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Expedition Cruises

Discover the journey of a lifetime

Luxury Expedition Cruise Holidays

Luxury Expedition Cruises Overview


Luxury expedition cruises are made for travellers who want to cure their wanderlust and tick things off their bucket list. Travelling to remote regions, immersing yourself in unique cultures and encountering wildlife up close and personal you’ll never forget a luxury expedition cruise.

Whether you travel to the Polar regions at the very end of the world or lush tropical rainforests, you’ll enjoy a bespoke experience and will prompt you to re-evaluate what really matters. Rest assured no creature comfort will be denied and your every need will be taken care off.

What to Expect


Sumptuous staterooms, delectable dining and luxurious spa facilities are paired with on-board lectures from biologists, historians and photographers. On an expedition cruise, your every indulgent and intellectual whim catered for.

As for the vessels themselves, these are designed to slice through ice and sail as close as possible to the shore. Expedition ships are unique, intimate and truly indulgent. Expertly designed to transport you to tranquil lagoons, breath-taking coral reefs and frozen wildernesses that simply can't be reached on land.

Are you longing to sail alongside towering icebergs that have been sculpted by the wind, watch polar bears patrolling a stark landscape or see evolution in action? It is time to immerse yourself in new cultures, landscapes and habitats. Choose your bucket list destination and prepare for the ultimate luxury cruising experience.

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Seals on the coast of the Galapagos islands
Galapagos - Western Itinerary

Galapagos - Western Itinerary

17 Jun 2023
7 nights
Silver Origin
South America
EXCLUSIVE OFFER | EXCLUSIVE $250 FREE to spend on-board per couple |Includes private door-to-door transfers, international flights, roundtrip flights between Ecuador and the Galapagos, two night pre-cruise hotel stay in Quito and one post-cruise day use hotel* in Guayaquil, Quito by night tour, overseas transfers and luggage handling, National Park and immigration fees, highly-qualified Expedition Team, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours and shore-side activities, enrichment lectures by the Expedition Team, complimentary backpack, water bottle, snorkelling mask and snorkel, complimentary use of wetsuits and snorkelling fins

fly cruise from

was £9799pp

£9299

pp

wt
VIEW CRUISE
featured
Exmouth
Darwin To Fremantle

Darwin To Fremantle

09 Aug 2023
17 nights
Silver Explorer
Australasia
EXCLUSIVE OFFER | EXCLUSIVE $250 FREE to spend on-board per couple | Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-and-post cruise hotel stay and Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities

fly cruise from

was £12000pp

£10359

pp

wt
featured
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro

Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro

29 Mar 2023
9 nights
Silver Wind
South America
NEW reduced fares | Includes flights, private overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay in Buenos Aires and Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities

fly cruise from

£4179

pp

wt
105
expedition cruise
Vancouver To Puerto Vallarta,Jalisco

Vancouver To Puerto Vallarta,Jalisco

02 Oct 2023
16 nights
Silver Wind
Mexico
Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers and guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities plus much more!

fly cruise from

was £6700pp

£6429

pp

wt
45
expedition cruise
Lima (callao) to Valparaiso

Lima (callao) to Valparaiso

16 Oct 2023
9 nights
Silver Cloud
South America
Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities and one-night post-cruise hotel stay

finest from

was £7199pp

£6339

pp

wt
38
expedition cruise
Valparaiso
Lima (callao) to Valparaiso

Lima (callao) to Valparaiso

16 Oct 2023
9 nights
Silver Cloud
South America
Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities and one-night post-cruise hotel stay

fly cruise from

was £5100pp

£4889

pp

wt
38
expedition cruise
Reykjavik
Legend Of The Icelandic Sagas

Legend Of The Icelandic Sagas

21 Aug 2022
14 nights
Seabourn Venture
Polar Regions

cruise only from

£12479

pp

tk
37
expedition cruise
Vancouver To San Diego, California

Vancouver To San Diego, California

05 Oct 2022
11 nights
Silver Wind
North America
EXCLUSIVE OFFER | EXCLUSIVE $250 FREE to spend on-board per couple | Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers and a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay in Vancouver

