A spectacularly wild and pristine frontier land of dramatic topography, weather and wildlife, Antarctica is almost entirely covered in perpetual ice. During the long days of the austral summer, expedition cruises depart from the southern tip of South America, the shortest and probably most scenically impressive approach. Visitors to Antarctica generally must brave rough sea crossings aboard ice-strengthened vessels, but those who do so are rewarded with amazing scenery and tremendous and unique wildlife.
Our preferred accommodation
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 112 | Duration: 10-20 nights | Length: 296 feet | Cruising speed: 14.5 knots | Operator: Polar Latitudes
A very comfortable expedition ship (sister to Hebridean Sky) with a couple of lounges, a library (with internet access), a bar, indoor dining room, Al fresco dining area (used when the weather allows) an observation deck, sun deck and infirmary. A lift serves all passenger decks and there is a zodiac boarding platform at the rear of the ship for easy access. The Promenade deck has a complete wrap around outer deck.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First Class | Passengers: 170 | Duration: 9-20 nights | Length: 353 feet | Cruising speed: 15 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Built in 2019, Hondius is the world's first-registered Polar Class 6 cruise ship, and is also one of the most environmentally friendly vessels in Antarctica. She has an ice-strengthened hull, and was designed specifically for polar exploration. Hondius has a large observation lounge, a presentation room, library, dining room, bar and infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 108 | Duration: 10-18 nights | Length: 302 feet | Cruising speed: 10.5 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Built in Poland in 1989, Ortelius is a comfortable, stable ship with an ice-strengthened hull and is designed specifically for polar exploration. She is manoeuvrable, quiet and fast, with good outside deck space and a large accessible bridge. She also has two dining rooms, a bar, sauna, library and infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 114 | Duration: 9-20 nights | Length: 293 feet | Cruising speed: 10.5 knots | Operator: Oceanwide Expeditions
Plancius was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy. She was bought by Oceanwide Expeditions in 2006 and has been re-built as a comfortable ice-strengthened passenger ship with a restaurant/lecture room, a spacious observation lounge with panoramic views, large open deck spaces, a library, small gym, sauna and an infirmary.
Cruise ship - ex Ushuaia (ex Punta Arenas for air cruises)Quick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 100 (73 on air cruise) | Duration: 5-14 nights | Length: 298 feet | Cruising speed: 14 knots | Operator: Antarctica 21
A first class expedition ship custom-designed for Antarctic operations with a forward facing observation deck allowing the best wildlife viewing opportunities. She has stabilizers, bow and stern thrusters and an ice-detecting radar. She is also equipped with an energy-recovery system that recycles the heat produced by the engines to warm up the ship and its water supply. There is a library, gym, sauna, bar, lounge, dining room, presentation room and glass-enclosed observation lounge.
Cruise ship - ex Ushuaia (ex Punta Arenas for air cruises)Quick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 72 (67 on air cruise) | Duration: 5-7 nights | Length: 240 feet | Cruising speed: 12 knots | Operator: Antarctica 21
Ocean Nova is a comfortable small ship built in 1992 in Denmark, and was later refurbished to include a glass-enclosed observation lounge and presentation room on the top deck. There is a window-lined dining room, library, exercise room, lounge, bar and clinic, and a limited amount of outdoor deck space. The ship is generally based in the Antarctic Peninsula and passengers fly there from Punta Arenas in Chile - a so-called 'air cruise'.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: First class | Passengers: 164 (but limited to 139) | Duration: 9-19 nights | Length: 364 feet | Cruising speed: 15 knots | Operator: Polar Latitudes
A very comfortable expedition ship with the highest ice class rating awarded to passenger ships (1-A Super), which means she is able to explore coves, bays, and channels that are not possible on many other ships. There is a heated salt-water pool, fitness centre with sauna, a custom-built citizen science laboratory and a library with guest computers. There are panoramic views and the common areas are spacious and include multiple dining areas- even al fresco on the Lido Deck (for when weather permits).
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: Luxury | Passengers: 200 | Duration: 9 nights | Length: 514 feet | Cruising speed: 18 knots | Operator: Silversea
Refurbished in 2017 Silver Cloud is a very spacious and comfortable ice strengthened ship. She has a total of seven decks with cabins on four of them, plenty of open deck space, five restaurants, a champagne bar, two observation lounges, a lecture theatre, a library, hot tub and heated swimming pool, a fitness centre, spa and beauty salon.
Cruise ship - ex UshuaiaQuick facts - Level: Standard | Passengers: 90 | Duration: 9-19 nights | Length: 278 feet | Cruising speed: 12 knots | Operator: Antarpply Expeditions
A comfortable ice-strengthened polar vessel, originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). She has an observation lounge, lecture theatre, dining room, bar and library and an outside viewing deck.