What is it like to fly to Antarctica?

What is a Fly & Cruise trip to Antarctica?

  • It's an alternative way to access Antarctica quickly and comfortably by flying instead of sailing
  • By flying you reach Antarctica in just 2 hours - rather than 2 days at sea - and avoid the Drake Passage
  • These trips are particularly appealing to 'time poor' travelers & anxious sailors, but are suitable for anyone
  • Once in Antarctica, embark your ship which acts as your 'floating hotel' with daily zodiac excursions, just as if you had sailed
  • The itinerary includes many of the Antarctic Peninsula's highlights, including Deception Island, Port Lockroy & Lemaire Channel
  • Tried and tested over 14 seasons, these 'Fly & Cruise' voyages have been proven as a safe and expedient route to Antarctica
  • It's a simple formula: More time exploring, less time traveling

Alex says

Fly and Cruise the Antarctic Peninsula

Fly and Cruise Across the Polar Circle

Fly One Way, Sail The Other

Fly and Cruise to South Georgia

What Our Customers Think

Fly and Cruise Trips: Your Questions Answered

  • How does it work?

    All fly and cruise trips to Antarctica start in the Chilean town of Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia. You can reach Punta Arenas by flying to Santiago and then south to Punta Arenas with LAN.

    Once in Punta Arenas, all passengers stay overnight at the same hotel before being woken early the next morning for their flight to Antarctica. The charter flight takes approximately 2 hours and goes from Punta Arenas airport direct to the Chilean Eduardo Frei Station on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands (close to the Antarctic Peninsula). Once on King George Island you take a 30 minute walk to the ship and start your adventure along the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Trips that cruise one way to Antarctica start in the Argentinian town of Ushuaia in southern Patagonia and fly back from the Chilean Eduardo Frei Station to Punta Arenas.

  • When should I book my trip?

    Demand for fly and cruise trips is high and they often get booked up well in advance. For the full choice of cabins and departure dates, we strongly advise you get in touch and start the planning process early.

    We can also provisionally hold a cabin on your behalf for several days whilst you make up your mind. Most people book their cruise around 12-18 months in advance, before availability really starts tightening up.

  • What can I expect to see and do?

    Prepare yourself for the biggest icebergs you've ever seen, Weddell Seals lounging on blue ice floes and penguins waddling up and down huge ice-covered mountains bringing food back and forth to the rookery. You'll spend several hours a day getting up close to Chinstraps, Adelie and Gentoos and hop straight into the Zodiacs if there's a pod of whales nearby.

    Itineraries are flexible up to a point, and the expedition leaders will plan each day as they go according to weather conditions. Trips in the Antarctic Peninsula could include sailing through the Gerlache Strait, famed for its spectacular icebergs in all their strange blueish forms, the Lemaire Channel, a narrow strait which leads down and across the Antarctic Circle and Deception Island, a volcanic island where you can bathe in the warm-ish waters. You can even take part in the Polar Plunge, a spine tinglingly cold experience involving jumping into watersof 0 degrees.

    Slightly longer trips aim to cross the Antarctic Circle at 66 degrees south venturing to some of the more secluded spots of Marguerite Bay and Petermann Island. If you're looking to explore further afield, you can venture out to the Falklands or South Georgia Islands where you'll really see an abundance of wildlife.

    It largely depends on the time of year that you visit, and our Which Month? calendar at the top right of this page will help you decide when to visit if, for example, you're keen to see penguin chicks hatching, fluffy baby seal pups or large whale pods.

  • Will the weather affect my trip?

    Through careful planning and years of experience, our partners are able to estimate that the chances of a flight to Antarctica suffering a delay are low, at about 10%. However, on voyages to such a remote part of the world where the climate is constantly changing, there is no real way of predicting the weather, although it's fair to say that from November to February it will be warmer and brighter than from March to October.

    We therefore strongly suggest allowing at least two days either side of your trip for contingency.
    This way if you are unable to fly back from Antarctica to Punta Arenas due to bad weather, you will not miss your internal or international flight. In the event that you're unable to depart from Punta Arenas for Antarctica, our partner would put into practice their contingency plan so that alternative wildlife activities would be provided in Punta Arenas. Please note that the team will do all that they can to get you to and from Antarctica on time.

