When it comes to traveling around the world, few people think beyond the 6 “accessible” continents. Antarctica is often described as too hostile for travel and not many people would consider visiting on holiday.
However, if you’re a travel enthusiast, you’re always up for a challenge and a trip to Antarctica is a rare feat. So, if you’re excited about visiting a destination that few people have been to, the cold, frozen continent of Antarctica is a great destination.
Besides, there are many fun activities to indulge in when you reach this relatively untouched land. You can take pictures with penguins in their natural habitat, enjoy hiking through picturesque landscapes or simply marvel at the vastness of this continent.
However, keep in mind that cruises to Antarctica aren’t cheap, and it can take up a huge chunk of your travel budget.
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The Complete Guide to Exploring Antarctica on a Budget
Fortunately, this guide will help you find the cheapest cruises to Antarctica, and how to make your trip worthwhile.
The Cost of a Cruise to Antarctica
When considering the cost of a cruise to Antarctica, there are several factors to take into account. The most significant expenses include the cost of the cruise itself, flights to and from the embarkation port, and any additional expenses such as travel insurance, gear, and excursions.
The cost of the cruise itself can vary significantly depending on the type of ship, the duration of the itinerary, and the level of luxury offered. The cheapest cruises are typically offered during the shoulder seasons of October and March when there are fewer tourists, and prices can start from around $5,000 to $6,000 per person for a 10 to 14-day itinerary.
Mid-range cruises, which often offer more amenities and comfort than budget options, can cost between $8,000 and $12,000 per person for a similar itinerary. These cruises typically offer more comprehensive onboard services and may include extras such as shore excursions, lectures, and onboard activities.
Luxury cruises are the most expensive option and can cost upwards of $30,000 per person. These cruises typically offer larger cabins, more personalized service, and additional amenities such as hot tubs, spas, and fine dining restaurants.
When budgeting for a cruise to Antarctica, it’s important to factor in additional expenses such as flights, travel insurance, and gear. Flights to the embarkation port can vary depending on your departure location and the time of year, but can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per person. Travel insurance is also essential, and can cost between 5% and 10% of the total trip cost.
One of the most significant additional expenses when planning a trip to Antarctica is gear. Depending on the type of cruise you choose, you may need to purchase specialized gear such as waterproof boots, insulated jackets, and thermal underwear. While some cruises include gear rental as part of the package, you may need to purchase your own gear, which can cost several hundred dollars or more.
Finally, it’s worth considering any additional excursions or activities you may want to participate in during your cruise. These can include helicopter flights, kayaking expeditions, and camping trips, and can add several thousand dollars to the total cost of your trip.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the expenses of an average cruise trip to Antarctica:
|Cruise||$5,000 – $10,000 per person for a 10-14 day itinerary|
|Flights||$1,500 – $5,000 per person (depending on departure location and time of year)|
|Travel Insurance||5% – 10% of total trip cost|
|Gear rental or purchase||$300 – $1,000 per person (depending on the type of gear you choose)|
|Excursions and activities||$1,000 – $5,000 per person (depending on the activity you go for)|
It’s worth noting that the above cost breakdown is just an estimate and that actual costs may vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, luxury cruises can cost significantly more than budget options, and the cost of gear may be lower if you already own some of the necessary items.
Ultimately, the cost of a cruise to Antarctica will depend on your individual preferences and circumstances. However, by carefully researching your options and budgeting appropriately, it’s possible to plan a memorable trip to this incredible destination without breaking the bank.
So, how can you make your trip more budget-friendly? Here are some tips to keep expenses in check on a trip to Antarctica:
Choosing an Affordable Cruise
When planning a trip to Antarctica, choosing an affordable cruise can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Here are some practical tips for finding an affordable cruise to Antarctica:
- Travel during the shoulder season: Consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of October and March, when there are fewer tourists and prices tend to be lower.
- Look for last-minute deals: Some cruise lines offer last-minute deals on unsold cabins, which can be a great way to save money. Keep an eye out for these deals in the months leading up to your trip.
- Book early: Conversely, booking your cruise well in advance can also lead to savings. Many cruise lines offer early booking discounts, so it pays to plan ahead.
- Compare prices: Be sure to compare prices across different cruise lines and itineraries. Prices can vary widely depending on the type of ship, the duration of the itinerary, and the level of luxury offered.
- Consider a smaller ship: While larger ships can offer more amenities and comfort, smaller ships can be a more affordable option. They may also be able to access more remote locations that larger ships can’t reach.
- Look for bundled packages: Some cruise lines offer bundled packages that include flights, gear, and other extras. These can be a convenient way to save money and ensure that all of your needs are taken care of.
Also, while there aren’t too many travel companies that offer Antarctica cruises, it’s still helpful to compare the ones that do. Some cruise companies have really affordable options in comparison to the high-end famous cruises.
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Booking Affordable Cruises to Antarctica
Some affordable cruise options for traveling to Antarctica include:
Oceanwide Expeditions offers a 10-day itinerary to Antarctica, starting at $5,600 per person, which includes a visit to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. The tour includes onboard accommodation and meals, as well as lectures and shore excursions.
Activities such as kayaking and camping are available for an additional fee. The ship typically departs from Ushuaia, Argentina, and returns to the same port. When traveling from the US, you’ll have to book a flight to Argentina, which may incur additional costs. The cruise season runs from November to March.
You can book a cruise with Oceanwide Expeditions through their website or get a reservation by calling them at +1 800 453 7245.
Quark Expeditions offers a variety of cruise options to Antarctica, with prices starting at around $8,000 per person for a 10-day itinerary. Their tours typically include visits to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as onboard accommodation, meals, and lectures. Some tours may also include activities such as kayaking and camping.
Quark Expeditions also offers bundled packages that include flights, gear, and excursions. The cruise season runs from November to March. You can book a cruise to Antarctica on the Quark Expeditions website.
Hurtigruten offers a range of cruises to Antarctica, with prices starting at around $7,000 per person for a 14-day itinerary. Their tours typically include visits to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as onboard accommodation, meals, and lectures. Some tours may also include activities such as kayaking and camping.
Hurtigruten offers early booking discounts and bundled packages that include flights and excursions. The cruise season runs from November to March. You can call them at +1 (866) 552-0371 or book your spot on the cruise through their website.
Save on Gear Costs
When planning a cruise to Antarctica, one of the major expenses is the cost of gear. However, there are ways to save money on gear without sacrificing your comfort or safety.
Here are some tips on how to save money on gear when on a cruise to Antarctica:
- Rent gear: Instead of purchasing all the necessary gear, consider renting it. Many outfitters and cruise lines offer gear rental services, which can be a more affordable option. For example, Oceanwide Exped
- Buy used gear: If you prefer to purchase your own gear, consider buying used gear. Websites like eBay and Craigslist can be great sources for used gear at a lower cost. Just be sure to inspect the gear thoroughly before purchasing to ensure that it’s in good condition.
- Borrow gear: If you have friends or family who have traveled to Antarctica before, consider asking if you can borrow their gear. This can be a great way to save money and ensure that you have quality gear.
- Pack smart: Be sure to pack smart and only bring the gear that you will actually need. This can help you avoid having to purchase or rent unnecessary gear.
Here is a breakdown of some of the gear you may need for a cruise to Antarctica, along with the expected costs:
- Waterproof boots: $75 – $150
- Waterproof jacket: $150 – $500
- Waterproof pants: $100 – $300
- Warm hat: $20 – $50
- Gloves: $20 – $100
- Thermal base layers: $50 – $150
- Sunglasses (essential): $50 – $150
Keep in mind that these are just estimates and that actual costs may vary depending on the type and quality of the gear you choose. You may also need additional gear, depending on the activities you’ve planned, so ask your tour company to provide you with a list of requirements beforehand.
Skip the Expensive Excursions
Excursions and activities on a cruise to Antarctica can be an incredible way to experience the beauty and wildlife of this unique destination. However, they can also be expensive. If you’re looking to save money on your trip, skipping some of the more expensive excursions may be a good option.
Here are some tips on how to save money by skipping the excursions on a cruise to Antarctica:
- Focus on free activities: Many cruises offer free activities such as shore landings, wildlife watching, and lectures from naturalists. By focusing on these activities, you can still experience the beauty of Antarctica without spending extra money.
- Do it yourself: If you have experience in outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, you may be able to explore on your own instead of booking a guided excursion. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines and get permission from the tour guide.
- Prioritize excursions accordingly: If there are specific excursions that you really want to do, prioritize those and skip some of the less important ones to save money.
Here is an estimated breakdown of the cost of some popular excursions on a cruise to Antarctica:
- Kayaking: Explore the calm waters of Antarctica by kayaking through stunning ice formations and observing penguins, seals, and whales up close. It can cost you around $1,000 – $2,000 per person
- Camping: Experience the wilderness of Antarctica by camping in the wilderness and experiencing the tranquil environment. It costs you around $250 – $500 per person
- Scuba diving: Divers can explore diverse marine life, including fish, krill, and seals, and observe the beautiful ice formations underwater. It costs you around $800 – $1,500 per person
- Mountaineering: Explore the breathtaking scenery of Antarctica on foot by hiking across glaciers and around ice formations. It costs you around $500 – $1,000 per person
- Skiing: Enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the snow-covered terrain of Antarctica. It can cost you around $1,000 – $2,000 per person.
Again, these are just estimates and actual costs may vary depending on the cruise line and the specific excursion. Just be sure to prioritize safety and follow all guidelines and regulations.
