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Congratulations for looking into traveling to the continent that only a small amount of the world visits. You have made it here because you are seriously looking into traveling to Antarctica.
I honestly never looked into it until I traveled to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. While at Tierra del Fuego I saw signs everywhere about Antarctica and I got curious. Living in Buenos Aires at the time, I was able to travel throughout the entire country!
There are many misconceptions that you have to be at the office to get the last minute deal which is false. A last minute cruise to Antarctica could be reserved right from your bathroom with all the information I’m going to give you below.
Depending on where you want to go in Antarctica there are different ports around the world. The most popular and regular service is out of Ushuaia, Argentina. Other ports typically have chartered services where you have to reserve well in advance and are typically much longer cruises. Since the port of Ushuaia is the closest to the continent, high season in Antarctica is November to early February (the summer for this part of the world).
During this time you can walk into any last minute cruise to Antarctica office find a spot on the ship, pay, and board the ship. I was told that there are patrons that have paid and hopped on a ship hours before it left. What people haven’t had access to is a list of these cruises to Antarctica offices which I provide below.
- CRUISE COST
While costs typically vary for a last minute cruise to Antarctica, the first thing that you want to do is scour the internet for sales on cruises. The cheapest I’ve heard was a friend that got a cruise for $2,200 THIS YEAR 2010. This was a special promotion that a tour company was having, this is not the norm. The high average is going to cost you $4,000 to $4,500 and the low average is about $3,000 so you can typically look for something right in the middle at $3,500.
It’s going to be extremely rare to find a last minute cruise to Antarctica for $2,200.
Sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw but I personally wouldn’t pay any more than $3500 for the cruise. Its important to note that there are double and triple rooms. The cheaper cruises will typically a triple and on your last minute cruise to Antarctica it will be you, your travel partner, and the infamous annoying new guy.
GETTING TO USHUAIA-FLIGHTS
The cost of airfare to the Ushuaia depends on where you are in the world. Your first stop when you reach the country of Argentina will be Buenos Aires as the majority of routes throughout Argentina have a connection there. Only two airlines fly to Ushuaia, LAN Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas.
While my review of Aerolineas Argentinas is still in process I would highly recommend that you fly with LAN simply because everything the Argentinians do is backwards. LAN is a company based in Chile, the only 1st world efficient country in the world. I have been living in Chile and living in Argentina so trust me when I tell you which is best.
The cost of a flight is about $300 – $500 high season is the same as Antarctica, Nov to February.
Direct flights are about 3.5 hours and if you have a connecting flight (sometimes 2) lord help you because your luggage will play hide and seek with you. Unless of course you expect to be reunited with your luggage at the baggage claim. Aerolineas Argentinas typically has delayed flights as well, you can tell how much I love their service can’t you?
GETTING TO USHUAIA-BUSES
For the cost conscious traveler you can take what I consider the most efficient and effective part of the Argentina economy, the bus. This is not an old Greyhound bus where you have to sit up for over 10 hours. These are plush double decker, fully reclining, dinner and breakfast serving, wine and liquor offering, wi-fi available, (do I need to continue) buses.
There are no direct buses from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, you have to connect through a city called Rio Gallegos. For those with time I’d encourage you to take your time visiting every city In Patagonia because it’s an incredible country. In order to buy the bus tickets go to the retiro bus station a few days in advance and purchase your ticket. I’ve always purchased my ticket the day of and never had a problem.
Since only 100 people are allowed at one place at a time in Antarctica you want to try and get the smallest ship possible. If you buy a last minute cruise to Antarctica with a ship of 500 people then your chances are more limited to step on the continent. Plan for a ship around 90-130 people, the cheapest cruises are normally 10-11 days.
Since we are all cheap skunks when it comes to travel you want to shoot for this time frame because that will be the cheapest cruise. I will be updating the post with a list of companies that you can contact to obtain pricing for the last minute cruises to Antarctica. I simply didn’t have time to update it today since I’m on my to the Atacama desert in Chile. Contact me if you need it and I will send the list 🙂
These are estimates there may be situations with weather where you may spend a bit more time on the open ocean. The weather in the Drake Passage (route to Antarctica) is very unpredictable.
Ushuaia – Antarctica Peninsula
- 10/11 days on cruise to Antarctica
- 4-5 days on water
- 4-6 days on the continent
Ushuaia-Antarctic Convergence (variation of above)
- 10-13 days on cruise to Antarctica
- 4-6 days on water
- 7-9 days in & around Antarctica
Ushuaia – Falklands Island – South Georgia Island ($12k – $15k)
- 22 days on cruise to Antarctica
- 8/10 days at sea
- 1/2 days at Falkland Islands
- 2/3 days at Georgia Islands