You’re doing it! You’re going to Antarctica! This trip’s been on your bucket list for ages and the time has come for you to confirm your selected ship. You know you’ve got to seize the day and plan this trip now as rates are just going to keep going up and up. But how do you choose a ship? There are so many options! How will you know which ship is right for you and how do you even begin?
First off, find an expert to help you choose. Any ship operator is going to tell you their ship is the best, yet how can you tell if their ship is the best ship for you?
You need an expert who has the inside scoop on what the ships are really like. Ship operators are not going to advertise their shortcomings. I went to Antarctica back in 2004 and I’ve sent over a 1000 travelers there since then. I also designed polar expeditions for a leading operator. I’m aware of all the ships traveling to Antarctica and I can help you locate the one that’s just right for you.
To help you get started, let’s look at the different styles of ships available:
ULTRA EXPEDITION SHIPS
If you’re looking for the highest quality experience in existence, I urge you to consider a series of brand new ships I’m calling the “Ultra Expedition Ships”. These ships are purpose built by operators who have been in the region for over 30 years. These ships are both extremely stylish and include a powerful focus on exploration. These ships have some of the best education programs in the region (though some of their education programs are stronger than others.) These are also some of the most expensive trips to Antarctica on offer. Ships on this list include: (itineraries and photos at the links, scroll down on the pages for ship photos)
LUXURY EXPEDITION SHIPS
The ships on this list may not be brand new yet they do put a lot of emphasis on service, cuisine, stylish furnishings, and their education programs. Some of them have highly credentialed experts onboard and offer intellectually stimulating lectures. Some of them have highly credentialed experts onboard yet ask their experts to keep the education programs light for passengers who may be more interested in comfort. And some are more luxurious than others. (Don’t worry; I’ll make sure to match you with the one that’s right for you.) Ships on this list include:
PREMIUM EXPEDITION VESSELS
The next set of ships are attractive, 4-star expedition ships with comfortable yet more basic cabins, spacious public areas, and very good education programs. These are often smaller sizes than some of the more luxurious ships which means that you’ll spend more time on shore since only 100 passengers are allowed to go to shore in Antarctica at one time. If you’re looking for a great value and a fantastic experience plus sometimes a very off-the-beaten-path itinerary, these ships might be perfect for you. This category also includes some ships offering fly/sail options which means you are able to skip the sometimes very rough Drake Passage en route to Antarctica:
RESEARCH VESSELS - ACTIVE SHIPS
The fourth category of ships I recommend for travelers is what I call the research vessels even though some of them have never been scientific research vessels. What they have in common is that they all have simpler, 3-star accommodations, and they all attract a very adventurous set of fellow passengers. You may think these ships are less expensive than the others yet you’ll discover that they can sometimes have higher rates than the Premium Expedition Vessels. Still, if you’re energetic and hoping to travel with a sometimes younger (not always), less comfort-focused, more adventurous set of travelers, these ships can be a great option for you:
I hope this has introduced you to the four different styles of Antarctica ships. Wild Nectar has curated a collection of ships that we think offer the very best polar experiences. There are large ships at 300-500 passengers that visit Antarctica and there are very basic research vessels with below average education programs, yet we recommend that you check in with us about those vessels and what the onboard experience will be like.
Traveling on a large ship, for example, when only 100 passengers are allowed on shore means you might only have one shore visit per day, or you may only go to shore every other day. Sub par accommodations can make for grumpy fellow passengers and that can affect your experience. Some ships offer kayaking and camping. Some don't. I urge you to Contact Us so we can help you make an informed decision when choosing your ship for this important bucket list destination.
We look forward to helping you find your perfect ship for experiencing this otherworldly destination we like to call, “The Great Blue Ice!”