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How to choose the right ship?
Choosing the right ship for a cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic seems difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Our fleet is over 30 vessels, we are sure that there is the perfect one for you. Please, follow these simple steps, and you will be able to find your ideal ship:
- Determine your budget and desired level of comfort: Are you looking for luxury or more budget-friendly options? On our website you can set the price range.
- Consider ship size: Large ships offer more amenities and facilities, but they can also feel crowded and impersonal. Smaller ships offer a more personal experience, but may not have as many amenities.
- Look at the cabins: Although you probably won’t spend much time in your cabin, look at the photos and read the descriptions to make sure you're happy with the one you choose.
- Consider the activities on board: Are you interested in kayaking, camping, diving or a photography workshop? Or maybe you want to take part in a Citizen Science Program? These activities can enhance your overall experience. See what our ships have to offer.
- Read customer reviews: Learn about other travelers' experiences by reading reviews.
- Ask your Polar Specialist: Feel free to contact your Polar Specialist. They are happy to share their knowledge and are always ready to help.
In addition: We work with responsible partners who provide a great experience for their passengers. All of our providers are committed to sustainability and to preserving the beauty of the polar regions. You don’t need to worry about the impact of your cruise, because we’ve already taken care of it.
Can I travel to Antarctica with children?
Yes, you can! A trip to Antarctica with children will be an unforgettable experience for your family. Some of our ships don’t have age restrictions. However, most of the ships will welcome passengers who are at least 8 years old, and some will require a minimum age of at least 12 years to join an expedition. Please remember that an Antarctic expedition is not a typical cruise. You will need to consider the unique challenges of the destination and plan accordingly as you prepare for your trip. Contact our travel specialists and they will be happy to help you find a perfect expedition for your family trip!
What is the booking process for a Polartours Cruise?
We love to help people find their dream vacation to the Arctic and Antarctic. Whether you give us a call, contact us via email, or use our website inquiry form, one of our Polar travel experts will be more than happy to answer any questions, recommend ships and itineraries, and walk you through the whole process!
Step 1: Find your perfect trip. If you have already started looking for Polar Cruises, you will have quickly noticed that the sheer amount of options can be quite overwhelming. To help you navigate the countless departures and itineraries that our fleet offers, we have put together a great filter page for Antarctic and Arctic Expedition Cruises. Use this page to filter all trips by price, date, ship category, and even destinations you wish to visit. We update all dates, prices, and availabilities daily, and are proud to host what is doubtlessly the world's most complete collection of information.
Step 2: Found something you love? We'll hold your spaces, free of charge! If you find a cruise you like, you can either inquire directly with us or make an unbinding booking online. We will then reach out to the shipowners to put a hold on your spaces for a limited time, free of charge. Once we have confirmed your block with the ship, we will send you a written confirmation of your reservation and include full payment details in an invoice. Typically, we are able to hold unpaid reservations for up to 1 week*. This gives us time to clarify all your remaining questions, and also ensures that no other passengers can book your spaces, while we continue our conversation.
Step 3: Confirm your booking. In order to confirm your booking, we ask for a deposit payment. You can pay via bank transfer or credit card. Keep in mind, that we can only hold your spaces for a limited amount of time. If we don't receive your payment after this time, we can no longer guarantee that the places will be available or that the price won't increase. To prevent disappointment, we will automatically cancel your reservation if we don't receive your deposit by the due date stated on your booking reservation.
Step 4: Booking confirmation & Payment. As soon as we have received your deposit and a completed passenger information form, we will be pleased to send your booking confirmation and updated invoice, along with your trip itinerary, important information, and other great tips for your cruise.
Step 5: Final payment. In your initial invoice, we will define a final payment date by when you need to pay us the remaining amount of your trip. Once we have received your final payment we'll send you your cruise documents and voucher. As your trip approaches, we make sure to pass along all necessary information, so you feel super prepared and stress-free.
*For last-minute bookings, we might not be able to hold your spaces for so long. We will also require the full payment of your cruise upon booking.