fly cruise from

£6239

pp

wt
35
expedition cruise
Hakodate
Japan: A Journey Through Time

Japan: A Journey Through Time

19 Jun 2023
14 nights
Scenic Eclipse
Asia & Indian Ocean
Includes FREE private door to door chauffeur transfers*, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, all excursions including Zodiacs, kayaks and e-bikes, butler for all guests, gratuities and more | Save up to 20% - book now and pay in full 12 months prior to travel to receive these prices

fly cruise from

£12389

pp

wt
30
yacht cruise
Brazilian Highlights

Brazilian Highlights

10 Mar 2023
7 nights
Seabourn Venture
South America
Sale Event | Book now with a low deposit! Includes a FREE two-category Veranda Suite upgrade | Includes flights and overseas transfers

cruise and stay from

£5719

pp

wt
29
expedition cruise
Montevideo
Brazilian Highlights

Brazilian Highlights

10 Mar 2023
7 nights
Seabourn Venture
South America
Sale Event | Book now with a low deposit! Includes a FREE two-category Veranda Suite upgrade | Includes flights and overseas transfers

fly cruise from

was £6119pp

£4149

pp

wt
29
expedition cruise
Kangerlussuaq
Majestic Fjords Of Greenland

Majestic Fjords Of Greenland

04 Sep 2022
15 nights
Seabourn Venture
Polar Regions
Enjoy included Shore Excursions in almost every port and included Expedition Experiences led by the onboard Expedition Team. Experiences include hiking, Zodiac® cruises/landings, snorkelling, and scuba diving.

cruise only from

was £13199pp

£11709

pp

tk
26
expedition cruise
Buenos Aires
Chilean Fjords & Cape Horn from Buenos Aires

Chilean Fjords & Cape Horn from Buenos Aires

05 Mar 2023
15 nights
Scenic Eclipse
South America
NEW REDUCED PRICES - SAVE 50%* | Includes FREE private door to door chauffeur transfers*, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, all excursions including Zodiacs, kayaks and e-bikes, butler for all guests, gratuities and more | *50% saving applies to cruise and cabin upgrade element of the sailing only

fly cruise from

was £11329pp

£6999

pp

wt
26
yacht cruise
Jost Van Dyke
Autumn Atlantic Migration

Autumn Atlantic Migration

02 Oct 2022
10 nights
Seabourn Venture
Transatlantic
Enjoy included Shore Excursions in almost every port and included Expedition Experiences led by the onboard Expedition Team. Experiences include hiking, Zodiac® cruises/landings, snorkelling, and scuba diving.

cruise only from

was £19800pp

£4319

pp

tk
25
expedition cruise
Dublin To Lisbon

Dublin To Lisbon

27 Aug 2022
11 nights
Silver Cloud
United Kingdom
Expedition Cruise | Private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre and one-night post cruise hotel stay, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities plus much more!

fly cruise from

£5659

pp

wt
24
expedition cruise
Antarctica
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

17 Jan 2023
12 nights
Silver Wind
Polar Regions
Expedition cruise | Includes private door to door transfers , FLIGHTS, OVERSEAS TRANSFERS, ONE-NIGHT PRE AND ONE-NIGHT POST CRUISE HOTEL STAY AND GUIDED ZODIAC, LAND AND SEA TOURS, AND SHORESIDE ACTIVITIES

fly cruise from

was £14300pp

£11849

pp

wt
22
expedition cruise
Valetta
Lisbon to Valletta

Lisbon to Valletta

07 Sep 2022
10 nights
Silver Cloud
Mediterranean
Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-and-post-cruise hotel stay and excursions

