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Planning Your Antarctica Cruise from Australia

Planning your antarctica cruise from australia.

Antarctica Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your Antarctica cruise from Australia; the voyage, flights, pre and post accommodation, transfers and travel insurance.

We start by asking you lots of questions – where to (just the Antarctic Peninsula, or a voyage with the lot – Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia), when, for how long, what standard and style of ship or cabin, and whether you have any particular personal interests that may help select the voyage or ship. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to select the best voyage to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.

Please book early: Many of these ships book out 12-18 months in advance, particularly over the December/January period. Please also consider that there may be only a small number of cabins in the category you would prefer.

If you’re thinking of travelling over the Christmas and New Year period our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even a year or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.

So, to reiterate, BOOK EARLY to allow us to put together the very best itinerary for you.

The Seasons

In simple terms the Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands and South Georgia open up for exploration in late October and early November and the season runs through until March (i.e. our Australian summer) when the shortening days and encroaching sea ice close this magical place to all but the hardiest visitor.  There is no bad time to go on an Antarctica cruise from Australia and below you’ll find a summary of the three seasons and the benefits of travelling at those times.

Early Season: LATE OCTOBER, NOVEMBER AND EARLY DECEMBER

Chinstrap Gentoo Penguins on the Peninsula

ANTARCTIC PENINSULA

In October and November the pack ice starts to break up and allows ice-strengthened ships to access a pristine landscape unexplored by humans since March the previous season. So this makes for a unique experience for your Antarctica Cruise from Australia.

As the season progresses more and more penguins (Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo) return to their colonies and are busy at first with courtship and mating and not long after settle to incubate their eggs.

SOUTH GEORGIA

If you would like to witness the dominant bull elephant seals battling for control of a harem of females on the beaches of South Georgia, you must take an early season voyage – leave it too long and the bulls will have headed out to sea. On the Peninsula the penguins are arriving and beginning their courtship displays.  Just as on the Antarctic Peninsula the penguins are also busy courting, mating and laying eggs.  Last seasons juveniles will still be in the colonies.  Wandering Albatross may also be seen re-establishing their bonds with their life-long partners.  Fur seals will be particularly active with females mating soon after giving berth to the new season’s young.

FALKLAND ISLANDS

Just as on the Peninsula and South Georgia activity on the Falklands Islands is well underway in October (being a little further to the North).  Five species of penguin (Rock-hopper gentoo, Magellanic, macaroni and king) will all be busy.  Several migratory bird species will also have arrived.

High Season: DECEMBER, JANUARY AND EARLY FEBRUARY

Gentoo and Chick

HIGH SEASON: LATE DECEMBER, JANUARY & EARLY FEBRUARY

As the season progresses the daylight hours increase which all of the Antarctic peninsula’s wildlife makes use of; the beaches and hillsides are now hectic with tens of thousands (sometimes more) of penguins (Adelie, gentoo & chinstrap).  Not all penguins chicks hatch at the same time, as you go further south they generally hatch a little later (also as the tops of hills clear of snow and ice earlier than the base the penguins that grab the ‘top spots’ often have chicks earlier than those at the bottom of the hill).

With both parents at first taking turns to incubate and soon making ever more frequent fishing trips the colonies get busier and the chicks larger.  Chicks grow very quickly and as soon as they are mobile it can be very entertaining, quite chubby, slightly ungainly, hungry juveniles chasing their parents for some more krill.

Seals, skuas, petrels and penguins are all busy attending to their sub-adult young as the short Antarctic ‘summer’ will soon be over. Whales are ever present and as the season progresses they start to become more inquisitive (partially as they’ve been feeding for the last 2 months).

The early season snow will slowly be lost at lower levels (fresh snow can fall at any time), only the peaks will remain snow-capped. This can mean trekking opportunities from your Antarctic cruise from Australia are increased and the weather will always determine what’s possible (safe). Temperatures can vary significantly and over a very short period of time; if it’s sunny and the winds are lights (a relatively rare occurrence) it will be quite warm (10-15 degrees Celsius), if it’s cloudy and there are strong winds and snow it can feel bitterly cold (we’ll advise so you have appropriate clothing).

The beaches of South Georgia are soon littered with fur seal pups. The adult males of fur and elephant seals having completed their task have returned to the southern ocean for a much needed meal (the large bull elephant seals can lose over a third of their body weight during the breeding season).

King Penguins

Many of South Georgia’s beaches are also home to vast colonies of king penguins, several in their tens of thousands. Due to king penguins unsynchronised breeding and a 13-16 month breeding cycle you can usually witness courting, penguins with eggs in pouches above their feet (laid from November to April), brow fluffy chicks and adults throughout the year. The number of young in the colonies fluctuates (highest number in Dec/Jan/Feb) with larger brown fluffy juveniles forming large crèches whilst their parents are ‘gone fishing’.

South Georgia’s other penguins (chinstrap, Gentoo, macaroni) and four albatross species (black-browed, grey-headed, light mantled & wandering) will all be busy raising their chicks during the short Antarctic summer.

As with South Georgia the days are long and the temperatures generally higher (average 12 degrees Celsius). The same systems that eventually reach South Georgia will also affect the Falkland Islands and a warm summer’s day can feel quite like a southern Australian coast (Phillip Island comes to mind) and it can still very occasionally drop below freezing.

Seals (seal lions and elephant seals), penguins (king, Gentoo, rock-hopper, macaroni & Magellanic) and perhaps over half a million black –browed albatross will all be busy raising their young.

Late Season: LATE FEBRUARY & MARCH

Antarctica Cruise from Australia Poseidon Expeditions - Minke Whales, Antarctica Peninsula

LATE SEASON: LATE FEBRUARY & MARCH

Please don’t assume ‘late season’ equates to bad time to go on an Antarctic cruise from Australia – it isn’t. The days are a little shorter and it’s still light for more than 12 hours of the day, plenty of time for all your excursions.

The penguin colonies will have large chicks that are losing their down and preparing to enter the place they are most at home in – the great southern ocean.

Leopard seals are also quite prominent during this time; simply as they know that sub-adult penguins learning to swim are easy prey. Fortunately for the penguins the number of these apex predators is relatively low.

It seems that by the end of February and during March most of the whales that are there for the summer feeding have achieved that goal and have more time to be inquisitive of the other visitors that don’t dive below the surface. Spy-hopping humpbacks are probably the most common easily seen whale species. Six other species can be seen (minke, orca, sei, sperm and very occasionally blue).

The other wonderful place to see whales is near the Antarctic convergence, where the warm northern waters meet to called southern water and this causes an upwelling of nutrient rich water which the whales love.

SOUTH GEORGIA & FALKLAND ISLANDS

Given both Island groups lie much further north (than the Antarctic Peninsula) the breeding seasons are extended a little. King penguin colonies will have sub-adult chicks and late season chicks.

Whales, who have been busy feeding throughout the Antarctic summer, seem to have more time now to investigate their visitors (us!); leopard seals have an easy time catching juvenile penguins who are taking their first swim – and then the brief season abruptly comes to a close.

So, when you are ready to take your Antarctic Cruise from Australia, there are a range of times to choose from, each with varying benefits.

The Weather

It’s difficult to provide a weather chart that would be valuable as Antarctica is a place of extremes. That said, on the Peninsula the daytime temperatures are often well above freezing. There is a saying that is quite apt – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”. We will advise what you should pack for your Antarctica Cruise from Australia (and what will be provided to you on board) to ensure the above maxim does not apply to you.

The Drake Passage can be the ‘Drake Lake’ (calm) or the ‘Drake Shake’ (rough) although, surprisingly, many voyages have relatively smooth crossings.

We have access to a wide range of wholesale airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our main airline partner is LATAM Airlines.

Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll want to know the details of all of your fights – flight times frequently change and we want to make sure your transfers and other arrangements are amended accordingly.

NOTE: We only book flights in conjunction with tailor-made land (and sea) arrangements booked through us – we don’t book just flights, sorry.

  • LATAM Airlines
  • Air New Zealand
  • King Georgia Island Flights

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LATAM Airlines have daily services from Sydney to Santiago.  Most flights fly via Auckland, with direct services in conjunction with Qantas.  For those of you who live in, or near to, Melbourne the good news is that LATAM now fly directly to Santiago three times a week.

LATAM Airlines have an new fleet of planes as well as many new airports throughout South America.  If flying to join an Antarctic voyage you will need to fly first to Santiago, Chile’s modern capital, and then onto either Buenos Aires and then Ushuaia, or to Punta Arenas if flying to King George Island, on the Antarctic Peninsula, or to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands to board your chosen ship.

Antarctica Travel Centre & South America Travel Centre have access to wholesale fares and work closely with LATAM Airlines.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

QANTAS fly from Sydney directly to Santiago three times a week (currently X Y Z).

It’s worth noting that if you’re adding several flights within South America it’s worth considering flying on one of QANTAS’ codeshare flights with LATAM to enable you to have access to LATAM’s Airpass within South America.  One of our specialists will be happy to explain the benefits as well as booking all of your flights to ensure they link appropriately with your chosen Antarctic voyage.  It is our company policy to have all clients arrive into the departure port/city at least one day prior to the voyage departure date – we do not want you to watch your ‘trip of a lifetime’ sailing down the Beagle Channel without you on-board.

air-nz-wordmark-white

Air New Zealand fly from Auckland to Buenos Aires (Argentina) three times a week.  If you are joining a voyage departing from Ushuaia this can be a good option; as if you fly (with LATAM or QANTAS) via Santiago you still have to fly to Buenos Aires (2 hours) before flying south to Ushuaia (3 hours 35 minutes).

fly-cruise-plane-bae-146-200-punta-arena-king-george-antartica

A BAE-146 aircraft is used for flights from Punta Arenas (Chile) to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands.  The plane was manufactured in the UK by British Aerospace (now part of BAE Systems ). It is a high-wing aircraft with very short runway requirements, which makes it particularly suited for landing and take-off in Antarctica. The aircraft is expertly operated by Aerovias DAP, which has more than 20 years of experience flying in Patagonia and Antarctica. Weather effected flight Delays

While very few Antarctica Fly and Cruise departure have ever been cancelled due to weather conditions, some departures have experienced delays of up to three days. It is important that prospective participants understand that weather conditions could impact the operation. Should weather delay a departure, contingency plans will be put into operation. Either leg of the flight can be delayed so flexibility should be allowed when returning home (which is why a night in Punta Arenas either side of your voyage is necessary).

Please also note that as the plane takes a maximum of 70 passengers – larger ships have to utilise two flights – with double the chance of delays on flight days.

There are a wide range of ships to travel on your Antarctica Cruise from Australia.  Visit the ships page to find out what makes each vessel unique.

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Cruises to Antarctica - Australia’s best Antarctica Cruise Deals

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Highlights of antarctica.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

For nearly all visitors, its wildlife, especially the antics of the cute penguins are the reason to visit Antarctica. Watch anyone making a first Antarctic landing, and it is easy to understand why penguins have such popular appeal. With penguins waddling past your feet, you may find few activities as absorbing or unique as simply standing in their midst while they stare back at you inquisitively.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Amalia Glacier

During your cruise to Antarctica you will cruise past some of the most spectacular glaciers in the world, including the Amalia Glacier, one of the highlights of the cruise. Located in the central part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields, the Amalia Glacier descends from the Andes Mountains and sits towering above the sea. Because of the glacier’s immense weight, the oxygen has been pressed out of the ice, giving it an amazingly beautiful crystalline appearance. The Amalia Glacier is one of three spectacular glaciers that are truly one-in-a-lifetime sights to behold.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

The Danco Coast, Antarctica

A highlight of the trip: the mainland of Antarctica. View the spectacular Antarctic landscape of icebergs and ice covered scenery. The Danco Coast is that portion of the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula between Cape Sterneck and Cape Renard. This coast was explored in January and February 1898 by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition under Adrien de Gerlache, who named it for Lieutenant Emile Danco who died on the expedition.

