How much does a trip to Antarctica cost?
Your month of travel, choice and length of trip, whether you fly or sail, where you choose to visit and the level of comfort will all have an influence on the end price:
Price Guide (prices per person)
Classic Antarctica Peninsula cruise (10-11 days) $6,000 - 12,000
Flying Antarctic Safari (8 days) $5,000 - 16,000
Antarctic Circle cruise (12-14 days) $8,000 - 14,000
South Georgia, Falklands & Antarctica cruise (18-23 days) $9,000 - 20,000
Ross Sea cruise (30 - 35 days) $24,000
Antarctic Interior & Flights to the South Pole (7 - 9 days) $48,150
The difference in price between a High & Shoulder season cruise is typically 10 - 25%. If you prefer to fly to Antarctica expect to pay approx. 20% more than if you were to sail.
Antarctic cruise costs explained
There’s no way round it, any trip to Antarctica is expensive and this is simply down to the remoteness of the destination and the costly logistics to get there.
Ice strengthened ships are very expensive to build and maintain, there’s the ship’s staff to look after (which can easily total more than eighty people), and then there’s the actual fuel to run the ship.
Fuel is a significant operating cost and is much more expensive to purchase in the remote areas where they can only re-fuel due to the added transportation costs.
It's a costly endeavour for all concerned, however Swoop has never had anyone return from Antarctica who didn’t think that it was well worth the investment.
What you need to bear in mind, even when comparing two similarly length voyages travelling at the same time, is that there are still a lot of significant variables which will all influence the price. And the pricing policy of no two ship operators will be the same.
For example, the size of the ship, standard of the accommodation, quality of the food and service, size of the onboard staff, etc, will all play a part. There are other, less obvious factors as well, such as the calibre of the expeditionary staff, what clothing is provided, whether wine is included, the staff to passenger ratio and the variety of complimentary activities.
By taking all of these factors into consideration, this is how an experienced Polar operator like Swoop can help you to really understand which voyage option offers the best value for you.
Antarctica is open to summer visitors for 5 months a year, November through to March inclusive, however the pricing structure isn’t flat throughout, which is why the timing of your trip affects the price.
Mid-December to late February are regarded as ‘High Season’, mainly as the weather and wildlife is at its best during this time, but also partly due to higher demand.
November and March, at the beginning and end of the season, are regarded as the ‘Shoulder season’ months. Even though both are still great times to experience Antarctica, prices are typically 10 - 25% lower than during High Season, depending on which ship you choose, so quite significant savings can be made. For travellers who ‘like to have their cake and eat it’, we think early December is a very good time to travel to Antarctica, benefitting from long days in which to explore, benign weather, plentiful wildlife activity and shoulder season pricing.
There isn’t a correct answer to this as we each have different criteria and make decisions slightly differently. What is indisputable though is that Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and the key is choosing exactly the right trip for you to get the very most out of the experience, with budget being an important but often secondary consideration.
With this in mind, we feel that the combination of longer days, more stable weather and the wildlife at their most active during High season justifies the 10 - 25% added cost, but it does depend on what’s important to you.
Photographers, for example, really like November for the soft light, heavy ice conditions and spectacular skies, while February and March are traditionally best for whale sightings.
The commonly held perception is that flying is more expensive than sailing holds true in Antarctica. Expect to approximately pay an extra 20% if you choose to fly both to and from Antarctica.
This premium is largely attributable to the expensive charter flights to Antarctica which require specialist aircraft and highly experienced pilots.
The increase in the number of voyages now offering a combination of flying one way and sailing the other, and utilising cheaper scheduled flights via The Falkland Islands instead, has made flying to Antarctica more cost effective, and provided greater choice.
On any Antarctic voyage the following are typically included:
- Accommodation on full board basis
- All guided landings and excursions while on board ship
- A programme of lectures by leading experts
- Loan of a pair of rubber boots
Depending on which ship you choose, some or all of the following may also be included:
- Complimentary parka jacket (to keep)
- Flights to/ from Antarctica
- Pre/ Post voyage Hotel accommodation
- Additional activities incl. Snowshoeing, camping & photo workshops
- Beverages with meals
- The following optional extra are offered on select trips for a supplementary cost:
- Camping out in Antarctica
- Sea Kayaking
- Reserved Seating on the Charter Flight to Antarctica
Other additional costs which aren’t included:
- All flights to & back from the Start and Finish points of your trip
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks & souvenirs purchased while on board ship
- Internet data cards
- Discretionary tip to the staff (approx. $15-20 per person per day)
Travelling Solo or with your Family
Will it cost extra if I’m travelling solo?