fly cruise from

£9019

pp

wt
21
expedition cruise
King George Island to King George Island

King George Island to King George Island

19 Dec 2022
9 nights
Silver Explorer
Antarctica
Silver Endeavour replaces Silvers Explorer on these expedition sailings - one of the most luxurious expedition ships at sea <br> Antarctica Bridge - start your cruise in the heart of Antarctica. Fly Business Class from Punta Arenas and skip the Drake Passage <br> Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay in Punta Arenas, complimentary expedition parka, guided zodiac tours and shore side activities and a one-night post-cruise stay in Punta Arenas <br> Includes 10% early booking bonus - pay in full to receive these prices

fly cruise from

£19479

pp

wt
21
expedition cruise
The coastal landscape of the Galapagos islands
Galapagos Inner Loop

Galapagos Inner Loop

21 Aug 2022
7 nights
Celebrity Flora
South America

cruise only from

was £9239pp

£6429

pp

tk
20
expedition cruise
Cherbourg
Western European Waterways

Western European Waterways

30 Apr 2023
12 nights
Seabourn Venture
Europe
Sale Event | Book now with a low deposit PLUS receive a FREE two-category Veranda Suite upgrade

cruise only from

was £6499pp

£6239

pp

wt
19
expedition cruise
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

02 Dec 2022
10 nights
Silver Wind
South America
Incldues private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel and guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities plus much more!

fly cruise from

£11609

pp

wt
19
expedition cruise
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams

16 Jan 2023
12 nights
Silver Cloud
South America
Includes private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre and one night post cruise hotel stay, Silversea Parka, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team

fly cruise from

was £12800pp

£12279

pp

wt
18
expedition cruise
Salaverry
Puntarenas to Valparaiso

Puntarenas to Valparaiso

31 Oct 2024
18 nights
Silver Wind
Caribbean
BRAND NEW | Private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre and one-night post-cruise hotel stay, guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities plus much more!

fly cruise from

was £11000pp

£10559

pp

wt
18
expedition cruise
Buenos Aires
Rio de Janeiro To Buenos Aires

Rio de Janeiro To Buenos Aires

29 Oct 2022
9 nights
Silver Cloud
Canaries
Upgrade Event | FREE Suite upgrade PLUS $500 FREE so spend on-board per couple | Private door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay and one-night post-cruise hotel stay and guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities plus much more!

fly cruise from

was £4999pp

£4799

pp

wt
18
expedition cruise
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Luxury Expedition Cruise Holidays

Where can you sail on luxury expedition cruises?


Meet your expedition cruise ships

  • Silver Wind - a perfect example of the standards of excellence that Silversea maintain
  • Scenic Eclipse - the World’s First Discovery Yacht
  • Scenic Eclipse II - Sister-ship to the incredible Scenic Eclipse
  • Seabourn Pursuit - the second Seabourn expedition ship
  • Silver Explorer - an Arctic and Antarctic cruise ship with a strengthened hull
  • Silver Cloud - spectacular Polar expedition cruises for just 200 - 254 guests
  • Silver Origin - true luxury is personified on-board as you explore the Galapagos
  • Seabourn Venture - step aboard the first-ever expedition ship for Seabourn
  • Celebrity Flora - escape in indulgence in the Galapagos with Celebrity

What can you expect from luxury expedition cruises?

Sumptuous staterooms, delectable dining and luxurious spa facilities are paired with on-board lectures from biologists, historians and photographers. On an expedition cruise, your every indulgent and intellectual whim catered for.

As for the vessels themselves, these are designed to slice through ice and sail as close as possible to the shore. Expedition ships are unique, intimate and truly indulgent. Expertly designed to transport you to tranquil lagoons, breath-taking coral reefs and frozen wildernesses that simply can't be reached on land.

Are you longing to sail alongside towering icebergs that have been sculpted by the wind, watch polar bears patrolling a stark landscape or see evolution in action? It is time to immerse yourself in new cultures, landscapes and habitats. Choose your bucket list destination and prepare for the ultimate luxury cruising experience.