  • What is the Drake Passage & why do I want to avoid it?

    This infamous body of water is located between the tip of Patagonia (Cape Horn) and the South Shetland Islands and is the point at which the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans meet, causing a great swell known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The current causes huge upswellings, or 'Waves of Terror', at times reaching heights of 15 metres that for some people produce serious sea sickness.

    However, the roughest stretch of ocean in the world is also a haven for a variety of seabirds and whales and so make it a great place for wildlife spotting if you can stomach it.

  • What type of plane will it be?

    The planes used by all our Fly and Cruise partners are operated by DAP, a Chilean airline that takes more than 1000 passengers to Antarctica per year. The company's planes include a BAE 146 with capacity for 99, Twin Otter DHC-6, Beechcraft and Cessna 402.

    In the unlikely event that there is too much ice on the runway on King George Island, you may have the opportunity to fly on a C-130 Hercules plane, which is able to land on ice.

  • What if I'm travelling alone?

    Solo travellers are welcome on board all Antarctica Fly and Cruise trips. We'd be happy to help you with these arrangements if you decide to go ahead with a cruise by yourself.

    On some trips, there is the option of a single cabin, though these will be more expensive. Your other option is to either share a cabin with someone of the same sex, or have a twin cabin to yourself and pay a single occupancy cabin rate of between 1.5 and 1.7 times the rate based on two persons sharing a standard twin cabin.

  • What's the luggage allowance?

    Travelling to Antarctica by plane definitely requires light packing! The luggage allowance is 20kg per passenger including hand luggage. This is due to the fact that you'll be flying on a small, lightweight plane, designed to get you across the Drake Passage as quickly as possible. If you're worried about the luggage restriction, please be assured that you'll be provided with an extensive kit list to help with your packing well in advance of the trip and you will be able to safely leave your luggage with the operator and it will be returned to you at the airport or on your return to the hotel in Punta Arenas.

  • How much does it cost?

    A Fly and Cruise trip in a triple cabin costs approx $10,795 USD per person on an 8 day voyage. This price includes:

    • Your return flights from Punta Arenas to King George Island in Antarctica
    • Daily guided excursions in Zodiac boats and 2-3 hour explorations on the ice
    • Accommodation in a comfortable, modern twin shared cabin
    • Themed lectures from your expert expedition leaders whilst on board
    • All meals (international cuisine) and an open bar (on most cruises)
    • Hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas
    • Airport-hotel transfers

    Whilst flights between Punta Arenas and Antarctica are included in the price of the voyage, you will need to book your international and domestic flights to and from Punta Arenas separately. We can help you book these if you'd like - take a look at our advice on how to get to Antarctica in the meantime.

    Some Fly & Cruise trips also give you the option to kayak, hike, climb or camp in Antarctica, and the cost varies depending on the operator. Some operators include these activities in their trip price, but most charge an additional surcharge for your guides and equipment which can range from $350 - $1,250 depending on the excursion. For rates please see the information beneath the rates and dates as you visit each of the above trips. Please be aware that you will probably be required to take out travel insurance for climbing and kayaking excursions.

    Although on a per day basis, a Fly and Cruise option is more expensive than a standard Antarctic cruise, it certainly has its advantages. It's one of the quickest ways of seeing all that Antarctica has to offer in just 5 - 9 days, something which a traditional Antarctic cruise just can't offer. And to top it off, it means cutting out around 4 days of cruising in open waters, thus giving you a more comfortable journey to and from Antarctica, avoiding potential sea-sickness.

Swoop Says

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

  • Swoop Antarctica Expert Luke
  • Swoop Antarctica Expert Aimee
  • Swoop Antarctica Expert Alex
  • Swoop Antarctica Expert John
  • Swoop Antarctica Expert Loli

With over 10 years' experience in Antarctica, we can guide you through the maze of options to choose the perfect voyage.