Ships visting Antarctica

Sapphire Princess

AUSTRALIA’S LEADING CRUISE MARKETPLACE

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5 Best Affordable Antarctica Cruises

Cruising to Antarctica is a fantastic way to visit the White Continent. However, if you’ve ever seen the prices and the cost of an Antarctica trip , it probably left you in sticker shock. The good news is, there are ways to travel to Antarctica on a budget! This post will cover the best affordable Antarctica cruises to show you that you won’t need to go into debt to travel to this incredible place.

This post contains affiliate links. When you click on these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no cost to you. This helps me keep the site going and I appreciate your support.

** Please note that pricing and itineraries can vary from year to year so it’s always a good idea to check current offerings. This post is meant to act as guidance to get you started in your search.**

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Find Your Perfect Cruise

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Here are my top picks!

Holland America

  • 4 Days in Antarctica
  • Sails the Chilean Fjords

Princess Cruises

  • Stops in Falkland Islands

Hurtigruten Expeditions

  • 10 Days in Antarctica
  • Passengers can go ashore

Best Affordable Antarctica Cruises: Larger Ships

The cheapest way to visit Antarctica is by cruising on a larger ship that sails by the continent but doesn’t let passengers go ashore. Instead, you will sail to the Antarctic Peninsula and into some of the surrounding bays where you will see wildlife, mountains, icebergs, and more. It is truly a magical experience.

While several big cruise lines sail to Antarctica, like Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess, and Holland America, not all itineraries are created equal. For example, Celebrity and Norwegian only spend two days in Antarctica and do not go further into the peninsula where some of the best scenery is. That is why these cruise lines didn’t make my list.

Here are my recommendations for the most affordable Antarctica cruises.

1. Princess Cruises 16 Day Cruise

For an affordable cruise that still spends plenty of time in Antarctica, consider sailing with Princess. This 16-day itinerary stops in some South American ports like the Falkland Islands as well as spends 4 days in Antarctica. Onboard naturalists and expert speakers will help you get the most out of your journey.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

This option is excellent if you are short on time and want a cheap option that provides the most value for a trip to the White Continent. Prices start at around $1,700 per person and include transportation, accommodation, onboard activities, and meals. Wi-Fi, beverages, tips, and excursions (not available in Antarctica) are an additional fee.

Other itineraries are also available if you wish to combine more of South America with an Antarctica trip. For example, you could book the 34-Day Antarctica, Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure for around $3,100 per person.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

2. Holland America 22 Day Cruise

This 22-day cruise combines some of the beauty of South America with a voyage to Antarctica. You’ll spend time cruising the Chilean Fjords, visiting interesting ports where you have a chance to get close to adorable penguins, and sailing the Antarctica Peninsula for 4 days.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Onboard, you can attend port talks, and learn about the science of the area, as well as get a better understanding of Antarctica from someone who used to live there. Holland America hires scientists and experts to make your journey a truly enjoyable one.

Once in Antarctica, you’ll visit incredible areas such as Deception Island, Le Maire Channel, Neu Maiyer Channel, Paradise Harbor, Neko Harbor, Cuverville Island, Gerlache Strait, Wilhelmina Bay, Charlotte Bay, and Elephant Island. Your days will be busy as you watch for wildlife such as Humpback Whales, Orca Whales, four different species of penguins, seals, and birds.

The cost of this cruise starts at $3,500 per person which includes meals, transportation, onboard activities, and accommodations. You can add extras for an additional fee such as Wi-Fi, alcoholic beverages, specialty dining, gratuities, and shore excursions (not available in Antarctica).

Best Affordable Antarctica Cruises: Expedition Ships

Sailing to Antarctica on an expedition ship will certainly cost more than a larger cruise ship. However, the main benefit to these types of cruises is that you can step foot on the White Continent. They are also mainly all-inclusive.

If this is more of the experience you wish to have during your voyage, then it may be worth the added cost. Below are my recommendations for the most affordable Antarctica expedition cruises.

3. Hurtigruten Expeditions 11 Night Cruise

This 11-night cruise will allow you to visit both the Shetland Islands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula. You’ll be able to take advantage of the included landings so you can say you actually stepped foot on Antarctica.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Watch adorable penguins waddle over snowy icebergs, look for whales and more during your trip. Expedition leaders will be on hand to help you take the perfect picture as well as provide valuable information about what you are seeing.

Prices start at $9,300 per person and include onboard activities such as an onboard science center where you can participate in research, landings, transportation, meals, Wi-Fi, a reusable water bottle, 1 night pre-cruise hotel stay, domestic flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, and loan of clothing (boots, trekking poles, and coat).

Some items such as shore excursions (camping in Antarctica, kayaking, snowshoeing etc.) and gratuities are an additional cost.

This is the cheapest and most inclusive expedition cruise to help you get the most value out of your money.

4. Silversea 10 Night Cruise

While this is the shortest cruise to make my list, it is one that sails only to the Antarctica region. As a result, you’ll spend 6 days in Antarctica with an additional day in the Shetland Islands. If you are planning to explore South America on a separate trip, this is a fantastic option.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

It is also considered more of a luxury ship vs an expedition ship. You will enjoy all the classic comforts during your voyage.

Prices start at $13,350 per person and include accommodations in a suite with private butler, ocean transportation, entertainment and daily activities, gratuities, on-board meals, wines & spirits, and port charges. Not included in the price are shore excursions and Wi-Fi.

5. Hurtigruten Expeditions 17 Night Cruise

As the longest cruise to make this list, you will get to spend ten exciting days in Antarctica during this sailing. In addition, you will get a chance to go farther south than any other voyage on this list. It is an immersive experience that is perfect for lovers of the 7th continent.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

You will be delighted with the wildlife you see as well as the giant icebergs that float by. There will be plenty of chances for you to go ashore and be amazed at the beauty around you.

Although this is the most expensive cruise on this list, it is one of the cheaper longer itineraries available so you can fulfill all your Antarctica dreams. Prices start at $12,700 per person and include one night pre-cruise hotel stay, flight to Ushuaia, expedition leader, science center, loan of clothing, reusable water bottle, Wi-Fi, meals, Antarctica landings, and more.

Not included are excursions, travel insurance, tips, and personal expenses.

Antarctica Cruise Questions

What is included in the price of my cruise.

Each cruise line will have separate inclusions and exclusions in the cost of their voyages. For the cruises that made this list, I’ve included that information above. If you find an itinerary or cruise provider that is not mentioned here, look at the fine print to see what is included in your fare.

What should I pack for my Antarctica cruise?

For both styles of cruises, you will want to pack and wear layers. Usually, a moisture wicking layer in addition to warmer items such as fleece or wool. Outer layers should offer protection against wind and precipitation.

If you are a wheelchair user who is concerned about staying warm, consider using a wheelchair cozy or lap blanket to help hold in heat.

Quality Camera

You will also want to make sure to pack a good camera with a quality zoom lens. Wildlife can be far away, and cell phone cameras just don’t quite cut it. It would be a shame to spend all that money on a trip to not have wonderful photos to remember it by.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right camera for your abilities. Having something so high-tech you don’t know how to properly use it doesn’t produce the best images. Likewise, if you are a person with a disability, you will want to make sure you have the right tools to make photography for disabled individuals easier.

Are cruises to Antarctica wheelchair accessible?

While expedition ships aren’t built with accessibility in mind, the larger cruise ships are. These cruises to Antarctica are wheelchair accessible and offer an incredible experience. In fact, you can read more about how I visited Antarctica as a wheelchair user in my other post.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Are there sales on cruises to Antarctica?

You will often find sales on cruises to Antarctica when you book early (like when itineraries are first released), during wave season (January-March), and around the holidays. Sales can vary by cruise line but may include free international airfare, no single supplement fees, or other perks such as onboard credit.

Are cruises to Antarctica rough?

Drake’s Passage has two nicknames, the Drake Shake and the Drake Lake. It’s hard to predict how rough or calm this notorious passage will be. Waves can get as high as 60 feet tall! It’s always better to plan for rough weather and be prepared with seasickness prevention measures. Sea Bands, Dramamine, ginger chews, and more can help combat this illness.

What is the best month to go to Antarctica?

The best month to go to Antarctica will depend on your goals. If you are looking for cheaper prices, then the months of November and March (or even late February) may help you score a better deal.

However, during the months of December and January there tend to be more whales and the penguins have started to hatch their chicks. So, for a wildlife lover, these months may be optimal.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Is cruising to Antarctica worth the price?

People value different things so it’s hard to give a universal answer to this question. Personally, I felt like cruising to Antarctica was worth the price. I sailed with Holland America and although I didn’t set a wheel on Antarctica, I still had an incredible experience.

If you’re still on the fence, check out my post on the top reasons to visit Antarctica to help you make your decision.

Are cruises to Antarctica safe?

You may have heard in the news about ships getting damaged or people dying during a cruise to Antarctica and now wonder how safe this journey will be. It is important to remember, that the news mostly highlights the negative and those few and far between circumstances where someone is injured or has died. Most cruises to Antarctica do not have such dramatic outcomes.

Any time we travel, there are inherited risks and cruising to Antarctica is no exception. However, the captain and crew work hard to ensure everyone’s safety by taking necessary precautions such as changing the itinerary due to weather. Don’t let the news scare you and prevent you from taking this incredible trip.

Are cruises to Antarctica safe for the environment?

There are very strict rules and regulations for anyone traveling to Antarctica. Most of the area around the White Continent is protected and a sanctuary for wildlife. Additionally, there are several organizations that regulate tourism in the region.

One of these organizations is IAATO . For more information about what they are doing to protect the Antarctica environment, I encourage you to visit their website.

While cruising to Antarctica does present some challenges to protecting it, they also serve a significant importance to its preservation. When people visit and experience the beauty of the continent, they become more invested in protecting and saving it.

Conclusions on the best affordable Antarctica cruises

I hope that this post has shown you that there are affordable Antarctica cruises out there, and that traveling to the White Continent may be cheaper than you originally thought. It is truly a trip of a lifetime which I hope you get to take. I know it’s a journey that will leave you in awe, just like it did me.

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I'm Kristin and I was born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, which impacts my mobility and breathing. Despite this challenge, I have travelled across the United States and abroad and want to share my accessible travel information with others.

A Guide To Find Cheap Antarctica Cruises

To receive the last minute operators list for Antarctica sign up for the email newsletter above or to the right on the sidebar

Antarctica cruises attracted roughly 37,000 people visited the great white continent in 2010 and that list is growing constantly each year.  Most people that look into traveling to Antarctica are at the end of their adventures.

People wanting to get to their 7th continent or say that they have been around the world.  I have never thought about going to Antarctica until I got to the self proclaimed “southern most city in the world”, Ushuaia.  There are amazing experiences to witness in Antarctica including:

  • Playing with Penguins & having Penguins jump on my back ( Click Here )
  • Dancing with Penguins as well (video coming soon).