Arctic Vs Antarctic expedition cruising

Have you ever thought about taking an Antarctic cruise or Arctic cruise? If so, you’re not alone. Arctic expedition and Antarctica expedition cruising are often near the top of many people’s bucket lists.

But what is it like to go on an Arctic exploration or Antarctic adventure? Here, we look at Arctic Vs Antarctic cruising and the differences between Arctic and Antarctica expedition cruises, to help you choose which polar cruise is best for you.

We’ll start giving you an overview of the Polar Regions, what it’s like to be on an Antarctic or Arctic adventure cruise and look at expedition cruise ships that go to these regions; then look at Arctic cruises; Antarctic cruises; and the difference between the two to find the best Antarctica cruise or Arctic circle expedition for you.


The Polar Regions are the most unexplored regions on earth. They are the least populated by humans and are wild, untamed landscapes that we are drawn to, to feel the solitude and peacefulness of being among nature, away from human civilisation in the last land frontier to explore.

Antarctic cruise and Arctic cruise offer undisputedly the best way to see both regions without having to train for months for a polar expedition. Most of the action is seen in or from the water, and the land is either mostly water, snow, and ice (Arctic) or inhospitable to navigate without a lot of training (Antarctica).


Expedition cruising allows you to get right into the most thrilling parts of the regions without trekking for days and freezing your digits off. Whether you are doing Arctic expedition or an Antarctica expedition, the weather is similar in both regions: changeable, with sunshine, heavy cloud, or snow, so bring layers. Both are generally cold, and thermals are almost always needed on Zodiac trips or kayaking.


Only ships with 500 or fewer berths are permitted to make landings in Antarctica, so while some larger cruise lines do sail to Antarctica, the ships cannot land there.

All of Silversea’s ships that sail to both the Polar Regions have less than 500 guests onboard (except the Silver Moon, with 596 guests) so they can land in Antarctica.

Regent Seven Seas’ Navigator and Voyager visits the Arctic, with just 490 and 708 guests, respectively.

SCENIC’s SCENIC Eclipse ventures to both the Arctic and Arctic with just 228, so it can land in Antarctica.

Seabourn heads to both the Arctic and Antarctica, with the Quest and Venture going to the Arctic in 2022 and 2023, and Pursuit going there in 2023, plus Seabourn’s newest ship, the Seabourn Venture, going to Antarctica in 2023, with only 264 guests.

What does the Arctic and Antarctic have in common?

Expedition cruising to both regions include having experts onboard with you, such as naturalists, marine biologists, geologists, or historians. In both regions, visitor will learn more about the polar exploration adventurers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The weather on both Polar expedition cruises will be mostly cold, so taking lots of layers is advised – in particular to wear on Zodiac excursions.

Which is better – Arctic or Antarctic? And what is the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic? How do you choose which of the 12,500 miles apart polar regions to cruise to? Or which to visit first?

Here are some highlights of both regions to help you decide.

Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and SCENIC all offer excellent polar expedition cruises, taking you to the edge of the world in luxury with experts on the regions to help visitors understand why the areas are like they are, and how the animals and people survive there, bringing the area to life.


Arctic

The Arctic region is not too far to get to from the UK, so an expedition to the Arctic does not need you to have two-three free weeks, you can see parts of it in just a week. There are multiple expedition options to join trips to various parts of it. To see a lot of the Arctic, plus 22 Northern Hemisphere countries in one trip, check out Regent Seven Seas’ Grand Arctic Adventure in 2023.

The Arctic is not a landmass at all – it is an icy sea surrounded by land. This is why the Arctic is not a continent like Antarctica, as it is a land mass surrounded by icy sea.

Arctic Expedition cruising is becoming more popular due to its proximity to the UK, more lines going there and excellent adventure options for all levels of physical ability being on offer. All lines that go there have experts on the area onboard to teach you about the flora, fauna, geology, and landscape of this incredible region.


The people: Does the Arctic or Antarctic have permanent inhabitants?

