Where to go

Antarctic Peninsula

The northernmost extension of the Antarctic continent...

Paradise Harbour
© Polar Latitudes

One of the main reasons to embark on an Antarctic Cruise is, of course, to step foot on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. This thin string of islands, covered in a sheet of ice, juts away from the mainland and is shaped like a crooked finger pointing northwards towards South America. Covered in steep glaciated mountains and deep snow, it is virtually impossible to cross without flying over it, meaning most cruise boats will either head east or west to avoid it.

Crossing into the area known as the Antarctic Sound, the change in seascapes and colours become immediately apparent. Mesmerising hues of blues and whites reflect off giant icebergs with flat table-tops, driven northwards by powerful winds and currents from the ice shelves in the Weddell Sea, while steep, tumbling glaciers flow directly into the water. Offering some of the most spectacular sailing in Antarctica, whether it is amongst the ice floes in the Weddell Sea or through the jagged peak-lined fjords of Neumayer and Lemaire, the Peninsula is not to be missed. Despite its inhospitable appearance, this area of Antarctica still attracts a variety of wildlife and species. At the very tip of the Peninsula is the tuya of Brown Bluff; an ancient volcano which erupted from within a glacier, forming a rare geological phenomenon. With a flat top and towering cliffs, it plays home to nesting gentoo and Adélie penguins as well as Kelp gulls, Cape petrels and Snow petrels. Paulet Island, in the Weddell Sea, is also a volcanic island, which, in breeding season, becomes home to more than 80 000 entertaining Adélie penguins. The southerly Snow Hill Island offers the chance to watch skuas and huge numbers of king penguins who favour the drier, eastern side of the Peninsula. Favourite spots for zodiac expeditions, these islands offer a chance to see these remarkable colonies close-up. Where there are large penguin colonies and krill-filled waters, seals will inevitably follow, meaning the Peninsula is also a popular spot to see crabeater, Weddell, leopard and southern elephant seals. It is also in the areas around the magical Paradise Bay and the wide-open waters of the Gerlaiche Strait that minke, humpback and killer whales are regularly seen and heard. Whether you manage to make it onto the Antarctic Peninsula itself or enjoy the breath-taking surroundings from the observation deck of your cruise vessel, the sights and sounds of this challenging and jaw-droppingly beautiful continent with its sculpted icescapes and abundant wildlife will stay with you forever.

When to go to the Antarctic:

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    At a glance…the Antarctic Peninsula

  • Size: 800 miles long
  • Location: 620 miles south of Tierra del Fuego
  • Recommended time: 3 to 5 nights
  • Time to visit: October to March
  • Go here for: Wildlife, photography and adventure
  • Further reading...

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    Our top five hotel recommendations for Antarctic Peninsula in 2017/18:

    1. Akademik Ioffe

      Akademik Ioffe

      Originally designed for polar research, the Akademik Ioffe is a modern and comfortable expeditionary-style cruise boat. Stable and ice-strengthened it is well equipped for manoeuvring through ice-filled waters and tackling the Drake Passage. The key selling points for this boat are the attentive... More...

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    2. Akademik Sergey Vavilov © Ira Meyer

      Akademik Sergey Vavilov

      Originally built as a Russian research ship designed for polar research, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov has been refurbished into a modern expedition cruise vessel. Stable, quiet and ice-strengthened, the ship is perfect for exploring Antarctic waters. The main selling points of this ship are the wide... More...

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    3. Hebridean Sky

      Hebridean Sky

      The best small luxury-expedition boat in its category, the Hebridean Sky has some of the best facilities, one of the top passenger to crew ratios and all suite accommodation, making it a great choice for those looking for an adventurous cruise without compromising on elegance and on-board comforts... More...

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    4. Ocean Nova

      Ocean Nova

      The Ocean Nova is a comfortable and modern expedition cruise vessel, perfect for those looking to experience Antarctica without spending a fortune. Although accommodation and facilities are more basic than on the luxury cruise ships, the Ocean Nova’s main advantage is that it carries a maximum of... More...

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    5. Sea Adventurer

      Sea Adventurer

      The Sea Adventurer is a comfortable and classically styled ice-strengthened expedition ship offering a range of different itineraries, including fly and cruise itineraries. Somewhere between the Ocean Nova and the Hebridean Sky, the Sea Adventurer is a good option for those looking for a mix of... More...

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