When is the best time to book?
An expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic is a big deal! Most people plan for this type of trip at least 8 months in advance. This means the earlier you book, the better chance you'll have to reserve your prefered cabins. Early bird discounts are also popular and a great way to get 10-30% off your cruise.
Most expedition cruises offer optional activities like camping and kayaking, but the spaces are limited. A cruise with 120 passengers can have only 10-15 spaces for kayaking. These are reserved on a first come first served basis. The earlier you book, the higher your chance of grabbing a spot.
Even though last minute deals do occur, keep in mind that the airline prices will be much higher if you purchase them last minute. You may save a few hundred on your cruise, but you may end up paying the most for airfare.
Health & Safety
What can i do to avoid seasickness?
If you are prone to motion sickness then here are a few hints to help you.
Firstly, book a cabin in the middle of the ship. The middle of the ship will move less, both in roll and in pitch. Secondly, chose a larger ship. Bigger vessels typically are more stable, and some of them are even equipped with "stabilizers", fins under water that remove the rolling in the swells. Thirdly, take medical advice on anti-seasickness medication. Some traditional remedies are said to be very effective, such as taking ginger or using commercially-available acupressure wristbands.
Watch this informative video about life onboard an expedition ship and seasickness from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
Why is insurance mandatory on all Polar cruises?
There is no doubt the Arctic and Antarctic are some of the world's most remote destinations. In order to visit with complete piece of mind, your safety MUST be taken into consideration.
A Polar expedition is one of the most singular travel experiences you could ever have. Its isolated location comes with a unique set of health-and-safety-related requirements. It is mandatory to be reasonably fit and in possession of a comprehensive travel insurance policy that’ll cover medical and evacuation expenses. We know Polar expedition cruises can be quite expensive, which is why we also strongly recommend Trip Cancellation Coverage in addition to your medical policy.
All Polar tour operators insist you purchase Travel Insurance covering emergency Medical evacuation and repatriation. This is mandatory for all Polar trips! An emergency evacuation from an Antarctic cruise expedition can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without this coverage, tour operators will refuse your boarding. While the chances of you using this are very slim to none, it is better be safe than sorry.
What should you look for when choosing travel insurance for Arctic/Antarctica expeditions?
A good, reliable insurance company should offer comprehensive Antarctica-specific insurance with a minimum 1 million USD evacuation coverage and medical fees.
Most tour operators in the Arctic require cover of $200,000 for evacuation or repatriation.
If you are an EU citizen, please inquire about our insurance packages.
What is a fuel surcharge?
Global oil prices are extremely unpredictable. With that in mind, ship operators who operate in the polar regions are at liberty to implement a fuel surcharge as they see fit. In addition to the fuel pricing changes, all vessels visiting Antarctica are required to use much higher-grade and expensive fuel under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty.
While the charge itself will depend on the ship and duration of the cruise, it is possible that a surchage will be added to your final invoice. If this is the case, you will receive a formal e-mail from your travel specialist with an explanation and your new cruise total added to your final invoice.
We appreciate your understanding and are grateful for your trust and business.
What to pack for your Polar Cruise?
Planning a trip to the Antarctic continent or the Arctic and wondering what to bring? You’re not alone. We’ve taken the stress out of packing for the adventure of a lifetime and have compiled a list of all the necessary things to bring to these ice-ridden continents. Please note that not all of our polar expeditions will provide parkas, so inquire with us please. All do, however, provide and waterproof boots.
- Waterproof Pants — Lightweight waterproof pants in a pull-on style that can be worn over a warm insulating layer are best.
- Core Jacket
- Waterproof and Windproof Jacket — This will act as your outer layer.
- Insulating Base Layers — Pack a couple of warm base layers made from moisture-wicking fabrics such as polyester, polypropylene, and Smartwool. Layers are key to keeping warm in these sub-zero regions.
- Warm Socks — Lots of them. Smartwool is recommended for durability, warmth, and long-term value.