While Antarctica is uninhabited, except for researchers studying the ice continent, the Arctic has rich traditions from the Native tribes who have lived there for thousands of years. The Inuit live at the border at North America and Greenland. The Sami tribe line in the north of Europe. And the Yakut live at the border with Siberia in Russia. The people who live in this area are resourceful and tough, being able to live in this harsh landscape.

A highlight of Expedition cruising to the Arctic is going on an excursion to meet local people and see how they live in this tough environment and see how they still use many traditional ways of living today.


What wildlife could I spot during my Arctic cruise?

The word Arctic means ‘near the bear,’ coming from the Greek work arktikos. This makes sense as it is the home of the world’s largest land predator, the polar bear. Weighing in at up to 1,500lb and nose-to-tail length of up to 8ft 6’, it’s easy to see why seeing the magnificent – and endangered –polar bear in the wild is one of the main draws to the Arctic.

Despite the seemingly desolate landscape, the Arctic is home to many exciting animals, including caribou, reindeer, and Arctic foxes on land.

In the sky, the ptarmigan, three types of goose, snowy owls, divers, gulls, and clown-like Atlantic puffins fly high. The most impressive of birds of both Polar regions, is the Arctic tern. It is named the Arctic tern, as it starts life in the Arctic, but migrates to Antarctica to experience both summers, travelling up to 1.5 million miles over its lifetime.

In the sea, walrus, beluga whales and narwhal live under the icy cold water, popping up appearing to greet visitors every now and then.


Landscape

The Arctic is a sea of ice, surrounded by land, most of which is made up of tundra, frozen, barren land too cold for trees to grow on.

The Arctic area spans from Norway’s northern regions, the Svalbard archipelago, Greenland, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Iceland, and the USA (Alaska), and accounts for six percent of the earth’s surface.


Excursions

The Arctic boast fantastic shore excursions on Expedition cruises. As well as official guided excursions, many expedition vessels have their own Zodiac boats, which will have guided tours taken by experts onboard. See details for the cruise line you are travelling with for specific information for your ship.

Here are a few of our top picks of organised excursions for each cruise line in the Arctic:

One of the big selling points of Regent Seven Seas is that shore excursions are included for all cruises. Some of our favourite Arctic excursions with them include a Guided Short Walk and Visit with Local Family in Nuuk in Greenland to learn about the ancient local people of Greenland; Treymoy Mountain Hike in Torshavn in the Faroe Islands to see the stunning landscapes of the island; and Murmansk and Museum of the Northern Fleet tour in Murmansk, Russia, to learn about the city’s naval history.

Silversea offers unforgettable adventures ashore. Guided zodiacs with parkas are included as are most shore excursions. Some of our choices in the Arctic are the Zodiac Cruise with Silversea Expedition Team in the Svalbard Southern Region to be guided by true experts on the area and see areas most visitors never get to see; Cultural Iqaluit in Nunavut in Greenland to see local museums with Inuit artifacts and fine art; and Whale Watching in Akureyri, Iceland to view the majestic humpback whale in their natural habitat.

Seabourn has fantastic shore excursions on offer, with a few of our top picks in the Arctic being Exploring Qaqortoq by Kayak in Qaqortoq in Greenland to see local wildlife and the coastline from water level; North Cape Flight-seeing by Helicopter in Skarsvag to see the whole dramatic coastline, Norway; and the Blue Lagoon Retreat in Reykjavik, Iceland to pamper yourself in the warm, bubbling natural hot springs while gazing at the lunar style landscape around you.

SCENIC offer their own unique brand of adventures by giving their own tours from the ship by Zodiac, kayak, paddleboard, soaring above by helicopter and diving below by submarine to have all bases covered.


Where will you sail to?

