No other destination in the world will leave you feeling as insignificant before nature, yet as alive, as Antarctica does. Giant glaciers calving enormous icebergs; penguins porpoising through the waters; leopard seal chasing their prey; whales feeding and coming up for air, curiously inspecting you in your zodiac. Hike along pristine shorelines and up snowy ridges to experience incredible views. This is Planet Earth at it's best, a proverbial Eden, Earth as it was before the arrival of humankind. This is a journey of a lifetime and Antarctica will change you forever.
best time to travel
October is best for emperor penguins November - Early December sees pristine ice and the courting season for penguins; elephant and fur seals establish territories. Mid December - Mid-January has wildlife in full swing in Antarctica. Mid January – Mid February has penguin chicks fed by adults, whales have arrived and seals are abundant. Mid-February - Mid-March sees the most active wildlife, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, best whale sightings, penguin chicks roaming, predators increasing patrols.
places to go
A note about polar cruises
When cruising in the polar regions, one can never be sure which places one will visit. A sudden change in weather conditions may necessitate a reroute. Or you may find a pod of whales to follow, or an iceberg to circumnavigate. And that is the beauty of polar cruises - you never know what is around the corner; you just know it will be yet another highlight.
The Falkland Islands have a rich and storied history and they form a great place to experience what life at the ends of the earth is like. The islands are wonderful for birding and of the five species of penguins to be seen here, it is the only place en-route to the Antarctic Peninsula to see the rockhopper penguin.
Mountainous remote and stunning, South Georgia has abundant wildlife and is a destination all in its own right. Get up close to nesting albatross and witness massive rookeries of king penguins (by the hundreds of thousands). Late October marks the beginning of the breeding cycle for many species and you may see male elephant seals battling for control of the beaches and harems. Is it a wonder polar explorer Shackleton requested to be buried here?
Elephant Island is where Ernest Shackleton and his crew were hauled up under upturned lifeboats after their ship the Endurance had sunk. Visiting the island is difficult, but a real thrill for history buffs.
South Shetland Islands
Spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and enormous glaciers mark the South Shetlands, a group of islands featured on nearly all polar cruises. Highlight for many is the cruise into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island, home to several penguin rookeries along the black sand beaches and a great spot for a swim!
The Antarctic Peninsula
Deep bays, pristine coves and inlets, numerous small islands and heavily glaciated mountains are the hallmarks of the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you will find three species of penguins - Adélie , chinstrap and gentoo. It is also a great place to see humpback and minke whales as well as leopard seals. At Wilhelmina Bay you may see playful humpback whales, while Paradise Bay offers an excellent hike providing stunning panoramic views. Further south, sail through spectacular Lemaire Channel.
Protected since 2016 and nicknamed the "Last Ocean" because of its unspoiled nature, the Ross Sea is considered one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world. The remote Ross Sea offers enormous tabular ice bergs as well as explorer's huts such as those built by Shackleton and Scott. Weddell seals and Adélie and emperor penguins make their home here while steaming Mt. Erebus and its dry valleys wait exploration by helicopter. The Ross Ice Shelf, a floating mass of land-ice with a front 30 meters high was accessed by Amundsen on his way to the South Pole from the Bay of Whales.
Weddell Sea & Snow Hill Island
Accessible to powerful icebreakers only, the Weddell Sea is home to the famous emperor penguin rookery just south of Snow Hill Island. The rookery is seldom visited, but you may spot individual emperors out on the ice on their way to open water. Enjoy scenic flights by helicopter and land in places otherwise inaccessible.
See elephant seals battle for dominion
South Georgia in late October is where one of nature's most spectacular rituals takes place - that of elephant seals battling for dominion of the beaches and its attendant harems of females.
Get close to a penguin
While we discourage guests walking up to penguins, you will find them equally curious about you. Sit down on the snow or rocks and wait for them to come over.
Pay homage to Shackleton
After rowing by open boat 800 miles from Elephant Island Shackleton and his two companions then trekked across the mountains of South Georgia to get help for their stranded crew mates. Shackleton requested to be buried at South Georgia and it is here you can visit his grave and that of his right-hand man, Frank Wild.
Hike the mountains
There is no experience quite like hiking up a pristine mountain in Antarctica, walking past penguin rookeries and enjoying the spectacular panorama of icebergs, sea and glaciers.
Kayak the seas
Hear the swish of water passing your hull, glide across a still bay with mountains and glaciers reflected in the water, get up close to whales and other wildlife. Experience the serenity of Antarctica to its fullest.
Cruise by zodiac
Zodiacs are sturdy inflatable boats used to explore hidden coves and inlets, always on the lookout for wildlife. Cruise through the ice and land on a beach none has gone before.
Ski the slopes, snowshoe the hills
Skiing and snowshoeing are unique ways to experience the beauty of Antarctica away from the ship.
Dive the ice
For experienced cold-water divers the combination of sunlight and ice formations make for an overwhelming, ever-changing spectre of colours, with an incredible variety of shades and brilliance.
Camp out on the ice
Experience a night in Antarctica like no other, listening to the crackling and grumbling of glaciers, the ice washing up on the beach and perhaps the blow of a whale, feeding in the bay nearby. Sleeping under the midnight sun is an experience not to be missed.
Have a BBQ
As you enjoy the camaraderie and great food served on deck, the captain will make sure the ship turns slowly a full 360 degrees, giving you a fantastic view of the panorama around you.
While a quick plunge in Antarctic waters will be invigorating for sure, a dip in the thermal waters on the black-sand beach at Deception Island, drink in hand, is an experience to be enjoyed by all.
Be out on deck
With the long light of polar summer nights you may find yourself waking up at unusual hours. Take the opportunity to go out on deck alone and watch the scenery and wildlife drift by. Deckside is where it all happens!
Learn from the experts
Polar cruises all bring expert lecturers along, teaching you about such subjects as history, flora and fauna, photography and exploration.