The best way to experience the coast of the Great White Continent is undoubtedly from the water. Sailing past a towering ice burg or cutting through surface ice as you make your way to your next landing spot is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience. A handful of our featured cruise lines offer you the opportunity to visit Antarctica, the choice of course is based on personal tastes. If you wish to travel with all the comforts you would expect from a ultra-luxe cruise line – think free-flowing Champagne and butler service – there's Silversea Expeditions, which features 20 plus-night itineraries between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso in Chile. Antarctica 21, on the other hand offers a more adventurous yet comfortable experience on board the purpose-built expedition ship MV Ocean Nova.
One of the major appeals of an Antarctic cruise is the wildlife that you may encounter. Of the 17 varieties of penguin worldwide only 4 like to live and breed in the chilly waters of the Antarctic including Emperor penguins. During the summer large pods of minke and humpback whales feed in the nutrient-rich waters, joining the elephant, fur and leopard seals. The final draw are the huge number of seabirds that fly south during the summer – albatrosses, turns, shags and petrels amongst others.
In order to make the most out of the experience and enjoy your holiday to the full there are a few considerations to take into account. When taking part in shore excursions throughout the tour you will be transported on small zodiac boats to get to those otherwise inaccessible places. It must be noted that launches and landings can sometimes be a bit tricky, therefore a good level of physical health is needed. You should also be prepared for slightly rough seas as the weather, especially the wind, in Antarctica can be somewhat unpredictable; what can be predicted however is that it will be cold and you should pack accordingly.
Antarctica sits in all times zones! The South Shetland Islands are 3 hours behind GMT.
22 hours via Santiago and Puerto Arenas.
Visa not required for UK passport holders.