Since the Arctic covers such a large area, there are multiple areas to visit within it, with the season and weather dictating where can be visited when. Classic Norway and Spitsbergen voyages often depart from British or Scandinavian ports, sailing along the Norwegian coastline, up to the Lofoten Islands or past the North Cape, up to the Svalbard Archipelago, up to Ny Ålesund research station and Magdalena Bay and sometimes as far up as the North Pole. Greenland and Canada sailing go to Arctic Greenland, sailing along Greenland’s coast or to Canada’s high Arctic territories – all these itineraries are covered by Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and SCENIC. Sailing the Northwest Passage often starts joining a ship in Nunavut or Alaska, or from Iceland or Greenland (Silversea do this itinerary). The Russian Arctic’s Northeast Passage is covered by Silversea.


What is the best month to visit the Arctic?

The main Arctic cruise season runs from May to September, to coincide with the summer season. Peak season is July and August as the snow has mostly melted on land, plants and flowers have grown, and animals are rearing their young. Smaller expedition ships can push farther north in the height of summer as the ice retreats, sometimes as far up as the North Pole and through the Northwest Passage.

Winter trips are becoming more popular to see the Aurora Borealis and participate in winter adventure activities.


How long is a cruise to the Arctic?

Cruise lengths vary and can be from just seven days to more than a month in length if you wish to take in more of the Arctic regions. Check out all the options here.


How long does it take to get there?

It takes less than a day each way to get to a cruise heading to the Arctic. Fly from the UK to the main Arctic cruise starting points of Spitsbergen, Reykjavik, or Nome. Flights to Reykjavik from London only take just over three hours, and some Arctic cruises even start sailing from the UK.


History

Local Indigenous peoples have populated the Arctic region for thousands of years, including the Inuit in the part of it in North America and Greenland, the Sami in the north of Europe and the Yakuts in Siberia in Russia.

There is some controversy about which westerner reached the North Pole first. The main contenders include New York doctor Cook who claims to have reached it in 1908 but had to winter there after being stuck by bad weather; American explorer Robert Peary in 1909; and the airship Norge, led by Roald Amundsen in 1926 flew over it.


Which companies and cruise ships go to the Arctic?

Regent Seven Seas has two ships, the Navigator (490 guests) and Voyager (708 guests), sailing to the Arctic from North America and Greenland areas, Iceland, and northern Norway. To see a lot of the Arctic area, plus 22 Northern Hemisphere countries across two continents in one trip, check out Regent Seven Seas’ Grand Arctic Adventure in 2023.


Silversea offers many Arctic sailings, with the benefit of including door-to-door transfers, flights, overseas transfers as standard, often with extras of complimentary shore excursions too. These include 14-night cruises from Tromso to Reykjavik in August 2022, 14-nights from Southampton to Reykjavik in June 2023 on the Silver Shadow, or for 12-nights in August 2023 on the Silver Moon. If you don’t have as much time off to cruise, the Silver Cloud is doing a 9-night cruise from Longyearbyen to Tromso in June 2022. To see the Arctic from the US, Canada and Greenland side, the Silver Wind is taking 24-night cruises there in August 2022 and August 2023.


Seabourn offers a number of Arctic adventures, including their New World Exploration I in August 2022 and New World Exploration II, in August 2023 on Seabourn Quest, which conveniently starts in Dover, taking in Ireland and several Scottish isles before hitting the Arctic area in Iceland and Greenland, then stopping at fascinating Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec province in Canada, then the most beautiful towns of New England in the US, before ending in New York. The Seabourn Pursuit takes a cruise to the Lands of Fire and Ice and the Arctic Circle in April 2023, taking in Arctic Iceland, Greenland and the Polar Ice Cap, plus northern Norwegian ports. Shore excursions in every port are included, including hiking, Zodiac cruises and landings, snorkelling and scuba diving.


SCENIC heads to the Arctic on a 23-day Unlocking the Northwest Passage trip in August 2022, going from Copenhagen to the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic. The Scenic Eclipse takes in the Arctic Islands of Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland in July 2022 and July 2023, and explores the High Arctic from Reykjavik to Copenhagen for 13-nights in August 2022 and August 2023. They offer an Arctic in depth 12-night trip from Oslo to Oslo taking in more stops on the Svalbard archipelago, on the Scenic Eclipse in July 2022 and July 2023.

