What to expect on an Antarctica cruise?

If you’re not an explorer or a scientist what can you do in Antarctica? What’s the weather like? What do I need to do to prepare? Will there be much wildlife?  There are so many things to consider before planning an Antarctic cruise. 

For many, visiting Antarctica is the ultimate adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, therefore, knowing what to expect from your Antarctica cruise is key to helping you get the most out of your trip.

Many ships of all sizes visit Antarctic waters each year. These ships range in size from 10 person expedition sailing yachts, expedition ships from 120 to 200 guests to traditional cruise ships with over 1000 guests. However it is important to know that if a ship has more than 500 guests onboard, the signers of the Antarctic Treaty and members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators do not let those guests go ashore. Instead, they have an "Antarctic experience", which means they sail around the islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, allowing guests to see the continent and wildlife from the decks.

Scenic Eclipse has been designed specifically for polar exploration, with an ice class rating of Polar Class 6, the highest class for any luxury vessel. With only 200 guests on board in Polar regions, Scenic Eclipse, has full access to the broadest range of landing sites in these regions. You will have many exciting experiences on your voyage. Our goal is to give you the best Antarctic experience possible. There will be plenty of excitement and adventure with unparalleled wildlife experiences while visiting some of the most spectacular and pristine landscapes on Earth.

Our expert Discovery team have the knowledge and experience to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities or to adjust to changing ice and weather conditions to ensure the best possible trip. One of the advantages of our Discovery Yacht is the flexibility it gives us to maximise the time we spend with wildlife or making landings. Your time on Scenic Eclipse includes an average of two Zodiac excursions each day on the Antarctic Peninsula*, a range of activities, lectures and opportunities designed to immerse you in the Antarctic way of life courtesy of our Discovery Leaders and the Discovery Team, plus the chance to go above, beyond and below with our two helicopters and submarine. We’ve even added an extra day in the peninsula region to ensure you get to experience even more of this incredible adventure.

We answer your questions about cruising in Antarctica
Q. What should I pack for an Antarctica cruise?
A. A trip to Antarctica is an incredible and exciting experience, particularly if it is your first time. However, knowing what to pack for Antarctica can be somewhat difficult, with many first time polar travellers typically over packing, because they are uncertain about what to bring. Read our Essential Packing Checklist for our top recommendations of what to pack for an Antarctica cruise.
Q. What wildlife could I see in Antarctica?
A. The Antarctic Peninsula is home to an abundance of wildlife with vast colonies and species of penguins, seals and pods of whales. The amount of wildlife guests have the opportunity to observe on an Antarctica cruise is what sets this destination apart from any other place in the world and what makes it so utterly unique. To find out all the wildlife species you could see on an Antarctica cruise, read more here. 
Q. What is the difference between Antarctica and the Arctic?
A. Antarctica and the Arctic are positioned at opposite ends of the world, and there are many differences between these two Polar Regions. Kara Weller, Discovery Team Leader for Scenic Eclipse provides her top ten differences between Antarctica and the Arctic here.
Q. Is an Antarctica cruise safe?

Your safety is our highest priority and Scenic Eclipse has been built to ensure the highest international safety standards. Scenic Eclipse uses custom-built stabilisers that are 50% larger than those of other ships and will provide greater stability as it navigates the waters.

With a Polar Class 6 rating, forward bow thrusters and an electronic Azipod propulsion system, Scenic Eclipse is able to safely navigate through Arctic and Antarctica waters. This dedication to your safety, environmental protection and world-class innovation has allowed us to design the most inspiring and exciting itineraries possible.

Q. When is the best time to travel to Antarctica?
A. With exceptionally cold winters, no sunlight and treacherous winds during April to September, the only time accessible for humans to explore the last great wilderness of Antarctica is during the warmer months of late October to March. This is when the sea ice starts to melt, allowing ships to cruise through its pristine waters. Read more about the highlights of each month to help you decide when to travel to Antarctica >
Q. What destinations will I visit on an Antarctica cruise?
A. Our Antarctica cruises not only take you to this extraordinary continent, we also cruise to two intriguing archipelagos. Little islands with big tales to tell, South Georgia Island is one of the most unique and important bio-diverse places on Earth and the Falkland Islands offer up plenty of natural beauty, along with an intriguing history. Read more about where you will visit on an Antarctica cruise >
Q. What can I expect on an Antarctica cruise?
A. If you’re not an explorer or a scientist what can you do in Antarctica? What’s the weather like? What do I need to do to prepare? Will there be much wildlife? Knowing what to expect from your Antarctica cruise is key to helping you get the most out of your trip - read our guide on what to expect when cruising to Antarctica here >
Q. What is Antarctica?
A. Covering an area of 14 million square kilometres, almost twice the size of Australia and home to 90% of all ice on earth, it’s easy to see why Antarctica is known as “the land of snow and ice”. One of the least explored continents on earth, and considered to be the coldest, windiest and driest places on Earth, no humans permanently reside here. Read more about what Antarctica is here >

Order the new Scenic Eclipse 2020-2022 Antarctica & the Americas brochure

2020 - 2022 Antarctica and the Americas brochure