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Antarctica cruises check bucket lists

by Nora Walsh The New York Times | February 2, 2020 at 2:07 a.m. | Updated February 2, 2020 at 2:07 a.m.
Antarctica21's expedition ship, Ocean Nova, sails through the polar waters in the Antarctic Peninsula. (The New York Times/Antarctica21/Sandra Walser)

As the number of travelers cruising Antarctica swells, polar expedition companies are launching sustainable vessels designed for these bucket-list trips.

Interested in seeing the southernmost continent? Here's a roundup of some of the tour operators planning itineraries for this year and next.


In November, Antarctica21 debuted the world's first vessel purpose-built for Antarctic tourism: the 73-passenger Magellan Explorer. A forward-facing observation deck and glass-enclosed lounge offer prime wildlife viewing, while designer guest rooms feature balconies and single cabins.

Most itineraries, including the eight-day Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise, bypass the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage by flying from Punta Arenas to King George Island. Full board rates begin at $13,995 per person and include Antarctic flights and activities.


Cruise operator Hurtigruten in March will unveil the 530-passenger MS Fridtjof Nansen, the sister ship to the just-launched MS Roald Amundsen. Both vessels feature science centers and citizen science projects, and both are hybrid electric-powered with low-emission engines.

The MS Fridtjof Nansen's Highlights of the Frozen Continent, a 12-day journey, explores some 20 sites across the Antarctic Peninsula. Prices start at $7,875 per person.

Lindblad Expeditions

In April, Lindblad Expeditions' new National Geographic Endurance vessel will hit the seas featuring 69 cabins, a science command center and a PC5 ice class. The new 35-day Epic Antarctica voyage traverses the Antarctic Peninsula, the 200-foot Ross Ice Shelf and UNESCO sites on Australia and New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands. All-inclusive rates from $48,800 with departures on Dec. 27, 2021, and Jan. 26, 2022.

Adventure Life

Astronomy buffs should keep their eyes on the 93-cabin Ocean Victory. The travel outfitter Adventure Life is taking guests to witness the total solar eclipse on Dec. 4, 2021, at a prime position just east of South Orkney Island. Other trip highlights include viewing breeding penguins on South Georgia Island, Weddell seals on Cuverville Island and Lemaire Channel's orca whales.

The 15-day voyage starts at $13,000 per person on a full-board basis.

Quark Expeditions

This year, Quark Expeditions will christen the 102-suite Ultramarine, and its two twin-engine helicopters and 20 easy-access Zodiac boats.

Outdoor enthusiasts can also cross-country ski, paddle polar waters with stand-up boards and camp out in the icy wilderness. Cruises on Ultramarine in 2021 start at approximately $15,000 per person.


Expedition cruise company Ponant plans to bring together travelers and scientists on a new electric hybrid vessel, the 135-stateroom Le Commandant Charcot, launching in May 2021. Fitted with modern oceanographic equipment and a research laboratory, guests will be able to assist scientists in research activities.

The ship's bevy of polar toys, including hovercrafts, electric snowmobiles and a tethered hot air balloon, give guests a privileged vantage point of Antarctica's indelible and fragile beauty. All-inclusive prices for the 15-day Expedition to Charcot & Peter I Islands start at $16,480 per person.

Travel on 02/02/2020

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