The White Continent, which has drawn the world’s finest explorers for centuries, continues to enthrall today with its enormous tabular icebergs, stunning glaciers, and magnificent wildlife.

Small Ship Luxury Cruises helps to pair you with the perfect small ship or river cruise destination. With our extensive knowledge and experience traveling around the globe, we categorize the best in cruises by season as well as popularity. While we may recommend peak travel opportunities, our team can accommodate any request to travel abroad year-round.


Luxury Antarctica Small Ship Cruises

Massive icebergs, mountains towering from the sea, glaciers winding over cliffs, geothermal beaches, and glorious nights beneath the midnight sun await you as you reach Antarctica. Nowhere else on Earth can you see such a diverse range of marine and birdlife. Guests can enjoy unique activities such as skiing, hiking, camping, and whale watching in this pristine environment.

Recommended Luxury Antarctica Small Ships

We have hand-selected only the finest Antarctica expedition vessels with the highest standards of personalized service as the basis for crafting your custom-designed Antarctica experience.

Luxury Antarctic Expedition Cruises

Highlights of a small ship Antarctic cruise

Emperor penguins are the stars of Antarctica and for good reason! These fascinating creatures can be found nowhere else on Earth. 8,000 emperor penguins live on Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea, right off the Antarctic Peninsula’s east coast. Watching them waddle and play is an experience you’ll never forget. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see a baby penguin being born.

There is no greater thrill than crossing the infamous Drake Passage. For many, it’s the ultimate adventure – and with good reason. This stretch of open water between South America and Antarctica is one of the roughest on Earth, with high winds and towering waves that can seem like they’re going to wash you overboard. But for those who make it across, the rewards are immense.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, consider flying over the Drake Passage instead – with aerial views of this stunning landscape, you’ll be in for a treat. The Drake Passage may be flown through in just under 2 hours instead of the 48 hours it takes to travel by boat.

With its towering glaciers, pristine landscapes, and abundance of wildlife, this frozen continent is one of the most unique and awe-inspiring destinations on Earth. And the best way to explore it is by joining a Zodiac tour that provides intimate access to all the wonders of Antarctica. From watching whales breach in icy waters to exploring massive icebergs, a Zodiac tour with experienced guides leading the way offers a truly unforgettable adventure.

Observing the world’s largest animals against a backdrop of snowy peaks and icebergs is one of the best things to do in Antarctica. The most prevalent whale species in Antarctica are the humpback, orca, minke, blue, sei, sperm, fin, and right whales.

Looking for an extreme way to experience Antarctica? Then take the Polar Plunge! This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers the chance to jump into the world’s most southernmost waters. Brave the frigid temperature and feel your adrenaline surge as you plunge into this ethereal landscape. But don’t worry – you’ll be warmly wrapped up in a thermal suit and enjoying a hot drink afterward.

If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you back in time, then visit Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave in Grytviken, South Georgia. This legendary explorer’s story is one of courage and determination in the face of insurmountable odds, and his grave is a reminder of the sacrifices he made in the name of exploration. Trekking to Grytviken is an unforgettable experience that will give you a new appreciation for the power of nature.

Best times to visit Antarctica

The best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months of November to March when the weather is milder and there are more daylight hours available for sightseeing. But each month has its own unique attractions, including penguin chicks, seal pups, mating season, icebergs, and the chance to traverse the Antarctic Circle.

The Antarctic expedition season begins towards the end of October or the beginning of November. The weather is still quite frigid and uncertain. But November is the best month to view the largest icebergs in Antarctica. Photographers traverse pack ice on foot (or on snowshoes). The Elephant seal breeding season is also in full swing in Antarctica.

December is the ideal time to visit Antarctica, as temperatures reach their peak (by Antarctic standards) and wildlife is most active. It is also a high travel season, particularly between Christmas and New Year. Due to the mating season of seabirds, this is an ideal time for birdwatchers. The beaches of South Georgia are highlighted by the presence of migrating whales and seal pups.

In January, the Antarctic summer reaches its peak, so you’ll experience more than 20 hours of sunlight every day. These additional daylight hours allow you to see a bit more of the Peninsula in the same number of days, making them extremely popular. Penguin chicks, seals, and whales can all be spotted in early January, and the weather is ideal for observing them.

In Antarctica, February is one of the hottest months. In this season, you have the highest opportunity of seeing whales and the loudest penguin chicks yet. There is a small window of time to cross the Antarctic Circle and explore the dwindling Ross Ice Shelf, the starting location of some of the most well-known South Pole expeditions.

The Antarctic expedition season comes to an end in March, when temperatures drop to below freezing, signaling the approach of autumn. By this point it’s too late to see penguin chicks and temperatures are getting colder, though it’s a still great time to spot whales, and fur seals are abundant on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Why cruise Antarctica with Small Ship Luxury Cruises?

We get to know you on a personal level so that we can accommodate your preferences, needs, and expectations before we begin planning your ideal Antarctic experience.

We work with only the finest Antarctic expedition ships with the highest levels of personalized service. From there, we listen to what you desire and use our insider knowledge to make the best fit for you and your guests.

Our experienced travel concierges plan your Antarctic trip from beginning to end, eliminating the time investment and stress so often associated with planning a vacation to a destination as complicated as Antarctica.

Just tell our Antarctica concierges about your dream trip to the White Continent and they will assist you with planning every detail of the process.

While Small Ship Luxury Cruises help you discover the best cruise destinations, our team of travel concierges can coordinate a completely customized itinerary to Antarctica to accommodate any request. If you don’t see a particular destination or activity highlighted on our website, don’t worry! We would be happy to work with you in curating your one-of-a-kind travel experience.

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