Next year marks Celebrity's 10th season in South America, and in honor of that milestone, the cruise line is branching out with two new 14-night Antarctica cruises on January 31 and February 14, 2010. Celebrity Infinity will depart Buenos Aires for Antarctica, visiting Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay, along the way.
But don't cancel your expedition cruise just yet. Celebrity's Antarctic voyages will be drive-by's only. Infinity will spend three days per cruise sailing past Elephant Island, Paradise Bay and Gerlache Strait, but, like most other big ship lines' Antarctica "itineraries," won't actually give passengers a chance to set foot on ice. Indeed, this voyage style is in keeping with other regular cruise lines -- such as Holland America, Princess and Crystal -- that offer scenic cruising off the coast of Antarctica as part of longer South America itineraries.
The only way to really explore Antarctica up close is to book a cruise on an expedition ship, typically a vessel with a strengthened hull able to navigate icy waters. Lines like Hurtigruten and Lindblad offer such trips -- Regent Seven Seas Cruises charters an expedition ship for Antarctic cruises a few times per year and Silversea is currently refurbishing an expedition ship that will join its fleet in June.
For the best account of an in-depth Antarctic experience that we've ever seen, check out our virtual cruise aboard Lindblad's National Geographic Endeavor.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor