Guide To Antarctic Cruise Ships

Choosing the right ship is one of the most important decisions when planning your Antarctic adventure, not least because of the amount of time you will spend onboard. To help you get started, here are a few key tips on what to consider:

  1. Decide on your key decision-making criteria and prioritise them - size of ship, passenger capacity, stability, comfort level or activities on offer. 
  2. The widest choice of ships are in the medium-sized category, from 80 to 116 passengers. They have a good balance between not being too big, while having generous public areas and a decent choice of cabins. 
  3. If stability is high on your list, consider larger ships, or those renowned for their stability.
  4. Smaller ships of less than 100 passengers have many benefits, such as ease of logistics when getting on and off the ship, a more intimate overall experience, and everybody being able to land at once. These are counterbalanced by the better onboard facilities and greater stability offered by larger vessels.
  5. Comfort and service levels have markedly improved over the last decade on all Antarctic ships, allowing you to have an adventure, but without the hardship! Nespresso machines, balcony suites, gourmet cuisine and even butler service are now available on selected ships.
  6. Camping out on the ice and kayaking are offered on most vessels as optional adventure activities. A limited number of ships also offer diving, snorkelling, paddle-boarding or snowshoeing and mountaineering.

Choosing the right Antarctic cruise ship for you

Swoop Says

Authentic expedition ships

Adventure runs right through these ships. These are often the ex-research vessels with stories to tell and expeditionary hearts. They're capable of getting almost anywhere, a perfect quality on voyages which are all about the landings, and getting you into the heart of Antarctica.

John says

Comfort and adventure

For adventure seekers who would prefer more of a floating hotel as their base. Typically a little more spacious, with more variation in cabins, you'll have more choice while on board while still getting out and about during the day.



A former Dutch Navy research ship, the Plancius is a practical and highly capable expedition ship with a recent full re-fit to take 116 guests.

MS Expedition

MS Expedition

Blessed with a huge amount of deck space this is a great ship for the 136 passengers. A well-established team makes it a great atmosphere on board.

Ocean Adventurer

Ocean Adventurer

Refurbished for her 128 guests in 2017 and with a stunning history of polar exploration this is one of the Grand Dames of Antarctica

Ocean Atlantic


This sturdy and recently renovated ship, carrying 214 passengers, offers some of the best value trips. Life on board is comfortable, and for anyone to experience.

Ocean Endeavour

Ocean Endeavour

Most often found in Antarctica and South Georgia during the Austral summer and in the Canadian Arctic and West Greenland during the boreal summer, she offers a spacious and …

Ocean Diamond

Ocean Diamond

The stable Ocean Diamond is the largest and fastest of all the vessels, carrying up to 189 passengers.



A purpose built expedition vessel for 174 passengers. The addition of stabilizers and state-of-the-art technology make her a comfortable and safe option.

National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion

One of the youngest ships in the Antarctic Fleet, this 102 passenger ship comfortably combines an adventurous spirit with state-of-the-art onboard technology.

National Geographic Explorer

National Geographic Explorer

A class act from the pioneers of polar travel, the Explorer carries 148 guests in great comfort.

Sea Spirit


The Sea Spirit offers elegant style and spacious cabins for her 114 guests to travel in comfort at an affordable price.

Hebridean Sky

Hebridean Sky

After a multi-million renovation in 2016 including the addition of state of the art stabilizer system, the Hebridean Sky is one of the finest few small ships travelling to …

Island Sky

Island Sky

Island Sky is a class act. Offering refined comfort and high levels of service for only 108 guests, its no wonder she has such a loyal following from past travellers.

RCGS Resolute


Spacious cabins, panoramic public areas, high ice-rating and outstanding expedition staff make this 146 guest ship a fabulous base for exploration.

Magellan Explorer


The smallest and newest purpose-built expedition ship. Specifically built for Antarctic fly-cruise operations, the Magellan Explorer carries only 69 guests for fly cruises, and 100…

World Explorer

World Explorer

A state-of-the-art ship that launched in 2018, the World Explorer sets the bar high with a fast average cruising speed, generously appointed cabins each with a balcony, and a …

Greg Mortimer


With its eye-catching futuristic design and advanced onboard technology, the Greg Mortimer is unquestionably redefining the look of expedition ships in the Polar Regions. This ship…

What our customers think

Luxury ships

These vessels rival a luxury hotel in their service and facilities. Akin to a super-yacht cruise ship, you'll be surrounded by grandeur whilst onboard, with some of the highest standards in the industry. Landings are still a key part of the voyage, so expect to be out and about each day.

Our best voyages to Antarctica

How We Can Help You

We understand the importance of this long anticipated trip and how crucial it is to get it just right. We'll guide you throughout your Antarctic journey - from making the right choices when booking, to packing the correct clothing and equipment - offering sound, impartial advice and support at every stage.

  1. Find your perfect expedition

    We work with all the Antarctic expedition operators, offering 16 different vessels and over 80 Antarctic voyages and land-based expeditions. Find Out More.

  2. Help you decide when to take your trip of a lifetime

    We can help you decide which month will suit you best and advise when to start planning ahead for the best choice of cabins and voyages. Find Out More.

  3. Arrange your pre and post-Antarctic travel

    Our Patagonia experts would love to help you discover Patagonia before or after your Antarctic expedition. We'd also be pleased to help you book your flights. Find Out More.

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

Swoop Antarctica Expert John
Swoop Antarctica Expert Loli
Swoop Antarctica Expert Tennessee
Swoop Antarctica Expert Cassia
Swoop Antarctica Expert Jud
Swoop Antarctica Expert Molly

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