Yes, people can now travel to Antarctica, the Earth’s 7th continent!
Even though Antarctica has no native population, it still rakes in tourism since travel to this continent has been safer and more accessible in recent years. Many curious travelers and study-bound researchers try to uncover the rich wildlife and environment of this terrain at the end of the world.
Are you interested in going to the world’s southernmost continent but don’t know which Antarctica cruise to choose? Don’t worry. Keep reading to learn more about the different ways you can get to Antarctica.
Of course, you will need a valid passport when you join a cruise ship or plane bound to Antarctica. But no visa is required, thanks to the Antarctic Treaty. A permit, however, is necessary as declared in the Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection in 1998. If you’re boarding a cruise ship, though, the cruise operator will present the permit for you.
So, how will you reach Antarctica?
Get to Antarctica by Boat or Ship
1. From Ushuaia, Argentina
Most cruises bound to Antarctica start from Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego province, Argentina. It’s the Southernmost city in the world and considered the southern tip of America.
A 3.5-hour flight from Buenos Aires and famous by its nickname “End of the World,” Ushuaia is a resort town with ports that gives access to the many cruises promising trips to Antarctica.
From Ushuaia, Argentina, the travelers are to cross the Drake Passage that has been a route to Antarctica since the sixteenth century. Many consider this the complete experience as it gives the passengers a feel of what previous explorers experienced in this 800 km wide (500 miles) and 1,000 km (600 miles) long body of water.
Even with its great measurements, it is still the shortest distance between any landmass and the Antarctic and may take a day and a half of travel.
The total time to reach the Antarctic by boat or ship through Ushuaia may take up to 48 hours.
2. From New Zealand
There are some selected cruises that journey each season from Bluff, Invercargill, or Hobart, Tasmania that are bound to visit the Antarctic region. However, these voyages can take about three to four weeks long.
These cruises offer visits to many islands such as Macquarie, Campbells, Auckland, and the Snare and an opportunity to see wildlife like the King Penguins. Passengers can also tour historic sites from the Antarctic Explorations of 1897-1922 left behind by famous explorers Mawson, Scott, and Shackleton.
However, if you decide to take this route, make sure to be prepared for the extreme journey as it ends in the Commonwealth Bay or Ross Sea region, where it is colder, windier, and more remote than the usual Antarctic routes.
It also has less wildlife than the Antarctic Peninsula, and you must bear the long travel and higher costs.
What Are the Pros of Traveling by Boat or Ship to the Antarctic?
Suppose you’re after the adventure and exhilarating experience Antarctica has in store for you, such as hiking, scuba diving, camping, kayaking, or watching wildlife. In that case, the ship route is for you. Specifically, the cruises as they plan activities for your journey that you can enjoy.
On top of that, you can expect that there will be no delay in the program as ships don’t miss their scheduled departure times.
What Are the Cons of Traveling by Boat or Ship to the Antarctic?
The major downside of being on a ship is the possibility of seasickness. Another con would be the travel time needed to cross the Drake Passage.
Get to Antarctica by Plane
If you want to skip the ship, take a plane from Punta Arenas, Chile, and board the planes in Frei Station in King George Islands. Passengers can easily avoid the Drake Passage that is famous for its rough seas, although its waves are not always as harsh.
The plane usually loads 70 passengers, and you can enjoy looking at the wildlife and the landscapes from above.
What Are the Pros of Traveling by Plane to the Antarctic?
Instead of a two-day trip, passengers can shorten their travel time to just a two-hour flight. It also steers away from the Drake Passage and the possibility of seasickness.
What Are the Cons of Traveling by Plane to the Antarctic?
You don’t cross the Drake Passage by ship. As mentioned, when traveling, the experience is what most explorers are after, and crossing the Drake Passage is an unforgettable memory. Taking a plane means you can’t explore islands such as Falklands or South Georgia as well.
Besides that, planes are more expensive and might get canceled because of poor weather, screwing up your schedule.
Should You Board a Ship or a Plane?
In the end, it will all boil down to three things: what you’re after in your journey to Antarctica, your budget, and your time.