These voyages are very popular with solo travellers with typically at least 20% of passengers on board ship being single. The good news is that by travelling solo it doesn’t have to cost you any extra, depending on which option you choose:
- Sharing a cabin with fellow travellers (always of the same sex) - you have the choice of which type of cabin you want and it's the ship’s responsibility to pair you up
- Your own cabin - Single cabins used to be a rarity but are less so now. Be prepared to book early though as they are in high demand. This option is more expensive than sharing, but less expensive than paying a supplement for a Twin cabin
- Single Supplement - If you definitely want your own cabin and a single isn’t available you will need to pay a single supplement to have your own Twin cabin. The single supplement is typically 70% of the cost of the second berth, although one operator charges only 50%
We’re increasingly seeing more intrepid families heading to Antarctica and with this change some Antarctic ships are becoming more family friendly, both on the activities provided and on pricing.
The child and teenage discounts available vary considerably, with the most generous offering 25% off young travellers under 18 and 15% for those between 18 - 21 years old. In conjunction with an early booking discount, the savings can be really quite significant. For more details on how best to travel to Antarctica with your family and securing the best price, do get in touch.
To take advantage of early booking incentives of up to $1,500 per person you'll need to book at least a year in advance.
Securing a Good Price: Your Questions Answered
They do, but they tend to prefer to reward those who book early (+10 months in advance), rather than slash back prices at the last minute.
This is partly due to the fact that these smaller boats don’t suffer from the same inventory issues which much larger traditional cruise ships suffer from, which means that availability can be a bigger issue than price at certain times.
These early booking incentives can be $1,000 - 1,500 off the voyage price per person, so a hefty potential saving for those travellers willing to get organised and to commit early are available.
There will always be those who wait until the last minute in the hope of picking up a great deal, but in truth the best deals when it comes to Antarctica are to be had by those willing to commit early.
Not only do certain boat operators offer an early booking discount of up to $1,500 off per person for a specified period, but booking early also ensures that you secure your preferred voyage and cabin, rather than sifting the leftover options at last minute and wondering why your options are limited.
It’s true that the larger Antarctic ships tend to offer better value due to having more cabins available and the operating costs being spread across more paying passengers than on the smaller ships. It's for this reason that there is actually a small premium for travelling on the smaller ships.
But there are tangible benefits to being on a smaller ship, namely greater intimacy of being part of a smaller group, speed of logistics with fewer people involved and everyone on board being able to land at the same time.
No, it isn’t any cheaper to book directly, you will pay exactly the same price whether you book directly or through an agent like Swoop as the prices for Antarctic voyages are set. Many ship operators don’t in fact accept direct bookings.
There are in fact compelling benefits of booking through a specialist agent like Swoop:
- A far broader choice of voyage options, not just what a single ship can offer
- Access to objective, impartial and knowledgeable advice
- In-depth firsthand knowledge of all of the ships - not just a select few
- We can point out any Special Offers which you could take advantage of
- Assistance with booking flights, hotels, transfers etc - in short, a full travel service
- ATOL - Financial protection through our bond (UK travellers only)
Definitely not, because there are so many other variables involved and price isn’t an accurate measurement for good decision making in isolation. To ensure that you end up choosing exactly the right voyage for you, many other factors need to be taken into account, alongside budget.
This is where a specialist like Swoop is invaluable by taking the time to listen and understand your ‘brief’ and what’s important to you, and then hand picking a small selection of carefully chosen options for you to consider.
Price and budget are always important, and doubly so on a big trip like this, but need to be considered in the wider context of what you are looking to achieve.
More about Antarctica
More helpful insights when researching your perfect Antarctic adventure.
How to Get to Antarctica
While travelling to the remotest continent on earth may initially seem daunting, with Swoop's guidance it certainly doesn't have to be.
Things to Do in Antarctica
From zodiac safaris and continental landings to expert-led lectures, there’s absolutely no risk of boredom.
We've teamed up with some of the best cruise operators so that you can choose from over 80 cruise itineraries based on your dates, budget and appetite for adventure.
When to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica is accessible to visitors from November - March, each month however has its own particular characteristics. Swoop's Weather & Wildlife Guides can help you decide …