Living overseas has taught me that you don’t really know where you want to go until after you live there and after touring all of  Argentina , the Antarctica travel bug got me.  I did my research and and am happy to share that it won’t cost you $10,000 to go to Antarctica, not even half that.  Here is how to find a  cheap cruise to Antarctica :

There are ports all around the world that can take you to Antarctica, the most popular is Ushuaia.  During the peak of the Antarctic tourist season, there is a constant flow of cruises to Antarctica that leave on almost a daily basis.  One advantage that Ushuaia has over other ports is that it has the shortest distance to travel.  The souther tip of South America is closest to Antarctica.  High season is from November to the beginning of March, the summer on the great white continent

The icebreaker ship that travels to the interior where you can see the Emperor Penguins is no longer in service.  The Russian government has decommissioned the ship for tourism and is now using it for deep sea oil exploration.  When you are traveling to Ushuaia during high season you can step into any Antarctica travel office and get a last minute bargain!  There are rumors of people buying their cruises to Antarctica only hours before the ship left from the dock in Argentina.

What people don’t know is that there is a list of Antarctica travel offices that I can provide to you below.  Before it was required to travel to Ushuaia to find the list.

  • ANTARCTICA CRUISE COST

Here is the fun part and no, it’s not going to cost you $10,000, not even $5,000.  Before you start looking for a last minute cruise, search the internet and see if any of the major travel companies have any offers.  Typically they are the ones that offer the last minute prices and sometimes they will advertise “55% off sale”.  The lowest price that I have seen is $2,200 with a special sale.  Don’t get excited because this is very rare, unless of course you want to cross the drake passage on a row boat.

The average price that you will pay $3,500 USD.  You can get better deals if you are flexible and share a triple cabin, these deals are typically in the $3,000 range.  The most that you should pay for a last minute cruise to Antarctica is $4,000 USD.  I personally would not pay a penny over $3,500 USD.

One additional cost that you need is travel insurance.  This is because if you go to Antarctica and for any reason you get sick they need to send a helicopter to evacuate you to the nearest hospital.  There are a lot of options for travel insurance and most times the travel agent that you use will include it in their prices or direct you in the right direction.

  • GETTING TO USHUAIA-FLIGHTS

Getting a cheap flight to the end of the world depends on many global variables, including where you are coming from and the price of oil.  Your first leg will be from where you are coming from to Buenos Aires.  All flights in Argentina fly through Buenos Aires.  There are two major players here, LAN Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas.  Check out my review of both airlines coming soon!  You want to try and fly with LAN, Aerolineas Argentinas is a complete mess.  With another economic crisis in Argentina coming and inflation through the roof, there are strikes every month.  Just think of it as a monthly party.

In this chaos, you want to be with the company that you know is going to take care of you.   Living in Chile and Argentina I can tell you that LAN does just that.  The cost of the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia is between $300 – $500 USD and will last roughly 3.5 hrs.  Try to find a direct flight early because if you have 1 or more connecting flights then you will start to play a game we all love to play with our luggage, hide and seek.  If you want the unfortunate accident of being reacquainted with your luggage when you arrive, I would recommend not flying Aerolineas Argentinas .  They have a serious problem with both delayed flights and missing bags.

My room  mate on the cruise to Antarctica had to call the Chinese embassy to recover his bags from the airline.

  • GETTING TO USHUAIA-BUSES

Budget travelers have another option where you can watch the countryside and have numb backsides, Bus Travel in Argentina!  These buses aren’t the old and dingy Greyhound buses that you are accustomed to that have seats that don’t reclined.  These are first class, double decker, full bed reclining buses that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Did I mention there is entertainment on board? And WiFi? And Liquor? I digress, point is that Argentinian bus travel is the most efficient thing in the country.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any direct buses to the city of Ushuaia from Buenos Aires.  There is a connection in Rio Gallegos where you can switch buses and be on your merry way to Ushuaia.  I would recommend the bus for anyone that wants to save money or time.  The thought of being on a bus for over 20 hours excites us all I know, but when you have to spend hours at an airport(s) for delayed and cancelled flights it doesn’t sound too bad.

In order to purchase bus tickets you can go to the retiro bus station in Buenos Aires a few days before you leave and purchase your tickets.  I always purchase by ticket the day I was leaving and never had a problem.

ANTARCTICA CRUISE TYPES-

Antarctica is not governed by any one country in the world.  Instead, there are a group of nations that govern the area under various Antarctica Treaties.  One of the regulations state that 100 people are allowed to step on the continent at at time.  This means that you if you are on a ship with 500 people, if you only land 5 times, you have a 1 in 5 chance of stepping foot on the island.  Plan for a ship between 90-130 people, they will still let everyone go if its 130.

There are different itineraries that go to different parts of Antarctica.  Since we are cheap skates and want to save our wallets the cheapest cruises are the itineraries with 10-11 days.  Make sure to look for a triple cabin to save the most money.  My cruise was with GAP Adventures and they have one of the newest ships in the entire Antarctica cruise ship fleet.  There were rumors that in order to find the cheap Antarctica cruises you had to be in Ushuaia.  Blasphemy! You can contact me for the list and you can contact the operators from your own home.

ANTARCTICA CRUISE ITINERARIES-

Due to erratic weather behavior the itineraries below are estimates.  You may have to spend more time on the water because of the infamous Drake Passage.  If you are lucky like me, it will be smooth and you will be able to maximize your time in Antarctica.  All prices are in USD.

Antarctica Peninsula

  • 10/11 total days on cruise to Antarctica
  • 4-5 days at sea
  • 4-6 days on land

Antarctic Convergence (variation of above)

  • 10-13 total days on cruise to Antarctica
  • 4-6 days at sea
  • 7-9 day on and around land

Falklands Island – South Georgia Island ($12,000 – $15,000)

  • 22 total days on cruise to Antarctica
  • 8/10 days at sea
  • 1/2 days at Falkland Islands
  • 2/3 days at Georgia Islands

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cheap antarctica cruise from australia

  • TRAVEL AGENTS
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cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Expedition Cruises

  • Fridtjof-Nansen
  • Roald Amundsen
  • Polar Pioneer
  • Ocean Diamond
  • Ocean Adventurer
  • Ocean Endeavour
  • G-Expedition

Expedition+Luxury Cruises

Greg mortimer, sylvia earle.

  • Ocean Albatros
  • Ocean Victory
  • NatGeo Explorer
  • Heritage Adventurer
  • Magellan Explorer
  • Ultramarine​
  • World Explorer

Luxury C ruises

Silver cloud.

  • Silver Wind
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  • World Traveller

Silver Endeavour

  • Seabourn Venture
  • Seabourn Pursuit

Scenic Eclipse

  • Viking Octantis
  • Viking Polaris
  • World Navigator

Antarctica – South Georgia & Falklands

  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • South Georgia
  • Falkland Islands
  • East Antarctica | Ross Sea
  • New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands

Pre & Post Cruise Extensions

  • Galapagos Islands & Ecuador
  • Easter Island
  • City Stopover & Iguazu Falls
  • Machu Picchu & Peru
  • ANTARCTICA GUIDE
  • AUS 1300 787 987

Antarctica Cruise

Best deals  packages, all in one place, why antarcticacruise.au, simple, expert trip planning..

AntarcticaCruise.au makes planning a trip to the White Continent simple and gets Australians and savvy travelers around the world the best value on the perfect cruise for you.

We know that it can be overwhelming to choose between over 40 different ships and itineraries and that an Antarctic cruise is a significant investment. That’s where our team of Antarctica experts can help you find the best match for your interests, schedule, and budget.

Major options for

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Sylvia Earle Cruise Ship Stearn

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Guests enjoying the landscape from the bow of the Silver Cloud in Greenland.

Contact us for a Free Custom Designed Itinerary

Popular pre & post cruise extensions, when planning an antarctica trip, some time spent in either chile or argentina is needed before and after the cruise. therefore, it makes sense to include a few destinations in either country as part of any of our antarctic cruises. once your are in south america, why not explore machu picchu, the galapagos islands, or the iguazu falls., machu picchu & galapagos islands.

Departures:

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Santiago & Easter Island

Machu picchu & amazon, essential peru, rio – iguassu falls – amazon & machu picchu, best of south america for 27 days, antarctica cruising & travel guide.

What you need to know before you go to Antarctica

When is the best time to cruise Antarctica?

The Antarctic cruising season is from November through March, though the best weather is generally December through February.

How do I select the best Antarctic cruise for me?

The primary criteria are: The type of cruise ship (small vs. large), length of the cruise, whether you sail both ways between the tip of South America or fly one or both ways, and of course, price.  Our Antarctica cruise planning experts can help you select the perfect cruise ship and itinerary for you and your party.

Antarctica Cruise offers a wide variety of ships – from the rustic to absolute luxury to accommodate each traveler's taste and budget.

Each type of ship offers its own unique travel experience, amenities, and advantages. we’ll take the time to learn your travel style and preferences, and then help you book the voyage that’s right for you. our goal is to match you with the ship and tour that best meets your antarctica trip requirements and expectations. make the most of our exclusive cruise package deals not advertised on our site that you won’t find anywhere else., exclusive cruise package deals, tell us about your dream trip to antarctica and south america looks like. we will build you a custom itinerary even for packages not listed on our website., sail with antarcticacruise.au, get expert advice and the best value on a cruise to antarctica.

Pete and Perry

Pete and Perry

Get to antarctica on a budget: 4 ways (with 2023 prices).

MV Ushuaia in Paradise Bay, Antarctica

When Pete and I set our goal to visit all seven continents, we knew that we were going to have to find a way to get to the seventh continent – Antarctica – at some point. Originally, we thought this was a far-off dream, something to pursue in our old age. But when we pulled our timeline for our seven continents goal into the next twelve months, it raised a stressful question: How on earth were we going to get to Antarctica on a budget?

After a lot of research, a few pulled hairs, and one fantastic travel agent , we found a way. It consumed about 25% of our funds for the year, but hey – I’d spend that money all over again. We only get to live once, and we’re thrilled that our lives have included standing in Antarctica.

Here’s everything I learned about how to get to Antarctica on a budget. I’ve included every option – and I mean every option – since most other guides only focus on the smaller expedition cruise ships. And that’s not the only way!

Turns out, there are options that get you to Antarctica starting at $2,000 per person, though you will easily spend more. Let’s take a look and I’ll tell you what we did.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Table of Contents

How to Get to Antarctica on a Budget: All of the Options

Lowest price: large-ship cruise lines.

Imagine my surprise when, after days of doomscrolling through $6,000 – $15,000 per person Antarctica cruises, I found a few listings on VacationsToGo.com for Antarctica cruises under $2,000 per person.

Had I unlocked the secret Antarctica cruise cheat code?

Kind of, but kind of not.

Several major cruise companies, including Princess, Celebrity, and Norwegian, offer South American cruise itineraries with 4 days or so of “scenic cruising” in Antarctica. Their prices are fantastic, but you’ll never step on land. That’s right – large cruise ships with more than 500 passengers can’t land in Antarctica, and these mega-ships all carry 3,000-5,000 or more people.

But at least it’s a fantastic view.

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An itinerary with specific locations for your Antarctic cruising may or may not be specified. If details are included, they usually list Paradise Bay (our favorite from our cruise) and Elephant Island.

If this is the only way you can afford to see Antarctica, I would not hesitate to book this option. It still counts as visiting the continent.