See all of our Polar Region cruises here.


Antarctica

Cruise and expedition ships can only sail in Antarctica with special permits. Seabourn, Silversea and SCENIC are also members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), who strictly monitor activity of vessels visiting the continent.


Seabourn only sails to Antarctica with the Seabourn Venture, which only has 264 guests. Silversea only sails there with Silver Explorer (with just 144 guests) the Silver Wind (with 274 guests) and the Silver Cloud (with 254 guests). SCENIC sails there with the SCENIC Eclipse, which has just 228 guests.

Expedition cruising is the way to go to get closer to Antarctica’s incredible landscape and wildlife.

All ships sailing there have to have an educational purpose, not simply pleasure cruising – which means all ships visiting Antarctica have experts onboard to teach you about the history, nature, landscapes, geology, and wildlife of the area.

Cruise lines have to apply annually for a permit to sail in Antarctica. They have to meet strict guidelines, proving that their activities will have less than a minor impact on the environment. Antarctica will not be open for tourists forever, so if this is on your bucket list, there’s no better time to book than now.


The seventh continent

While the Arctic covers part of eight countries – Canada, the USA, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia – Antarctica does not belong to any country but is its own continent. So, for travellers who are keen to tick that final seventh continent off their bucket list, Antarctica does that.


What wildlife could I spot during my Antarctic cruise?

The most popular animal in Antarctica, and the one everyone wants to meet, is the charming penguin. Eight of the world’s seventeen species of penguin are found in the Antarctic area: Adelie, macaroni, chinstrap, king, rockhopper, Magellanic, gentoo and the regal emperor penguins. Expedition cruises take you on zodiac trips out to land on land to visit colonies of various species of the humour-filled birds up close. They are so engaging, that after a few minutes, you will even forget the smell.


Antarctica, although at first, seemingly barren and too harsh a climate for much wildlife, is actually home to a plethora of fascinating animals. There are no land mammals, only a few species of insect.

The skies above Antarctica have a plethora of predatory birds, including five species of albatross – including the world’s largest bird, the wandering albatross, which has a wingspan of 11.5ft – ten species of petrel, three species of prion and the Antarctic and super-migrator, the Arctic tern.


The sea is home to seals, whales, birds – and everyone’s favourite, penguins. The crabeater seal is the most common, and Weddell seals are often seen resting on icebergs during breeding season in November and December. Ten species of whale migrate to Antarctica in October to March during feeding and breeding season. Humpback, minke, orca, southern right, sperm – and even the elusive blue whale are often seen very close to exhibition vessels.


Landscape

The landscape of Antarctica is truly breath-taking. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest mass of ice in the world, with some parts up to four miles thick. It is the world’s largest desert, and its Dry Valleys being the driest place on earth with so little moisture, that snow and ice cannot even accumulate there. It is the windiest place on earth, with winds of up to two hundred miles per hour.


Excursions

Antarctica has thrilling shore excursions on Expedition cruises. As well as official guided excursions, many expedition vessels have their own Zodiac boats, which will have guided tours taken by experts onboard. See details for the cruise line you are travelling with for specific information for your ship.

Here are a few of our top picks of organised excursions for each cruise line in Antarctica:

Seabourn offers ways to get up close and personal with penguin colonies, icebergs and more in Antarctica with the ship’s own Zodiac and kayak tours. These are led by onboard experts in the area, including marine biologist, glaciologist naturalist and kayak guides, so you know you are in very capable hands.

Silversea offers shore excursions included in the cruise fare. On a Silversea Antarctic expedition, our top tick of excursion is to go out with the professionals. In the Antarctic Sound, you can get up close to the wildlife and nature of the remote, extreme white continent on a Zodiac cruise, hiking or kayaking with the onboard Expedition team.

