Float among icebergs, gaze at penguins, and soak up mesmerizing views—an Antarctica cruise is a trip of a lifetime. A cruise is the best way to visit the White Continent, but you’ll have to spend two days each way sailing the Drake Passage to actually reach Antarctica, so you’ll want to choose a comfortable boat for your journey.
As discerning travelers look to more remote and exclusive destinations, premium cruise lines have stepped up to meet demand for upscale expeditions to Antarctica. These luxury Antarctica cruises offer five-star dining, adventurous activities, and stunning accommodations. On these ships, you can soak in a hot tub while watching the snow fall, kayak among glaciers, and enjoy a massage with epic views.
An important tip when searching for the best Antarctica cruise: The size of the ship is the most important thing. The Antarctic Treaty does not allow ships with more than 500 passengers to make landings—so if you’re on a cruise with more than 500 passengers, you won’t be able to disembark the boat and step foot on Antarctica. Fortunately, most luxury Antarctica cruises are smaller ships, allowing for more flexibility and opportunities to explore.
These are the best Antarctica luxury cruises in the world.
Seabourn Expeditions debuted its premier polar exploration vessel, the Seabourn Pursuit, in 2023. Carrying just 200 guests in luxuriously appointed staterooms, the Pursuit promises an intimate, indulgent journey to the remote reaches of Antarctica.
The Seabourn Pursuit is designed for Antarctic journeys, built to PC6 Polar Class standards. It carries two custom-built submarines, 24 Zodiacs, kayaks, and a 24-person expert expedition team enabling guests to engage in up-close wildlife encounters, off-the-beaten path excursions, and enriching cultural experiences.
Onboard the all-suite ship, guests enjoy pampering touches like personal stationery, heated wardrobes, and fully stocked in-room bars. A photo studio helps passengers edit that perfect snapshot from the trip. Relaxing in one of the ship’s four hot tubs amid the incredible scenery is a highlight that shouldn’t be missed.
The ship’s eight dining venues offer refined cuisine served by Michelen-level chefs. This all-inclusive luxury Antarctica cruise covers everything, including unlimited Champagne and caviar.
The Seabourn’s sister ship, the Seaborn Venture, launched in 2022. Having two expedition ships means that Seabourn can offer a range of different Antarctic itineraries, allowing guests to craft their ideal voyage. Some focus solely on the frozen continent across 5-7 days, while others add visits to South Georgia’s rookeries and historic sites. There are also options to explore the Chilean fjords or Falkland Islands.
Skip the Drake Passage entirely with Antarctica 21’s Fly & Cruise Expeditions, which fly passengers directly to King George Island to board their ship. This is a great option if you’re short on vacation time, as itineraries can be as short as seven days.
There are two modern ships to choose from, the Magellan Explorer and the Ocean Nova, both of which are perfectly sized at 76 and 67 passengers respectively. Antarctica 21 often offers promotions for free upgrades, allowing you to experience luxury on a budget.
Our favorite of the ships is the Magellan Explorer. All of the staterooms on this ship (except the porthole category) feature private balconies. We also love the Magellan Explorer’s glass-enclosed observation lounge and the forward-facing observation deck on the ship’s bow, which offers unparalleled opportunities for marine wildlife viewing.
Silversea Expeditions defines the top tier of luxury Antarctic cruises. This high-end cruise line has three ships that sail to Antarctica: three super-luxe 200-passenger ships sailing to Antarctica: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind and Silver Endeavour. No matter which vessel you choose, all Silversea Antarctica cruises are all-inclusive and only feature suite cabins.
Speaking of the cabins, they’re incredibly luxurious, featuring Bulgari toiletries, private teak verandas, and living rooms. Even when you’re sailing as far as Antarctica, you’ll still enjoy the signature Silversea amenities, like butler service, unlimited caviar, or a pillow menu.
For the utmost luxury, opt for a voyage on the Seabourn Venture, the brand’s newest ship. “ultra-luxury” expedition ship Seabourn Venture, which launched in 2022.
The cruise line thoughtfully provides guests with a polar kit containing a warm parka, rain jacket, quick-dry hat and neck warmer, water bottle, and reusable tote bag. Expedition gear, like sturdy waterproof boots and binoculars, are available to borrow onboard.
You definitely won’t be bored on a Silversea cruise to Antarctica, as each day on the continent will generally include three excursions with varied activities like hiking, kayaking, and zodiac cruising.
