Encompassed by the Antarctic convergence (an uneven line of latitude where the cold waters of the Antarctic merge with the warmer waters of the world's oceans), Antarctica is both cold and remote, located in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to its south-polar position, the Antarctic continent is covered in ice and experiences very harsh conditions unsuitable for permanent human residency.

While plenty of animals live in Antarctica (such as various species of whale, penguin, seal and bird), there are very few humans that call Antarctica home, instead using the region as a base for research. There are no cities in Antarctica but there are several research stations positioned on the continent belonging to various countries like Russia, the United States and Australia.

History and government

Antarctica was formed around 35 million years ago and remained undiscovered until around 1820 when Russian explorers spotted the mainland. However, this may have only been the first documented discovery of Antarctica, as it's believed that Pacific Islanders may have reached the white continent in 650 AD.

There were many attempts to set foot at the South Pole in the early 20th century, so much so that it was dubbed the 'Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration', with many trying and failing until a Norwegian explorer by the name of Roald Amundsen reached in 1911. Exploration didn't stop there though with a total of 17 major expeditions launched in the following years from 10 different countries, the last one being Ernest Shackleton's last ill-fated voyage in 1917.

Antarctica isn't owned by one single country, instead governed internationally through the Antarctic Treaty system signed in 1959 by 12 countries who had sent scientists to Antarctica during and around that time. These countries included Argentina, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Further reading

Antarctica travel faqs, where is antarctica.

Antarctica refers to the seventh continent of the world and is largely situated in the Antarctic Circle - a line of latitude sitting at around 66.5° south of the equator - at the base of the globe.

The Antarctic refers to the region made up of south polar zones that include the seas and some outlying islands. 

What country is Antarctica in?

Antarctica isn't part of one single country, rather it is a continent governed under a series of recognized guidelines and agreements called the Antarctic Treaty System.

What are the possible landing sites in Antarctica?

Each expedition includes stops at various landing sites around the Antarctic but when you stop at them and for how long often depends on the weather, as well as sea ice and wildlife movement. 

What types of animals live in Antarctica?

While Antarctica may not be hospitable to human life, there are plenty of animal species that call the seventh continent their home. This includes penguins, whales, sea birds, seals, and more. 

What is it like travelling solo on a cruise to Antarctica?

While you can't embark on an expedition to the world's seventh continent alone, you can travel solo on a group tour to Antarctica.

This means you'll still have plenty of free time to do your own thing (and use the ship's excellent amenities) but also have the comfort of knowing expert leaders are handling the pesky logistics.

You can also choose from a variety of accommodation arrangements, from single cabins to room-sharing, depending on your preference. 

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

Antarctica is best visited in the summer months from November to March when the weather is warmer and the sea ice has melted enough to get closer to the island shore.

What is the weather like in Antarctica?

The climate in Antarctica is the coldest one on Earth with cold summers and freezing winters. The warmest month is January with averages of around 50°F.

What do I wear in Antarctica?

You have to be prepared and thorough when packing for Antarctica due to its remote location. Make sure you bring lots of layers, gloves, sunscreen, and moisturizer among other items.

Is there internet, wi-fi, email or telephone access available on the ships?

Internet access is available on most Antarctic ships, at a cost. Alternatively, there may be a ship-based email system where you will have an email account to stay in touch with family and friends. Because of the remoteness of Antarctica, connections can be slow, so all ships charge for data used rather than time spent online. Please refer to your detailed pre-departure information for more information on Internet facilities on your ship.

Will my cell phone work in Antarctica? 

Your cell phone will not work during your Antarctica cruise as the continent is still considered extremely remote and doesn't have the right telecommunication infrastructure in place.

Can my family and friends contact me while I’m on board in the case of an emergency at home?

Yes. There is a number to call the ship and you can purchase data for the wi-fi onboard, although the connection is intermittent and not to be relied on.

How do I choose an Antarctic cruise?

Deciding on the Antarctic cruise that suits you best comes down to figuring out the time of year you want to go, the itinerary, and how long you want the cruise to be.

How much does a cruise to Antarctica cost?

