Although many large cruise ships are careful to enter certain remote and unspoiled areas across Antarctica seas, many of the smaller ships feel confident that their size helps minimize the possibility of polluting Antarctica’s pristine waters and the possibility of colliding with an iceberg. In response to increasing fines, protests against passage, and the number of liners that have collided with icebergs during the past decade, cruise ships are thinking twice before entering Antarctica. It’s easy to understand why. Environmental fines in excess of $100,000 per offense are on the rise, and in today’s economy, the cruise travel sector cannot afford these types of losses.
This does not mean adventure cruisers can count an Antarctica iceberg cruise out. It just means they must choose the cruise line carefully to avoid contributing to any type of environmental offense such as waste dumping. By choosing the right Antarctica iceberg cruise you can also help prevent cruise pollution in and around this southern extension of the Pacific Ocean called the Ross Sea, and beyond.
If you want to explore Antarctica while floating past majestic icebergs, you will have to book a cruise through one of roughly 20 tour and cruise companies. Adventure junkies can try:
- GAP Adventures (www.gapadventures.com)
- Aurora Expeditions, www.auroraexpeditions.com.au
- Affordable Tours, www.affordabletours.com
- Scan Tours, www.scantours.com
- Polar Cruises, www.polarcruies.com
While these cruise tour companies can help you select a cruise and a cruise ship, several popular cruise ships seem to have earned the seal of approval by adventure cruisers and environmentalists alike. These ships are classified as “expedition ships.”
According to Oregon based Polar Cruises, the vessels listed below “let you get up-close and personal with the beauty of Antarctica while having minimal impact on the local environment.”
The top expedition ships for Antarctica iceberg cruises include:
-NG Explorer (148 passengers, luxury)
–Prince Albert II (132 passengers, luxury )
-Orion (106 passengers, luxury)
-Le Boreal (199 passengers, luxury)
-Clelia II (100 passengers, luxury)
-Adventurer (122 passengers, standard expedition)
-Polar Star (98 passengers, standard expedition)
-Ushuaia (84 passengers, standard expedition)
-Polar Pioneer (56 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
-Ocean Nova (68 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
-Svetaeva (89 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
-Loffe (109 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
-Vavilov (110 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
-Plancius (112 passengers, standard expedition, adventure options)
All expedition ships feature ice-strengthened hulls, active stabilizers for motion control, and sophisticated navigation equipment. Luxury expedition ships also feature five star accommodations and amenities such as butler service, verandas, and upscale lounges and public spaces. Standard expedition ships feature an intimate setting and professional expedition leaders, naturalists, and lecturers.
Adventure option expedition ships feature comfortable accommodations and easy access to a number of adventures including sea kayaking, mountaineering, diving, cross country skiing, and overnight camping onshore. Ships with adventure options “still adhere to the principles of conservation and preservation and world exploration for the fortunate few.”
Antarctica adventure cruise prices depend on departure port, type of cruise ship, number of guests, itinerary, and the cruise line. For example, a 10-day Antarctica cruise through GAP Adventures may cost around $3,150 per person, while an 11-day/10-night Antarctica cruise booked through Scan Tours may cost around $4,220 per person. Peak times (late November through mid March) may cost several hundred, if not $1,000 more per person.
To book an Antarctica iceberg cruise aboard any of the ships listed in this article, visit any of the tour or cruise company websites listed above.