Antarctica is half a world away, but if you want to cruise to Antarctica, cruise lines are bringing it closer than ever for the 2022-2023 season, starting in November.
Much of the reason is pent-up demand -- there were no Antarctica cruises in 2020 and then just a handful restarted in November 2021, with limited options.
The other reason is new ships -- 2022-2023 will see Seabourn Venture; Viking Polaris; a second Atlas Ocean Voyages ship, World Traveller; and Hurtigruten's Fridtjof Nansen.
That's on top of the new ships already added this season, which include Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Endurance and Resolution; Atlas' World Navigator, Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot and Viking Octanis.
That's why we're taking a look ahead at Antarctica cruises in 2022 and 2023 -- from expedition ships to major lines like Celebrity and NCL plus itineraries and new experiences onboard -- to help you choose the best Antarctica cruise for you.
What Cruise Ships Will Be in Antarctica in 2022-2023?
There will be at least 17 expedition cruise ships in Antarctica for the 2022-23 season, with a further four mainstream lines operating scenic cruising along the Antarctic peninsula.
Expedition Cruises to Antarctica in 2022 and 2023
Adventures by Disney
ABD charters Ponant ships (see below) to Antarctica. While Disney is associated with family travel, these cruises are geared toward older kids and adults. (The recommended age is 12, the minimum 10.)
Atlas Ocean Voyages
World Navigator and World Traveller, from new line Atlas, are running to Antarctica in 2022 and 2023. However, they will no longer be all-inclusive. Atlas's ships are some of the cheaper expedition cruise options, as the line has unbundled fares. Airfare and shore excursions are no longer included in the cost.
Fridtjof Nansen is Hurtigruten's latest expedition ship to head to Antarctica, and will join sister ship Roald Amundsen and recently upgraded, MS Fram.
National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution are Lindblad's first new builds and can operate in the polar regions year-round (including Antarctica, of course). The 126-passenger ships are a significant step up from the line's other polar vessels, with a yoga studio, spa and sauna, two infinity hot tubs, an aft-facing restaurant, a panoramic main lounge, a bow observation deck, a gym, and a bistro bar and observation lounge with plenty forward viewing space outdoors.
Ponant will be sailing its newest ship Le Commandant Charcot, which has an indoor pool (unusual for an expedition vessel) and a spa; as well as three other vessels L'Austral, Le Boreal and Le Lyrial to Antarctica in 2022 and 2023, all of which are a great option for luxury with French flair (note Tauck also charters from Ponant).
Quark's Ultramarine is a rugged, tough yet modern expedition cruise ship designed specifically for polar cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Scenic Eclipse looks and feels like more of a yacht than a ship, and carries just 200 passengers to the farthest reaches of the planet with comfort, outstanding food and top-notch service. Eclipse also has a sub and two helicopters, which can come in handy when cruising to Antarctica.
Seabourn Venture is the line's first foray into expedition ships that will cruise to Antarctica. It carries just 264 passengers in all-suite luxury, including the line's first duplex suites. Food, overseen by Thomas Keller, is outstanding.
Silversea Expeditions will operate three ships to Antarctica this forthcoming season -- the 296-passenger Silver Cloud, the 132-passenger Silver Explorer, and the 298-passenger Silver Wind all of which offer an ultra-lux, all-suite experience, with fine dining and outstanding service.
Sister ships Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris carry 364 passengers apiece and mark the start of the line's expansion into expedition cruising. You can expect onboard scientists, an enclosed marina where people can board RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) and Zodiacs from a stable surface, three different temperature-controlled pools, as part of the indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace.
Non-Expedition (Mainstream) Cruises to Antarctica in 2022 and 2023
These ships all offer the chance to see Antarctica, but won't step foot on it.
The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess is operating three 16-night cruises in December 2022 and January 2023. The round-trip cruises start either in Buenos Aires or Santiago and include four days of scenic cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula as well as calls at Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile) and Montevideo (Uruguay).
Azamara offers a 17-night cruise on the 702-passenger Azamara Pursuit, which includes cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula and Elephant Island.
Celebrity Infinity has four 14-night sailings at the beginning of 2023, which include three nights sailing along the Antarctic peninsula, as well as stops in the Falkland Islands, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
NCL offers four 14-night cruises in January and February 2023 on the 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star, starting in Buenos Aires and calling in at Punta Arenas (Chile), Ushuaia and including a stop off (note not on) one Antarctic island -- Deception Island -- home to the largest penguin colony in the world. It also calls in at the Falkland Islands.
New Experiences and Onboard Toys on Antarctica Cruises in 2022 and 2023
While Antarctica cruises have been on a bit of a hiatus, there are some new experiences and cool extras that have been added in the meantime.
For example, do you want to be the first to get officially wed on the White Continent? Too late, sorry -- on February 18, 2022, Atlas Ocean Voyages made history when the line performed the first official wedding in Antarctica. Bride Courtnie Dodson and groom Brody Vermillion exchanged vows on Danko Island during a 15-minute ceremony, officiated by British Antarctic Territory-registered Marriage Officer Bryan Clark and witnessed by eight additional guests.
However, you can still be one of the few people to tie the knot in Antarctica next season, when Atlas will operate two ships there.
Or you can choose to overnight on the continent -- again, an experience few people have done. Both Atlas and Lindblad offer overnights, the latter in igloos carried onboard.
Meanwhile, Seabourn Venture will operate with two six-person submarines and underwater camera streaming footage to Discovery Center. Scenic Eclipse also has an onboard submarine, and two helicopters.
Hurtigruten's Fridjtof Nansen has an underwater drone, which it deploys when conditions allow.
Aurora Expedition's Greg Mortimer (an icebreaker) includes hydraulic viewing platforms that come out from the ship's sides (just beyond the lecture theatre) where passengers can stand and watch during particularly dramatic moments, such as when the ship is slicing through sea ice.
What Antarctica Cruise Itineraries Are Available in 2022 and 2023?
In 2022 (and 2023), you can expect to see most typical Antarctica cruise itineraries offered. However, you'll want to consider time and price (and note that weather can have a major influence on your trip).
The most expensive Antarctica cruise itineraries in 2022 will be from the ultra-luxury Expedition lines such as Silversea, Scenic and Seabourn, all of which allow you to step into Antarctica and in some cases spend the night. In some cases these also call in at South Georgia (a massive penguin colony) and The Falkland Islands.
If you are happy just to see Antarctica from your ship, then you have a number of much cheaper options available from the mainstream lines.
What is the Cost of a 2022 Cruise to Antarctica?
Fares vary significantly but are reasonably low still compared to previous years. If you opt for a mainstream line they can start as low as $2,500 pp (on NCL), $4,600 pp on Azamara and $3,260 pp on Princess.
However, if you opt for an expedition line, prepare to dig deep -- Atlas is perhaps your best bet, with fares starting at around $12,000 per person; Viking Octantis fares start at under $15,000 and Silversea's Silver Cloud starting fares are coming in at just $16,000 for a 10-night Ushuaia round trip -- including return flights.
With All These Ships Heading Down There Will It Be Crowded in Antarctica?
Santorini it ain't: There are very strict rules governing cruises in Antarctica, one of which is no more than 100 people on shore at a time (unlike in the Greek islands, where it is a free for all).
The chances of even seeing other ships are slim, except docked in Ushuaia or as you leave there through the Beagle Channel.
For more tips on when to visit Antarctica, the gear you'll need and more, check out our expert Antarctica Cruise Tips.