This option is best if:

  • Budget is your number one priority. You will not find a cheaper price that gets you anywhere close to the Antarctic continent. These cruises also leave major ports in Chile and Argentina, so you’ll have an easier (and cheaper) time finding international airfare.
  • You suffer from motion sickness but can’t afford to fly. Larger ships have better stabilization than smaller ships – and that matters in the awful, no-good Drake Passage . (You can find more of our tips to prepare for motion sickness in Antarctica and the Drake Passage here.)
  • You also want to see South America in addition to Antarctica. Not gonna lie – the itineraries offered by these large-line cruise ships do look fun! If you want to see more of South America and Antarctica in one trip, this is a convenient way to do it.
  • You want all the amenities of a traditional cruise ship. Casinos, entertainment, dances, pools, spas, buffet dining – these cruise ships have everything you’ve come to expect and more.
  • You don’t get to step on land. Cruise ships with more than 500 passengers are prohibited from landing in Antarctica. Most landing sites only allow 100 passengers on shore at any given time, so ships with 100-500 passengers have to rotate landing groups.
  • Large ships are least able to access narrow channels and remote sites. The largest mega-liners won’t be able to access sites like Deception Island, which require navigation through narrow channels.
  • You’ll be further away from wildlife and scenery. Don’t worry – you’re still going to have incredible views, but you’ll be further away than you would be on a small ship or shore landing.

Cost: $1,500 – $2,000 per person in a 2-person inside cabin before taxes and port fees. (Note that the Antarctica-only options listed below do not have taxes and port fees. These do, as you’re visiting other ports in South America.) Expect to pay more for an ocean view, balcony, or suite-sized cabin.

Lowest Price to Step on Land: Budget Small-Ship Cruise Expeditions

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Small, Antarctic vessels with less than 200 passengers are probably the most popular way to visit Antarctica. These expedition ships will have fewer (if any) amenities compared to luxury Antarctic ships (mentioned below) and the large oceanliners (mentioned above), but they offer one important feature: the ability to stand on the Antarctic continent at some point during your journey. We went with a budget-friendly small ship for that reason and that reason alone.

While your ship crew will make every effort for you to actually land in Antarctica during your journey, a landing is never guaranteed due to unpredictable weather conditions. That said, it seems that most journeys are successful in at least one landing. When it wasn’t possible for us to get on the ground, our excursions consisted of short cruises in the zodiac boats, which brought us close to icebergs and wildlife.

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Although we refer to this option as “budget small-ship,” there’s a fair amount of overlap between “budget small-ship,” “luxury small-ship,” “luxury large-ship,” etc. features and pricing. We recommend comparing pricing and amenities available. If an operator is having trouble selling their last few cabins, you may get a tremendous deal on a more luxurious ship than I’m describing here.

Budget Small-Ship Cruises are best if:

  • You want the opportunity to step on land and see wildlife for the lowest possible price. This is it: the cheapest option to be able to brag to your friends that you set foot on Antarctica, hiked around, and stood within 15 feet of a penguin (but no closer, of course, per international Antarctic treaty rules).
  • You want to be able to participate in every excursion. If you book a ship with less than 100 passengers, you’ll be able to disembark and join every single excursion. If your ship has more than 100 passengers, there will be a rotating schedule. Our cruise had around 60 passengers, which we enjoyed.
  • Small ships are the worst option for motion sickness. If you are going to go this route despite your motion sickness, you might ask how recently the ship was renovated and therefore what kind of stabilization it has. Otherwise, prepare for the worst.
  • You may have limited on-shore excursion options. Our ship was not equipped for camping, kayaking, or similar types of Antarctic excursions. We found that the ships offering these excursions had both a higher base price and an additional fee for the excursion itself. Inquire with your travel agent if you want to participate in one of these activities.

Cost: $3,500 – $5,000 per person in a 2-4 person room. Cabins at this price point may share a bathroom and often have a window.

This method is how we chose to get to Antarctica on a budget. In 2023, we paid $4,605 per person for our budget small-ship cruise. We booked about three months in advance.

The lowest price we saw advertised for the entire 2022-2023 season was $3,500 for a triple cabin only 2-4 weeks before the ship’s departure (very last minute). Many last-minute deals are more expensive than that, so you need to consider whether the cost of last-minute airfare and hotels is worth the savings.

Best Ship Experience: Luxury Small-Ship or “Large”-Ship Cruise Expeditions

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I’ll be honest that our budget ship was lacking in the decor and amenities side of things. That didn’t bother us, but if it bothers you, you’ll want to book a luxury cruise to Antarctica. You’ll find luxury expedition ships with anywhere from less than 100 (small ship) to 200-500 (large ship) passengers. You’ll still be able to join shore excursions and attempt a landing in Antarctica.

  • You want a comfortable ship experience while still being able to land on the continent. Spas, jacuzzis, saunas… if there’s an amenity you want, at least one luxury ship probably has it. You’ll be more comfortable everywhere else on board, too, compared to the budget-friendly ships.
  • You want to camp, kayak, ski, and/or polar plunge in Antarctica. Higher-priced and more luxurious ships are more likely to be equipped for adventure sports excursions. Inquire with your travel agent and make sure to book in advance if sleeping under the Antarctic stars is a must for your expedition.
  • You want to step on land and get close to the wildlife. Same as the budget ships, you’ll be able to step on land and participate in daily Antarctic excursions as part of your fare. If your ship has fewer than 100 passengers, you’ll be invited to participate in every excursion; if it has more than that, there will be a rotating schedule.
  • It’s the most expensive option. But you get what you pay for.
  • It’s not the best for motion sickness. Depending on the size of your ship, you’ll still rock quite a bit through the Drake Passage, but you may have better stabilizers than the budget option.

Cost: $4,000 – $15,000+ per person. The sky’s the limit with pricing here. When they’re advertising last-minute deals, the pricing on more luxurious ships may be very close to budget ships. Always make sure to work with your travel agent to compare the amenities offered!

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Best for Motion Sickness: Fly and Cruise

Did you know you could fly to Antarctica? You can!

Unlike the cruise-only options, these itineraries depart from Punta Arenas, Chile, and take a 2-3 hour flight to the Chilean Air Force base, avoiding the Drake Passage. There you’ll board a small or large expedition ship for the remainder of your time in Antarctica, cruising through mostly calm waters to reach different excursion sights. (No, there isn’t a hotel in Antarctica – a ship is your only accommodation option.)

  • You suffer from severe motion sickness. Not gonna lie: when I was vomiting in the Drake Passage, I sure wished I was flying over it instead. If you suffer from severe motion sickness like me, the fly and cruise option is your best bet. You may still encounter mild motion sickness on the ship after your flight, but the waters around Antarctica are normal and mostly calm.
  • You’re short on time. Fly and cruise itineraries are 5-8 days versus the 10-day minimum for a cruise-only.
  • You want to step on land and get close to the wildlife. Same as the other expedition ship options!
  • Fly and cruise itineraries are shorter and may cost more per day. If you want to fill a longer vacation, or if you’re trying to travel for an extended around-the-world trip like us, fly-and-cruise options may have a higher cost per day due to their shorter duration.

Cost: $6,500-$15,000+ per person in a two-person cabin.

Bonus Option: Work in Antarctica

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Can you get paid to visit Antarctica? Yes!

There are only three industries allowed to operate on the white continent:

Getting a job in any of these industries will allow you to be paid to visit Antarctica. For example, you might become:

  • a fisherman on an Antarctic fishing vessel
  • a scientist, research assistant, or support personnel (nurse, doctor, electrician, plumber, tradesperson, airfield or transportation manager, etc.) at one of the Antarctic research stations
  • a crew member on an Antarctic expedition vessel

You can visit the US Antarctic Program or the Australian Antarctic Program for more information about employment opportunities in the science industry. These jobs range from 3-12 month contracts to permanent positions.

If you wish to work on a ship, your best option is to contact individual operators about employment opportunities. You can also search through job aggregators like Cruise Job Finder .

How Do I Book My Trip to Antarctica?

We highly recommend Freestyle Adventure Travel !

This isn’t sponsored – we used Freestyle Adventure Travel to book our budget Antarctica cruise, and we could not have been more impressed. Sarah, Carolina, and the rest of the Freestyle Team took great care of us!

Freestyle sends out regular cruise deal newsletters that we found to be the most comprehensive lists of the best travel deals. I signed up for a bunch of Antarctica-related emails, and Freestyle’s was the only one that provided regular, timely, and useful information about cruise availability. Save yourself some time: sign up for their emails at the bottom of their deals page .

Other travelers on our ship attempted to get the best deals by contacting cruise operators directly via email, phone, or WhatsApp with their travel dates. None of these travelers seemed to receive a better price than us, and they did a lot more work to book their trips. Your mileage may vary.

What else do I need to budget for?

Our cost ranges above are for the cruise fare only. You’ll also need to budget for:

  • Hotels before and/or after your cruise
  • Food before and/or after your cruise
  • Gratuities for the crew (US$15 per person per day was recommended for our voyage. This may increase for more expensive ships.)
  • Travel Insurance (We recommend SafetyWing .)

You may also want to budget for the following optional expenses:

  • Alcohol and beverages
  • Activities in your departure port
  • Vaccination, COVID testing, and related expenses, if any
  • Visas if you aren’t a US or EU citizen (None required for US citizens.)

In total, we suggest adding US$2,000 per person on top of your cruise fare if you’re going to pay cash for everything and stick to budget-friendly options. You can easily spend less if you use points and miles for your hotel and flight.

Other Money-Saving Tips for Traveling Antarctica on a Budget

Ensure that your cruise fare includes clothing and gear.

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Some budget cruise lines do not include clothing or gear in your fare, including your parka, snow pants, and other layers. Our budget cruise did include uninsulated waterproof boots.

If you book through Freestyle Adventure Travel, you’re covered – they include access to their free rental clothing for the duration of your cruise. Other travel agents and direct bookings may not include rental gear. If you need to rent gear, it can add up to $400 to the price of your trip.

Luxury cruises, on the other hand, often include all of your gear and may even let you keep the parka at the end. Make sure to ask in advance.

Consider Fares That Include Flights and Hotel

Some Antarctic cruise fares will include your round-trip flights to Ushuaia and/or a night in a hotel before your cruise departs. It’s worth considering whether this option is more economical than booking your inbound and outbound travel on your own.

Flights to Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile, are more complicated than other destinations, especially if you’re booking close to your cruise departure. We use points and miles for most of our flights, but we were unable to find any good points and miles options to Ushuaia due to the lack of airline coverage. You can learn more about how we ended up booking our flights here.

If you’re flying round-trip to/from Ushuaia or Buenos Aires, then booking your Antarctic cruise fare with the airfare included may be an easy and economical option.

If you intend to explore Chilean or Argentinian Patagonia before or after your cruise – and therefore need one-way flights or other transportation – airfare-inclusive cruise fares won’t work for you.

Hotels aren’t as challenging. Ushuaia has a variety of hotels and AirBnBs that range from budget hostels to luxurious hotels. We spent around $60 per night for an AirBnB with a washer and dryer in Ushuaia before and after our cruise, and later in our travels, we spent around $55 per night for an AirBnB in Punta Arenas, Chile. Again, do the math on whether a hotel-included option is good for you.

Pack Your Own Snacks and Alcohol

Check your cruise line’s individual policies about alcohol. Then, feel free to bring aboard whatever you’d like to drink as long as it’s within the rules!

You can buy alcohol for a better price at either of the supermarkets in Ushuaia ( Carrefour or La Anónima ) than you can on board.

That said, our budget ship had the most affordable prices for alcohol that I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. A beer was US$5-6; mixed drinks were no more than US$10.

Serve the alcohol that you brought on board in your room. Do not walk around the ship with bottles, especially if they’re made of glass.

You can also inquire with your travel agent about purchasing a drinks package in advance.

We do recommend bringing some of your favorite snacks on board in case you want something outside of mealtime. You should also stock up on anything you need to treat motion sickness in advance.