The cost of an Antarctica cruise largely depends on the departure date, how long the cruise goes for, and the type of cabin you book on the ship but most cruises start from USD$4,500.

How fit do I need to be to travel to Antarctica?

While the destination itself might conjure up images of nefarious voyages only the fittest can endure, you only need to be in good health and be able to move around freely to participate in and enjoy Antarctica's numerous activities and adventures.

If you have an average fitness level (and above) you are compatible with Antarctica travel, so you don't need to spend hours in the gym before considering booking a trip. 

How do we meet our responsible travel targets in Antarctica?

This question is something we thought long and hard about before deciding to run our own ship in Antarctica. We’re deeply committed to being a responsible business and understanding the impact we have on the places we visit. All Intrepid trips are  100% carbon neutral , but we are driven to do more, from committing to science-based decarbonisation targets to and recently updating our  Seven-point Climate Action Plan . 

We’ve approached responsible travel in Antarctica with three areas of focus that we believe will create the greatest positive impact: inspiring travellers, supporting science and protecting the environment. 

Does my trip to Antarctica support The Intrepid Foundation?

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveller. Trips to Antarctica directly support our foundation partner, WWF.

WWF-Australia is a well-established conservation organisation helping protect our natural environment. Donations from our trips help their pioneering whale research and conservation efforts to establish marine protected areas around Antarctica and save whale species from extinction. 

Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

Want to learn more about Antarctica?

Want more of a taste of what an adventure to the Great White Continent would be like? Our free guidebook shows you what wildlife you might see, the places you might go, how to be a responsible traveler, gives you tips on what to pack and more.  

Full list of Antarctica FAQs

If your question has'nt been answered,   read our full list of Antarctica FAQs   or contact us.

Can’t find what you’re looking for or want to know more? You can  contact us  24 hours 7 days a week, with any burning (or shall we say freezing?) questions. Our Antarctic specialists are here to help.

Why are these emperor penguin chicks jumping from a 50-foot cliff?

The first-of-its-kind footage, taken in January 2024 via drone, captures a rare event that may become more common as sea ice declines and penguins are forced to adapt.

Emperor penguin chicks jumping off the ice shelf edge for their first swim, Atka Bay, Antarctica

Like a group of teenagers crowding at the top of a cliff, waiting to see if someone will be brave enough to jump into the lake first, hundreds of months-old emperor penguins gather at the top of an Antarctic ice shelf towering roughly 50 feet above the sea.  

Motivated by hunger, the fledglings peer over the edge, as if considering whether they might survive a polar plunge from such a height.

Then one bird goes for it.  

Some of the onlookers crane their necks to watch it plummet and splash into the icy water below. Seconds later, the chick surfaces and swims away—off to fill its belly with fresh fish, krill, and squid. Gradually, other fledglings follow, tumbling and flapping wings built for traversing water, not air.

Filmmakers producing a documentary series called Secrets of the Penguins , which will debut on Earth Day 2025 on National Geographic and Disney+, captured the extraordinarily rare scene by drone in January in Atka Bay, on the edge of the Weddell Sea in West Antarctica . It’s the first video footage of emperor penguin chicks leaping from such a high cliff, according to scientists.

Emperor penguin chicks jumping off the ice shelf edge for their first swim, Atka Bay, Antarctica

“I cannot believe they caught it on film,” says Michelle LaRue, a conservation biologist based at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. LaRue, who did not witness the jump, had visited Atka Bay to consult on the film crew’s third year of documenting emperor penguin behavior, from egg laying to chick fledging.


Ordinarily, emperor penguins nest on free-floating sea ice that thaws and blows away each year, not on the ice shelf, which is firmly attached to the land. But lately, some colonies have been nesting on the shelf. Scientists theorize that the shift could be related to increasingly earlier seasonal thawing of the sea ice caused by climate change .

A portrait of a moulting emperor penguin chick, Atka Bay, Antarctica

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the world emperor penguin population , estimated to be about 500,000 birds, as near threatened due in large part to how climate change is impacting its icy realm.   (Read more about the bleak future for emperor penguins.)