Want to experience Antarctica without sailing the Drake Passage? Silversea offers two different types of Antarctica cruises. You can sail the Drake Passage for the traditional passage, or skip it entirely by flying to meet up with the ship.
Refind French cruise line Ponant operates an exclusive fleet of small polar-class expedition ships bringing sophisticated luxury to Antarctica with a Parisian flair. Ponant sails four intimate 199-passenger yachts to Antarctica: L’Austral, Le Boreal, Le Lyrial, Le Soleal along with a brand new icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot.
For the best luxury Antarctica cruise experience, we recommend opting for the new Le Commandant-Charcot. Named for famed polar explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot, this ship sets a new benchmark in luxury Antarctic adventure with an indulgent, elegant design aesthetic across just 123 spacious staterooms and suites.
If you’re looking for a sustainable Antarctica cruise, Le Commandant-Charcot is one of the best. It runs on liquified natural gas, and is equipped with innovative technologies designed to minimize the ship’s environmental impact. Yet, it’s still powerful enough to have a Polar Class 2 icebreaker rating that allows it to travel through thick ice into more remote Antarctic regions away from crowds.
Michelin-starred dining, Ponant’s unique Blue Eye underwater lounge, luxury spa, gym, outdoor pool, and exceptional amenities promise sublime, tailor-made voyages.
Expert expedition staff enriches every sailing with insights and unique excursions via Zodiac or snowshoe.
Scenic Luxury Cruise
Scenic Luxury Cruise’s new technologically advanced megayacht, the Eclipse, sets a new benchmark for polar expeditions. Just 200 guests across all-veranda suites enjoy unrivaled space boasting luxury furnishings and amenities like a pillow menu, marbled bathrooms with panoramic views, and private verandas. Butler service attends every suite.
Dining excels across 10 eateries with ever-changing fresh options from sushi to steaks, while a spa, gym, yoga studio and even a vitality pool pamper body and soul.
Worried about getting seasick on your Antarctica cruise? The Scenic Eclipse is equipped with stabilizers that are 50 percent larger than comparable vessels to ensure smooth sailing.
Off-ship discoveries happen twice daily with Zodiacs or kayaks dispatched to land guests on remote shores. There they can snowshoe or go on guided ice hikes with the onboard team of 20 polar experts of geologists, biologists, and historians, whose passion for the White Continent is exceeded only by their depth of knowledge. Complimentary parkas (yours to keep) will keep you toasty warm while off the ship.
For the ultimate polar perspective, Scenic Eclipse carries two seven-seat helicopters and an eye-popping custom submarine that sets it apart from other luxury Antarctica cruises.
For the ultimate luxury Antarctica cruise, charter your own super yacht to the continent. Eyos Expeditions offers private superyacht cruises to Antarctica on beautiful but tough boats. These ships have full ice-breaking capabilities but are outfitted with five-star touches like a Balinese spa, heli-deck, and three-person submarine to accommodate any adventures.
You can even book special itineraries, like an Antarctica ski expedition led by Olympian Bode Miller, that you won’t find on any other ships.
Even if you don’t have “charter a private yacht to Antarctica level money”, you can still take advantage of a trip with Eyos Expedition, which occasionally offers book-by-cabin itineraries.
Viking offers an affordable luxury Antarctica cruise experience on its two new custom-built vessels, Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis, which sail to Antarctica with 378 passengers.
Central to the experience are the ships’ fully enclosed landing decks. Protected from the elements, guests can easily board the vessel’s fleet of 12-person landing craft for shore excursions. For those with limited mobility, it eliminates the challenges of exiting small boats amidst Antarctic swells that they might face on other cruise lines.
Cabins are luxurious, with king-size beds, heated floors, customizable mood lighting, and drying closets for expedition gear.
When conditions allow, the possibilities for discovery are endless. Glide through glacial channels in peddle-powered kayaks, scout for whales and seals in Zodiacs, or dive beneath the waves in Viking’s submarines. The expedition staff includes expert marine biologists, geologists, naturalists, and historians to provide fascinating context and insights.
Quark Expeditions specializes in the polar regions, so you can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands when booking an Antarctica trip through them. Quark runs trips to a variety of destinations in the regions, including the Antarctic Peninsula, Snow Hill Island (a colony of 4,000 pairs of breeding Emperor penguins), South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.