Use Cash for All Purchases in Ushuaia, Argentina

Do not use your credit card in Argentina! We wrote a whole article about this , but here’s the TL;DR: Converting American dollars to Argentine Pesos at Western Union allows you to access the black market exchange rate and get 50% more pesos than the official rate.

That’s right: using cash is an automatic 50% discount on everything.

Use cash in Argentina! Additionally, book any tours or other items that you can in person once you arrive. Booking in advance online using a credit card will result in you paying – you guessed it – about 50% more.

(This advice does not apply to Punta Arenas, Chile. Feel free to use your credit card there.)

Antarctica Can Be Visited Within Your Budget

While there’s no way that Antarctica is going to be the cheapest destination on your bucket list, you have a variety of options to get to Antarctica on a budget. We hope this guide helps you get started.

Perry Skorcz

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  Travel to the Ross Sea / Commonwealth Bay Region - Eastern Antarctica

Cruises to Eastern Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand usually leave from Invercargill / Port of Bluff in New Zealand ( 2 - map below) Invercargill has an airport, Bluff, 30km away by road has a deep-water port. Less frequently trips may leave from Hobart in Australia 1 . They may also leave/return from Dunedin in New Zealand which is about 180 km / 110 miles from Invercargill.

Departure and return may be to the same port or leave from one and return to the other in either direction. It takes about seven days sailing to reach Antarctica from Australia or New Zealand, the journey there and back is usually broken up with visits to the wildlife rich Macquarie Island 3 and others such as Snares, Auckland and Campbell Islands that lie between Macquarie and New Zealand.

On reaching Antarctica trips usually spend their time either in the Commonwealth Bay area 4 or the Ross Sea region between Cape Adare 5 and McMurdo 6 with possibly a short trip along the front of the Ross Ice Shelf R

1 - Hobart - Australia 2 - Invercargill / Port of Bluff - New Zealand 3 - Macquarie Island 4 - Commonwealth Bay 5 - Cape Adare 6 - McMurdo / Scott bases R - Ross Ice Shelf

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

  • Mount Erebus - The world's southernmost active volcano.
  • Historic sites - There are historic huts in this region of Antarctica from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration from 189 8 -1922. Scott, Shackleton and Mawson all left huts behind which are preserved as historic relics and time capsules that can be visited.
  • The Ross Ice Shelf - A 600 km long wall of ice between 15m and 50m high.
  • Isolated scientific bases - including the largest in the Antarctic, the American base at McMurdo Sound.
  • Emperor Penguins - The birds of the deep south that rear their young in the depths of the Antarctic winter, the largest of all penguins.
  • Sub-Antarctic Islands - On the way south and on the return journey back north. These islands are oases of wildlife, especially birdlife which nest here in their almost countless thousands.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

  Travelling to the Antarctic Peninsula

If you live in or near Australia or New Zealand it is well worth considering travelling to South America and visiting the Peninsula Region of Antarctica , especially if you can extend the trip. Once you have travelled to South America, there is about half the world in between you and home again with a whole wealth of opportunity to visit many other counties on your outward or return journey, you're travelling anyway, so make the most of it.

A trip to the Antarctic Peninsula is a much shorter trip than those to the Ross Sea region due to the reduced distance and therefore the length of time spent at sea. If this is your first trip to Antarctica then it may be better to visit the Peninsula where the trips start at 6 days and are less expensive, it is also possible to fly from South America to Antarctica and join your ship there, an option that is not available in Eastern Antarctica. Wildlife is also much more plentiful around the Peninsula so for the majority wanting to see the beautiful scenery, penguins, whales etc. the Peninsula is the best option.

Cruises usually leave from Ushuaia in Argentina, Flights usually leave from Punta Arenas in Chile.

Shorter trips visit the Peninsula 6 and nearby islands such as the South Shetlands 5 . Longer trips may also take in the Falkland Islands 3 and / or South Georgia 4 and possibly some other landings en route.

Cruises most commonly go down the western side of the Peninsula as they are less likely to encounter problematic sea ice that is more often found on the Eastern side in the Weddell Sea.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

1 - Ushuaia, Argentina, 2 - Punta Arenas, Chile 3 - Falkland Islands, 4 - South Georgia 5 - South Shetland Islands, 6 - Antarctic Peninsula

Eastern Antarctica, Ross Sea Region v Antarctic Peninsula Cruises

  • Remoteness - You will see few if any other ships and get a greater feeling of isolation and being at the end of the world, this is a little visited part of the planet. You are going where the world's biggest icebergs are and the most extreme weather conditions.
  • Greater chance of rough seas due to longer spent crossing the open ocean which can take 6-7 days in each direction, no flights available.
  • See Emperor Penguins, the birds of the deep south that rear their young in the depths of the Antarctic winter, the largest of all penguin species.
  • See Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost active volcano and the Ross Ice Shelf, a 600km long wall of ice between 15m and 50m high.
  • Visit the huts of Scott, Shackleton, Mawson and other Heroic Age explorers depending on where your cruise goes. This is the area where much of the early exploratory history of Antarctica was played out and where historical remains still stand.
  • Exclusivity - of the people who go to Antarctica, only a small proportion visit regions other than the Peninsula, there are relatively few trips here and they are often fully booked up well in advance.
  • Trip length of 26-30 days, sometimes there may be the possibility of a semi-circumnavigation over a similar time period from the Ross Sea to the Peninsula.
  • It takes 2 days to cross the Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Peninsula, rough seas are possible though short-lived, you can also fly across it in 2 hours on a fly-cruise trip.
  • Varied mountainous scenery with glaciers and icebergs, some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.
  • The most wildlife rich area, with huge penguin colonies, and many other breeding birds, seals are common and whales may be seen. The sub-Antarctic islands you may visit en route are particularly wildlife rich, especially South Georgia.
  • Historic preserved British Base, now a working Post Office at Port Lockroy, you may also visit other currently active research bases and historic sites.
  • Easier to reach, The closeness of the peninsula to the tip of South America  means that travel time to reach Antarctica here is much less than in the East. It also means that a greater portion of the trip is spent in Antarctica rather than travelling there and back.
  • A larger number and variety of trips available, duration from 6-24 days, a wide range of ships and choice of travel dates and itineraries.

Antarctic Peninsula - Sample Cruises - 2024 - 2025

Air-cruise, fly the drake - sample cruises - 2024 / 2025, south georgia with the falkland islands and / or antarctic peninsula sample cruises - 2024 / 2025, contact me about my trip to antarctica, please complete the form and an antarctic expert will contact you.

Departures from late October to late March

Our partner company, Antarctica Travels , passionately help people to reach their ultimate destination.

All enquiries will be answered from our office in Patagonia, Argentina.

Dozens of trips - unique combinations of ship + itinerary

Choice of ships - 67 to 199 passenger capacity

$5,500 to $43,995

6 to 23 days

Please note - we cannot help directly to find employment in Antarctica, please do not use this form to request any other information than for Antarctic tourist trips

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cheap antarctica cruise from australia

The most affordable Antarctica expedition cruises!

Antarctica is not exactly the world's cheapest destination, but there are some surprisingly affordable alternatives. Nowadays, any cruise to Antarctica that costs less than US$8000 could be regarded as being a budget cruise. A very few expeditions come under US$6000 but usually only with the cheapest Quad or Triple cabin categories (which usually sell out a long way in advance!). Occasionally we can offer last-minute specials or Early Booking Discounts that bring an otherwise more expensive cruise to this price level. If you are travelling on a budget, look out for Antarctic Peninsula cruises sailing in the shoulder-season period of November or March. It may not be peak-season, but this is still a wonderful time to travel to Antarctica! In November the landscape is very pretty and snow-covered and in March we can enjoy extra special encounters with whales!

Last-Minute Pricing!

Classic Antarctica Cruise: MV Ushuaia

November - March 10 or 11 day departures

A small ship cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands aboard the M/V Ushuaia

Antarctica Small Ship Expedition: Ocean Nova

February-March 10 days

A boutique 10 day adventure cruise to Antarctica. Sail to the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula on the small expedition ship Ocean Nova

Polar Circle Deep South: M/V Ortelius

March 14 days

An extra long Antarctica expedition cruise to the Polar Circle on the ice-class expedition ship M/V Ortelius

Best of Antarctica: Ocean Endeavour

November, December - January 11 days / 9 night cruise

An shorter expedition with the impressively comfortable Ocean Endeavour discovering the 7th Continent, Antarctica

Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage

December-February 10-11 days

A 9 or 10 night Classic Antarctic route on the brand-new expedition ship M/V Hondius, the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world

Antarctica Classic - M/S Expedition

November-March 11 days

This 11-day itinerary with the M/S Expedition will introduce you to the magic of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctica - Basecamp M/V Ortelius

November-March 13 days

An Antarctic expedition cruise onboard M/V Ortelius with a greater variety of included activities such as climbing, kayaking, hiking and diving

Antarctic Peninsula: M/V Ortelius

January-March 10-12 days

A classic Antarctic Peninsula expedition cruise on the ice-class expedition ship M/V Ortelius

Antarctic Basecamp M/V Plancius

November - March 11/12 days

An Antarctic expedition cruise onboard M/V Plancius with a greater variety of included activities such as climbing, kayaking, hiking and diving

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Cheap Antarctica Cruises - Cruises to Antarctica

Featured antarctica cruise deals, cruising guide, why cruise to antarctica.

A classic bucket-list destination, Antarctica is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet -- and also one of the vastest, covering nearly 10 percent of the earth's surface. With its barren, windswept snow dunes and dramatic ice cliffs, it's often said to leave visitors breathless -- though that could be the freezing-cold temperatures.

Getting to Antarctica is not easy; there are only two ways in or out -- by plane or by ship. Flights are expensive, have to be booked through a specialty operator and unless you've managed to arrange a stay in one of the few available rooms at a research station, you have to fly in and out the same day.

Cruises are offered regularly during the summer months, by many different operators and are more affordable than flying. A cruise offers the chance to visit multiple spots on the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the South Shetland Islands and possibly even go as far east as South Georgia or (much rarer) all the way south to the Ross Sea.

No matter the route, every day of an Antarctic cruise is full of spectacular scenery and wildlife-viewing opportunities that can't be beat anywhere else on the planet.

Popular Activities in Antarctica

Zodiac cruising and shore landings are by far the most popular activities on an Antarctica cruise. Whether you're whizzing by a glacier, hoping to catch an iceberg calve off or are checking out a colony of seals napping on a large ice floe, getting onto an inflatable rubber boat to check out the sights is the highlight of every day.

Equally, shore landings, which might take cruisers to a remote scientific station or to within a few feet of curious baby seals, offer once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Some Antarctic cruises also offer cruisers the chance to hike, snowshoe, mountaineer or even swim during shore landings.

When to Go to Antarctica

Cruising in Antarctica is only possible during the continent's summer, which runs from November through March. December and January are traditionally the most popular times to visit the region, when daylight lasts the longest and temperatures are the most manageable.

Those months are also when the wildlife is most abundant, with penguin chicks hatching by mid-December. Whale populations are at their highest beginning in January and remain high through March.

No matter which month you go in season, expect to deal with a wide variety of weather conditions -- rain, snow, sleet and sun. Likewise, temperatures can change wildly throughout the day, ranging from a balmy-for-Antarctica 35 degrees Fahrenheit to well below freezing -- and always be prepared for cold winds.

Popular Ports in Antarctica

Classic Antarctica sailings visit Deception Island, Port Lockroy, Elephant Island and Half Moon Island (one of the Shetland Islands). The Lemaire Channel is also a popular attraction; though not a port, Zodiacs are often lowered here for scenic cruising.

Longer Antarctic itineraries might also include stops in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.