In early January 2024, in the final weeks before the sea ice broke up at the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer, filmmakers spotted   a group of chicks that LaRue thinks were likely raised on the ice shelf waddling north toward the cliff. Curious about where they were headed, the filmmakers dispatched a drone for a bird’s-eye view. Gradually, more chicks joined the dawdling group, growing in numbers until there were a couple hundred standing at the top of the bluff.

‘I’m gonna have to go’

Gerald Kooyman , a research physiologist who has spent more than five decades studying emperor penguins in Antarctica, says he has only seen such an event once—more than 30 years ago.

“Drifting snow had formed a gently sloping ramp from the sea ice onto a grounded iceberg, and a flock of departing chicks had marched up the ramp onto the berg,” Kooyman writes in his book Journeys with Emperors , published in November 2023.

“They were stopped by a 20-meter [roughly 67-foot] cliff over a sea that was sometimes open water and other times crowded with ice floes.” Over the course of a couple days, almost 2,000 chicks assembled at the ledge.

“Finally, they started walking off the cliff,” writes Kooyman, an emeritus professor with the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

“Not jumping or leaping, just stepping out and falling head over heels, sometimes doing two flips before hitting the water with a resounding plop.” (See more incredible photos of emperor penguins.)

Emperor penguin chicks jumping off the ice shelf edge for their first swim, Atka Bay, Antarctica

This phenomenon is rare, say scientists who monitor penguins from satellites in space. Peter Fretwell , a British Antarctic Survey scientist who has studied satellite imagery of the Atka Bay emperor colony for several years, occasionally sees penguin tracks going north toward that cliff. He theorizes that the chicks in January may have followed one or two vagrant adults that “went the wrong way, basically.”

Juvenile emperors usually fledge from the sea ice, hopping just a couple feet into the ocean. But these fledglings found themselves in a tricky location for entering the water while likely feeling extremely hungry, the scientists say. Their parents had already gone to sea, sending the message that it’s time for them to fish for themselves, and the chicks had been sitting tight waiting for their sleek, waterproof adult feathers to grow in, replacing their down.

“When they get to this cliff face, they’re like, ‘Alright, I see the ocean and I need to get in there,’” LaRue says. “This does not look like a fun jump, but I guess I’m gonna have to go.”

Resilient birds

While the scientists do not think the cliff-jumping incident was directly related to climate change warming Antarctica, Fretwell says the continuing decline of sea ice on the continent may force more emperors to breed on ice shelves, therefore making the behavior more common in the future.

Scientists have been concerned about the sudden decrease in Antarctic Sea ice since 2016 and the likely dire consequences for emperor penguins’ long-term survival.

“We estimate that we could lose the whole population by the end of the century,” Fretwell says. “It’s heartbreaking to think that the whole species may be gone if climate change continues on the path that it’s on at the moment.”

LaRue remains hopeful about the emperors’ ability to adapt, and she considers the recent high dive caught on film a testament to their hardiness.

“They’re incredibly resilient,” she says. “They have been around for millions of years; they’ve seen lots of different changes in their environment. It’s a question of how rapidly they’re able to deal with the changes that are happening—and how far they can be pushed.”

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'I can't believe that': Watch hundreds of baby emperor penguins jump off huge ice cliff

Bertie gregory, a national geographic cinematographer, catches emperor penguins jumping off a 50-foot antarctic glacier in incredible, never-before-seen footage. gregory's astonishment is palpable..

trip to antarctica youtube

Nothing gets in the way of a baby emperor penguin getting into the water, not even a huge ice cliff. 

The courage some chicks have in the face of adversity is truly unmatched, serving them well as hundreds were documented taking a deep dive off an Antarctic cliff in January. 

The “unprecedented” footage was captured by Bertie Gregory, an award-winning British cinematographer for National Geographic. 

The penguin chicks captured in the clip below knowingly and maybe a bit hesitantly jumped, a sight that Gregory says is “pretty unbelievable.” 

“I had no idea that the chicks would be able to make such a giant leap," he says. "And not just survive, but happily swim off together into the Southern Ocean …  How’s that for your first swimming lesson?”

