5 reasons to visit the Antarctic Peninsula

  1. Ludicrously beautiful, the Peninsula has some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Antarctica
  2. Home to the greatest collection of Antarctic wildlife, a veritable menagerie of penguins, seals and whales
  3. The most accessible and popular part of Antarctica to visit from Patagonia, with the widest choice of voyages and ships
  4. Traverse ice-choked channels by zodiacs, experience the cacophony of penguin rookeries, camp out on the Continent
  5. Visit the Peninsula's highlights - Deception Island, Port Lockroy, Paradise Bay and the Lemaire Channel to name but a few

Watch our introduction to the Antarctic Peninsula

Visiting the Antarctic Peninsula

What to expect

Prepare for sensory overload. By day you'll take to rubber zodiacs to cruise amongst towering icebergs, visit vast penguin rookeries and cruise ice floes for wildlife, whilst at night you'll anchor up in a quiet bay ready for the next day's adventure.

Each day after breakfast you'll set out for your first landing, always accompanied by your expedition leaders. After 2-3 hours of exploring, you'll return for lunch, and the ship may reposition before you get back into your zodiacs to cruise past icebergs, or to patrol the ice edge for basking seals. It's then back to the ship for a well-deserved drink, and to share stories with your fellow travellers.

Approaching ice in a zodiac - Antarctica travel cost

How to get there

The Antarctic Peninsula lies a short two day journey by boat from the toe of Patagonia, across the narrow neck of the infamous Drake Passage. As it is the most easily accessed part of Antarctica, and one of the most popular due to the scenic beauty and extraordinary menagerie of wildlife, there is a wealth of choice of ways to get there. From authentic expeditionary ships to luxurious vessels, there's something to suit every traveller and their budget. 

For those for whom time is more limited, you can save days by avoiding the Drake Passage altogether and taking a flight to Antarctica. In just two hours you'll touch down on the white continent, ready to start exploring.

Antarctic Peninsula Cruises
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Swoop says

The peninsula is actually a continuation of The Andes, which makes the scenery amazing. The Lemaire Channel is only half a mile wide and the peaks rise straight up out of the water on either side as you sail down it.

When to visit

Cruises operate between late October and the end of March. Each month has its own characteristics and nuances, so there's no real 'best time' to visit, however there is a high season and shoulder season.

High season is late December to early February when days are long, the weather is the most stable and wildlife the most active. However, spring (late October and November) has lots of offer, with heavier ice and the chance of being one of the first down to Antarctica for that year. Later in the season, the softer light of March is excellent for photographers, and you've got higher chances of whale sightings.

Reach the Antarctic Peninsula by boat - Antarctica cruises 2021

What route will I take?

A Peninsula cruise typically begins by exploring the South Shetland Islands, and may include Half Moon Bay, Deception Island and Livingston Island. From here, you may continue on to Hope Bay and the Antarctic Sound (filled with tabular icebergs) before heading south along the Gerlache Strait and through the Lemaire Channel to Paradise Bay.

Ultimately your route will be heavily influenced by the weather and ice conditions. The expeditionary leader and captain will decide where best to go to get you the best landing sites, so no two Antarctic cruises are ever the same. Flexibility is a key feature of any Antarctic cruise and is very much all part of the adventure.

King Penguins in St Andrew's Bay

Antarctic Peninsula Map

Illustrated Guide
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What our customers think

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Swoop, you did a fabulous job of getting us prepared before we went, and even before that guiding us on which of the expeditions met what we wanted to achieve. I have never found that before in all of my (long!) life of travels. Even your guidance on which cabin to book, was outstanding. Read the full review

Sue Quelch United Kingdom October 2019

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Swoop are very good and John's advice and chats that we had, made what could have been a difficult decision easy.

Mick UK March 2018

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I could not have asked for better service than Swoop provided. You answered all my questions and concerns and provided me with all trip details and requirements.

Al & Natalia Florida January 2018

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Excursions were the highlights of the trip. I can't point a finger to any of them saying that one was the best. They were all fantastic!

Zoltan & Stephen Nemeth Florida January 2018

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It was an incredible experience. Antarctica is unlike any place I have ever visited, totally unspoiled by human influence aside from the few research stations dotted here and there. The raw beauty and remoteness is impossible to describe.

Tony & Penny Mississippi January 2018

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We saw much more wildlife than expected, including humpbacks swimming around and under our kayaks, as well as visiting the boat on several occasions; an unusual visit from a large pod of orcas; lots of seals; birds and, of course, highly entertaining penguins.

George & Kate Connecticut December 2017

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We booked with Swoop because it was evident in the first phone call that Swoop knew far more about Antarctic travel than an agent recommended by friends. Book through people who have been there repeatedly; Swoop was an excellent choice.