Departure Ports in Antarctica

Antarctic cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina. A handful of cruise lines offer fly-and-cruise packages, allowing cruisers to bypass the Drake Passage, which is notorious for rough seas, and fly from Ushuaia to the South Shetland Islands and pick up their cruise there.

Cruise deals to Antarctica

Here are our best tips for finding a cheap cruise or cruise deal to Antarctica. If you book a “guaranteed cabin” (they select for you), a cabin on a lower deck or sail on an older ship from a brand you like, then you can get the best price for a specific cruise to Antarctica. Last minute cruises deals to Antarctica appear as you get closer to the sail date, usually 1-2 weeks in advance. Taking a cruise to Antarctica in the shoulder season (before or after the peak season) can also be a great way to find a cruise deal.

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TRAVELLING TO Antarctica Cruises from Australia and New Zealand

TRAVELING TO ANTARCTICA CRUISES FROM AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Traveling to Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand can be achieved in a few ways: you can fly to South America and depart from Ushuaia, Argentina or depart directly on your Antarctica cruise from Australia or New Zealand.

The most popular and affordable Antarctic journey is to fly to Argentina and board your ship in the southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia. Ushuaia is accessible from both the US and Australia.

From here you can visit the Antarctic Peninsula as well as the sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia and the Falkland Islands on your Antarctic cruise. A cruise will take anywhere from 10-21 days when leaving from Ushuaia but if crossing directly to the peninsula you can be there in as soon as one and a half to two days.

The Antarctic Peninsula is the most popular due to its accessibility and the plethora of wildlife found. The coast offers a dramatic mountainous backdrop being an extension of the Andes Mountain range. The entire region including the sub–Antarctic Islands is home to incredible history, including Shackleton’s epic journey of survival.

Taking a cruise ship to Antarctica from Australia

You can also cruise Antarctica from Australia, departing from either Australia (Hobart) or New Zealand (Invercargill or Bluff). This amazing adventure visits the lesser frequented East Antarctica and it will take about seven days to arrive at the white continent, which can be broken up by visits to Macquarie, Snares, Auckland, and Campbell Islands, all rich in wildlife and nature.

Once you arrive in Antarctica, you’ll spend time around Commonwealth Bay or the Ross Sea region.

A cruise to Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand offers the opportunity to witness the immense natural landscapes and seascapes of this incredibly remote yet ruggedly beautiful part of Antarctica and the best chance to see emperor and king penguins. Steeped in history, East Antarctica is where the explorers Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen gained fame with their expeditions to be the first to reach the South Pole. This part of Antarctica is also home to the historic Mawson’s Huts at Commonwealth Bay, so Antarctica tours departing from Australia allow you to see a unique part of the continent missed by many visitors.

One of the biggest advantages of Antarctica tours from Australia and New Zealand is that you board your ship and head straight to Antarctica—no flights to South America required. However, the trade-off is that you’ll spend more time at sea and the journey is longer, which means the cruise to Antarctica from Australia price is more expensive.

Where does a cruise from Australia to Antarctica depart from?

Hobart in Australia and Invercargill in New Zealand both host Antarctic cruise vessels heading south for the summer. A round trip cruise to this part of the world will take about 21 days in total, including 7 days crossing to Antarctica, frequently stopping to visit remote islands such as Macquarie, Snares, Auckland, and Campbell.

What is it like: The cruise to East Antarctica alone is an extraordinary journey in itself. Visiting remote islands along the way offers the traveler an incredible opportunity to witness unique wildlife, history, and geology. These islands were frequented and studied by Australia’s Antarctic Iceman of the heroic age of exploration, Douglas Mawson, and continue to be examined by modern scientists today.

Reaching the continent of East Antarctica after a week of exploration is a sight to behold with large ice shelves, vast seas, and icebergs greeting travelers like a giant spectacle, a reward for taking the time to get there. Here you have the best chance of seeing the famed Emperor penguin, and it is also the base for some of Antarctica’s most incredible historic moments. If weather conditions allow, it is also the place to be to visit Douglas Mawson’s huts and indulge in Australia’s first true link to Antarctica.

Getting there: Using local airlines in Australia, such as Virgin Australia or Qantas, you’ll find great connections through to both Hobart or Invercargill where you will meet the vessel for your Antarctic cruise adventure.

More information: There are fewer options to visit East Antarctica than there is on the Peninsula, but they are all incredible journeys.

Click below to browse our favorite journeys.

Want to travel to Antarctica first flying from Australia/New Zealand and then cruising from South America?

Where: Argentina’s Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the world, is the primary gateway for Antarctica cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula as well as the sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. It is also possible to depart your Antarctica cruise from Chile’s Punta Arenas – this is where our Fly/Cruise options depart from, for those passengers who want to skip the crossing of the Drake Passage.

What is it like: The Antarctic Peninsula is the most popular and most frequently visited region of Antarctica and perfect for first-time visitors. It offers the ideal introduction to Antarctica, its incredible wildlife, glacier landscapes and history.

Getting there: Qantas, LATAM, and Air New Zealand fly from the east coast of Australia to Santiago and Buenos Aires where connections can be made through to Ushuaia or Punta Arenas. Leaving from Perth, you may want to consider an Emirates flight to Buenos Aires, which can both save time and money. 

For the best rates for Australians traveling to Antarctica: click here

If you’re interested in Antarctica cruises out of South America, please visit our main Antarctica Cruise page.

To help you decide where you want to visit, click on the trips below and start dreaming about your Antarctic cruise. We’re happy to help with your trip planning too, so please get in touch with any questions.

WHY TRAVEL WITH CHIMU ADVENTURES

We are true Polar specialists. Almost every Chimu team member has travelled to either Antarctica or the Arctic and collectively we have experienced over 50 expeditions.

You can choose from over 130 cruises to Antarctica and the Arctic,including itineraries aboard our own charter vessels.

We have inspected and continue to thoroughly research each individual vessel we work with, selecting only those with environmental, safety and value credentials.

We know all things Polar by heart and will work with you to determine which ship and itinerary is best suited to your needs.

Travellers visit the Polar regions for different reasons so whether your interests are wildlife or photography, or Antarctic activities such as snowshoeing and kayaking, we can work around you for the perfect trip.

From your initial enquiry until your trip ends, you will be assigned a personal Destination Specialist who will offer a full service for your travel needs: we can book flights, insurance and any ancillary travel required to complete your journey.

Antarctica : CRUISE DIRECT from Australia and New Zealand

Ross sea expedition: dunedin to dunedin.

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Antarctica

SHIP: Le Soleal

START: Dunedin, New Zealand

FINISH: Dunedin, New Zealand

PRICED FROM

USD 26,060*

Forgotten Islands of the South Pacific

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

SHIP: Heritage Adventurer

START: Invercargill, New Zealand

FINISH: Invercargill, New Zealand

Hobart & Galapagos of the Southern Ocean with Robin Moon

Tasmania & Subantarctic Islands of Australia & New…

START: Hobart, Australia

FINISH: Queenstown, New Zealand

20/11/2024 

Unseen Fiordland, Stewart Island & The Snares

New Zealand and Subantarctic Islands

START: Queenstown, New Zealand

Galapagos of the Southern Ocean ex Hobart

Australia & Subantarctic Islands of Australia & New…

USD 10,725*

In the Wake of Scott and Shackleton

Ross Sea and Subantarctic Islands

USD 31,500*

Antarctica Cruises from Australia and New Zealand REVIEWS

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

BLOGS ON Antarctica Cruises from Australia and New Zealand

Whether you are looking for advice on when to travel to Antarctica or the Arctic, which ship to travel on or which itinerary will suit you best, Chimu blogs are likely to have it covered. The range of topics is vast, with new and fascinating blogs being added regularly. There is ship information, guides about the activities you can do in the Polar regions, what to pack and what not to pack, and even blogs on various Polar explorers!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1 . do i need a visa to travel to east antarctica.

A pre-arranged visa is not required to enter Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand.

2 . How long will it take to reach East Antarctica?

Cruises to Antarctica from Tasmania (Hobart) and to Antarctica from New Zealand (Invercargill or Bluff) can reach East Antarctica in 6 to 7 days, but most voyages break up the days at sea with visits to The Snares, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island and Campbell Island.

3 . What are the chances of seeing the Mawson’s Huts?

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that you will be able to see Mawson’s Huts. The presence of two immense icebergs had blocked access to Commonwealth Bay for many years. In January 2016, Chimu Adventures operated the first commercial expedition to the site for 5 years, after the two icebergs finally shifted. Although access to Commonwealth Bay was possible, the huts could not be reached due to the ice floe. Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay where the timber huts are located, is known as the “home of the blizzard”, one of the windiest places on Earth, with frequent strong katabatic winds. Your chances of seeing Mawson’s Huts will always depend on the weather and ice conditions and the accessibility of Commonwealth Bay. If you are fortunate enough to gain access to the huts and see some of the relics of Mawson’s infamous 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, it will be an amazing experience that will give you an insight into the harsh conditions that these explorers were subjected to and endured.

4 . What are the chances of getting into Scott’s Hut?

Scott’s Hut is located on Ross Island, on the north shore of Cape Evans. Scott’s Discovery Expedition Hut is located at Hut Point on Ross Island, near to McMurdo Station, the US Antarctic Research Station and Base. Access to the huts is completely dependent on ice and weather conditions, and although every effort will be made to visit the huts, this cannot be guaranteed. In recent years the success rate of visiting Scott’s Hut has been high.

5 . Do I need to be fit to go to East Antarctica?

A high level of fitness is not necessary for cruises to Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand, but you need to be in good health as although there is generally a doctor on board the ships, you are a long way from any other medical assistance. The majority of activities are focused around shore excursions and zodiac cruising and so you need to be agile and able-bodied enough to climb into and out of the inflatable zodiacs from both the ship and the shore. On shore landings you may need to negotiate uneven and slippery ground. Shore excursions generally involve some walking

6 . Is it safe to travel to East Antarctica and the Ross Sea?

All of our tours are 100% tried and tested to ensure that when you travel with us, you are doing so in a controlled and safe environment with trained experts. We consistently monitor weather conditions and will always provide you with the best possible adventure without risk of injury to you or the vessel. While some landings and activities may need to be rescheduled or cancelled due to weather, every effort is made to have a contingency plan should such conditions become a reality during your expedition. Chimu have been the experts in Antarctic travel for well over 10 years and use our vast experience and knowledge when picking the vessels we sell to provide you with an adventure that is unforgettable for all the right reasons.

It was a bucket-list cruise to Antarctica. Then plans changed.

Passengers on the norwegian star are demanding answers after their cruise was rerouted.

Before she set out on a 14-day cruise to Antarctica and South America, Helen Midler dreamed of seeing an iceberg dotted with penguins as she sailed by the world’s southernmost continent.

“This trip was definitely bucket list,” Midler, 61, of Melbourne, Australia, wrote in an email from the Norwegian Star, which is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. She and her husband traveled from Melbourne to Santiago, Chile, to Buenos Aires to get on board.

But when the itinerary changed during the trip to no longer include cruising along the mainland of Antarctica — and the overall amount of time in Antarctic waters was cut — Midler said the voyage was no longer what she and thousands of others aboard had paid for. An update to the cruise line’s app even changed the name to remove Antarctica from the title, she said, and the operator provided only vague explanations.

Under the new schedule, the ship would no longer visit Paradise Bay off the coast of the Antarctic mainland, but instead sail by Admiralty Bay, part of the South Shetland Islands. While technically part of Antarctica, the substitution is located more than 200 miles north of the original location.

