Choosing The Best Antarctic & Arctic Cruises

14th January 2019


Expedition cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic is becoming more and more popular, and with growing popularity comes the growing choice of cruise ships. The options can be overwhelming and with the high cost of cruising (you need at least £5,000 to go to Antarctica!), you want to make sure you make the right choice.

What most people don’t know is, when it comes to choosing the right option to Antarctica or the Arctic, the itineraries on offer are usually very similar, only differentiating slightly. Therefore, the best way to decide is by choosing the right ship for you, then pay close attention to the itineraries of your chosen ship.

On top of all the options, cruises are often fully-booked a year or two in advance, so you may feel pressure to rush your choice! Don’t worry though, here at Wild Frontiers we like to take all the difficulty out of cumbersome travel decisions, so we can leave you to fully immerse yourself in the excitement of travelling.

Here is our ultimate guide to choosing the right cruise ship for you.

Expedition

If you’re a fan of responsible travel…

The Expedition may be larger than its competitors with a capacity for 134, but it is the leading ship when it comes to responsible travel in Antarctica. Not only is the ship now single-use plastic-free, but it is also working towards zero carbon emissions. They also contribute to the Ocean Health Fund.

If you don’t want to pay a single supplement…

A huge bonus for the solo travellers out there: there is no single supplement for single travellers sharing a double cabin! Alternatively, you can choose to stay in a triple cabin, sharing with fellow passengers.

If you have a smaller budget…

The Expedition is a medium size ship that can hold 134 passengers so therefore the prices are more reasonable, with the cost of a bed in a triple cabin being the cheapest.

If you have less time…

The shortest trip with Expedition is 8 days in the Arctic and 11 days in the Antarctic, which makes it perfect for those that don’t have two weeks or more of free time to go on a cruise.

Expedition Svalbard Express

Expedition Antarctica Classic

If you want a pub…

Yes, there is a pub onboard, providing a nice atmosphere to relax in (clearly not an English pub then!). The resident band play quirky music that passengers can enjoy after a typical pub quiz.

If you dislike plastic…

As part of the Clean Up Svalbard campaign, many cruise operators are now encouraging passengers to pick up any plastic they see on beaches during landings. More and more plastic is being fed into our oceans and cruising over the past few years shows it’s not getting any better. Help clean up the pristine environment of Svalbard while on your Expedition cruise.

If you like photography…

There is a resident photography guide on board to assist you in capturing your favourite moments from the trip.

Greg Mortimer

If you want luxury…

Although not launching until 2019, the Greg Mortimer is one of the most exciting expedition cruise ship developments in recent months. The whole ship has been specifically designed for polar cruising, with lookout decks that will open up to provide better wildlife sighting viewpoints and four zodiac disembarkation points. Additionally, nearly all cabins have balconies, with 80% being private. The benefit of the ship is the amenities onboard. There will be two jacuzzies, a wellness centre and a state-of-the-art gym.

If you want everything taken care of…

Wine and beer with dinner are included in the price of itineraries with the Greg Mortimer and tips will be automatically added to your onboard account, although you can remove these if you prefer, so you are safe in the knowledge that all is taken care of when you set sail. Just relax in one of the jacuzzies and concentrate on catching a glimpse of the abundant wildlife.

If you don’t want to pay single supplement…

Again, there is no single supplement for single travellers, who are willing to share with like-minded travellers! If you’d like your own cabin, there are reduced rates from just a 25% supplement. Alternatively, you can choose to stay on a sofa bed in one of the double/twin cabins to make it into a triple cabin.

If you are a keen photographer…

Some selected trips have photography workshops and guides included in the price, allowing you to capture your favourite moments of your voyage to an expert level. There is also a photography room on board so you can view and backup pictures to your heart's content.

For those that aren’t into photography, a free photo book of your trip is complimentary on every itinerary with the Greg Mortimer so you’ll still get some visual aids when you’re telling your friends all about your Antarctic adventure.

If you aren’t too keen on sailing over the Drake Passage…

You have the option to fly over the Drake Passage and embark the Greg Mortimer in Antarctica on the Wild Antarctica itinerary. This is a good option for those that are prone to seasickness, although you will sail over the Drake on the way back and can be a rather steep additional cost.

Wild Antarctica - Fly Over the Drake Passage

If you dislike plastic…

As part of the Clean Up Svalbard campaign, many cruise operators are now giving passengers the opportunity to pick up any plastic they see on beaches during landings. More and more plastic is being fed into our oceans and cruising over the past few years shows it is not getting any better. Help clean up the pristine environment of Svalbard while on your cruise on the Greg Mortimer.

Hebridean/Island Sky

If you want to go to Antarctica…

The company that takes over the Hebridean/Island Sky during the Antarctica season (Nov-March) only travel to Antarctica, unlike other expedition cruise companies. Therefore, you know you’re in the hands of the experts, with a team of geologists, mammologists and historians on board. The sister ships are a superb standard and the lift on board ensures easy access for all.

If you are interested in whale science…

Most polar cruises have Citizen Science programmes on board where passengers can help collect samples for meteorological and oceanographic studies, as well as photograph whales for identification. The Hebridean/Island Sky has partnered with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to create this unique voyage.

Sail with an entire team of scientists engaged in a major study of Humpback Whale feeding habits. The aim of this expedition is to gather data and tag whales so that we can better understand their feeding patterns and how they may be altered due to climate change. Other whales of interest include Orcas, Southern Right whales and Minke.

