Considering an Arctic or Antarctic Cruise? Here Are the Differences Between the Two Destinations

The Arctic and Antarctica are two destinations that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Well, if you don’t mind chilly weather, that is. Cruise ships offer the unique chance to visit the poles of our planet, and both stand as alluring destinations for the most adventurous cruise lovers. But before you go booking your dream polar expedition, you should understand that Antarctica and the Arctic are very different despite their obvious similarities. They are not interchangeable locations. So what are the major differences between these two icy regions?

First of all, you should understand that Antarctica, at least in cruise terms, refers to both the continent housing the South Pole and the islands nearby. You may think that every Antarctic cruise will let you step foot on the fabled seventh continent, but that just isn’t true. You might just be visiting islands nearby – or, in many cases, you may not be getting off of the boat at all. An Antarctic cruise will be around $100 per day if you are just cruising through Antarctic waters, and the price will rocket up to $1000 per day or so if you are actually getting off the boat. Almost all Arctic cruises, however, will stop at islands, giving you a better chance of actually exploring your environment on foot.

Second, the fauna (and flora!) of these two regions are not to be compared. Sure, you will find similar animals in both, but there are unique species to both areas. If you are hoping to see polar bears, you should shoot for the Arctic. Penguins, on the other hand, are more plentiful in Antarctica. In general, you will probably have better luck at a frosty safari in the Arctic than you will near it’s southern cousin. The Arctic also offers more of a chance to see some plant life. There are some trees and shrubs through Arctic regions, whereas you won’t find much like that in Antarctica.

Finally, let’s talk about ice. Both areas are obviously renowned for their cold conditions, but they don’t have similarly ideal conditions for icebergs and glaciers. While you certainly can (and likely will) find massive blocks of ice in the Arctic, it is generally said that Antarctica is the place to go for ice. The icebergs there are legendary; you won’t find more impressive ice features anywhere in the world.

There are other major differences between Antarctica and the Arctic, but these are three that you should keep in mind while planning a trip. At the end of the day, you’ll be more than satisfied by visiting either. However, both are intense vacations, so it’s best to be as informed as possible before booking!

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