Author picture

Picking the right Antarctic Cruise by Polar Routes


If you are a perfectionist like we are, planning a holiday is a task that takes a bit more than just a few hours of work. It takes knowledge, it takes interest, it takes passion. As much as you might be in love with travelling, chances are you hate all the planning that comes along with it. That is why we always try to go the extra mile, and deliver a personalised service to our clients, ensuring that when it comes to their holidays all that they have to worry about is: having fun.

Antarctic cruises are a once in a lifetime trip, an out of the ordinary experience that requires a special approach when it comes to planning it. There are so many things to take in consideration, and who better than our expert leaders to take you down the hard path of ‘making decisions’.

Here are the first five things you must consider when choosing your Antarctic cruise, as well as a few ship suggestions depending on what may be looking for:

1. The Vessel’s Size

We know that taste can differ and if some people prefer smaller intimate ships, others like them bigger and impressive. When it comes to Antarctic expedition cruise though, it’s best to travel in smaller groups. According to the regulations of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operations (IAATO), only a limited number of 100 passengers are allowed to disembark at any time. This means that ships carrying over 200 passengers will not be able to disembark every day.

2. The Facilities

As the ship will be your home for the duration of your trip it is very important that you carefully consider what best fits your needs. Ships differ from each other and while some have large outdoor decks, others feature enclosed observation decks which are great for many reasons; beautiful panoramic window views and preferable while crossing the Drake Passage or watching the wild polar storms. But the differences don’t end here, some ships offer scuba diving facilities, others have a gym and some have a library. Most expedition ships also have a lecture theatre where you can hear marine biologists, zoologists, historians and geologists explaining more about the wonders and mysteries of Antarctica, making your journey informative and entertaining all at the same time.

3. Who is on Board

On all polar expeditions you’ll be accompanied by an expedition leader and a team of specialists who will help you get the most from your holiday. Attend lectures on the local geology and wildlife and learn all about your chosen location on your small group excursions. Depending on your chosen ship you may have more staff per guest than others.

4. What will you be doing?

On all ships there is a choice of daily excursions including hiking, wildlife excursions, zodiac tours and geographical tours. Some ships offer kayaking tours, overnight ice camping excursions, and other specialist optional activities at an additional cost.

5. Location/Itinerary

Although the ships are fantastic and most of them extremely well-equipped, the focus of your holiday will always be on the locations you are visiting. The polar regions are some of the most fascinating areas for wildlife spotting anywhere on Earth, so itineraries are designed to get you off the ship and into the wilds as much as possible. Is there a particular Antarctic place that you would like to see? If yes, make sure your ship has an itinerary that includes that location as this can vary.


Each cruise will give you the flexibility to take part in excursions suitable for every age and fitness level, so it’s easy to experience it all at a pace that’s right for you. There is no pressure to push yourself further than you feel comfortable. The staff and crew will always take your preferences into account when planning the day’s activities, still, all ships are different so make sure you book the one that best fits your needs.

Looking for luxury?

Choose the Hebridean Sky

The Hebridean Sky underwent a ten- million-dollar refit in 2016 transforming her into the safest, most comfortable – of course – most luxurious ship. From state of the art stabilisation, improved fuel efficiency or even upgraded communications system, there is no doubt that this ship has it all and more. Public areas include a panorama lounge, library, lounge with audio-visual facilities, wraparound sun deck and elevator. There are six different categories of suite accommodation and these are spacious and feature premium appointments throughout, as well as a private bathroom, and porthole or window. Several suites also include private balconies accessed via a sliding door so that you can enjoy the views privately too. If you are wondering about the food, that is like everything else on board: exquisite, beautiful, delicious.

Classic Antarctica from £6,079 per person triple share

Looking for a small ship experience?

Choose the Plancius

Built in 1976 the MV Plancius was once an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy before being completely rebuilt as a polar explorer back in 2009. The ship is all about giving you a great, intimate experience on board while also maximising the time spent outside the ship, exploring the polar regions. The ship has overall fantastic facilities but we would like to highlight the restaurant on deck 3 which provides guests with a different menu each day, as well as on deck 5, the observation lounge and its large windows where you can enjoy the astonishing views. The décor on board is nothing else but elegant and smart even though this is not a luxury vessel. You can choose between 6 types of accommodation including quadruple, triple and twin cabins. Each cabin has a private bathroom, desk, chair, and storage. Last but not least, the ship also offers large open desk spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 4)  so that you can truly enjoy being in the exquisite polar regions.

Classic Antarctica from £5,799 per person triple share


Looking for something new?

Choose the World Explorer by Quark

The World Explorer provides the perfect blend of high design and total functionality. It is comfortable, elegant, and overall beautiful. The cabins are spacious and the décor welcoming and stylish. Each cabin also features either a private walk-out or Juliet balcony so take you can take full advantage of your time at sea. The public areas are equally exquisite – you can head to the glass-domed Observation Lounge which you can use for quieter moments of stargazing; you can pop in the Explorer Lounge for drinks, a chat, or both; as well head to the library for a moment with yourself and a good book. If you enjoy a little bit of mind exercise while on board, you can head to the ship’s lecture theatre where presentations and discussions are available. If you prefer to exercise and pamper your body instead, you can do as the vessel also offers fantastic health and wellness facilities including an outdoor running track, small gym, sauna, plus a spa with change rooms, showers and lockers.

Classic Antarctica from £6,500 per person triple share


Looking for great value?

Choose the M/V Ushuaia

As a great value vessel the MV Ushuaia provides guests with fantastic on board comfort while focusing more on the off ship experience. It accommodates a maximum of 88 passengers in comfortable cabins and suites, making it a very intimate and pleasant travel experience. Cabins include comfortable beds and outside views, and are available with mostly private facilities. In the public areas you will find a large dining room; an open-plan observation lounge/lecture room with modern multimedia equipment; a bar; as well as a rich library. Another highlight of this ship is the outside area, which allows guests to fully enjoy and admire the surrounding wildlife while on board. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in generous portions and you will also be able to try many local specialties, and at the bar you can taste the carefully selected wines and spirits. Last but not least,  while on board passengers will also be able to meet a specialist team of international expedition leaders, biologists, as well as historians. This is a great opportunity to learn more insights on the polar regions as these professionals are always eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm on the subject.

Classic Antarctica from £4,799 per person triple share



We at Thames Travel along with Polar Routes will gladly help you plan this once in a lifetime experience ensuring the trip meets your every need. Call us on 020 8891 0166 

Share this post