- 2 pairs of waterproof gloves or mittens
- Hat — warm and windproof.
- High Factor Sunscreen — The ozone layer is at its thinnest above Antarctica, and there’s significant glare from the white snow and ice. This is a must.
- Everyday clothes to wear onboard. Bring footwear you can slip into quickly. There are lots of opportunities to see seabirds and marine life from out on deck. You don’t want to risk missing a pod of orcas because you had to lace your shoes.
- Camera and a waterproof camera bag
- Spare camera batteries
- Plug adapters and extension cord
- Binoculars — Vital for any expedition to Antarctica or the Arctic
- A lightweight and waterproof backpack
- Waterproof bag for smartphone
- UV Filtering Sunglasses
- Seasickness medication
What to wear on your Polar Expedition Cruise?
LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS! That is a key to a comfortable expedition cruise. The weather changes very quickly and sometimes drastically. Come prepared with plenty of layers to put on and take off. A waterproof bag to store your extra layers and camera gear is a must. And don't forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen, as the ozone layer in these regions is very thin.
Watch this informative video about what to wear aboard your Polar cruise from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
Before the trip
How do I get my luggage on board, what's the boarding process?
The exact boarding process of your expedition cruise will vary from operator to operator. Once you have booked a cruise, we will send you a briefing from your ship, detailing all the steps. If you have chosen a ship-based expedition cruise (in contrast to Air Cruise, where you're being flown into the destination) , then typically you can drop off your luggage on the first day, and the crew of the ship will take care of transporting your luggage to the ship, and will even place it in your cabin for you.
Here is a video that Benno, the founder of Polartours, recorded in Ushuaia to talk you through the process:
What is some suggested reading about the polar regions?
Whether you're preparing for the polar adventure of a lifetime, or you enjoy spending time on your cruise ship library, these are some great reads about two incredible destinations: Antarctica and the Arctic.
Endurance: Shackelton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
The unbelievable tale of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas. There is no doubt your expedition team will share all about Shackleton's journey on your Antarctic cruise.
Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle Walker
Tackling all of Antarctica's science, wildlife history, exploration, and geography is no easy feat, but this book manages to capture it all.
The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole by Roland Huntford
In this fascinating dual biography, you'll dive deep into every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain’s Robert Scott and Norway’s Roald Amundsen during the fierce age of exploration.
Mawson’s Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written by Lennard Bickel
The incredible story of Douglas Mawson who faced some of the most challenging conditions ever known to man: extreme wind, snow, and cold; loss of human and furry friends; thirst, starvation, disease, snowblindness – and he survived.
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
A thorough exploration of this remote world-its terrain, its wildlife, its history of Eskimo natives and brave explorers who have arrived on these icy shores.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides
With surprising twists and turns, this book is a captivating tale of heroism and determination in the most brutal place on Earth.
Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss
A whymsical autobiography about a woman moving her family to Iceland, the challenges of the economic collapse, the northern lights, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, her strange new friends, and how she adapted to all of it.
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Simmons transforms the true story of a legendary Arctic expedition into a thriller worthy of Stephen King. A page-turner about a group of explorers trapped in the frozen Arctic for 2 years.
When is the best time to visit Antarctica?
The Antarctica cruise season begins in November and ends in March. Each month offers something special-
November: Landscapes and landing sites are in pristine condition. A photographer's dream. The days are starting to lengthen, and penguin chicks are hatching.
December: Arguably the best time to visit Antarctica, but also the most expensive. The temperatures are at their warmest, the daylight hours are long, and the wildlife is very active. This is a particularly great time for bird enthusiasts.
January: The peak Antarctica season, offering 24-hour daylight. You can expect adorable and fluffy penguin chicks, whale and seal spotting, and melting ice that will allow you to visit more remote Antarctic sights like the Ross Sea voyages.
February: This is the best time for whale-watching. Seal pups are also learning to hunt alongside their parents. By this time, sea ice will have melted, making it a perfect time for cruises to the Polar Circle.
