How Much Does It Cost To Go to Antarctica? Facts & Figures

by on 22nd March, 2022

Many travellers get giddy at the prospect of visiting the Earth’s final frontier. They quickly stop to ask themselves: Just how much does it cost to go to Antarctica?

It’s a vital question. A trip to the frozen continent is never cheap, but there are ways to stretch your budget to help with Antarctica travel costs.

Magnificent wildlife, pristine ice fields, and incredible sculpted icebergs await visitors to this clean environment. Let’s examine the costs to visit Antarctica, money-saving tips, and vital travel information from weather to getting there.

What Is the Average Price for Antarctica Cruises, per Person?

There is no simple answer to the question, ‘how much does it cost to go to Antarctica?’ There are many variables to consider, including:

  • Cruise length and itinerary.
  • Ship size.
  • Accommodation standard.
  • Room type chosen (from shared to suite).
  • Quality of food.
  • Expedition staff — a cruise with David Attenborough aboard may cost a pretty penny.
  • Inclusions — wine? Clothing?
  • Staff to passenger ratio.

Some people choose between an 8-day fly and cruise voyage or a 10-11 day cruise. There are longer two-week and three-week itineraries and even longer 35-day cruises that include the Ross Sea.

Companies usually price cruises in US dollars ($). Below are some average prices, per person, for different Antarctica cruises. International flights are not included.

Average Price for Antarctica Cruises (per person in US$)

The classic Antarctica Peninsula cruise lasts 10-11 days and will set you back between $6,000-14,000.

To cross into the Antarctic Circle takes 12-14 days and adds to the average price, often costing around $8,000-18,000.

Longer cruises taking in South Georgia, Falklands & Antarctica can last anything from 18-23 days. Expect to pay $12,000-25,000.

You can cut out the two-day sail across the Drake Passage and fly to Antarctica. An 8-day fly and cruise to Antarctica is more expensive on a per-day basis and costs between $11,500-27,000.

The above are the most common Antarctica cruises. People with more time and budget can also consider following in Ernest Shackleton Robert Scott’s footsteps and visiting the Ross Sea area. Trips here are upwards of $23,000 and depart from New Zealand.

Finally, there are a few notable departures to the Antarctic interior and South Pole. The 7-9 day trips can easily cost $50,000.

What’s the Cheapest Option to Visit Antarctica?

The rules for finding the cheapest rates for Antarctica cruises are:

  • Book a long way in advance (10 months +) for early bird discounts
  • Book very last minute
  • Use a travel agent
  • Hang around in Ushuaia and hope to grab a bargain

The cheapest option to visit Antarctica is usually a cruise that visits the Antarctica Peninsula. The peninsula is on the northernmost tip of the continent and the quickest to reach by boat from South America.

Next, room type will save you dollars, but you’ll need to get in quick. Lower cabins without portholes are usually the best value and are often offered on a 2, 3, or 4-person share basis. The good news for people lower down in the ship is that this is the most stable part to help avoid seasickness.

Smaller research vessels offer good value and often have fewer passengers, a real bonus when disembarking at visitor sites.

November and March traditionally offer great deals on boats and cheaper international flight and hotel prices.

November sees Antarctica opening up after its winter freeze, with giant icebergs and perhaps an elephant seal mating display. It’s colder in November, and some areas may be inaccessible due to frozen seas. March is great for whale watching, but the weather may restrict some visits.

People with a lot of time could wait in Ushuaia and ask daily for bargains on departing ships with spaces. Be aware that most cheap cabins may already be sold. You could also be getting a great deal on a more expensive room, but you may still be spending more than for a full-priced cheaper room. Waiting like this will require some leg work in Ushuaia, and being open to the idea you may not find a deal or space.

Travel agents are great bargain sources, too. Keep in touch, and they could find the perfect deal for you, especially as many boats do not take bookings from the public.

In general, early-bird discounts are the best way to get the lowest prices and the cruise itinerary you want.

How Much Does It Cost To Go to Antarctica From the UK?

Almost all Antarctica cruises leave from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina. Passengers will need to fly to Buenos Aires then take a four-hour flight to Ushuaia.

Flights get very busy in peak travel periods of December to February.

Allow for GBP 1,000-1,500 per person for international flights and GBP 350-550 per person for the Buenos Aires-Ushuaia return flights.

Most people need a night or two in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia before and after the cruise, with per person per night prices ranging from $25 / GBP 20 for a hostel, then $90 / GBP 70 for a three-star hotel, and $200 / GBP 150 upwards for 4-5 star accommodation.

You can fly to Antarctica from Chile, too, with a special fly-cruise option from Punta Arenas, accessed via Santiago de Chile or overland from El Calafate.

How Much Does It Cost To Go to Antarctica From the USA?

North Americans need to follow the same flight route to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires. Season and availability dictate prices, with December to February being harder to find bargains.

Airfares to Buenos Aires vary depending on your starting city. A good deal would be around $700 per person return, with prices of USD 1,000 upwards in busier times. Allow $500-900 per person for the Buenos Aires-Ushuaia-Buenos Aires flights.

The Chile fly-cruise option from Punta Arenas is possible, accessed via Santiago de Chile or overland from El Calafate.

How Much Does It Cost To Go to Antarctica From Australia?

Australians have a long flight route to Ushuaia, ranging from 30-40 hours in total.

From Sydney, most routes travel to Auckland then to Santiago in Chile. From there, it’s a flight to Buenos Aires and on to Ushuaia.

