How Much Does It Cost to go to Antarctica?
Antarctica. The 7th continent. The white continent. The end of the world. Untouched and full of wildlife, this part of the world is a bucket list destination for many. However, as one of the most remote places on the planet, it comes with a price tag. So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica? Here’s what you need to know.
Please note that this guide’s pricing is based on a single individual taking an Antarctica expedition cruise leaving from South America (not New Zealand). These types of trips are solo travel friendly as well as couple/group friendly. If you are travelling solo you can opt for a private cabin, or you will be placed in a shared cabin with another solo traveller of the same sex.
How Much Does it Cost to Go to Antarctica?
|Add-ons||Up to $2,000|
|Total||US $9,500 - $11,500|
The above estimate is in American dollars (USD), so please use xe.com to determine the average costs in your home currency.
How much are flights to Antarctica?
While it is technically possible to fly to Antarctica rather than sail through the Drake Passage, it’s incredibly expensive. For that reason, this article is focused on the costs of an Antarctica cruise. As such, most cruises depart from the southernmost tip of South America, either Ushuaia in Argentina or Punta Arenas in Chile, and sail to the Antarctic circle through the Drake Passage. Think of it as part of the adventure!
Since Ushuaia (or Punta Arenas) is so far, most travellers break up their flights. They will first fly to Buenos Aires or Santiago and then continue on to the point of departure. Obviously, international flights to Buenos Aires or Santiago will vary in pricing depending on where you are coming from, but you can expect to pay about $1000 for a roundtrip flight. From there, you can expect to add on an extra $500 or so roundtrip flights to get to your place of departure.
How much is an Antarctica cruise?
The Antarctica cruise is the most expensive portion of your cost. This is because it basically includes everything; transportation, accommodation, meals, and activities.
For the duration of your Antarctica cruise, you will be living aboard the ship. There are different types of cabins you can book depending on your budget and what you would like. The cheapest option on most ships is 3-berth interior cabins. These cabins have three single beds and no windows and, at their cheapest, starting at about $7,500.00 USD for an 11-day trip. You can then upgrade to private rooms, rooms with windows, suites etc. If you are on one of the luxury cruises, you can easily spend $50,000. The Antarctica cruises can really vary, but for this guide, I’m sticking with the more affordable option.
Three meals a day are included when onboard. However, most Antarctica cruises do not include drink packages. So, if you want alcohol, specialty coffee, juice or soft drinks, then you will need to purchase those on board. Some ships allow you to bring drinks on board with you, but they have to be consumed in your room.
While onboard, the ship staff will offer daily lectures about local wildlife, history, and the environment. There will also usually be some sort of evening entertainment. This could be a documentary or movie, music, a special guest speaker etc.
Once you arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula, you will get to do the included excursions. These are zodiac cruises and landings. Most cruises try to get 2 per day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), but it’s all dependent on the co, conditions and weather. You can choose to do add-ons, but I’ll talk more about those below.
Finally, on this list of inclusions: is gear. Antarctica expedition cruises will typically provide expedition parkas and muck boots for all guests. Possibly more, depending on the cruise.
Important tip: Not all Antarctica cruises are expedition cruises. Vessels that have more than 200 passengers do not actually stop in Antarctica; they just cruise by. Keep that in mind when shopping around.
Cost to go to Antarctica – Add-ons
Most Antarctica expeditions offer a few extra activities that you can purchase as an add-on to your cruise. These include activities like:
- Helicopter Tours
- Photography Programs
All of these activities should be booked well in advance as space is limited, and they do fill up quickly. Pricing will vary from ship to ship, but for example, kayaking on an 11-day Antarctica cruise with Intrepid Travel for the 2023 season starts at $1100.00.
You do not need to sign up for any of these activities. Zodiac and shore landings (as well as the option to do a polar plunge!) are included for everyone. This is just if you want to do some extras.
In this how much does it cost to go to Antarctica guide, I need to factor in random expenses. While the above will cover the cost of your Antarctica voyage, you will still want to have some extra money on hand. This includes things like tips. Many ships will include a suggested tip in your final bill that you can adjust as you please. For the 11-day Antarctica cruise I did with Intrepid Travel, the suggested gratuities were $12/day to cover crew and $6/day to cover staff.
Again, any extra drinks will be an additional cost. So, you’ll want to have some room in your budget for that. There are also shops on board that sell everything from typical souvenirs to postcards and stamps that you can send from the Antarctica post office and cold-weather gear if you find you need extra.
Finally, most ships have onboard spa services, which you may want to take part in. After all, it takes two full days to go through the Drake Passageway!
For these types of costs, I recommend having an extra $500 or so on hand for random spending.
Cost to go on an Antarctica Cruise
So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica? Well, based on my experience you can expect to pay about $9500 for the most basic option on an 11-day cruise. From there prices can go up if you choose a different cabin, add-ons, or a longer cruise.
Is it expensive? Absolutely. Antarctica is one of the priciest destinations in the world. However, there is nowhere else like it, and an expedition cruise here truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What is the best time to go to Antarctica?
The season runs from November to March, and the best time depends on your goals and where you are going. If you are doing a longer tour of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, then November/December is said to be the best to see the King penguins. If you are after whales, February tends to be the best option. If you are doing the 11-day option, there’s a good chance for penguins (including chicks), whales, and seals in January.
What’s the itinerary?
It really depends on the ship and the weather and other factors like icebergs. You might get to Port Lockroy (home to the southernmost post office in the world), but it’s not guaranteed. You won’t be visiting any scientific research stations. Your stops will be focused on where the wildlife is.
Do you need a visa to visit Antarctica?
No, but you may need one for the country of departure in South America.
Can you get a last-minute deal to Antarctica?
It is possible yes. Your best bet is if you are already there and can book a day or two before down on the docks where they sell last minute cabins. Keep in mind that by this point extras like kayaking are well booked out and you will have a limited selection of cabin space. The cost to go to Antarctica won’t drop too much if you go last minute, as you’ll need to be in the area to start.
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