SCENIC offer their own unique brand of adventures by giving their own tours from the ship by Zodiac, kayak, paddleboard, soaring above by helicopter and diving below by submarine to have all bases covered.


Where will you sail to?

Most vessels sail to the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches from the great white continent towards South America. Some ships also sail to the Ross Sea from New Zealand.


What is the best month to visit Antarctica?

Expeditions to Antarctica take place from November to March, with December, with January and February being the main season. This is when the ice has melted the most at the height of Antarctic summer, giving the longest daylight hours and better ice conditions to allow safe navigation. The Antarctic Peninsula is the first area to thaw and be reachable.


How long is a cruise to Antarctica?

Cruise lengths vary, depending on where you start your cruise and which areas you wish to visit, but they are generally between 14-21 days. Check out all the options here.


How long does it take to get there?

It takes about two days each way to get to and from a ship sailing to Antarctica. You fly from the UK to usually Buenos Aires, stay a night, then fly to Ushuaia in southern Argentina, to join most expedition cruises.

History

Antarctica’s history with humans, only started in 1820 when it was officially discovered by a Russian expedition led by Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen.

Antarctica has no Indigenous people, and still had no permanent residents. The only humans that live there are the multinational scientists who stay there for set amounts of time to study it.


Which companies and cruise ships go to Antarctica?

Only ships with five hundred or fewer berths are permitted to make landings in Antarctica, so while some larger cruise lines do sail to Antarctica, the ships cannot land there.

All of Silversea’s ships that sail to the Polar Regions (except the Silver Moon, with 596 guests) have less than 500 guests onboard, so they can land in Antarctica. The Silver Explorer has a rare Antarctica 21-night route from Puerto Williams in Chile to Cape Town in South Africa in March 2022, taking in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands – the best place to see penguins in the wild up close – plus British overseas territories South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, and Nightingale Island.

Seabourn have Seabourn Venture heading to Antarctica in 2023 for luxury Antarctica cruises, with a thrilling 21-night cruise in February 2023 to Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falkland Island Discoveries sailing from Buenos Aires, through the Antarctica Peninsula, to South Georgia, Port Stanley and rare ports Saunders Island and New Island also in the Falkland Islands, finishing up back in Buenos Aires, perfect to add on a trip pre or post cruise to Iguazu Falls. Or take the 28-night trip version, which adds on a week of beautiful Brazilian and Uruguay ports too, also taking in Montevideo in Uruguay, Santos, Abraao on the Ilha Grande and Rio de Janeiro on the Antarctica, Falklands and Brazilian Highlights trip.

While several companies have cancelled Antarctica sailings for 2022, the SCENIC Eclipse has a fantastic itinerary starting in Buenos Aires, doing a 20-night cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in March 2022, with highlights including stopping at the ‘End of the World’ in Ushuaia, sailing the Antarctica Peninsula, stopping in South Georgia, the Falkland Islands (the best place to get up and close with penguin colonies), and ending in exciting Rio de Janeiro.


Overall, there is not a right or wrong one to pick from the Arctic or Antarctica – it’s just your personal choice of where to go (first).

If penguins, going to the least-visited and only never permanently inhabited place on earth which is a continent but not a country, and home to no land mammals, but plenty to see in the sea and sky is your thing and you have time to add two days on the start and end to get there – head to Antarctica first. It will not be visitable forever, so if it is on your personal bucket list, go while you can.


If polar bears, rich Indigenous culture from eight countries, lots of wildlife to see on land, in the sea and sky and possibly making it all the way to the actual North Pole is your thing, and you like the shorter trip to get there – head to the Arctic first. There are multiple itineraries where you can visit the magic of the Arctic, so start with the one that grabs your attention most first.


We hope this has given you a little something to consider on which Polar Region cruise might be the best one for you. Take a look through all the Polar Region cruises on Six Star Cruises and call our Concierge as soon as you’ve found one you like the look of or have more questions about, and to get a quote.

We are here and ready to help you plan that trip of a lifetime to one of the bucket list Polar destinations.

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