Large-Ship Cruising FAQs
When is the best time to take an Antarctica cruise?
The Antarctica cruise season is short, running from November through March, with a spike in travel at the peak of the season in December and January. There are no cruises offered during Antarctica's winter months when travel is prohibitive due to polar ice blocks and extremely cold temperatures well below zero. Since it's located in the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctica's seasons are opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. When it's winter in the U.S., it is summer in Antarctica.
How long are Antarctica cruises?
Antarctica cruises are typically ten nights or longer.
Where will I go on an Antarctica cruise?
This depends on your itinerary, but most itineraries include ports in Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands and cruising time in the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Sound.
What is the weather like?
Cold! Antarctica is the coldest and driest place on Earth, known for unpredictable weather, which is why Antarctica cruises can only operate during the Southern Hemisphere's summer months of November through March. As you travel from South America to the Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures will quickly drop into the 20s and 30s. Evenings are even cooler and windier on deck, and Antarctic whiteouts and blizzards are very common.
Is it true it doesn't get dark in Antarctica?
Antarctica experiences longer periods of daylight in November through March.
What will I see and do on my Antarctica cruise?
Antarctica cruises allow plenty of time for site seeing from the ship. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Antarctic Sound or search for wildlife as you cruise by the South Shetland Islands. Visit the Christ Church Cathedral in Port Stanley or keep an eye out nesting penguins playing on the beaches of Deception Island. Cruise through the Wilhelm Archipelago, which is home to gentoo and adelie penguin rookeries, or explore the Tierra del Fuego National Park in Ushuaia. You might even see a whale gliding through the water or an albatross gracefully soaring across the sky before your Antarctic journey ends.
What should I pack?
Even during the summer, temperatures are very cold, so pack accordingly. Water-resistant parkas, rubber boots, a hat and gloves are absolute necessities. The sun can be strong so sun block and sunglasses are also musts. You will also want to pack warm woolen socks, sweaters and turtlenecks for layering. Remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag that you can keep with you as needed. And, don't forget your camera for the great photo opportunities you'll encounter.
How do I arrange my airfare to Antarctica?
You can book airfare on your own, which also allows you to use air miles and coordinate your own schedule, or you can book flights through the cruise line with the help of your Vacations To Go cruise counselor.
The main reasons to let us book your air at the same time you reserve your cruise -- through the cruise line -- are convenience, better access to flights that make easy connections to your ship, and added protection in the event of a flight or sailing delay or cancellation. For more information on booking airfare, click here.
Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all travelers. U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Antarctica but may need visas for other ports of call on an Antarctica cruise itinerary.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots are not necessary for entry into Antarctica. Check with your health care provider and discuss the shots required for the countries you'll be visiting.
How rough are the seas on an Antarctica cruise?
Weather in and around Antarctica is unpredictable and it's not uncommon to encounter rough water at some point during a voyage, particularly while the ship navigates Drake Passage between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica. As a precaution, you should carry anti-motion medicine with you. Consult with your physician or pharmacist for the appropriate medication.
What medical facilities are available onboard? What about onshore?
Most ships have an infirmary with an onboard doctor for minor emergencies; however, there are no hospitals once you reach Antarctica. In the event of an emergency, medical transport to the nearest medical center or hospital can be arranged at your own expense. Travel insurance typically covers emergency medical evacuation and is recommended by Vacations To Go.
Will I have access to email? Can I call home?
Email, Internet and phone services are available on most cruise ships via satellite signal. Keep in mind that signal strength can vary depending on your location and may not be available in more remote areas. Check onboard for details on pricing and accessibility.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
Most U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets, although there a few exceptions. International guests will likely need converters and adapters; these same devices come in handy for U.S. citizens who plan to overnight in hotels at some point during their vacation, as much of South America uses the 220-volt outlet, or if the ship is not equipped with standard outlets.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Air conditioning may only be available in nicer hotels in some cities. If cooled air is important to you, make sure to consult your travel counselor before booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay.
Do you have any photography tips for travelers to Antarctica?
There's abundant wildlife and natural beauty to capture in Antarctica, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards. If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. If you plan to visit museums, churches and cathedrals in South American cities before or after your Antarctica cruise, make sure photography is permitted before you shoot; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.