Things to Consider

  • For those who like their creature comforts, the good news is that there’s an increasing choice of luxury ships
  • Dated cabins with bunked beds have been replaced by stylish suites, optional balconies and Nespresso machines
  • In place of refectory-style eating, these new luxury ships have sophisticated restaurants offering a true fine dining
  • Luxury on Antarctic ships comes in different shades, from 24/7 butler service to the best guides in the business
  • While comparing cabin sizes and complimentary add-ons is straightforward, calibre of staff and food quality is more subjective

Cabins

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The arrival of more luxurious ships to Antarctica has transformed the humble cabin from being primarily just a place to sleep into a comfortable space in which to relax, and watch icebergs and wildlife sliding past. These ‘Suites’ have adopted many of the trappings of boutique hotels, with towelling dressing gowns, fine linen, a coffee machine, mini bar and LCD screen.

All ships offer a range of cabin categories with prices rising accordingly with increasing square footage/ metres, and typically the higher the location on the ship. Dual aspect windows or balconies don’t always carry the hefty supplement you might imagine and for the relatively modest additional investment can be well worth considering, particularly on these longer trips.

Fine Dining & Wines

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When it comes to the food side of the voyage, the style is as much a part of the experience as the quality and choice. The more luxurious ships offer a radically different proposition to the refectory-style tables where eating is largely functional at a preset time, being much more akin to a top-class restaurant. Dining is an integral part of the overall experience.

Firstly, there’s a choice of table sizes - for 2, 4 or +6 people - allowing you to be as private or inclusive with new acquaintances as you want to be. Lunch tends to be a less formal meal - quite often with a buffet as well as a daily menu, while Dinner is a full blown affair. Given the array of mouthwatering food, the real challenge is burning enough calories between meals!

The kitchens on all ships are very well versed in all types of food requirements, whether vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerant, kosher or any individual food allergies.

A decent wine list is the other key differentiator of a luxury ship. All of Swoop’s preferred luxury ships offer an extensive list and the sommelier can help advise.

Calibre of Staff

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It may seem unfamiliar to talk about the calibre of staff onboard your ship as a ‘luxury’, however, anyone who’s benefitted from an outstanding guide(s) in the past will already recognise their inestimable value.

The influence of the expedition staff on board ship - their deep knowledge, erudition, insights and general bonhomie - can’t be underestimated. These luxury ships recognise this and the importance of the educational side and court the best guides.

The size of the expedition staff is also an important factor, as the larger the team the (a) wider the pool of expertise, and (b) the more one-on-one time you’ll be able to get. When looking at the voyage’s sticker price, bear in mind that good staff cost money and that this isn’t an area in which to cut corners.

Swoop Says

Best South Georgia Luxury Cruises

Alex says

South Georgia Luxury Cruises: Your Questions Answered

  • Can you fly to South Georgia?

    No, there’s no airport on the island. The closest airport to South Georgia is on The Falkland Islands. The only way to reach the island is by boat.

  • When is the best time to visit?

    The visitor season runs from late October to the end of March. There isn’t a ‘best time’ to visit as such, there’s always huge amounts of wildlife and the weather is changeable. November and March are chillier, but the softer light is favourable for photographers. Keen birders should be aware that Prion Island is only accessible from 7th January each year.

  • How close do you get to wildlife?

    Very close is the short answer! The combination of densities of South Georgia’s wildlife and their lack of fear of man means getting close to wildlife isn’t the challenge, it's giving them enough space which is. Finding a curious penguin pecking your rubber boot is common.

  • Which boats have the best naturalists onboard?

    This is a tough one, not last because it’s very subjective, but one of Swoop’s Polar Specialists can help here as we know many of the expedition staff.

  • How rough are the seas around South Georgia?

    Surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the seas around South Georgia can certainly be challenging, which is why choosing the right ship is important. Anyone concerned about potential seasickness are advised to choose a ship with good stabilisers.

More about South Georgia

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With over 14 years' experience in Antarctica, we can guide you through the maze of options to choose the perfect voyage.

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