Quark Expeditions offers the largest fleet of polar-class vessels in the industry, each of which carry less than 200 passengers for an intimate experience. All of the ships have ice-strengthened hulls which can handle even the roughest of conditions.
Guests can even opt to spend an unforgettable night sleeping outside in Antarctica, with a camping expedition.
Quark’s most luxurious Antarctica cruise ship is the World Explorer. This is one of the brand’s fastest ships, and it offers six tiers of deluxe accommodation onboard.
All suites feature private walk-outs or French balconies for uninterrupted ocean views. The glass-domed Observation Lounge is a highlight of the boat’s public spaces, with full skyline views.
The ship places a high priority on health and wellness, offering a gym, sauna, spa, and outdoor track.
Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent, a leader in luxury world tours for over 20 years, partners with the French cruise line Ponant to offer high-end Antarctica expeditions aboard the sleek, 264-passenger ship Le Lyrial. Le Lyrial combines contemporary elegance with a reinforced hull and other rugged features that allow it to navigate Antarctica’s icy waters with ease.
While Ponant trips are usually bilingual, when Abercrombie & Kent charters the ship, they bring English-speaking staff and offer English-only programming tailored for their mostly American and British passengers. Le Lyrial’s capacity is also reduced to 199 passengers for a more intimate Antarctica cruise experience.
When Abercrombie & Kent says their cruises are all-inclusive, they mean it. Everything is included in the experience, from gratuities to excursions.
The expedition team that will sail with you is world-class and includes academics, photographers, and real-life explorers, each with an average of 15 years of experience sailing with the company.
How to Find a Deal on a Luxury Antarctica Cruise
Luxury Antarctica Cruising: Frequently Asked Questions
How Much is a Luxury Cruise to Antarctica?
Fares for luxury Antarctica sailings vary by season, itinerary, and level of luxury. Exclusive polar expeditions aboard ultra-lavish small ships like those operated by Silversea and Seabourn start around $12,000 per person for a 10-night sailing. The most opulent offerings, like Scenic’s 6-star mega-yacht Eclipse whose spacious suites can top over $100,000, fall in the bucket-list luxury category..
What is the Best Month to Cruise to Antarctica?
The Antarctic summer between November to March is the only time luxury passenger vessels sail to the White Continent. December to February are prime months for sighting wildlife like whales, penguins, and seals raising their young. November and early March offer longer daylight and fewer ships, though rougher Drake Passage crossings. Late February often delivers exceptional weather showcasing Antarctica’s majestic ice-scapes at their gleaming best.
What is the Best Cruise to See Penguins in Antarctica?
Small expedition ships that can access protected bays and land via Zodiacs offer the most rewarding penguin encounters. Ponant and Silversea luxury expedition ships carry fewer than 250 guests, allowing access to exclusive penguin rookeries.
How Much is a Silversea Antarctica Cruise?
Silversea luxury sailings to Antarctica aboard the Silver Cloud start at around $10,000 per person. Their all-inclusive pricing bundles alcohol, gratuities, and unlimited WiFi with spacious suites showcasing butler service, fine onboard dining, and enriching shore excursions for a seamless ultra-luxe experience.
How to Find a Cheap Luxury Antarctica Cruise
Antarctica cruises are expensive, but there are ways to save money with some compromises. Booking a sail-by cruise on a major cruise line like Celebrity or Princess offers the lowest rates, starting at around $1,000 per person. However, these ships with over 500 passengers cannot make landings, so you only view Antarctica from offshore. Smaller expedition cruises allow landings but even deals here like Atlas Ocean Voyages’ $4,000 trips don’t come cheap.
Other money-saving tactics include traveling early/late season when demand is lower, snagging last-minute deals when ships have empty cabins, and opting for less luxurious ships with shared facilities. Compromising too much on ship quality or itinerary length means spending more time sailing and less time onshore. The key is balancing cost savings against having your ideal Antarctica experience.
Our best tips for saving money on a luxury Antarctica cruise are:
- Book early: Booking more than a year in advance can help you score a luxury cruise at a budget price, with better deals like 2-for-1 sailings, free flights, and more available the earlier you book.
- Travel off-peak: Antarctica cruises tend to be the cheapest in November and March.
- Book last-minute: Flying down to Ushuaia, Argentina, and going in-person to cruise operators can score incredible deals of up to 75 percent off, but this strategy is best attempted only if you can be very flexible with your schedule.