March: As the season wines down, you'll see fewer and fewer ships in the Antarctic seas. The temperatures begin to drop again, and you'll experience some amazing sunsets. It's a great time to spot whales and fur seals, and penguins will already be molting.
When is the best time to visit the Arctic?
The Arctic cruise season begins in May and ends in late September. Each month offers something special-
May: The first ships of the season usually arrive at the Svalbard archipelago. Sea-ice is still abundant, and you'll see some pristine icebergs. Birds will begin nesting, and Polar bears will prepare for mating season. In ice-free waters, you'll see whales and maybe even the elusive Narwhal.
June: As the ice continues to break, Icebreaker ships will be able to travel to the North Pole. June is the best time to spot Narwhals and even Polar bears hunting seals. You can also expect to see whales, walruses, and 24-hour daylight later in the month.
July: We are getting into the high season, where temperatures are at their warmest, and the wildlife is booming. By mid-July, the Hinlopen Straight is free of ice, allowing cruise ships to fully circumnavigate Spitsbergen. The Polar bear mating season begins, walruses gather in large numbers, and many whales can be seen off the coast of Greenland. If you venture into the Canadian High Arctic, you might see thousands of Beluga whales arrive in Hudson Bay.
August: There is little to no sea-ice left, which means the Northwest and Northeast Passages are available for those who seek a true Arctic adventure. The icebergs will not be as impressive or large, but you'll be able to sail to Scoresby Sound in Greenland, or the west coast of Spitsbergen and have a higher chance of spotting a Polar bear.
September: The autumn colors are beautiful. Temperatures are starting to drop again, and you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This is a great time to visit the east coast of Greenland.
During your trip
What activities can I expect on a Polar Cruise?
All cruises in the polar regions operate to itineraries that are more-or-less fixed. We say "more or less", because wildlife (breeding, seasonality) and weather always play an important role in routing. Most cruises will offer a range of land-based and water-based activities that you will enjoy at various points in your cruise, including:
- Land excursions (including hiking trails, visitor centers, time relaxing on beaches, observing animals, etc.)
- Bird Watching
- Snorkeling (from ship or beaches)
- Dinghy rides
- Diving (on ships with diving itineraries)
- Naturalist presentations. These usually take place every evening - on board the bigger ships also with help of projectors, microscopes etc.
All boats carry English speaking, scientifically trained guides. They will lead you on your excursions, allowing you to learn as much as possible about the unique wildlife and habitats of the Polar Regions.
What can you expect from shore landings during your Polar cruise?
Shore landings are an exciting part of your expedition cruise. Zodiacs can get you to some of the most remote places. When ashore, you will usually be briefed about what you can see, what you can do, and how to behave around wildlife. The weather and sea conditions can change quite quickly and drastictly, so keep a flexible mind and attitude during your expedition cruise.
Watch this informative video about shore landings during your expedition cruise from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
What is a typical day on Polar expedition cruise?
There’s really no such thing as a typical day in the polar regions. Individual landing locations are different for every trip due to weather, ice, currents, and light conditions. The possible wildlife sightings also heavily depend on the time of the season, which can also affect the tentative itinerary. We ask all travelers to be open-minded and flexible when it comes to activities available on expedition cruises.
Below is an example for a day with two landings, but please be aware that every day is different — if the weather is poor then there may be no landings and sometimes there can be as many as four landings achieved in a single day.
- 7:00 AM Wake-up call
- 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM Breakfast
- 8:30 AM Quick meeting to confirm the day’s zodiac outing. Head to the mudroom and get geared up for the day’s adventure.
- 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM Embark on a Zodiac through icy blue waters, marvel at towering glaciers, and spot a Minke whale.
- 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Lunch on board the expedition cruise ship
- 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Sit down to a presentation about Antarctica’s environment
- 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM Shore landing at Cuverville Island. Walk along the shore and watch the young penguins plunge into the water for the first time. Sit down on the rocks and feel joyous as a curious Gentoo approaches you and nibbles at your camera strap. Return to the ship.
