Traveling cross-continentally may take an adventurous personality, but travel to Antarctica truly requires the spirit of an explorer. In the past, the icy continent was a destination visited almost exclusively by professional researchers, scientists and explorers. But today, travelers of all kinds are able to visit the last frontier of intrepid travel through an Antarctica cruise.
Getting to Antarctica on your own is no simple task - in fact, for most travelers, taking a cruise is the only real option in terms of economics and logistics. But the added benefit of an Antarctica cruise is that you're able to sit back, relax and revel in the experience. Some companies, such as Tauck, make the experience a more enriching one by including the guidance of naturalists, ornithologists and other experts who give context to everything you see and experience.
To say that Antarctica's climate is fickle is an understatement at best, which can make travel challenging. Because an Antarctica cruise is designed to be adaptable to a variety of weather conditions, it ensures that you'll be able to enjoy the experience, no matter the weather.
Part of the experience of a top-tier Antarctica cruise is the journey to the literal ends of the earth. Some tour itineraries will include time in Argentina, a dream-worthy destination itself. Starting your trip in Buenos Aires, the "Paris of South America," is a delight not-to-be-missed. The city's grand avenues, mouthwatering cuisine and cultural riches make it easy to see why it is a perennial favorite of jetsetters. From Buenos Aires, it's a relatively short flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, also the jumping-off point for many Antarctica cruises.
After setting sail from Ushuaia, crossing the Drake Passage takes roughly two days. The crossing is named after the 16th-century explorer, Sir Francis Drake, and you'll feel no less adventurous than he did as the time passes with no land in sight. During the crossing, look for passing whales, dolphins and petrels. On Tauck's cruises, the days are enhanced by on-board lectures from experts on ornithology and oceanography of the region - you can also spend time cozying up with a good book.
Once Antarctica comes into view, it's time to gear up for exploration. Itineraries generally need to be adapted to the current weather, so it's important to be flexible as well. For instance, you might join a guided excursion to see a number of Antarctic islands up close or take a shore excursion to visit a penguin rookery. Throughout, keep an eye out for sea birds, seals and other sea mammals.
Whether aboard ship or out on an excursion, the land and seascapes of Antarctica provide dramatic shows of their own. From the technicolor hues of icebergs to the glowing light of the evening sun (which never quite sets in Antarctica during cruise seasons), you'll have ample opportunities to capture photos that will stun your friends and family back home.
Though Antarctica might seem like the most extreme travel destination on earth, it is surprisingly accessible by boat. Travelers of all ages and experience levels will feel comfortable while seeing a truly unforgettable destination during their Antarctica cruise.