Antarctica: Humpback Whale Science Voyage

If you prefer a smaller ship size…

In Antarctica, where IATTO rules mean only 100 people may be on land at any time. The capacity for the ship caps at 114 passengers, meaning that everyone can disembark on land at the same time if desired. It also allows for a more efficient and flexible itinerary in the polar regions.

If you want a bit of comfort…

Although not the most luxurious ship out there, these two ships are in the mid-range category with some rooms featuring balconies and stylish, modern amenities throughout the ship. The rooms are very spacious, with enough room for a sofa bed to make cabins into triples upon request.

If you want drinks included…

Wine and beer with dinner are included in the price of itineraries with the Hebridean/Island Sky in Antarctica, so you are safe in the knowledge that all is taken care of when you set sail.

If you want some time on land…

One of the best selling points of a cruise to Antarctica with Hebridean/Island Sky is that you don’t just get one complimentary night in Ushuaia, but you can make it two! When the included stay is at the beautiful Arakur Resort & Spa, you really must take advantage. Relax in the hot tub overlooking the Southern Ocean and Ushuaia city to contemplate the epic journey ahead.

Sea Spirit

If you prefer a smaller crowd…

Once again, due to IATTO rules, with a limit of only 100 people being allowed on land at any time, you won’t have to wait behind as the ship can hold up to 114 passengers, meaning that everyone can land at the same time if desired. It also allows for a more efficient and flexible itinerary in the polar regions.

If you want a bit of comfort…

Although not the most luxurious ship out there, the Sea Spirit is a great mid-range category with some rooms featuring balconies and stylish, modern amenities throughout the ship.

If you like music…

The ship’s resident musician provides an entertaining and relaxed atmosphere on board.

If you dislike plastic…

As part of the Clean Up Svalbard campaign, many cruise operators are now giving passengers the opportunity to pick up any plastic they see on beaches during landings. More and more plastic is draining into our oceans and cruising over the past few years show the problem is getting worse. Help clean up the pristine environment of Svalbard while on your cruise with the Sea Spirit.

If you want to go further north…

Sail on the Sea Spirit to the Russian High Arctic, even further north than the Svalbard Archipelago. Rarely visited today, yet significant in the history of polar exploration, Franz Josef Land is worthy of its legendary reputation.

Part of the Russian Arctic National Park, the different islands of Franz Josef Land tell stories of early polar exploration as you uncover monuments and an abandoned Soviet research facility, as well as being host to Arctic wildlife such as polar bears, walrus, endangered bowhead whales and many seabirds.

Cruise: Franz Josef Land & the Russian Arctic

If you like to give a little back…

Over the past five years, $250,000 in profits from the Sea Spirit expedition cruises have been donated to non-profit polar initiatives.

Ocean Adventurer

If you have a smaller budget…

The Ocean Adventurer is a medium size ship that can hold up to 132 passengers and therefore the prices are cheaper, with the cost of a bed in a triple cabin being the cheapest.

If you like kayaking…

Most voyages offer sea kayaking in the Arctic or Antarctica; however, the Ocean Adventurer also features inflatable kayaks, allowing more passengers to experience kayaking in the polar waters.

If you dislike plastic…

As part of the Clean Up Svalbard campaign, many cruise operators are now giving passengers the opportunity to pick up any plastic they see on beaches during landings. More and more plastic is being fed into our oceans and cruising over the past few years shows it is not getting any better. Help clean up the pristine environment of Svalbard while on your cruise on the Ocean Adventurer.

If you want a tight-knit team…

Sailing on the Ocean Adventurer, you will enjoy a 1:7 staff to passenger ratio. This ensures excellent customer service and flexibility during your voyage. The team of experts from different fields provide a broad range of activities, catering to all interests and abilities.

Cruise: Northwest Passage - Epic High Arctic

If you have less time…

The shortest trip with Ocean Adventurer is 9 days in the Arctic and 10 days in the Antarctic, which makes it perfect for those that don’t have two weeks or more free time to go on a cruise.

Akademic Ioffe

If you like photography…

There is a resident photography guide on board to assist you in capturing your favourite moments from the trip. To help with storing your photos, there is a multimedia lab for image downloads, back up and management. At the end of the voyage, you will be given a USB with a video of your unique expedition and photos.

If you like a bit of luxury…

The Akademic Ioffe not only ensures you will keep fit with a resident personal trainer in the gym but there’s the added bonus of relaxing your muscles at the sauna, plunge pool or jacuzzi.

If you prefer a smaller crowd…

The ship only has a capacity for 96 passengers, meaning that everyone can land at the same time if desired. It also allows for a more efficient and flexible itinerary in the polar regions.

If you want social responsibility…

Travelling on the Akademic Ioffe to Canada you will be impressed by the vast knowledge of the amazing guides. Inuit guides and traditional artisans share everything from their history, cultural traditions to their own talents!

If you want a tight-knit team…

Sailing on the Akademic Ioffe to Canada, you will enjoy a 1:7 staff to passenger ratio, the smallest in the industry. This ensures excellent customer service and flexibility during your voyage. The team of experts from different fields provide a broad range of activities, catering to all interests and abilities.

We hope this guide will help you decide on the best cruise for you. Please contact the office to discuss with one of our regional experts about your options.


Meike Simms

Meike studied Zoology at University after travelling solo to conservation projects in her youth provided her with a keen interest in science. Her stud…

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