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If you’re looking for a trip outside of the ordinary tourist traps, you should definitely consider giving Antarctica a try. Despite the growing popularity of Antarctica cruises, it’s still a sparsely visited region and offers some of the most pristine stretches of untouched land left for people to explore.

Since Antarctica is so remote, it’s going to require a little more planning on your part to make sure you get the most bang for your exploration buck. After all, it’s not like you can just hop on a flight or train to squeeze in an extra activity or two that you missed the first time around.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some steps you can take to make sure you get as much adventuring awesomeness out of your Antarctic trip as you can.

The Best Way to Start Planning an Antarctica Trip

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Pricing

How much do you want to spend on your trip? The cost of a cruise depends very much on a number of different factors (we’ll go through some of them below), but you should expect to be spending at least U.S. $5500 for the cruise itself. (There are some cheaper cruises in the area but these generally only visit islands, not the continent itself.)

Also keep in mind that you’re going to have to pay to fly yourself to whatever port your cruise ship is departing from. For example, one of the major Antarctic cruise ports is found in Ushuaia, Argentina.

If you’re looking to spend a little less, keep your eye out for discounted Antarctica cruises. Some cruise lines will offer discounted berths if they have a couple of spots left open as the departure time draws near.

Time of Year

Antarctic cruises run during the summer. The waters become too icy, and the weather too hostile, for ships to make the trek during the winter months. However (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) the summer months are the reverse of our own.

So when you’re planning for an Antarctic trip you’re going to be looking to head out somewhere between November and March.

Antarktis

Antarctic Peninsula, Brown Station

Weather and Clothing

Antarctic summer temperatures can reach as high as around 10°C, but count on it being close to 0°C (freezing). Oddly enough this means that (depending on where you’re from) you might be going into warmer temperatures in Antarctica than you’re experiencing at home.

As for clothing, most Antarctic cruise lines should offer you detailed information about what type of clothing and accessories you should bring. The tldr is that you’re going to want to bring layers. Layers help trap air between them that warms from your body’s heat and in turn helps keep you warm. Also, it’s easier to swap out layers when they get wet instead of counting on one or two bulky layers.

You’re also going to want tall rubber boots with good grips on the bottom. There’s a chance that you’ll have to slosh through a tiny bit of water as you get on and off the Zodiacs (rubber outboard-engine boats) that zip you to shore.

Some cruises will offer the use of rubber boots as a perk while others require you to bring your own. Make sure you’re clear on your particular cruise’s boot situation; they’re definitely an item you’re going to want to shell out a little more for if you have to buy them yourself.

Cuverville Island

Pro Tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen and some decent sunglasses. The sun bounces off of the snow and ice, making for a mighty bright glare.

Smaller is Generally Better

If you’re looking to get ashore as much as possible then it’s a good idea to avoid ships that carry more than 500 passengers. In fact, ships with less than 200 passengers are ideal because Antarctic conservation laws don’t allow more than 100 passengers to step ashore at one time.

So if you’re looking to get as many chances as possible to make friends with the penguin population than set your sights on smaller Antarctica cruise line ships.

Seasickness

If you’re prone to seasickness at all then definitely give your personal doctor a visit before your trip and get your hands on some Dramamine (or another motion sickness solution).

Once you’re actually at Antarctica itself your ship will anchor in calm bays. However the trip to the continent requires crossing the infamously rough Drake Passage which has proven the undoing of many a tipsy stomach.

Remember – motion sickness medicine is preventive, not a cure. You have to take it ahead of time for it to have a proper effect.

Antarktis

Be an Adventurer

Trips to the Antarctic are not your typical getaway. They require more work, but they also come with a sense of pride and accomplishment that you’re not going to find in your trips to regular tourist hotspots.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Dietmar Denger for Oceanwide Expeditions

    22 Comments

  1. Great post and great advice Meg. When we eventually get to that part of the world, I think for us it would be the clothing aspect to look at (especially when we need new clothing for cold conditions as ours is quite dated). We rarely suffer with seasickness so hopefully this would be the same when we go there.

    • Thanks Danik – yes, it’s definitely the type of destination where you would need to make sure you have quality clothes, especially when it comes to staying warm and waterproof :)

      Hope you have the chance to organize a trip to Antarctica soon!

  2. I have never been on a cruise before. So seasickness is something I would have to look out for. Also love the idea to take a ship that takes 200 people.