Watch the ‘unbelievable’ series of leaps here 

It's not unusual for emperor penguin chicks to march toward the ocean at a young age, even when they're just 6 months old. They jump just 2 feet off the ice to take their first swim, according to National Geographic. 

Others have jumped from a much a higher altitude, heading to “sheer ice cliffs” knowingly to make the first jump. Satellites have recorded the death-defying jumps since 2009, but what happens next has remained a mystery until now. 

A colony of chicks are seen making their way along the edge of the huge ice cliff, moving together toward the edge, as Gregory wonders aloud: “What on Earth is going on here? … Where are these chicks going?” 

They stop just short of the edge. 

“That cliff has got to be 40-50 feet high,” Gregory says. "I’ve only ever seen emperors jumping off the sea ice. And that's a couple of feet maximum. Surely, they can’t be thinking of going off there."

One lone chick ... one giant leap

One lone chick reaches the edge, adjusting its position slightly before a big, brave leap into the icy water. It makes a big splash and soon after is swimming with ease. 

“I can’t believe that. He’s made it,” Gregory says. 

The rest of the chicks take the successful dive as a sign to move forward, with a number of chicks launching themselves into the water every couple of seconds. 

“So, we know these chicks have grown up together. And they stick together," Gregory says. "I think a lot are going to start to jump. Those first brave jumpers seem to give the rest the confidence to follow. Some of them are even trying to flap their wings."

National Geographic clip is just the start, documentary coming soon

The “never-before-filmed” behavior you just witnessed is part of a larger National Geographic docuseries set to premiere on Earth Day (April 22) in 2025. Stay tuned for more information on the award-winning SECRETS OF franchise, SECRETS OF THE PENGUINS.

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Scientists went on a hunt for the elusive colossal squid — and brought cruise ship tourists with them

  • Kolossal hopes to film a colossal squid in its natural habitat, the waters around Antarctica.
  • The squid is large but elusive and difficult to study since it lives thousands of feet underwater.
  • Using Antarctic tourist boats made searching for the squid far more cost-effective.

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Over the course of four trips, tourists on an Antarctic cruise ship watched researchers lower a camera into the frigid, icy waters of the Southern Ocean. They had the same question every day: "Did you find it yet?"

The scientists were searching for the colossal squid, an evasive cephalopod that can weigh 1,100 pounds. Though fishing boats have found a handful of complete and partial specimens, researchers have had difficulty finding one in the wild.

Matthew Mulrennan hopes to change that with Kolossal, the nonprofit he founded to film a colossal squid in its natural habitat. The goal is to learn basic information about the sea animal , like how it hunts and looks in different life stages.

"I always like to say that it's an oversize poster species for how little we know about the ocean and how little we've explored it," he told Business Insider.

In 2022 and 2023, Mulrennan assembled a team of scientists to attempt to get footage of the squid aboard the Antarctic tourist cruises. Though he estimates the endeavors cost $500,000 in total, it was far cheaper than hiring a research vessel.

The cruise ship holds 200 passengers, each paying upwards of $6,720. While they expected lectures from geologists, marine biologists, and other experts, they didn't necessarily know there would be a full research station aboard.

The team's underwater camera filmed dozens of Antarctic species, including one squid resembling a young colossal.

The enigmatic colossal squid

Measuring about 46 feet with its tentacles spread out, the colossal squid is nevertheless hard to spot.

Adults live over 3,000 feet deep in the waters around Antarctica, putting them beyond the reach of even the most skilled technical divers. Submersible vehicles may scare them off.

Many of the known specimens were found in the stomach of sperm whales, whose diets may be 77 percent colossal squid. Only 12 complete specimens have been found, according to a 2015 study .

"There isn't that much that's known about it because it's so elusive," according to Myrah Graham, a master's student at Memorial University's Marine Institute who accompanied Mulrennan on one of the expeditions.

Related stories

They're also difficult to preserve for long-term study, and so a lot of the fundamentals about them aren't known, including how old they get, details of their reproduction , and the population size, Graham said.