Flights may well be around $3,000-7,000 per person (AUSD 4,000-9,000).

The Chile fly-cruise option from Punta Arenas is possible, accessed via Santiago de Chile or overland from El Calafate.

What Are the Best Places to Visit in Antarctica?

  • Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea for Emperor penguins.
  • Wiencke Island and Port Lockroy for kayaking.
  • The Ross Sea for orcas, whales and its ice shelf.
  • Whale watching at Cuverville Island and Danco Island.
  • Weddell Sea for glaciers, lava, and birds.
  • Camping at Paradise Bay.
  • Post a letter at Port Lockroy, the southernmost Post Office in the world.
  • Falkland Islands for birds.
  • Penguins at South Shetland Islands.
  • Antarctic Peninsula for icebergs and whales.
  • The Drake Passage for an historic and sometimes exhilarating crossing.
  • Research stations and wildlife at King George Island.
  • The red water flowing from the Blood Falls of the Taylor Glacier in McMurdo’s Dry Valley.
  • Mount Erebus, the southernmost volcano in the world.
  • Deception Island for volcanic sands, whale skeletons, and a thermal spa!

When Is the Best Time To Go to Antarctica?

The Austral summer — November to March — is the best time to visit Antarctica. Thick sea ice melts, opening the continent to visitors for a brief window.

There is sunshine aplenty during this period, with 24 hours of daylight for many weeks. Antarctica’s wildlife is busy, too, so it’s a great time to see whales, penguins, elephant seals, orcas, and more.

  • November is a top time for the penguin nesting season, icebergs, and landscape photography.
  • December’s 24-hours of sunlight see penguin chick hatch and seals mating.
  • January is busy with wildlife, playful penguin chicks bounding around, and beautiful light.
  • February sees the Polar circle ice melt sufficiently for visits, whales returning, and penguin creches.
  • March’s final hurrah is perfect for whales, colourful sea algae, and fewer visitors.

What Is the Best Antarctica Cruise?

The best Antarctica cruise is the one that best fits your budget, time constraints, and wishes. Photographers love the light in November, for example.

Some people want a luxury cruise with fine dining. In contrast, others prefer a research vessel led by a specific expert guide. What’s important to remember is that you will probably only visit Antarctica once in your life. You need to research and decide what is the most important to you.

Some boats offer additional trips like diving, kayaking, camping, hiking, paddle boarding and sailing at extra cost. The best Antarctica trips are not always the most expensive if they do not meet your requirements.

How Much Should I Budget for Antarctica?

We’d had a look at the costs of Antarctica cruises and flights. Let’s explore the extras which can add up.

How Much Should I Budget for Clothing for Antarctica?

It will be cold, but it’s arguably the wind and water that provide the stiffest test for your gear. Researching what your ship offers is vital to your packing list.

Some boats will provide complementary parkas and waterproof trousers for Zodiac landings; others don’t. If not, add them to your list. Other significant expenses include:

  • Winter boots with good soles
  • Sunglasses with good polarisation and UV filters
  • Binoculars
  • Extra memory cards and camera/phone batteries
  • Gloves – a ‘Thinsulate’ underlayer and a windproof outer pair.
  • Polar fleece facemasks, and perhaps earmuffs.
  • Several pairs of sock liners and warmer wool socks — they will get wet.
  • Several thin, warm base layers for legs and torso.
  • Warm hat

Buy good quality because you won’t want to get cold.

The brave can take a bathing suit. Some ships offer hardy bathers the chance for a quick dip in Antarctica’s icy waters.

How Much Should I Budget for Tips for Antarctica Crew?

Tips and gratuity policies vary from trip to trip. Some boats include a service charge meaning that any tipping is on top of wages and rewards service.

Other boats publish recommended daily tipping amounts with various payment methods on board. You usually pay once, and then the ship workers divide it among staff and crew.

Almost all boats will stress that tipping is voluntary. However, there are sometimes grey areas about whether tips are just that — a bonus to hardworking staff — or subsidising wages. Ask your travel agent for clarity before travel.

Allowing $5-10 per person per day for each of your cabin stewards, waiter, and assistant waiters is a sound starting spot. Bartenders tend to look for +15-18% of any bar bill.

How Much Should Insurance Cost for Antarctica Cruises?

Antarctica cruises have two standout points that make travel insurance a must-buy. Indeed, most cruises will ask for your policy before you board.

Firstly, the expense and advance booking mean that cancellation insurance is essential. You may be paying out +$10,000 per person for a cruise a year or more ahead of departure. Life happens, so cancellation insurance to cover all eventualities is vital.

Secondly, cruises, by their very nature, are in remote areas. Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Earth, so you need to know you are covered.

Policy inclusions vary greatly, but you can find policies for 14 days from around GBP 150 for two people from the UK.

Answering “How Much Does It Cost To Go to Antarctica?”

The cost to visit Antarctica is high, from the cruise to the flights and personal equipment.

So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica?

We estimate most people will spend between $9,000-$13,000 / GBP 6,900-10,000 per person for an 11-day Antarctica cruise, flights, and associated hotels.

Tipping could cost anything from $150-300 per person depending on your bar bill, boat tipping policy, and cruise length. Cameras, binoculars and clothes can be bought or borrowed, making this a more complicated figure to pinpoint.

We’re happy to help fulfil your Antarctica cruise dream. Contact us and dive in!



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