    • Dramamine works wonders for motion/sea sickness, though make sure to get the non drowsy, otherwise you might miss out on some of the activities on the cruise :)

      And absolutely – smaller ships for the win! It’s a much more personal, intimate experience when you’re not fighting against a crowd of 500 + to get on and off the ship, and you get more time ashore too.

  3. Great advice – I can’t wait to get out there. But I may have to ready your post about getting paid to travel there as I’m seriously poor at the moment! I’ll definitely keep in mind cruises with under 200 people – If i’m going all that way, I definitely want to be able to step on the continent and not just the islands!

    • Thanks Vicki – yes, you can definitely get to Antarctica via working on cruise ships if you’re interested in that; a really great way to experience the continent without having to pay!

  4. I love this advice on how to visit Antarctica. I would be so stoked to visit and photograph this magnificent continent. Alas, the cost is far too out of my price range at the moment.

    • Thanks Mike :) Hope you have the chance to save and visit Antarctica in the future :)

  5. I have been following your trip through Antarctica and I was wondering about all the practicalities. I am actually looking into doing Antarctica cruise during the summer but I was a bit afraid from those freezing temperatures. It is funny that you remind not forgetting sun scream, I am sure I would:)

    • Glad we could help with some practical planning tips Veronika :) Have an incredible time in Antarctica this summer! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if we can help with further tips.

      Happy travels! Yes, don’t forget the sunscreen!

  6. This was a brilliant post Meg…very very well laid out.

    $5500 seems a bit high on the first go, but then I think it’s worth it…this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    Are there any photography tips as well? Will all equipment work there?

    • Thanks Siddhartha! Yes, the cost is quite similar across the board, the only real way to get something cheaper is to rock up in Ushuaia (or another port) at the last minute as you can often snatch up some very good deals on spare rooms. Obviously this way though you would need to be flexible because getting a place isn’t a guarantee.

      Yes, photography equipment works in Antarctica, the only thing to be aware of is that batteries have a shorter life in the cold, so stock up on spares, and charge them every night.

      We’ll work on a post about photography tips for the white continent soon :)

      Happy travels!

  7. Antarctica is my dream destination. I would love to see the wildlife and stunning mountains. I have experienced being on a cruise because I used to work for Norwegian Cruise Line. It is very important to bring the proper clothing, gears, gadgets, and other travel essentials because it would cost you a lot if you have forgetten something and decide to buy something on board or at the port. Antarctica cruise is really expensive. Hurtigruten costs around $6000. I cannot afford that but I do hope that I would have a chance to visit Antarctica someday. Anything is possible.

    • Perhaps if you have experience working for cruise lines you could see if you can get a posting abroad a cruise to Antarctica and experience the continent that way :) Not a bad way to go, getting paid at the same time :D

      Very good point on the expense of buying goods on the ship / at the port. We found everything was incredibly inflated once we got there – which is expected when you’re that remote.

      Happy travels Iza!

  8. A trip to Antarctica sounds like a dream. Even for someone like me, who doesn’t like cold. I was down in Ushuaia last Summer and I met some people who were getting ready to sail to Antarctica. It sounded like an amazing adventure!You are lucky to have had this experience.

    • The nice thing is that even though it’s quite cold, it’s the middle of summer there so the sun shines brightly and when you’re moving around (like hiking) you warm up pretty quickly.

      Hope you have the chance to incorporate Antarctica the next time you visit Ushuaia!

  9. Heading to the Antarctic regions is definitely THE adventure. To go where very few go, is definitely an adrenaline generating thought. Your tips for planning for this adventure are really very useful. The one about the boots is really something that one needs to consider very carefully, as in my experience, having the right footwear can make or mar your experience in these kinds of destinations.

    • Absolutely – while it feels like a lot of the world is well trodden by this point, Antarctica is still one of those destinations which is so remote that it feels relatively unexplored. It still has the mystery and excitement of visiting a truly new world :)

      Glad you found the planning tips helpful – definitely on the boots – a lot of cruises do provide these for you, and usually have a lot of different sizes to accommodate all. But it’s something every traveler should pre check :)

  10. What an unbelievable trip and destination. I hadn’t even thought to go but your post has made me think its possible – and made me realise how much planning I’d need to do!

    • I’m glad we could convince you that it’s possible! Definitely needs a lot of prior planning, but is absolutely within reach :)

      Hope you have the chance to visit and experience this incredible continent soon!

  11. Brilliant post!! I appreciate your ideas, you have explained great ideas about Antarctica trip. It’s useful for us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Glad it was helpful – happy travels! :)

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