Marc Florida December 2017

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Lemaire Channel was spectacular even though we had to turn around at the end due to iceberg blocking the way. Saw so many whales - fin, humpback, and orca.

Nathalie California March 2017

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Seeing astounding small blue crevasses among the vast white background, watching sea-ice form, witnessing icebergs calving and crashing into the sea, unexpectedly coming across lush green algae and blue copper staining on the rocks are all experiences that we will never forget.

Graham and Angela UK March 2017

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My highlight was landing on the continent in Paradise Bay and going to Deception Island. We repeatedly said we felt like we were on an ocean safari, we saw so much wildlife every day.

Barbara California March 2017

No camera can do justice to the omnipotence of Antarctica, it is humbling. Penguins were cheeky, seals were unphased and the whales gave hope that we haven't destroyed the planet yet.

Pauline Australia December 2017

Absolutely superb...genuinely spectacular. In terms of a destination, nothing else comes anywhere near.

Liz & Anthony London December 2015

Antarctica in perfect weather was the absolute highlight. Undoubtedly one of the best experiences in my travels!

James UK December 2015

Zodiac cruising in Antarctica

Authentic Expeditions

These voyages are expeditionary at heart - expect a strong focus on adventure, and getting out and about in Antarctica.

Fly & Cruise

The ultimate shortcut to Antarctica, bypass the Drake Passage and touch down in Antarctica in just two hours. Less sailing, more icebergs.

Luxury & Fine Dining

Opulent adventuring awaits. Return from a day's exploring to your luxury cabin, private balcony and 5* gourmet meals. The highest levels of service and quality of ship anywhere in Antarctica.

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Alex says

In Wilhelmina Bay a humpback twice the length of the zodiac swam directly beneath us. It then exhaled so close I got a mouthful of shrimp-infused whale 'blow'. It's a taste you don't forget!

Alex Mudd Polar Specialist

The Antarctic Peninsula: FAQs

  • How will I get there?

    The majority of cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula set sail from the Argentine city of Ushuaia. You can fly to Ushuaia direct direct from Buenos Aires (3hr 40min duration) - both LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas run several flights per day. 

    After a night in Ushuaia you embark your Antarctic ship and head out along the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel.  The crossing to Antarctica takes around two days, although this will very much be influenced by weather conditions.  As you get closer to Antarctica, icebergs drifting north out of the Weddell Sea will start to be sighted. 

    Most cruises first reach the South Shetland Islands, which are part of Antarctica but lie 75 miles west of the Peninsula. This is also where the landing strip is on King George Island for those flying direct from Punta Arenas.

  • How many days is a typical Antarctic Peninsula cruise?

    These Antarctica voyages are typically 10 to 12 days in duration, giving you 4-5 actual days in Antarctica exploring. Some itineraries include a night's hotel accommodation in Ushuaia prior to embarkation on Day 2.

  • Will there be experienced guides and naturalists on board?

    Yes, definitely. Your expeditionary staff are a crucial part of your Antarctic experience, accompanying you throughout. They not only provide set lectures during your voyage, but also add immense value with information and context during actual landings. They're always on hand to answer any questions and are a mine of information on all related subjects.

    Each member of the expeditionary team is an expert in their respective field, many having spent literally years in Antarctica. They report to the expeditionary leader, who along with the ship's captain is responsible for the whole voyage.

    Find out more about what you will do on an Antarctic cruise

  • How much does an Antarctic Peninsula Cruise cost?

    A classic Antarctic Peninsula cruise sailing from Ushuaia typically costs from around $6,000 USD to over $30,000 USD per person based on a twin cabin and depending on the size of ship, category of cabin and comfort level of your ship which you decide upon, and the month in which you travel. If you prefer to fly to Antarctica, you pay a premium for this, with prices from around $11,600 USD per person based on a twin cabin for a similar amount of time in Antarctica.

    Read Swoop's guide to Antarctic costs

  • How far in advance should I start planning my trip?

    Typically you should be looking to book your Antarctic trip at least 12-18 months in advance to be confident of securing your first choice of ship, voyage date and cabin. Many people are surprised by this, being used to booking their holidays with a far shorter lead time, however Antarctic is different and with a finite amount of cabins and boats, those booking late will find their choice significantly reduced from those who plan ahead.

    Find out about early booking incentives

  • What is the weather like on the Antarctic Peninsula?

    The Antarctic Peninsula has it's own climate region which is milder than the rest of Antarctica. Winter temperatures drop to around -10°C while summer highs, generally in January, see temperatures just above freezing. The eastern coast is the driest area of the peninsula and the western coast sees the highest rainfall. During the peak of summer sunlight shines for 20+ hours of the day, winds calm, and skies are often clear – but conditions can always change quickly.

    Perhaps more valuable to know is how the weather lends to distinct experiences of the Peninsula throughout the season. Define when your best time to visit Antarctica might be here.

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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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