The Cool Cruise You’ll Never Forget!
Compared to the more tropical locations you find on a cruise in the South Pacific or Caribbean, cruising Antarctica really is quite the opposite in so many ways. It is the coldest, driest and harshest place on earth, yet it is this inhospitable nature that intrigues so many people. So much so that they specifically seek cruises to this ice cold continent. Since there’s no accommodation in Antarctica, it makes sense that people wanting to visit such places would do so from the comfort and luxury of a cruise ship.
Cruise Ports in Antarctica: Places to go and things to see
There aren’t too many ports in Antarctica and, most of the cruising in this area is scenic cruising. That said, specialised expedition ships that have been equipped with Zodiac boats that allow passengers to reach shore in various places and explore so much more.
Located in the South Shetland Islands chain is Deception Island, a picturesque caldera with a gap just wide enough to allow passengers to venture inside the inner bay by zodiac boat. Once they reach the shore, they will be able to do what many might say is unimaginable – swim! That’s right! A portion of the Pendulum Cove has water that is heated due to volcanic activity which makes it perfect for a dip.
Elephant Island is another popular stop for cruise ships. This island is known as being the place where Shackleton and his crew became stranded during their troublesome Antarctic venture. It too is in the South Shetland Island and, while it is covered by ice, it lives up to its name as it is home to elephant seals. You may also see other wildlife such as whales and penguins while you are here and zodiac boats are once again used to take passengers ashore.
Port Lockroy, on Wiencke Island just off Antarctica’s Peninsula, provides sheltered anchorage for ships. This was once a whaling port and the massive bones onshore remind visitors of this area’s rather grim history. It was also a British weather and survey station that was established during the Second World War. Today the buildings are officially registered as a historic site and museum.
Scenic cruising around Antarctica often takes place in the Lemaire Channel. This strait is situated between Booth Island and the mainland. It is lined with dramatic cliffs and sights like small icebergs and ice floes are quite common. Mountain peaks covered in ice provide the perfect backdrop and seals regularly visit these waters. Due its naturally beautiful appeal, the channel has been given the nickname Kodak Gap.
Cruising Antarctica: Cruise Lines and Vessels
The rough and icy waters of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean can only be navigated by specialised ships. These usually come in the form of smaller luxury expedition ships. Examples of such luxury lines include Celebrity, Orion Expeditions, Seabourn and Silverseas.
New Zealand and Argentina are both popular starting points for Antarctica cruises. Many of them depart from Ushaia, Argentina and some from New Zealand’s southern ports like Christchurch and Dunedin. Christchurch is in fact home of the International Antarctic Centre so, for passengers starting their journey here, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the continent before embarking on this amazing cruise.