"The bottom line is we just need to film it, and we can learn a lot off of just brief interactions," he said.

Combining science and tourism

Mulrennan first became interested in colossal squids in 2007 when he was studying abroad at the University of Auckland. Researchers dissected what he called a "monster specimen" captured by a fishing vessel.

Though Mulrennan wasn't involved in the dissection, he was hooked on learning more about the sea animal. In 2015, he made a goal to film the colossal squid within 10 years.

Chartering research vessels can cost tens of thousands of dollars a day. Similar expeditions have cost as much as $8 million, Mulrennan said.

Eventually, Mulrennan hit on the idea of getting on Intrepid Travel's Ocean Endeavor, a cruise ship that would already be traveling to Antarctica .

Once aboard, curious cruise-goers would stop by and watch brittle stars and other deep-sea life captured by an underwater camera . The passengers started referring to the researchers as the "squid heads," Mulrennan said.

"You're getting this kind of privileged access immediately on board, Graham said. "One of the comments I got the most was, 'Oh, I wish I had gone to school for marine biology .'"

In order to accommodate the cruise passengers' itineraries of seeing penguins and seals — what Mulrennan called "air-breathing cuties" — the researchers had to pull all-nighters when the ship was in the deep ocean .

Sometimes the passengers would complain about the smelly toothfish bait the scientists used to lure the squid. The researchers had to be flexible about lowering the underwater camera, especially when the waves churned ice nearby.

Once, the researchers had to take down their whole research station so passengers could use the nearby door for a polar plunge.

"You get 150 half-naked guests walking out doing vodka shots in your research station," Mulrennan said. "It's like bizarre stuff that can't happen on a normal vessel."

The future of the colossal squid search

During 58 days at sea, Kolossal's camera captured over 80 marine species , including giant volcano sponges, dragonfish, icefish, Antarctic sun stars, and — maybe — a colossal squid.

"We're not claiming this is the colossal squid, but it's also not not a colossal squid," Mulrennan said of footage of a translucent squid that the camera filmed.

Based on assessments of experts who have seen the footage, it's impossible to tell whether the animal is a young colossal squid or a full-grown glass squid.

Graham said she thinks it shows they're on the right track.

Mulrennan hopes to return to Antarctica during the next season, just in time for his self-imposed deadline of finding the colossal squid by 2025.

"We're closing in on a hundred years of our interaction with the species," Mulrennan said, "and we still know so little about it."

Watch: Dumbo octopus 'wows' researchers during deep-sea expedition

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  • This African Safari Lodge Just Got a Luxe Makeover. Here’s a Look Inside.

andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge's first reno in 30 years is all about Zulu Zen.

Nicola leigh stewart, nicola leigh stewart's most recent stories.

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The lobby at andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

The lodge’s Gallery, a tranquil library and lounge, is now decorated with a cabinet of curiosities and a series of prints depicting the life of Shaka Zulu, the former ruler of the Zulu Kingdom.

“The original catchphrase was ‘Zulu Zen,’ and we wanted to keep that,” says Kerri Smithers, general manager of Phinda Forest. “But we’ve also added an ‘Afro Japanese’ touch with the low seating and Japanese-inspired doors.”

A firepit at andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

“The woven papyrus mats on the ceiling look Japanese but are actually made by local women and are used on flooring and to take to the beach,” she says. “The lights are inspired by traditional Zulu brooms and have also been made by local women. And as Zulus use lots of clay, we’ve added these decorative clay pots, which traditionally are passed around to drink beer out of.”

Outside, the terrace can be used to host private dinners, while a few steps away, the birds-nest-inspired fire pit is the new hot spot for pre-dinner drinks, while recounting the day’s safari adventures.

