5 reasons for crossing the Antarctic Circle

  1. Join the elite club of travellers who have reached the intangible 66 degree line of latitude
  2. These longer Polar Circle trips afford more time to actually explore Antarctica
  3. Pushing further south than most other voyages go, explore this less visited part of the Peninsula
  4. Experience 24 hours of daylight in high summer once inside the Antarctic Circle
  5. With luck, reach magnificent Crystal Sound then steam on to Marguerite Bay

About Antarctic Circle cruises

What is the Antarctic Circle?

MV Ushuaia ship

The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth (the innermost of the two circles around the outside of the continent). Voyages that cross it have been designed not only for you to explore the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, but also to reach that all-important goal of crossing the circle at 66 degrees south.


Very few travellers make it this far south, thus in doing so, you'll become part of an elite group of people who have not only walked on the great white continent itself, but also ventured to some of the most secluded spots in the Antarctic.

Are you guaranteed to cross the Antarctic Circle?

While all efforts by the captain and expeditionary leader will be made to cross into the Antarctic Circle, and typically they are successful, it will always depend on the weather and local ice conditions.

This uncertainty is always present on any Antarctic voyage and underlines the challenges and unknowns of travelling in such a remote and logistically challenging region. On successfully reaching 66 degrees south, however, you can be guaranteed that the occasion will be suitably marked.

How much longer is an Antarctic Circle cruise?

Antarctic Circle Cruises

As well as the kudos attached to bisecting the Antarctic Circle, these voyages also carry the distinct benefit of actually spending more time in Antarctica than any other Antarctic voyage.

On a classic Antarctic Peninsula cruise, you typically spend four days actually in Antarctica, excluding the time involved in getting to Antarctica and back. On an Antarctic Circle cruise, this increases to 6-7 days in Antarctica, the main reason being that you need extra time for the longer journey south to the Circle. So for anyone looking to maximise their time in Antarctica, this is the cruise for you.

Will I see more wildlife?

The short answer is, no. Wildlife, in fact, starts to thin out the further south you travel towards the Antarctic Circle, with wildlife found in greater numbers further north in the area you will travel through. What you will notice however are increasingly stark landscapes, heavier ice and fewer ships.

If seeing as much wildlife as possible is important to you, we would strongly recommend you also consider incorporating South Georgia and the Falkland Islands into your Antarctic cruise.

How much does an Antarctic Circle cruise cost?

Antarctic Circle Cruises

In comparison to a shorter Antarctic Peninsula trip, these Antarctic Circle departures are more expensive reflecting the extra days in Antarctica, greater distances travelled and that there are fewer of them.


Antarctic Circle voyages start from $7,600 per person for 6 days in Antarctica but will depend on the boat and cabin you choose. However, given the not insignificant time, effort and money that you will be investing to get to Antarctica, this relatively modest additional cost for 50% more time is well worth considering.

When should I book?

With far fewer Antarctic Circle departures each year than the shorter classic Antarctic Peninsula voyages, it really is a case of 'the sooner the better'. To be confident of securing your first choice that means booking 12-18 months in advance of your planned trip.

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What our customers think

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Crossing the circle was an achievement, especially as so few tourist ships make it that far south. Learning about the history of the place while being there also made a great impact, as did the other talks about the wildlife.

Sue Australia February 2018

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The highlight was watching a leopard seal peeping up to check the icebergs, diving back in, swimming under our zodiac and eventually deciding on a flattish iceberg. Rolled on its back to give himself a good scratch, then fell asleep in the sun!

Lucien & Marie-Eve South Africa January 2018

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For me, the highlight was crossing the Antarctic circle. Unbelievable landscapes and wildlife. Loved the whole experience, very impressive. Read the full review

Tony & Penny Devries United States Of America January 2018

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Incredible! Every day was surprising, filled with adventure. I would encourage anyone considering it but who might be nervous to go for it!

Deidre New York December 2017

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Top marks to Swoop Antarctica - we can’t thank you enough for going over and beyond your remit. Advice for future visitors: these guys know their stuff - listen and ask. They have a passion that they just want to share.

Sam UK December 2017

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We absolutely loved the trip. We had a difficult time getting south of the Circle due to heavy ice conditions but we finally made it to 66 – 59'S.

Nor Shanghai December 2015

Surprised how wonderful the experience was. Being on the bridge, with the Captain, navigating the Lemaire Channel, which had a HUGE iceberg towering over us! Read the full review

Jim Tietjen Malaysia February 2019

It was helpful booking with Swoop - you all did a great job pairing me up with the right trip for me, from roommates to ship size to just the right amount of fancy but not too fancy. Read the full review

Mykkah Herner United States Of America December 2018

The captain took the ship south into sea ice for a few hours. That was as far South as we ever went. Just when I thought I had seen Antarctica, the new scenery blew me away. Read the full review

Kung Chung Lee Canada December 2018

The scenery was breathtaking, the wildlife like none in a temperate climate, and the weather was capricious, and ever-changing, every aspect providing a thoroughly unique experience. Not only did Antarctica live up to expectations, but it surpassed them easily. Read the full review

Vincent Micelotta United States Of America November 2018

The Polar Circle experience was a perfect choice to meet my expectations. We touched upon many spots which are unheard of. I would recommend this journey to anybody who wants to see the real landscapes of Antarctica, and to experience a place beyond imagination.

Kushal UAE February 2018

If you are going late in February or March I would highly recommend a circle crossing. The feel and look of Antarctica certainly changes down there. Spectacular. Otherworldly. Impossible to convey what it's like to some one who hasn't been there.

Sandra & Keith UK February 2018

The service that Swoop provided was excellent. John was very helpful in assisting us to select our cruise and we were very satisfied with the Vavilov. Crossing the Antarctic Circle was very special.

Joan & Michael New Jersey January 2018

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Loli says

It's a whole day's sailing to reach the Polar Circle, but the ice down there is thick enough to just drop the ship's gangway and walk straight out on to it.

Loli Figueroa Polar Specialist

What are the most visited landing sites on a Circle trip?

Illustrated Guide

Fly & Cruise the Antarctic Circle

Antarctic Circle Voyages

Luxury Polar Circle Cruises

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Swoop says

Some people mistakenly think that you'll see more wildlife and extraordinary scenery on a polar circle trip, in fact the opposite is true. South of Port Lockroy, wildlife becomes increasingly sparse and the scenery more austere.

Antarctic Circle Cruises: FAQs

  • Where do we cross the Antarctic Circle?

    The Antarctic circle is crossed at 66'33 degrees latitude south. Most circle trips will sail the west coast of the peninsula, and reach this point in the vicinity of an area called Crystal Sound - a stunning body of water littered with ice. Tourist ships do not attempt to cross the circle to the east of the peninsular given the extreme amount of ice found there. Ross Sea expeditions will cross the circle in open water. 

    There is no sign, no neon lights nor a 'bump in the road' when you reach this monumental latitude, only the ship's GPS to prove you've made it to the end of the earth.

  • Will we experience the 'midnight sun'?

    The term 'midnight sun' is the term given to the phenomenon of twenty-four consecutive hours of sunlight which occurs south of the Antarctic Circle during the summer months. During this time the sun never sets but describes circles in the sky, gradually spiralling higher until it reaches its zenith on the summer solstice (22nd December). Midnight Sun can actually be experienced up to 90 kilometres outside of the Polar Circle, however if you do reach it you will certainly experience this strange phenomenon. Such long days, while being novel, also have the benefit of allowing you to observe your magnificent surroundings and the wildlife at all hours. All cabins are fitted out with black out blinds on the windows.

    Find out more about when to go to Antarctica

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With over 50 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.

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