Antarctica is a distant land to sail to, and it certainly isn’t a routine destination for a cruise vacation (in contrast to places like the Caribbean or Alaska, for example). Yet people do take cruises to Antarctica, which means there must be cruise ships that take Antarctic Cruises, and indeed there are. These Antarctic cruise ships vary in style and the accommodations they offer, but they all tend to be rather small, holding only around 50 to 200 people. There probably isn’t enough demand for cruises to Antarctica to fill a huge cruise ship, and moreover a large cruise ship could be hard to maneuver in some of the more remote areas of the Antarctic region. In this article, we’ll look at a few different cruise ships that travel to Antarctica to get a sense of what they are like.
You might not expect to travel to Antarctica in perfect comfort (maybe you think a trip to the southernmost continent is an expedition to be endured, not a vacation to enjoy), but essentially you can, as several ships offer luxurious accommodations. On the National Geographic Explorer, there are 81 cabins, and everyone of them has views of the ocean and private facilities. Each room also has its own climate controls, which travelers probably appreciate on their journey to a region as cold as Antarctica. As far as public spaces are concerned, the Explorer has a library, an observation gallery, a fitness center, and a spa, among other things. Basically, the ship, which can accommodate 148 passengers, has many of the features that make cruise ships enjoyable.
The Le Boreal (which has to be a redundant way to write the name, but that is nevertheless how it is referred to on the sites we researched) offers even more to passengers than the Explorer. In addition to a spa and fitness center, there is a heated outdoor pool and a “modern lecture facility and theater.” Moreover, the ship has been designed to accommodate more passengers than it allows on board, so it has a spacious feel. There are several ships that have features comparable to the Explorer and Le Boreal, so, again, it is possible to travel to Antarctica while enjoying the amenities that modern cruise ships offer.
Not all cruise ships offer as much as the Le Boreal, but none of the ships that carry passengers to Antarctica that we were able to find are particularly unaccommodating. Even a ship like the Ushuaia, which is a small ice-strengthened vessel originally built for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is plenty comfortable. This ship is specifically designed for Antarctic excursions, which explains why it doesn’t have a spa or anything like that on board, but it still has other public spaces like a library and a well-stocked bar to keep passengers happy on their voyage south. You don’t need to stoically endure harsh weather in sketchy ships to see Antarctica.
So, although cruise ships that sail to Antarctica tend to be small, and even though many of them weren’t originally designed with tourist trips to Antarctica in mind, they are nice and comfortable. There aren’t fine restaurants or elaborate casinos on board, but they offer all the amenities you need.