- 6:30 PM Recap today’s events and brief on the schedule for tomorrow. Relax with travelers, ship staff, and guides.
- 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Dinner
What is a zodiac cruise?
Zodiac cruising is an essential part of any expedition cruise. Your expedition team are expert zodiac drivers, eager to get you to the most incredible and remote places in the Polar regions. Be prepared to have an amazing adventure and get a little wet!
Watch this informative video from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
What is an Expedition Cruise Ship?
The majority of expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic will make way via expedition cruise ships that have ice-strengthened hulls for sailing through floating sea ice and allowing access to remote areas. Expedition ships focus on natural history and culture and will provide onboard education programs like lectures and presentations. Expedition ships range from mid-range to luxury class, but they all offer comfortable accommodation and good quality onboard service and dining.
What is ship cruising?
The zodiac cruises and landings are what you may be more excited about, but don't forget to take advantage of the amazing opportunity of wildlife and landscape sightings right on board the ship. Ship cruises offer some wonderful sights, sounds, and learning experiences.
Watch this informative video about expedition ship cruising from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
What's a Mud Room?
The mud room on board a Polar Expedition Cruise Ship is a crucial space designed to help passengers prepare for their excursions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It serves as a storage and preparation area for essential gear, clothing, and equipment needed for these harsh environments. The mud room is equipped with lockers for storing personal items, shelves for organizing equipment, and hooks for hanging jackets and boots. The room also contains waterproof gear, such as overalls, gloves, and life jackets, for passengers to wear during their excursions. It helps to ensure that passengers are properly dressed and equipped for their adventures, while also keeping the rest of the ship clean and organized. The mud room plays a crucial role in making sure that passengers have a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring these remote and challenging regions.
Our Flexi Fare
What happens if my trip can’t go ahead?
Whether passengers booked in the Classic fare or the Flexi fare, we will reimburse the full amount of the down payment if we can’t reach the minimum number of people for the trip to go ahead.
What are the Covid-19 Requirements for Polar cruises?
Updated on June 22, 2022
ALL POLAR CRUISES REQUIRE COMPLETELY VACCINATED TRAVELERS.
These are the current Covid-19 entry requirements in Argentina: All travellers must fill in an electronic ‘sworn statement’ form within 48 hours of travelling informing about their vaccination status and declaring that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. If you are an Argentine national or a resident of Argentina, and you are entering the country by land for less than 24 hours, you are exempt from this requirement.
Non-resident foreign nationals must also have medical insurance with comprehensive cover for coronavirus, including hospitalisation and the costs of self-isolation and medical transport services for positive and suspected cases, as well as for close contacts. If you are entering the country by land for less than 24 hours, you are exempt from this requirement.
These are the current Covid-19 entry requirements in Chile: According to the Protected Borders Plan, Chile is currently in Alert Phase 1, which does not include travel restrictions. However, there are some measures to be considered.
- Fill in the “Travel Affidavit” form online up to 48 hours before boarding, providing contact information and health and travel records. This form will display a QR code as a means of verification. It is available at www.c19.cl.
- Negative PCR test result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to your departing flight to Chile (not arrival in Chile).
- Diagnostic tests will be carried out randomly at the entry point to Chile. Confirmed cases shall be isolated according to the general health regulations (declared domicile in the C19 or Sanitary Residence).
These are the current Covid-19 entry requirements in Norway: No testing, no quarantining, no registration! In February 2022, all COVID entry requirements were lifted for all travellers to Norway.
These are the current Covid-19 entry requirements in Greenland: There are no longer any COVID-19 related requirements for travelling to Greenland. As such PCR-testing or prove of vaccination no longer required.
These are the current Covid-19 entry requirements in Iceland: All visitors are welcome, regardless of vaccination status, with no requirement to pre-register before visiting. There is no longer a requirement for a PCR test to board aircraft, and no testing or quarantine upon arrival.