The ultimate cruise holiday for intrepid travellers, Anatarctica is a goldmine of bucket-list worthy experiences. The other-worldly wilderness of the South Pole is home to some of the most adventurous excursions that you won’t find in any other destination, as well as some truly breathtaking feats of nature. Read on to find out the best ships to experience Antarctica!
Antarctic cruises are unlike a cruise to the Caribbean or Mediterranean as cruise ships are usually designed to offer an expedition experience while carefully navigating the icy waters. While you can select the ship to suit your budget and itinerary requirements, you’ll find many options depending on whether you’d prefer to sit back and let the glaciers put on a show, or hop in a zodiac to get up close with the wildlife. Below are our top Antarctica cruise ships.
1. MS Roald Amundsen
Cruise line: Hurtigruten
Guest-to-crew ratio: 500 to 150
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re a keen and intrepid world-traveller, eager to get stuck into the science of Antarctica.
With environmental sustainability at the heart of its design, MS Roald Amundsen is one of Hurtigruten’s very first hybrid Antarctica cruise ships, utilising state of the art technology to reduce CO2-emissions. The construction of this vessel makes navigating the polar waters of the region a breeze, and provides a luxury basecamp for Antarctica adventures.
All Hurtigruten expedition voyages are helmed by a knowledgeable expedition team, dedicated to immersing guests in the wonders of this white wilderness. You’ll meet a range of experts including marine biologists, photographers, and oceanographers, who will be more than happy to share their experiences through lectures and excursions.
|Amundsen Science Center||The heart of the ship, the Amundsen Science Center is where you’ll meet your fellow adventurers to gain insight into the destination. With an abundance of high-tech facilities, equipment and artefacts, you’ll be able to enjoy lectures, workshops and more.|
|Lindstrøm||This specialty restaurant offers delectable dishes such as king crab and Norwegian salmon in a luxury, stylish setting.|
|Explorer Lounge||Featuring a cocktail bar and plenty of comfortable places to sit back and relax, the Explorer Lounge will be the perfect place to share your favourite moments of the day with newfound friends.|
2. Le Lapérouse
Cruise line: Ponant Cruises
Guest-to-crew ratio: 184 to 110
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re looking for classic French elegance, luxurious lounging and a relaxed Antarctica experience.
Teeming with elegant decoration, spacious staterooms and innovative technology, Le Lapérouse will give travellers a luxury private-yacht experience combined with active exploration. With a team of zodiacs to bring you to the arctic shores, you’ll be truly immersed in the excursions offered.
Meanwhile, when onboard, Ponant’s Explorer-class ship provides a host of enriching facilities. The onboard theatre can seat all guests at once and showcases presentations and lectures through the LED wall, perfect for projecting high-quality images and video.
|Blue Eye Lounge||Experience the iconic Blue Eye Lounge where you can enjoy your favourite cocktail beneath the surface of the ocean, watching the ecosystem glide by through windows shaped like whales eyes.|
|Panoramic Lounge||This intimate venue offers plenty of opportunity for relaxation with a library, a bar, plenty of seating and breathtaking views through the panoramic windows.|
|Spa||Wind down in a bright and spacious spa with views out to the ocean, as you indulge in a range of massages, treatments and facials.|
3. Scenic Eclipse
Cruise line: Scenic Ocean Cruises
Guest-to-crew ratio: 228 to 172
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re looking for a truly unforgettable expedition cruise, combining luxury with high-tech equipment that will enhance your Antarctica experience.
Maintaining an unforgettable level of luxury and class while still offering all the adventurous features of a true expedition cruise, Scenic Eclipse creates memories to last a lifetime in this winter wonderland. With eight restaurants to choose from you’ll be spoilt for choice, an unusual feat to pull off for an expedition voyage.
Scenic Eclipse is an Antarctica cruise ship truly stands out from the crowd, with a submarine and two helicopters in her arsenal of facilities, giving passengers experiences they won’t find anywhere else. Excursions are run by a team of expedition guides comprising of biologists and geologists, and are typically run for half the day in small groups meaning you’ll get the most out of your shore experiences.
|Senses Spa||Featuring spacious lounges and bars to cater to all guests, the Senses Spa offers jacuzzis, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness studio and treatments by expert beauty therapists.|
|Scenic Neptune||Capable of diving up to 300 metres below the surface, Scenic Neptune will take up to 6 guests on an epic journey to discover the stunning marine ecosystem.|
|Koko||This Asian fusion restaurant offers delectable teppanyaki, fine sake and authentic sushi, for a perfect international dining experience.|
4. Silver Cloud
Cruise line: Silversea Cruises
Guest-to-crew ratio: 254 to 212
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re eager to get out on adventurous excursions, while still being able to return to top-class accommodation, dining and relaxation.