A bedroom at andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

The camp’s 16 lodges now include a new larger family-friendly suite. It’s made up of two interconnecting rooms that have been refigured to maximize the space, something that Smithers says was a key part of the refurbishment since it avoided a complete rebuild that would’ve disturbed the surrounding habitat. The bedroom’s clean lines nod to Japanese minimalism. The geometric headboard is made from the same papyrus mats as the Gallery’s ceiling, juxtaposed to broom lamps and decorative hanging beadwork. Chunky wood furnishings crafted from stained iroko and touches of forest green Astrus marble bring the outside in, but what really connects you with nature are the floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the lodge, including one next to the luxuriously deep tub. You can continue to spot grazing nyala and curious monkeys at all hours; the team even recommend sleeping with the curtains to really feel like you’re spending the night in the forest, at one with nature.

A bathroom at andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

Still, none of this comes easily. To operate any private reserve is a frustratingly Sisyphean task. The death of one beloved game animal leads to an over-population of another. Too many elephants can  destroy a forest; too few can leave it overgrown. But rather than toil in silence, andBeyond allows guests to become a part of their delicate conservation work.    In fact, many of the camp’s most exclusive adventures allow a limited number of guests the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting hands on.   Help by notching the ears of rhino, or dehorning one to deter poachers. You can also assist in changing the collars on elephants or witness the release of animals, such as cheetahs and lions. If you’re more into pangolins then predators, then andBeyond will take you out to play hide-and-seek with the elusive animals, which have been successfully reintroduced to the region. And, oh what a region it is.   

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Scientists reveal Antarctica's tallest active volcano is blasting out gold that could be worth a fortune

Scientists reveal Antarctica's tallest active volcano is blasting out gold that could be worth a fortune

You say you wish money grew on trees, but how about gold spewing from a volcano.

Poppy Bilderbeck

Poppy Bilderbeck

There's a volcano in Antarctica that spews out literal bits of gold.

If only money grew on trees or fell from the sky eh? Well, if you fancy a trip to the cold depths of Antarctica and fancy your chances getting fairly up close and personal with the highest active volcano in the continent, the latter of these scenarios almost comes true.

The mountain is the tallest active volcano in Antarctica. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

American geologists made the discovery back in 1991, New Scientist reports .

At the time, geologists found gold particles in the volcanic gases and in snow near to the volcano, with IFL Science stating particles of the precious metal were even detected 1,000km (621 miles) away.

And the volcano remains active to this day.

Philip Kyle, from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, explained gold deposits can originate in volcanic rock and so when lava from the mountain - which has a summit elevation of 3,794 meters (12,448 feet) - emits hot gas, this carries some of the gold particles into the air.

But how much gold is spewed out and what is this gold-spewing mountain called? I hear you cry.

Well, it's called Mount Erebus and the gold flecks which American geologists found spewing out of it measured between '0.1 and 20 micrometers' in the volcanic gases and '60 micrometers' in nearby snow.

Still, while this amount may seem minuscule, over the course of a single day, scientists estimate that the volcano churns out around 80g (2.8 ounces) of gold.

According to, at the time of writing, the current price of a gram of gold is $75.76 .

This means the volcano spews out around $6,000 worth of gold every day - although, this probably depends on the quality and certain other factors, I'm no expert in gold - unfortunately.

However, there's a much more grave and important reason as to why people travel down to visit the mountain.

Gold specks were found spewed out the mountain during an expedition in the early 90s. (Pexels/ cottonbro studio)

Mount Erebus is also known for being the scene of tragedy.

On November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into the side of the mountain.

It had been flying over Ross Island where Mount Erebus is located as part of its scheduled antarctic sightseeing flights which had been operating since 1977.

All 237 passengers and 20 members of crew on board were killed in the crash and from that day forward Air New Zealand stopped all of its flyovers across Antarctica.

The disaster became known as the Erebus disaster.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact The Compassionate Friends on (877) 969-0010.

Topics:  Environment , Money , Science , World News , Nature , Travel , Antarctica

Poppy Bilderbeck is a Senior Journalist at LADbible Group. She graduated from The University of Manchester in 2021 with a First in English Literature and Drama, where alongside her studies she was Editor-in-Chief of The Tab Manchester. Poppy is most comfortable when chatting about all things mental health, is proving a drama degree is far from useless by watching and reviewing as many TV shows and films as possible and is such a crisp fanatic the office has been forced to release them in batches.

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