An expedition to the Antarctic
is a voyage of a lifetime. Our travel specialists can advise on the best time of year to go, what to pack for the polar climate, which expedition ships best suit you and further practical travel tips.
WEATHER IN THE ANTARCTIC - BEST TIME TO GO
Antarctica is the coldest continent on earth, and harbours a climate of extremes which shapes its beautiful frozen land and seascapes. Temperatures are below frozen year round. Antarctic expedition cruises take place between November and March coinciding with the calmest sea conditions on the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica (a two day voyage). Christmas and New Year sailings are the busiest, not least because December and January experience long days with the least cold temperatures of the year. Travel in February or March for whale spotting; penguin chicks also hatch at this time. In November, courtship rituals can be observed as the temperature warms.
MAP OF THE ANTARCTIC
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE ANTARCTIC
Comfortable, sturdy footwear with long, thick socks are essential for icy terrains - muck boots are ideal. Very warm clothing with thermal layers is similarly essential, including a good quality, well-insulated parka with space for layers beneath. A lightweight hoody works well beneath a more robust parka, or useful as an upper layer on warmer summer days. Waterproof trousers will protect from inevitable icy splashes when on Zodiacs to landing areas and you'll need waterproof gloves.Take binoculars for spotting wildlife on land and sea and a camera with spare battery and memory cards. In summer the sun can be bright and reflects off the snow, so take a high UV protective sun cream and lip balm.
On board, you will likely have a mixture of formal, informal and casual evening dinners. As such, you should pack appropriately to ensure you are able to attend any special evening functions held on board. Gentlemen usually require a fitted jacket.
MEDICATIONS & VACCINATIONS FOR THE ANTARCTIC
We strongly suggest you visit your health practitioner or local travel clinic well in advance of your departure for guidance on any health precautions you should take. While no particular health risks are present for expeditions to the Antarctic, there are certainly some measures one should take, including ensuring you are equipped with all of your medical needs and personal prescriptions to see you through the duration of your journey. Further health information can be found on the NHS's website Fit for Travel
. You may also wish to contact the Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad (MASTA)
, as they offer tailor-made country health assessments and travel advice.
TIPPING IN THE ANTARCTIC
While on your Antarctic expedition, gratuities are not expected on board and are usually already factored into your fare.
While touring the Antarctica there are typically two different types of outlets in your cabin. A 110v US outlet and a 220v EU outlet.
MOBILE / INTERNET CONNECTIVITY
A telephone service is usually available in your suite, which can be used while at sea. This is not free of charge and can become very expensive, sometimes charging up to $US10 per minute. Internet access is usually available on board your Antarctic cruise, however it is not always unlimited and may be chargeable. It is important to check this before using the services to ensure no surprise charges are accrued. These telephone and internet services can of course be affected by weather conditions.
Antarctica Cruising Guide by Peter Carey & Craig Franklin
Antarctica Wildlife – A Visitor’s Guide by James Lowen
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
Alone on the Ice by David Roberts
Empire Antarctica – Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins by Gavin Francis