5 Reasons to Cross the Antarctic Circle
- Join the elite club of travellers who have reached the intangible 66 degree line of latitude
- These longer Polar Circle trips afford more time to actually explore Antarctica
- Pushing further south than most other voyages go, explore this less visited part of the Peninsula
- Experience 24 hours of daylight in high summer once inside the Antarctic Circle
- With luck, reach magnificent Crystal Sound then steam on to Marguerite Bay
What our customers think
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
Fly & Cruise
This impressive Polar Circle voyage combines all the comfort and expediency of flying in both directions with extended time in Antarctic (6 full days). Choice of two outstanding ships, both very well-appointed, offering either optional adventure activities or an attractive…
Comfort & Adventure
By including optional kayaking and diving, this March voyage offers the chance to maximise your Polar Crossing experience by exploring Antarctica both on and under the water. Travelling during late season provides excellent photographic and whale watching conditions, alongside the…
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.
email@example.com Polar Specialist
Antarctic Circle Cruises: Your Questions Answered
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 - 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.
The true Antarctic circle is crossed at 66 degrees south, although there are technically two Antarctic Circles and the first is found at 65 degrees south. The actual point at which you cross at 65 degrees south is whilst you're cruising along the Lemaire Channel, a silent, narrow body of water which is bordered by snowy, mountainous, terrain.
Cruises that take you across the Antarctic Circle at 66 degrees south will cross whilst cruising along the Antarctic Sound, a body of water stretching some 30 miles with awe-inspiring tabular icebergs and impressive walls of towering ice.
As well as the kudos attached to bisecting the Polar 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. On a Polar Circle cruise this increases to 6-7 days in Antarctica, the main reason being that you need to 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.
Some of the most impressive and beautiful spots along the Antarctic Peninsula include Detaille Island, a small island off the northern end of the Arrowsmith Peninsula and Marguerite Bay, a huge bay named by a French Antarctic Explorer in honour of his wife, Marguerite. It's here that you'll be able to watch the unique forms of eroded icebergs floating past and visit the little islands in the bay. A few ships each year may also make it to Rothera Island, home to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), and a rare treat as very few landing permits are issued each year.
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.
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.
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 is an increasingly stark landscape and 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 polar cruise.
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. Polar Circle voyages start from $7,600 per person for 6 days actually in Antarctica in a standard Twin cabin, but will depend very much 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.
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.
Some people mistakenly think that you'll see more widlife 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.