Saving Money on the Cruise Ship
If you’ve already booked a cruise to Antarctica, here are some tips on how to save money and keep additional costs down:
- Bring your own drinks: Most cruise lines offer drink packages that can be quite expensive. Instead, bring your own drinks such as water bottles, soda, or even wine (if allowed by the cruise line).
- Avoid specialty restaurants: While specialty restaurants on cruise ships can be tempting, they can also be quite expensive. Stick to the main dining room or buffet to save money.
- Use onboard credits wisely: If you have onboard credits, use them wisely. Consider using them for things like spa treatments or souvenirs rather than expensive drinks or meals.
- Skip the souvenir shops: While it can be tempting to buy souvenirs on board, these can be quite expensive. Consider buying souvenirs on shore or bringing your own from home instead.
- Use the free amenities: Most cruise ships such as Symphony of the Seas offer a range of free amenities such as the pool, gym, and entertainment. Take advantage of these to save money on expensive activities and services.
By following these tips, you can save money and keep additional costs down while still enjoying your cruise experience.
What to Do on a Cruise to Antarctica
Cruises are fun in the beginning but can get really boring after a while if you aren’t prepared. Since cruises to Antarctica can be as long as 3 months, it’s best to plan what you’re going to do beforehand to make the experience memorable.
Here are some tips to help you plan your activities on a cruise to Antarctica:
- Enjoy the wildlife: Antarctica is home to a variety of wildlife, including penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds. Many cruises to Antarctica offer opportunities for wildlife viewing, either from the ship or on shore excursions. Make sure to follow any guidelines from your guides to ensure that you don’t disturb the animals.
- Take part in shore excursions: Many cruises to Antarctica offer shore excursions that allow you to explore the landscape and wildlife up close. Activities can include hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, and camping. Make sure to bring appropriate gear and clothing for these activities.
- Attend lectures and workshops: Many cruises to Antarctica offer lectures and workshops led by experts in fields such as marine biology, history, and geology. These can be a great way to learn more about the region and its unique features.
- Take in the scenery: Antarctica is known for its stunning landscapes, including glaciers, icebergs, and mountains. Be sure to take some time to simply observe the beauty around you.
- Relax and unwind: While there’s plenty to do on a cruise to Antarctica, it’s also important to take some time to relax and enjoy the journey. Spend time on deck watching the scenery go by, or take advantage of onboard amenities such as a sauna or hot tub.
Remember to always follow any guidelines or instructions from your guides to ensure that you’re respectful of the fragile Antarctic ecosystem. And most importantly, have fun and make the most of this unique and unforgettable experience!
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Safety Tips to Consider on Your Cruise to Antarctica
While cruises to Antarctica are generally safe, they aren’t as straightforward and relaxing as tropical cruises. Be prepared for rough weather and delays in the schedule, as these measures may be taken for safety.
Also, follow these safety tips during your trip:
- Follow all safety instructions: Pay close attention to any safety briefings or instructions from the crew, and make sure to follow them carefully.
- Dress appropriately: Antarctica can be very cold and windy, so make sure to bring plenty of warm clothing and gear. Dress in layers, and make sure to wear waterproof and windproof outerwear.
- Wear appropriate footwear: When going on shore excursions or hiking, it’s important to wear sturdy and waterproof boots with good traction to prevent slips.
- Practice good hygiene: To prevent the spread of illness, it’s important to practice good hygiene while on the ship. Wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer when necessary.
- Be aware of wildlife: While wildlife viewing can be a highlight of a trip to Antarctica, it’s important to be respectful of the animals and keep a safe distance. Follow any guidelines from your guides, and never approach or disturb wildlife.
- Stay alert for changing weather conditions: Antarctica’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, wind, and visibility. Be aware of changing conditions and follow any instructions from the crew or guides.
- Be prepared for emergencies: Make sure to familiarize yourself with the ship’s emergency procedures, and know how to use any safety equipment such as life jackets or survival suits.
By following these safety tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Antarctica.
Now that you know every bit of information to have the cheapest cruise trip to Antarctica, we suggest you pack your bags and head over to the continent very few people get to visit in their life! In case you are interested, read our travel and tour guide to Dubai as well as several parts of the United States.
Cheapest Cruise to Antarctica | The Complete Guide - FAQs
The cost of a cruise to Antarctica can vary widely depending on the duration, luxury level of the ship, and specific itinerary. A basic 10-day cruise on a mid-range ship can cost $5,000 to $10,000 per person, while a longer, more luxurious cruise can cost over $20,000 per person.
A cruise to Antarctica is definitely worth it. It offers the opportunity to see incredible landscapes, unique wildlife, and a truly remote and pristine environment.
If you’re planning a cruise trip to Antarctica, the best time to visit is during summer, which runs from November to early March. During this time, the weather is relatively mild and the days are longer, allowing for more time to explore the continent. The sea ice also begins to break up during this time, making it easier for ships to navigate the waters and access landing sites.