High Season Antarctica Cruises in 2021

Antarctica's wildlife and weather are both at their best between December and February. The austral summer is in full swing in December, with warmer temperatures and longer days seeing more sightings of seals and the arrival of humpbacks. In January, penguin chicks chase their parents along the shoreline, where baby seals are enjoying the 'warmth'. Great numbers of humpback and minke whales and orcas also frequent the waters. February is likewise a very active month. Penguin chicks are learning to swim, leopard seals are predating, and whale spotting season is at its height.

Antarctica in December

Viewing humpback whales off the Melchior Islands, Antarctica

The summer sun bathes the continent in 20-24 hours of daylight in December, making it a popular time to visit. It's also a busy time for the penguin rookeries as the chicks begin …

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Our Top 2021 High Season Cruises

Shoulder Season Antarctic Cruises in 2021

November is an exciting time of year to be in Antarctica as it's the start of summer when everything seems to be waking up from the long and dark winter. Penguin rookeries are a hive of activity whilst elephant seals are busy battling on South Georgia Island. Come March, as the winter draws closer, you can expect the closest encounters with whales. Watch waddling groups of penguin adolescents and experience an increase in predator activity.

Antarctica in November

Viewing Antarctica from the expedition ship's bow

In November Antarctica opens its arms to the season's first visitors. You'll not only enjoy the excitement of walking on virgin snow, but you'll also appreciate its beauty as you …

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Our Top 2021 Shoulder Season Cruises

Solar Eclipse 2021

If there is anything that could arouse more awe and mystery than travelling to the southernmost continent, it may just be experiencing a solar eclipse take place over the vast white wilderness. An extraordinary event that will next occur again in 75 years, on the morning of 4th December 2021 the moon will completely cover the sun, bestowing viewers in Antarctica with a surreal few minutes of total darkness. Our solar eclipse itineraries have been carefully planned to ensure you reach the path of totality, at exactly the right time.

Sunset over icebergs, Antarctica - Antarctica cruises 2021

Sunset over icebergs, Antarctica

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Swoop says

We've got a wide range of voyages​ with a choice of 21 small expedition ships. Early booking discounts and flight deals are still available on select departures in 2021.

When should I start planning my Voyage?

  • When are departure dates normally released?

    ​Polar​ operators ​typically release their ​forthcoming departure dates ​and prices at least 18 months ​or so in advance, some even earlier. This is great news for travellers who like to plan ahead and get their cabin reserved early on​, particularly if you can take advantage of an early booking incentive.

    Given that there is only a finite number of places available on each departure, it really is a case of 'the early bird gets the worm' - or in this case the best dates and the widest choice of cabins - so early booking is strongly recommended.

  • When should I start to plan my Fly & Cruise trip?

    Trips which include time-saving flights to Antarctica and avoid the Drake Passage are incredibly popular and are the earliest of all voyages to become booked up.

    Due to strong demand and the relatively modest number of ships, particularly during High Season, to be confident of securing your first choice we would strongly urge that you begin planning at least 12 months in advance. December and January are particularly busy times and typically are fully booked up 10 months ahead.

    For the most popular Fly & Cruise trips or those incorporating South Georgia, 18 months ahead isn't too early.

  • Is it less expensive to travel in November & March?

    Yes it's true, the Shoulder Season months of November and March tend to be priced approx. 10-15% less than during the High Season (December - end February) and as a result are a good place to look for the budget-conscious or bargain-hunter.

    The reason for this is partly the less predictable weather and slightly lower wildlife numbers, but it's also simply the case that many who live in Northern Hemisphere countries like to holiday during their worst winter months.

    In our opinion a great time to travel is in early December when it's still Shoulder Season pricing but you get all of the benefits of High Season.

  • Are there any advantages in booking early?

    ​There certainly are: as well as securing your first choice, with many of the ships offering really quite generous early booking incentives of up to $1,500 per person to those willing to commit early, getting organised can really pay dividends.

  • Can I wait until the last minute for a late deal?

    Given the ​strong ​demand for Antarctic cruises​ ​boat ​operators rarely need to ​resort to offering any ​late availability discounts - particularly on the more popular ships and voyages - as ​cabins ​are normally all booked months ago in advance.

    Any remaining unsold cabins tend to be left on the shelf for a reason and choice will be poor at best, so it's not an approach we advocate.

    However, if you're flexible on dates and don't mind paying for ​overinflated ​flights​ ​there are normally odd cabins available.

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What our customers think

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We loved the antics of the penguins and the curiosity of the chicks. Up close viewing of seals and whales was awe inspiring. Our outstanding leaders helped to deepen our understanding and appreciation of this amazing world.

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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We were privileged to see a large pod of humpback whales in a feeding frenzy one evening; the captain stopped the ship for an hour or so and the whales were feeding all around us.

Steve and Tina UK February 2017

The trip was amazing. Michael particularly liked the whales that were diving within 10-15 feet of our zodiac; my favorite was seeing all the penguins and, in particular, the chicks.

Joan & Michael New Jersey January 2018

Very happy with the wildlife we saw - the best thing was the killer whales hunting a seal by creating waves and breaking the ice from below.

Anna UK November 2016

The cruise is almost over and was absolutely fantastic. We were blessed with beautiful weather and saw incredible wildlife and scenery. I can't say enough about the entire expedition team and crew. After two weeks on board, I am so incredibly spoiled.

Phil Texas December 2015

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

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