With the help of her daughter on land, Midler uploaded her ire to TikTok under the name @ruinedvacation . Her first video shows a crowd of passengers gathered to demand answers — with a security officer urging people to calm down. The videos have gone viral, with the first one getting more than 3.4 million views.

“It has been absolutely ruined because the main part of this trip as far as we were all concerned was taken away from us after we boarded,” she said in her email. She said “hundreds” were very upset, and many have been talking about whether they could get any compensation through insurance, the cruise line or a class-action lawsuit. While staff said an email went out and printed notices were supposed to have been displayed, Midler said neither she nor many fellow passengers received those.

@ruinedvacation @Norwegian Cruise Line we need answers #cruise #cruisetok #help #southamerica #antarctica #vacation #cruiseship #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound - ruinedvacation

Her experience is the latest reminder that cruise lines can — and often do — change course before or during a sailing. Several operators have canceled voyages in the Red Sea recently due to Houthi militant attacks on ships. Weather frequently upends itineraries; in an extreme example , a cruise meant to visit the Bahamas from New York ended up going to New England and Canada in December.

Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement that while the operator tries “to maintain original itineraries as much as possible, at times modifications are made to optimize the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances.”

The company pointed to two reasons for the change during the Feb. 4 cruise: Norwegian said that the revision was made “to enhance the guest experience” and that passengers would be able to spend more time in the Falkland Islands.

“In addition, due to a recent regulatory requirement in the area, the ship is operating at a reduced speed, also impacting its original itinerary,” the company said.

Norwegian did not clarify which regulatory requirement it was referring to, but a new speed reduction was introduced this season, which runs from November until March. The agreement to go slow in certain areas was reached in 2021 by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators , but members only agreed last year to include the South Shetland Islands in the speed-restricted area. The company did not respond to a question about whether the official description of the trip was changed to remove Antarctica from the title.

“We’ve paid too much money, we’re too smart, and we’re too angry to just order another cocktail and sit down and accept the fact that our money has vanished into Norwegian Cruise Line’s pockets,” Midler said in her video. She said she and her husband spent roughly $13,000 to go on the trip after saving up for “a very long time.”

Travelers on the ship’s Feb. 18 voyage complained on social media and to The Washington Post that they have also received word via email that their trip’s schedule is changing. Instead of the previously planned two days in Antarctic waters, including Paradise Bay, the ship will spend one day sailing along Admiralty Bay and Elephant Island. Norwegian did not respond to questions about the upcoming sailing. Passengers do not get off the ship in Antarctica.

“They halved our time cruising Antarctica,” Caren Biberman, of Mays Landing, N.J., said in an email about her sailing that leaves from Buenos Aires on Sunday. She said the message she got from the cruise line said that the updates were made to “optimize the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances,” and that the changes would “enhance the guest experience.”

“Well, it won’t optimize the itinerary for me nor will it enhance my experience. Quite the opposite,” she wrote. “I no longer consider it an Antarctica cruising experience.”

What are passengers’ rights?

Although passengers have argued that they are not getting what they paid for, travel and legal experts say they don’t have much of a chance to get money back.

“The key with NCL, like all the cruise lines, is if you read the ticket contract, it basically gives them a near-absolute right to make itinerary changes,” said Michael Winkleman, an attorney who sues cruise lines. Weather and regional conflict are typical reasons for changes.

“Does that mean that the cruise passenger has zero rights? According to the contract, pretty much,” he said, though he noted that there could “hypothetically” be a case if some kind of mechanical error were to blame for a switched-up itinerary.

“Practically speaking, it doesn’t mean you can’t plead your case with guest relations,” he said.

Stephen Pratt , a professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, said cruise ships will often alter an itinerary mid-voyage to avoid inclement weather.

He said NCL’s explanation for the change was uncommon, however. He described the company’s claim that passengers still experienced Antarctica as “duplicitous.”

“They technically went to somewhere in Antarctica, but not where they originally meant to go,” he said. “It certainly didn’t match the customers’ experience and expectations.”

He said the company does not legally owe passengers compensation. But as a goodwill gesture, the cruise line should offer them a credit for a future cruise, a gesture that will benefit all parties.

Steven Benna, a spokesperson for travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth , said travel insurance policies designed specifically for cruisers may include an itinerary change benefit. The plans cover prepaid tours or shore excursions affected by a cruise line’s decision to reroute a ship. Reimbursement can range from $200 to $500.

He said the policies would not cover missed stops or legs of a voyage. Nor would they protect cruisers who decide to cancel a future trip because of an itinerary change.

“It’s not something that’s going to be considered a covered reason under a standard trip cancellation plan. Reason being there, even if it happens a little bit before [departure time], it’s not something that’s preventing you from taking the trip. It would be more of a loss of enjoyment situation, and that isn’t a covered reason to cancel.”

A ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ cruise

Bridgett Quinn-Webber, a cruise travel agent who has visited Antarctica twice, said the trip is among the most expensive and unpredictable places people can visit, though she said the destination is “spectacular.” Voyages need to last at least 10 days, she said, “just because it takes a while to get down there.”

“It’s usually also a once-in-a-lifetime for most people, so they want to see as much as they can in one trip,” she said.

Because the destination is often subject to last-minute changes, the best practice is for operators to be general about where their ships are going, said Kevin Moore, who has worked in Antarctica and is now a travel adviser who sells small-ship expedition cruises to the continent.

“No ship can promise a specific location to be visited, because this is way too dependent on good weather conditions, proper ice conditions, wildlife movement, and the location of other ships,” he said in an email. “So promising a specific location simply sets everyone up for disappointment.”

Many of the cruises he sells — on ships with 200 passengers or less, not the 2,300-plus the Norwegian Star can carry — spend between four and seven days in the waters between the South Shetland Islands, the mainland of Antarctica and other islands in between. The South Shetland Islands are part of the British Antarctic Territory.

Moore said both Paradise Bay and Admiralty Bay were “stunning locations” replete with glaciers, wildlife and the potential for icebergs, but he acknowledged the disappointment in missing the Antarctic continent and only venturing as close as the South Shetland Islands.

Despite her frustration about the itinerary, Midler said she enjoyed a stop in Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, on Wednesday. On a “magnificent sunny day,” she said she saw dolphins and sea lions and penguins, had beer at a local pub, and fish and chips at a cafe.

“We’ve really worked hard to try and have a good time and we know that we look back on it with some interesting memories,” she wrote. “We certainly do feel very let down and disappointed and angry.”

More cruise news

Living at sea: Travelers on a 9-month world cruise are going viral on social media. For some travelers, not even nine months was enough time on a ship; they sold cars, moved out of their homes and prepared to set sail for three years . That plan fell apart, but a 3.5-year version is waiting in the wings.

Passengers beware: It’s not all buffets and dance contests. Crime data reported by cruise lines show that the number of sex crimes has increased compared to previous years. And though man-overboard cases are rare, they are usually deadly .

The more you know: If you’re cruise-curious, here are six tips from a newcomer. Remember that in most cases, extra fees and add-ons will increase the seemingly cheap price of a sailing. And if you happen to get sick , know what to expect on board.

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Protect Your Trip »

The 13 most affordable alaska cruises for 2024 & beyond.

Book your Alaska cruise during one of the best promotions of the year.

The Most Affordable Alaska Cruises

The Holland America Noordam in Skagway.

Courtesy of Holland America Line

There's no better time than now to book your dream vacation to The Great Land. Cruise vacations are more popular than ever, and affordable cruises are getting harder to find – especially for beloved destinations like Alaska.

Cruisers can nab some of the lines' best deals of the year during wave season. This period, which extends from January to March, refers to the "tidal wave" of lower pricing across the cruising industry during this time. Some cruise lines even kick off their sales in December, so it's advisable to begin your search for discounted pricing early.

Below, we've included some of the best Alaska cruise deals available right now for sailings in 2024 and 2025. All quoted prices are per person for double occupancy and were accurate at the time of writing. Keep in mind: Each itinerary may be available on multiple dates; we've listed the date with the lowest starting price to get you the best value.

Read on to explore the top options for an affordable Alaska cruise.

Find your perfect cruise

Holland America Line

The Holland America Noordam in Yakutat Bay.

Holland America's "Time of Your Life" wave season deal features up to 40% off bookings for select sailings from summer 2024 through spring 2025; the sale ends at the end of February. You can also add the premium "Have It All" bundle. This added perk features a signature drink package , specialty dining, shore excursions and Wi-Fi access. The exact pricing and benefits of the package depend on the length of the cruise. The wave season pricing also features a complimentary stateroom upgrade, reduced deposits, and free or discounted fares for kids.

7-Day Glacier Discovery Southbound

Holland America's seven-day voyage aboard Noordam includes an afternoon cruising in Hubbard Glacier and a full day of sailing through picturesque Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. The ship also calls on the ports of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, with one additional day of scenic cruising on the Inside Passage, before disembarking in Vancouver. Plan to stay an extra day in Vancouver to explore on your own, or opt for a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour with Holland America (complete with luggage service and an airport transfer) before taking a flight home later that evening.

This southbound itinerary is also available on May 25, 2025, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam , starting at $679 per person.

7-Day Alaska Inside Passage

This round-trip sailing on Zaandam from Vancouver highlights the Inside Passage with a day of scenic cruising, plus a limited stop in Tracy Arm Inlet for excursions, before reaching the coastal towns of Juneau and Skagway. Then, you'll enjoy another day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, followed by a stop in Ketchikan and cruising the Inside Passage before disembarking in Vancouver .

The Tracy Arm fjord features glacier-covered mountains and the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the country. It is also home to abundant wildlife, including whales, harbor seals, bald eagles, bears and mountain goats. Book the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer excursion to see the majestic beauty of the Tracy Arm wilderness and the twin Sawyer Glaciers up close. You might even see and hear ice calving into the pristine waters. You'll cruise through Stephens Passage on your way back to meet the ship in Juneau.

Zaandam sails this itinerary in 2025, as well. The lowest fare starts at $629 per person for the voyage on May 14, 2025.

Princess Cruises

The Majestic Princess in Skagway.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises' wave season deals feature up to 40% off cruise prices, complimentary room upgrades, $100 deposits, and free fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom or suite. The advertised fares on the Princess Cruises website are for the line's MedallionClass experience, which includes dining at the complimentary onboard restaurants, entertainment on the ship, fitness facilities, and the youth and teen clubs. You can add optional upgrades, such as a beverage package, specialty dining, shore excursions and Wi-Fi access, either individually or with a Princess Plus or Princess Premier package.

7-Day Voyage of the Glaciers with Glacier Bay (Northbound)

Princess' seven-day itinerary aboard Grand Princess features the lowest available fare for the line's 2024 Alaska season. The itinerary starts with a relaxing sea day, followed by stops in three ports of call in Alaska: Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. You'll also have two days of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve and College Fjord before disembarking in Whittier, near Anchorage .

The southbound voyage (which is the reverse itinerary) on Grand Princess departs May 15, 2024, from Anchorage and also starts at $398 per person. Or, you can sail that southbound itinerary on Sapphire Princess on May 18, 2024, for the same price.

In 2025, you can book this itinerary on Caribbean Princess for as low as $467 per person, embarking on May 10, 2025.

7-Day Inside Passage (Roundtrip Vancouver)

This shoulder season sailing in September is available on Grand Princess. The round-trip voyage from Vancouver features two days at sea; one day of scenic cruising in Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier; and stops in the coastal towns of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. While on the ship, spend warmer days outdoors relaxing at The Sanctuary, an adults-only venue. You can also experience one of the line's Discovery at SEA enrichment programs on board, or book one of the affiliated excursions ashore.

