Why you should book your
2022 Antarctica cruise now
There’s only one way to really explore Antarctica, and that’s aboard an expedition cruise vessel. We’ve long championed small ship cruises for a lower-impact, more enjoyable voyage. But now, as we see signs that the Covid-19 pandemic is finally coming to an end, traveling sustainably through one of the world’s most fragile environments has never been more important. And if seeing the white continent and its spectacular wildlife is high on your agenda for 2021/2022, you need to be thinking about putting down a deposit now to secure your booking. Here’s why...
Covid-19 shut down virtually the entire tourism industry throughout most of 2020, and despite its remoteness and tiny population, Antarctica was no exception. Most Antarctic cruises get underway from the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego at the very tip of South America. With Argentina and Chile both closing their borders to travelers, the vast majority of Antarctic cruises were cancelled in the 2020/21 season.
A large number of these intrepid travelers had their bookings postponed to the 2021/22 season (November to March/April). That means there is a much higher level of bookings for the 2021/22 season at this stage, plus a huge amount of pent-up demand due to the lack of sailings this season. There will likely be very little spare capacity. So to avoid disappointment, you’d best get moving.
Our Antarctica & the Arctic Vacations
What you’ll see, when
November through to March/April isn’t just peak season for Antarctica cruises; it’s the only time you can go, as the ice is usually too thick for ships to pass through at other times of the year. The best time to take an Antarctica cruise is typically considered to be December, when the temperatures are gradually starting to rise (to just above freezing!), the days are lengthening, and the cruise schedule isn’t too busy yet.
November will still be very cold, but this is the best month to catch sight of immense icebergs floating past, and it’s also elephant seal breeding season. In January you should see lots of cute penguin chicks and seal pups around: great for photography; not so great for noise levels in the cacophonic colonies they call home.
And for whale watching in Antarctica – orcas, humpbacks and minkes are regularly spied in these nutrient-rich waters, along with the occasional blue whale – your best bet is to travel in February or March. These are the months when whales come in large numbers to hotspots such as Wilhemina Bay and the Lemaire Channel, where they can chow down on vast amounts of krill.
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Choosing a ship
Holding out for late availability on Antarctic cruises is often a tactic employed by travelers who are flexible on dates and feeling lucky. We don’t reckon that’s a good idea for the 2021/22 season though. We think that if an Antarctica cruise is on your bucket list for next year, you should be deciding on dates and securing a berth as soon as you can.
Small ship cruises are the best way to visit Antarctica, and we only promote cruises that take 250 passengers or fewer. Not only do they allow you to actually go ashore on Zodiac boat expeditions (larger vessels are cruise-only), but they can access narrower channels, and have a far lower impact on the natural environments, and the local communities, that they pass.
Our guide to choosing an Antarctic cruise explains what you can expect from life on board, including the amenities and the experts who will be traveling alongside you. It also covers the different scales of luxury available to you depending on your budget, and what kind of activities you can opt for, from kayaking to snowshoeing... and even polar diving if you have the nerve.
More about Antarctica & the Arctic
The best time to visit the polar regions is during the Arctic and Antarctic summers.
Our Antarctica and Arctic travel guide explores key differences between exploring these two regions.
These wild, snow-clad lands may appear similar, but look closer and there are great differences.
There are many things fun activities to try in Antarctica and the Arctic away from the mother ship.
The wildlife in Antarctica and the Arctic is very different, though seals and whales are found at both.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, and you can’t reach the North Pole without breaking the ice.
We've asked our polar experts to share some of their priceless Antarctic and Arctic travel advice.
Find out more about these fragile frozen places, their culture and wildlife, and responsible tourism here.
Got questions need answering? Find all of our useful Antarctica and Arctic guides in one place.