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Antarctica Transportation: 83 reviews and 161 photos

Marina Svetaeva in sea ice - Antarctica

Marina Svetaeva in sea ice

Choose your type of ship

Realistically, the only way for most tourists to reach Antarctica is by ship. Even that was not possible before 1968, when the Lindblad company first chartered the Magga Dan for tourist cruises from Australia and New Zealand. Now many companies are operating ships of many types. Which you take will depend on your interests, your comfort preferences, and the depth of your pocket: there is no such thing as a 'right answer' for everyone.

A passenger cruise liner with over 1000 passengers may be less expensive and more comfortable, but I understand that the arrangements for Antarctic tourism do not provide for any landings by ships with over 500 passengers: would that concern you? Slightly smaller but still in cruise-ship style, there are cruises by ships with up to 500 passengers: these usually provide for some landings, but you may have to wait your turn for landings as the maximum numbers allowed ashore at a given time are sometimes limited to under 100. At the smallest end of the spectrum are the 'expedition' style ships, usually carrying no more than about 100 passengers. If you wish to maximise your time ashore, skip around in zodiacs, or undertake various kinds of 'adventure' activities, these are for you: the downside may be the cost and fewer 'luxury' touches. Do you really need a grand piano with you when you go to Antarctica?

In this photo, you see our ship 'parked' intentionally among thick sea ice, while passengers walk about exploring the frozen landscape of icebergs (such as the one in the background) and wildlife - at the same time, others were off in one of the ship's helicopters (the other is on the top deck).

Our trip in 2005-06 was on a Russian 'expedition style' ship, the Marina Svetaeva operated on charter by Aurora Expeditions, who also operate a slightly smaller ship the Polar Pioneer from South America.

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Type: Ship/Boat

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 6, 2006
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Get that photo! - Antarctica

Get that photo!

Go there in a zodiac

If your ship has provision for excursions in the Antarctic, it is almost certain that you will be making them in a zodiac: they are used for transport to and from shore, and for general sightseeing.

Zodiac travel is enjoyable and invigorating. On our cruise, some people were concerned about stepping from the ship's gangway into and out of the zodiac - you can expect to find a strong fit crewmember there to help you as necessary. What you do need to know is that, depending on sea conditions, there can be some spray - so make sure you wear waterproof outer clothing, with something warm beneath. Similarly, have some protection for your camera gear.

As you can see in the main photo (taken near the French base at Dumont d'Urville), when there is something worth photographing, it all becomes a little busy! In these circumstances, it is a matter of passengers applying mutual courtesy in their movements.


Type: Ship/Boat

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 6, 2006
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