As Silversea Cruises’ very first ship, Silver Cloud has received a well-earned $40 million refurbishment to become the top-class expedition cruise ship she is today. The added reinforcements to the design have made this vessel an outstanding choice to voyage the polar waters and with 80% of suites including a veranda, whale-spotting is a given.
Boasting a team of 18 zodiacs, 10 kayaks and 22 polar experts, this Antarctica cruise ship is well-equipped to take passengers on daily excursions, usually twice a day (weather conditions permitting). These activities can take the form of guided hikes, tours, kayaking and even swimming in the icy waters to truly awaken your senses.
|Dolce Vita||A hotspot for socialising before dinner, Dolce Vita offers stylish seating areas to enjoy your favourite drink, with a pianist to provide the perfect soundtrack to your evening.|
|Zagara Spa||Featuring luxury products by Elemis, Zagara Spa invites you to relax and unwind after an exciting day of excursions. Choose from countless treatments including wraps, massages, manicures and make-overs.|
|La Dame by Relais & Chateaux||With an exquisite menu designed by Relais & Chateaux, La Dame is a lavish evening restaurant offering six delectable courses, each expertly paired with wine. There are just 12 tables here so make sure to reserve yours before your cruise.|
5. G Expedition
Cruise line: G-Adventures
Guest-to-crew ratio: 134 to 55
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re focused on the expedition and learning experiences, and can’t wait to get stuck into the great outdoors with the help of Antarctica experts.
Owned by one of the leading cruise lines in expedition voyages, G Expedition is no exception to the rest of the G-Adventures fleet. Refurbished and enhanced for safely navigating the polar region, the vessel is equipped with forward-facing sonar, making the journey truly carefree.
Though the focus is predominantly on the experiences that Antarctica has to offer, G Expedition features a restaurant with views out to sea, a sauna for warming up after an icy adventure and a bar to exchange stories with your fellow passengers.
|Polar Bear Pub||In this cosy setting you’ll be able to sit back with your favourite drink and enjoy some live music, as well as a game of darts with new friends.|
|Albatross Dining Room||Providing hearty breakfasts and lunches in the form of a buffet, as well as an à la carte evening meal, the Albatross Dining Room is a great social hub to enjoy delicious cuisine.|
|Discovery Lounge||This main lounge doubles as a lecture theatre and briefing room before your expeditions. Discover more about the fascinating polar region and enjoy your favourite drink as you prepare for the activities ahead.|
6. Crystal Endeavor
Cruise line: Crystal Cruises
Guest-to-crew ratio: 200 to 200
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re looking for unparalleled, luxury service, whether you’re onboard or onshore, as well as state-of-the-art and spacious suites to relax in.
With all-suite, all-verandah cabins, award-winning staff and butlers, and a team of destination experts, Crystal Endeavor boasts an unrivalled expedition experience. This ship features one staff member for every passenger, meaning you will always enjoy personalised, attentive service.
Despite being an intimately sized Polar-class yacht, Crystal Endeavor has not compromised on choice and luxury. With six restaurants to choose from, each offering Michelin-inspired cuisine, you’ll get a true taste of the Antarctica region. Finally, this ship will bring you closer to the action via two helicopters, a submarine and a marina from which you can enjoy kayaking or simply lounging.
|Expedition Studio||This sleek and stylish space is dedicated to hosting insightful lectures, presentations and discussions that will enrich your onshore experiences even further.|
|Solarium||A Crystal Cruises staple feature, the solarium offers breathtaking views through two-story glass windows, while you relax in the Crystal Seahorse Pool and Jacuzzi.|
|Palm Court||The place to be for entertainment and socialising, Palm Court hosts afternoon tea and lectures during the day, while at night this space transforms for dancing and cocktail parties.|
7. Greg Mortimer
Cruise line: Aurora Expeditions
Guest-to-crew ratio: 120 to 90
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re worried about sea-sickness and are keen to capture every moment on camera.
Steering away from the typical design of an Antarctic cruise ship, Greg Mortimer boasts splitting-wave technology known as the X-bow, making sailing faster and smoother with lower fuel consumption. On top of this, the vessel also makes use of virtual anchoring, ensuring that the seafloor is not damaged by real anchors.
