Antarctic Vessels & Reviews Planning & Tips

Luxury cruising in Antarctica on board Seabourn Pursuit

When Antarctica cruising was in its infancy, travellers had little choice of ship or comfort level, with most squeezing into simple cabins on converted research vessels or old Russian icebreakers. Those days are long behind us and the polar fleet caters to a wide variety of travel styles. On my most recent trip south, I had a taste of luxury by sailing on the Seabourn Pursuit on Swoop’s Elegant Antarctic Peninsula trip. 

Seabourn Pursuit is a purpose-built ultra-luxury expedition cruise ship, launched in 2023 to join alongside sister ship (and identical twin) Seabourn Venture. Both are designed to take up to 264 passengers sailing in grand style.  

Veranda suite cabins

A big part of any luxury trip is the quality of service you received, and with Seabourn Pursuit this begins a long way from Antarctica. As part of the cruise, all guests receive a night in Buenos Aires, with special charter flights laid on to take the group down to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina to meet the ship in the port there. It’s about a three hour flight from the capital and having this connection included meant that the trip could begin with a seamless stress-free transfer experience. 

Inside the veranda suite

My travel companion and I were booked into a veranda suite on deck five of the ship, and the moment we walked in we knew that we were in for an exceptional cruise. Seabourn Pursuit consists entirely of cabin suites, each with its own private veranda with floor to ceiling windows that flooded the room with light and promised to offer Antarctica up into our own private viewing space. 

All the amenities were beautifully appointed. If I wanted to treat myself to a soak in the tub, the marble bathroom offered a kinder way to immerse myself than the dreaded polar plunge. Getting ready for an excursion with all my warm layers promised to be a comfortable experience with my own dressing room, which had extra heating to dry out wet gear ready for the next zodiac cruise or landing. 

The biggest joy was that veranda however. We christened it early by opening the complimentary bottle of champagne that was chilling for us on arrival along with strawberries dipped in chocolate. With a luxury cruise, we felt it was important to start as we meant to go on! As we pulled out from Ushuaia we could also do a spot of birdwatching on the Beagle Channel, swapping our champagne flutes for the complimentary Swarovski binoculars that came as standard with the cabin

Life on board Seabourn Pursuit

There was plenty of time to explore the ship once we started our crossing of the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Seabourn Pursuit is a slightly larger vessel than some of the other expedition cruise ships I’ve sailed on, but it never once felt crowded with guests. There was plenty of outer deck space, such that even when people were out watching the albatross, or later in Antarctica enjoying the spectacle of the ship threading its way through the stunning Lemaire Channel, I often felt like I had the decks to myself. 

Afternoon tea

Inside, there were also plenty of options to spread yourself out in, with the many lounges and a delightful library to relax in. There was also that great hallmark of a luxury brand: a wide choice of places to eat or drink. During the day, the Seabourn Square offer a gelato bar, bakery and coffee shop, while at the ship’s aft there was a charming spot for afternoon tea. The Club Bar was a great place for a daytime drink that transformed into a superior sushi bar in the evenings. Add in the The Restaurant for a la carte fine dining and the Colonnade for a more relaxed buffet, and it became clear why the ship’s gym was so essential: we’d need it to burn off the extra calories. 

That said, our veranda proved to be one of our favourite eating spots. We could dine here whenever we wished, but quickly realised that one of its great strengths was for taking breakfast served up by a butler. Cruising in Antarctica means a lot of early starts and getting ready for a full day of landings and zodiac cruises: sometimes we’d be off the ship by seven in the morning. 

Seabourn Pursuit’s library

The veranda meant that instead of having to get up and face the world so early, we could get dressed in a more leisurely manner and have breakfast with a taste of fresh polar air. Morning breakfast served with a side order of iceberg views from my own private veranda to start the day? I was definitely getting to grips with what luxury cruising in Antarctica was all about. 

Exploring Antarctica

It would have been delightfully easy to have spent the entire cruise on board, but for all these lovely touches, Seabourn Pursuit was still about experiencing Antarctica in all its raw beauty: this was still an expedition cruise. We had 24 expedition team members on board,  one for every ten guests. These ranged from marine biologists and climatologists to naturalists and historians, as well as more specialised members of the team like the kayaking guides and, most thrilling of all, pilots for the ship’s trump card: it’s two mini submarines for exploring beneath the waves (see my fellow Swooper Sharon’s blog about just what the submarine was like.) 

Zodiac cruising from Seabourn Pursuit

Time of the ship was very-well managed. Everyone onboard felt like the expedition was at the heart of everywhere we went and the ship schedule was constantly evolving to make the most of the destination. This was no mean feat when you’ve got over 200 guests on board and environmental regulations demand that only 100 people may land at any location in Antarctica at any one time. 

We were divided into groups for zodiacs and comfortably rotated off the ship, so that everyone got plenty of time to enjoy our own Antarctic experience. Typically we would get off the ship twice a day, with landings or zodiac cruisings lasting between 75–90 minutes. A much appreciated touch was that if you’d chosen to do the kayaking or submarine excursion, the team would make sure that you also got to the regular landings and cruises, so you never missed out. 

Landing at Half Moon Island

In fact, this meant we actually got slightly longer than we might have expected at many locations. At Neko Harbour, we were in the first landing group and got to visit the penguin rookeries there and then zodiac cruised back to the ship passing lots of Weddell seals hauled up on ice flows. While the other groups went out on their landings, we retired to the bow lounge for a hot drink, only for some members of the expedition team to call us to get out onto the deck right away. When we got there, we were treated to the spectacle of a giant iceberg slowly rolling over in the water, followed two minutes later by a humpback whale passing close to the ship. It was a scene you might imagine only seeing in a nature documentary, but it was the sort of moment that Antarctica really excels in. 

For me, this was the essence of the trip: the champagne on the veranda was a gorgeous taste of the luxury offerings that Seabourn Pursuit offered for us to enjoy, but it was all in service of experiencing all the untamed beauty and wonder that’s at the heart of Antarctica.


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Emma Parry

Swoop Sales Manager

Emma has worked in the travel industry for more than 10 years. She worked for a long time an an overland tour guide in Africa, before being captured by the lure of the polar regions. For Swoop, she's travelled to Antarctica and the Arctic multiple times. It's all a long way from her original career path as a solicitor.