Why the stampede toward the South Pole? Yes, after a season lost to Covid in 2021, operators were back to more robust schedules. But could it also be the prevailing sentiment in travel, which skews heavily “carpe diem” (with a dash of YOLO)? Travel plans delayed by the pandemic or even by run-of-the-mill waffling have taken on a new urgency. Add to that the landscapes being literally remade by climate change, and you have a recipe for action. Here are three ways to see Antarctica, plus our best travel tips to read before you go.
How to Get to Antarctica
The ultimate land-based adventure begins when White Desert whisks its 12 guests by private jet from Cape Town to its ice runway in Antarctica. Travelers on this eight-day odyssey visit an emperor penguin colony and the geographic South Pole. Whichaway Camp’s six cozy bedroom pods are kitted out for warmth and wonder; gourmet meals and gatherings take place in communal pods. Departures: Multiple dates, November 7, 2022, through January 25, 2023.
French joie de vivre meets polar expedition ruggedness aboard Ponant’s 245-passenger Le Commandant Charcot. Unlimited Champagne and a restaurant from Alain Ducasse add to the sophistication of 14-day expeditions between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Ushuaia, Argentina. Departures: October 29 and November 12, 2022, and January 2, 2023.
For those short on time or skittish about the Drake, Silversea offers the option of flying business class between Punta Arenas or Ushuaia and King George Island, skipping the crossing and cutting out four days at sea. Once aboard the Silver Explorer, 144 passengers spread out in 72 suites and cabins, including the 728-square-foot Owner’s Suite with a private balcony, for seven-day Antarctic cruises. Departures: Multiple dates, December 2, 2022, through January 24, 2023.
Cruisers on Aurora Expeditions’ 12-day Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula voyages skip the return Drake Passage crossing with the line’s sail/fly option between Punta Arenas and King George Island. The 132-passenger Greg Mortimer’s X-bow design cuts through swells for a smoother trip from Ushuaia to the South Shetlands, where travelers earn their true Antarctic explorer stripes. Departures: January 15 and February 11, 2023.
Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Seabourn, and Viking also offer sailings to Antarctica. All four lines have new expedition ships, which range from 126 to 500 passengers, cruising the continent from late November 2022 through mid-February 2023.