Guests will love taking in the sights of Antarctica from the hydraulic viewing platforms, so make sure to have your camera at the ready for some of the best photo opportunities in the world. As well as this, you’ll be able to enjoy a huge range of activities departing from the ship itself, including kayaking, diving and climbing. After a long day of adventuring, recuperate in comfortable, spacious staterooms and fill up on delicious cuisine in a family-style restaurant.
|Hydraulic viewing platform||Accessible from deck 5, these platforms allow you to experience unobstructed viewing of wildlife and scenery.|
|Wellness Centre||The perfect place to rejuvenate after a day out in the cold, the Wellness Centre features gym equipment, a sauna and a spa where you can wind down with a massage.|
|Lounge/lecture theatre||With so many onboard experts there to enhance your cruise, there’s no better place to learn from them than in the lounge and lecture theatre. Sit back and listen to an enriching and entertaining presentation in pure comfort.|
8. Hanseatic Inspiration
Cruise line: Hapag-Lloyd
Guest-to-crew ratio: 199 to 175
You'll love this Antarctica cruise ship if... you’re looking for an intimate guest capacity and enjoy sightseeing from onboard, as well as excursions onshore.
With inspiration taken from nature running through the entirety of the ship, Hanseatic Inspiration features state of the art technology designed to enhance its sustainability. Guests will get close to the heart of Antarctica via 17 eco-friendly zodiacs, and also enjoy a range of watersports, such as kayaking and paddle-boarding.
Throughout the ship you’ll find three open-seating restaurants to choose from, meaning all tastes will be catered for and you’ll be well-fuelled for the action-packed days ahead. Before leaving the ship to explore, don’t forget to stop by the Knowledge Studio, a haven of information surrounding the destination.
|Ocean Academy||Featuring a media wall open for interaction and presentations, the Ocean Academy is where you’ll discover more about the destinations you’ll visit in Antarctica.|
|HanseAtrium||Known as the heart of the ship, the HanseAtrium is a hub of social activity, learning opportunities, stunning views and even an ice-bar.|
|Speciality restaurant||Perfect for when you’re in the mood to push the boat out, the speciality restaurant serves up delectable dishes, infusing Japanese and Peruvian delicacies.|
Top tips for your time on an Antarctica cruise ship
No matter which cruise ship you choose to voyage with, there are some fantastic and essential tips to keep in mind in order to get the most out of your Antarctica cruise.
1. Pack sensibly
Antarctica is unlike any cruise destination you may have visited before, and perhaps the biggest difference is the temperature! This is the coldest continent on earth so you’ll need to be smart with your packing in order to stay safe. Layering is key to staying warm, but remember to keep your luggage allowance in mind.
Your wardrobe should consist of:
- Lightweight thermal layers
- Insulation layers (such as fleeces)
- A waterproof, windproof coat
- Waterproof trousers
2. Organise your camera gear
It would be a shame to embark on such an incredible journey, only to forget your spare camera batteries! With so many unmissable opportunities to snap some memories, you’ll need to bring spare batteries to keep you going throughout the day. A couple should be kept in your day pack to ensure you don’t run out of juice while onshore, as well as spare memory cards to avoid running out of space. Finally, remember to keep all your gear in a waterproof bag. Water splashing the zodiac is not uncommon so keep your expensive kit covered at all times.
3. Prepare for seasickness
Though not everyone is affected by seasickness, Antarctica is home to Drake’s Passage, a crossing notorious for its choppy waves. Medical assistance is provided onboard, however it can be limited, so packing sea sickness relief in your bag is a great back-up.
4. Book early
An Antarctica cruise is a unique experience and requires meticulous planning. With a high demand and fewer ships sailing the region, staterooms will sell out fast, while prices will increase the closer embarkation day gets. If you’re super organised, book at least a year in advance and you may find yourself making an excellent saving.
5. Customise your itinerary
Almost all cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia, a vibrant city in Argentina bursting with culture, history and delicious cuisine. Turn your cruise into a cruise and stay by adding a hotel stay to the start or end of your cruise. This will give you the opportunity to delve further into this colourful destination, including Tierra Del Fuego National Park or the Cerro Castor Ski resort.
Antarctica is truly a bucket-list destination that features sights you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Whether you opt for sailing in the lap of luxury with butlers ready to tend to your needs, or choose an expedition-focused voyage teeming with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, hop on an Antartica cruise ship for an incredibly special cruise holiday. Ready to book? Check out the range of Antarctica cruise deals and luxury Antarctica cruises.