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Travel tips

What to see on a cruise in Antarctica

Oct 23, 2015 by Jamie Gallerani

Antarctica is known as one of Earth’s final frontiers. It’s the coldest, windiest, driest continent in the world, and its towering glaciers, blue-tinted icebergs and impressive animal life make it a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Want to join the leagues of pioneers that have gone before you and experience Antarctica for yourself? Well, pack lots of layers, grab a waterproof backpack and head out on an Antarctic cruise for an up-close look at some of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights. Remember to bring your binoculars—there are so many breathtaking things that you might see on a tour of the southernmost continent!


Admire the broad expanse of Drake Passage

This legendary stretch of water played a major role in the trading business before 1914, and it’s the route you’ll take when cruising from Tierra del Fuego in Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s a deep waterway known for rough seas, but the beauty of the Antarctic continent makes the trip worth it. A word to the wise: even if you’re not prone to seasickness, prepare yourself for the journey with Dramamine or prescription patches.

Seal in Antarctica

Spot abundant wildlife on the South Shetland Islands

The wildlife on Antarctica could be considered one of the continent’s most compelling draws, and the South Shetland Islands are the place to go to see some of these amazing animals. With over 20 ice-covered islands located north of the Antarctic Peninsula, they’re home to everything from rookeries of breeding penguins to groups of seals basking and hunting along the shores. Discover the world’s largest colony of chinstrap penguins on the black volcanic sands of Deception Island, encounter Adélie penguins on King George Island and keep an eye out for elephant seals on Livingston Island.

On tour in Antarctica

Marvel at the cliffs along the Lemaire Channel

Sometimes referred to as the “Kodak Gap” this narrow, seven-mile strait is a must-see during a visit to Antarctica. It runs between the mainland of the Antarctic Peninsula and mountainous Booth Island, and is bound by steep, icy cliffs. Bring your camera if you take a journey through this scenic waterway because, as its nickname suggests, the channel’s dramatic beauty makes for some stunning photographs.

Antarctica Cruise

Spy the calving icebergs at Neko Harbor

The term “calving” refers to the moment when a portion of an iceberg breaks off, and Neko Harbor is just one of the many Antarctic areas where you can see this breathtaking phenomenon. This small bay is a common spot for wet landings, which is when you take a small, inflatable motor boat called a Zodiac into shallow water and wade ashore. Neko Harbor is also lined with numerous crevassed glaciers, meaning you’ll likely see one of these glacial breaks during a visit to the bay’s pebbly beach.

Look for whales in Paradise Bay

Some of Antarctica’s earliest scientific research was conducted on this serene harbor, which is located along the continent’s western coast. The bay’s name is also very telling, as the area is surrounded by tall glaciers and boasts glassy, placid waters that reflect the sky and surrounding mountains. The stillness of the water is calming, and provides the opportunity to easily spot whales that happen to swim close to the surface. From orcas to humpbacks, Antarctica is home to many different species of whale, and you may be lucky enough to spot one during a visit to this picturesque bay.

About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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