This Grand Princess itinerary is also available on May 27, 2025, for as low as $547 per person.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Jewel in Alaska.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian's current "Free At Sea" promotion includes a free unlimited open bar package, free specialty dining, free shore excursions and complimentary Wi-Fi access. You'll also find additional deals like 50% off deposits, free third and fourth guests (or $99 per additional person, depending on the sailing), and free airfare for a second guest. Be sure to check the terms and conditions before booking a Norwegian sailing.

7-Day Alaska: Hubbard Glacier & Skagway

Norwegian's sailing from Seward to Vancouver on Norwegian Jewel features two days cruising through Hubbard Glacier, where you'll be able to book the Hubbard Glacier & Wilderness Explorer excursion for an up-close look at North America's largest tidewater glacier. Afterward, the ship calls on Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan (Ward Cove).

In Ketchikan, reserve a spot for the Alaskan Cultural & Lumberjack Show Experience, which includes an entertaining show, a chance to learn about Alaska Native culture, and a tasting of local food and wines. Alaska also offers some of the best fishing conditions in North America, so anglers may want to consider booking a private excursion to go fishing for halibut or salmon. After several days in port, enjoy one more day of scenic cruising through the Inside Passage before disembarking in Vancouver.

In 2025, the seven-day Hubbard Glacier & Skagway itinerary will sail from Vancouver to Whittier. The lowest fare for this cruise starts at $529 per person aboard the Norwegian Jade on May 5, 2025.

7-Day Alaska: Glacier Bay, Skagway & Juneau

This sailing on Norwegian Jewel departs from Vancouver and includes three sea days cruising the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve and Hubbard Glacier. The itinerary also calls on the ports of Ketchikan (Ward Cove), Juneau and Skagway.

The 13-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier is one of the top attractions in Juneau, and the line offers a variety of excursions to view the impressive ice sheet. For a bucket list adventure, splurge on the helicopter and dog-sledding excursion to Mendenhall Glacier from Skagway. You can also opt for another once-in-a-lifetime trip: a flightseeing tour by floatplane. You'll fly into the wilderness, kayak across a stream and then hike the surface of the Norris Glacier, a remote glacier in the Coast Mountains that's only accessible by plane or on foot.

If you're looking forward to 2025, you can book a similar itinerary from Whittier to Vancouver on April 28, 2025, starting at $499 per person on Norwegian Jade.

cheap antarctica cruise from australia

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Celebrity Cruises

Balcony of the Celebrity Suite on the Celebrity Summit.

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity's 2024 wave season includes flash sales with offers like 75% off the second guest on nonrefundable deposit rates and a 50% discount with refundable deposit fares. Other deals may include free upgrades, depending on the sailing. Refer to the Celebrity Cruises website for the current promotions, or consult with a cruise specialist for the best deals and pricing.

7-Night Alaska Southbound Glacier

This mid-May itinerary on Celebrity Summit is currently the line's lowest-priced Alaska cruise for the 2024 season. The one-way sailing from Seward includes a day of scenic cruising around Hubbard Glacier: one of Alaska's most beautiful natural treasures at 7 miles wide, 76 miles long and an impressive 30 stories high. The ship also calls on ports in Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan, with an additional full day cruising the Inside Passage, before disembarking in Vancouver.

For 2025, this same itinerary currently starts at $649 per person for the May 16 sailing on Celebrity Summit.

7-Night Alaska Northbound Glacier

The reverse itinerary of the southbound voyage above, this cruise offers similar ports of call and sea days, except you'll stop in Sitka rather than Skagway. This sailing is also on Celebrity Summit. During your time in Icy Strait Point, consider a whale watching excursion; you are guaranteed to see whales (or receive your money back) on one of the tours departing from their shores. In Sitka, take a guided hike to explore the beautiful Tongass National Forest or a tour to learn about the Tlingit culture. This outing includes a visit to local totem artists and a beer meister, as well as a sampling of regional foods at a popular restaurant.

Or, consider a comparable cruise aboard Celebrity Summit on May 9 or May 23, 2025. Fares start at $649 per person.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas on the open ocean.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's current deal features up to $600 in onboard credit, 60% off the second guest and kids sail free fares . The line offers sales throughout the year, so you can check back to see what promotions are available at a later date, or contact a cruise specialist for additional specials. Below, you'll find the lowest fares currently available for Royal Caribbean sailings in Alaska.

7-Night Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier

Royal Caribbean's one-way sailing aboard Radiance of the Seas features scenic cruising along the Inside Passage and Hubbard Glacier, as well as stops in the ports of Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Skagway. Consider booking a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route while in Skagway: The historic narrow-gauge railway offers a picturesque ride through Alaska's wilderness, with views of White Pass.

The reverse itinerary, the Southbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier voyage, is also available on Radiance of the Seas; prices start at $339 per person for the May 10, 2024, sailing. In 2025, the May 30 northbound itinerary aboard Radiance of the Seas currently begins at $680 per person.

7-Night Alaska Experience Cruise

This round-trip voyage from Seattle on Quantum of the Seas calls on Sitka, Skagway and Juneau in Alaska. It also makes a late afternoon stop in Victoria, British Columbia , where you can plan to have dinner that evening. You'll have two days at sea for relaxing or enjoying all the activities and attractions on the ship, including the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator, robotic bartenders and live performances with aerial entertainers. You can also take a ride on the FlowRider surf simulator, surrounded by snowcapped mountain views and calving glaciers.

In 2025, this round-trip voyage from Seattle on Quantum of the Seas starts at $840 per person for the Sept. 8 voyage.

Carnival Cruise Line

The Carnival Miracle in Alaska.

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

This cruise line advertises limited-time promotional rates and deals throughout the year. You can join Carnival 's VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club to unlock even more deals and additional perks. Current specials include reduced deposits, up to 35% off fares, free room upgrades, onboard credit and discounts for families traveling in the same stateroom.

7-Day Alaska from Seattle

This seven-day voyage on Carnival Spirit sails round-trip from Seattle and features one day to explore the ship while at sea, plus a scenic cruising day in Tracy Arm Fjord. Ports of call include Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as a late evening stop in Victoria before you disembark the next day in Seattle. For your day in Ketchikan, consider booking the award-winning Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour on the famed Aleutian Ballad from the Discovery Channel show, "Deadliest Catch."

This itinerary is also offered on Carnival Luminosa . If you are sailing in 2025, you can book the same seven-day cruise starting at $609 per person for the April 14 voyage on Carnival Spirit.

Shorter cruises

A shorter cruise may be an attractive option if you don't have extensive vacation time or you prefer to spend a few days ashore before or after your sailing. If kids are in tow for the adventure – and it's your first time cruising with them – you might also want fewer days at sea to test the waters (literally). See our pick of competitively priced four- and five-night Alaska cruises, below.

Princess Cruises: 4-Day Alaska Sampler

This 2025 cruise aboard Discovery Princess includes one port of call, Ketchikan, and two days at sea between Vancouver and Seattle. This 4-Day Alaska Sampler itinerary is also offered on May 13, 2025, on Royal Princess , with a starting price of $327 per person. The reverse itinerary (Seattle to Vancouver) is offered on May 23, 2025, on Grand Princess; pricing starts at $347 per person.

Princess Cruises: 5-Day Alaska Sampler

If you want to sail with Princess for one extra day, consider booking the five-day sampler cruise sailing round-trip from Vancouver. This early season itinerary aboard Caribbean Princess calls on Sitka and Ketchikan, offering more time ashore to explore these two popular coastal towns along Alaska's Inside Passage. Guests will also have two sea days to enjoy activities and dining experiences on the ship.

How to find the best Alaska cruise deals

Book during wave season.

As previously mentioned, you can take advantage of some of the best deals of the year during wave season. Promotions offered during wave season include lower cruise fares, reduced deposits and onboard credits. You can also find special rates (or free fares) for the third and fourth guests in the same room, making this the perfect time to book a family cruise.

In addition, look for discounts on higher-level staterooms and suites, or even accommodations in exclusive areas of the ship, such as The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line or The Retreat on Celebrity Cruises. These private spaces offer swanky extras like luxurious accommodations, all-inclusive pricing , butler service, a team of attendants and concierge service, as well as private restaurants, lounges and pools. With lower pricing, wave season may be the best time to splurge on a cruise vacation in one of these upscale enclaves.

Promotional pricing beyond wave season

If you miss booking your cruise during wave season, don't panic. Many lines offer special pricing and flash sales throughout the year and advertise lower fares for voyages during Alaska's shoulder seasons, which fall in May and September.

"You will always find the more affordable Alaska cruises toward the beginning and end of the season. This year, the Alaska cruise season begins in April and continues through October," says Chris Gray Faust, executive editor of Cruise Critic. She adds, "The challenge with shoulder season Alaska cruises is that the weather might not be the best – it can snow in Alaska in April and early May – and in the fall, the nights will be longer (although, there is a chance you might see northern lights )."

In addition to giving up the warmer summer weather (and possibly having snow), you may also miss some optimal wildlife viewing opportunities if you cruise early or late in the season. For example, the peak time for bear-watching excursions extends from mid-June to mid-August, which falls during the height of the Alaska cruise season in July and August.

If you're looking for other ways to save money on your cruise, Gray Faust advises that older ships also provide more value when you're looking for deals.

It's important to note that a few of this year's wave deals extend just until the end of February 2024, so you'll need to refer to the individual cruise line websites to see the exact dates for the special offers. You may also be able to find lower prices on some discount and aggregator sites, like Cruise Critic, Cruises.com and Priceline.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship, including the newest megaships, traditional masted sailing ships, river ships in Europe and a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica. She has cruised to Alaska and visited The Great Land in the summer, fall and winter, and journeyed to remote areas by bush plane above the Arctic Circle. She used her knowledge of Alaska cruises and extensive research to write this article. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Time to Cruise to Alaska
  • Alaska Cruise Packing List: Must-Have Items
  • The Top Alaska Cruise Lines
  • The Top Northern Lights Alaska Cruises
  • The Top Alaska Shore Excursions

Tags: Travel , Cruises , Alaska Vacations , Budget Travel

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  22. Cheap Antarctica Cruises

    NOW USD 7,139* PER PERSON VIEW DETAILS View Map 12 Days Best of Antarctica: Whale Discovery Antarctica, Antarctic Peninsula Ship: Ocean Endeavour START: Ushuaia, Argentina FINISH: Ushuaia, Argentina UP TO 15% OFF * PRICED FROM Was USD 7,899 NOW USD 7,109* PER PERSON VIEW DETAILS View Map 11 Days

  23. The 7 Top Antarctica Cruises for 2024 + Tips From an Expert

    For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night Antarctica and South America voyage that makes a round trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina, for as low as $999 per person.

  24. Antarctica Cruises from Australia and New Zealand

    Hobart in Australia and Invercargill in New Zealand both host Antarctic cruise vessels heading south for the summer. A round trip cruise to this part of the world will take about 21 days in total, including 7 days crossing to Antarctica, frequently stopping to visit remote islands such as Macquarie, Snares, Auckland, and Campbell.

  25. Norwegian Cruise Line reroutes Antarctica cruise, angering passengers

    Before she set out on a 14-day cruise to Antarctica and South America, Helen Midler dreamed of seeing an iceberg dotted with penguins as she sailed by the world's southernmost continent. "This ...

  26. The 13 Most Affordable Alaska Cruises for 2024 & Beyond

    Princess Cruises' wave season deals feature up to 40% off cruise prices, complimentary room upgrades, $100 deposits, and free fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom or suite.