The destination is one of dramatic mountains, glaciers, icebergs and open oceans, providing a picturesque backdrop to the species of wildlife who have adapted to living there. During the short summer months, an amazing abundance of life returns to crowd the headlands and beaches. Many varieties of penguins and seals as well as a huge number of bird species can be seen during your visit. Watching whales is a great bonus.
There are two very distinct cruise types to Antarctica – firstly the larger cruise ships that visit are restricted to scenic cruising through the area and generally include a visit to the region combined with longer cruises around the South American coast. Any cruise ship that holds more than 500 passengers may not disembark on Antarctica and is therefore restricted to scenic cruising.
However the majority of cruises are by smaller specialty ships that allow passengers to disembark onto the Antarctic islands and the continent itself. These ships tend to be sturdy expedition style ships and do not offer all the luxuries and extras associated with modern cruise ships. These cruises are dedicated to the experience and often feature experts in the region and the wild life who give lectures and lead shore excursions. Visits to the Islands are usually by Zodiac inflatables.
The contrasts in temperature are striking as summer in the Falklands and Ushuaia can sometimes be quite warm, while summertime in Antarctica hovers at the freezing mark.
Cruises here operate from October to March in the southern summer months when the days are longer - there are up to 20 hours of daylight in high summer. At the beginning of the season, bull elephant seals can be seen in large numbers. Penguin chicks start to emerge in December. Whales arrive in January and stay until the end of the cruise season.