Antarctic Explorer Express
An expedition cruise to the White Continent created for adventurers aboard the Sylvia Earle
Antarctic Explorer Express
Leopard Seals on ice floes
Awe at immense icebergs
The Polartours experience
Fly the Drake Passage
60% fewer fuel emissions on board
Your trip is 100% carbon offset
The younger sibling to our fully-grown Antarctic Explorer voyage, Antarctic Explorer Express is a condensed version of the longer itinerary. It may seem indulgent to embark on a quick trip to Antarctica, but for travellers who are short on time, a short trip to the Antarctic Peninsula could be just what you are looking for. By flying across the Drake Passage in at least one direction combined with a compacted time in the Antarctic Peninsula, our Antarctic Explorer Express voyages are tailored for travellers seeking a quick adventure to the frozen continent. Enjoy Zodiac excursions to explore rugged coastlines, where unexpected appearances from curious whales is known to occur.
We compensate all 3.11 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.
Your ship: Sylvia Earle
Welcome aboard the Sylvia Earle, a brand-new cruise ship named after the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National and Atmospheric Administration. Sylvia Earle was also named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998. Set to sail in November 2022, this powerful new ship honors Sylvia’s long-standing marine conservation efforts. Built for intense weather conditions, the Sylvia Earle is a pioneer in nautical technology. Sail the Arctic or the Antarctic like never before aboard one of the most modern and elegant cruise ships.
The Sylvia Earle was created for the most rugg … Read more about Sylvia Earle
Citizen Science Laboratory
Food & Drinks
Arguably the most important part of any trip- The food! A Sylvia Earle polar cruise offers hearty delicious cuisine with a variety of options and courses for each meal. Mealtimes are a great way to get to know your fellow travelers in the open seating dining room. Tea, coffee, and various snacks are available 24 hours a day. Enjoy a wide range of house wine, beers, and soft drinks included with dinner, perfect after a long day of exploration.
Every passenger is also invited to join the cruise ship captain and expedition team for Welcome and Farewell drinks, which include complimentary cocktails and appetizers. The bars and lounges aboard the Sylvia Earle are a tasteful, yet inviting place to gather with new friends. Enjoy the sunset through the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning views. The friendly bartenders aboard the ship will quench your thirst and entertain you with tales of previous adventures.
Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.
Arrival in Ushuaia
Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be met by a representative and transferred to our group hotel. If you are already in Ushuaia, we ask you to make your way to your hotel. Check-in is from 3.00 pm. This afternoon, visit the hospitality desk in the lobby at Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort, Luis Fernando Martial 1650, between 8.00 am and 12.00 pm, or 3.00 pm and 7.00 pm, to collect your luggage tags, and confirm if you wish to join our Beagle Channel and Isla de Los Lobos Cruise (sea lion island) tomorrow. Our team will confirm details regarding your embarkation day, answer any questions and provide you with information on where to dine or purchase last minute items.
Expeditioners arriving after 7:00pm will find a welcome pack waiting for them at check-in. We ask you to visit our hospitality desk tomorrow between 08:00am – 10:00am.
The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.
Assigned accommodation: Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort or Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel
This morning, enjoy breakfast and check-out. Please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Take your cabin luggage to hotel reception, prior to, or at check-out. Your luggage will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance, to be placed in your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
Your morning is at leisure to explore Ushuaia.
Those wishing to join our afternoon catamaran cruise, meet back at the hotel lobby at 12.45 pm ready to transfer to the port at 1.00 pm. Here we board our catamaran and sail the Beagle Channel, towards the city’s iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Crossing the Bridges Archipelago we’ll slow down to watch colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants sun themselves on the rocky outcrops, while gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses and cauquenes are often sighted. Our cruise offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountain range, in addition to hearing tales of the people and communities of the region.
Alternatively, enjoy your day at leisure and meet at your hotel lobby at 3.45 pm to be transferred to the pier for embarkation.
Once onboard, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we’ll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
This evening get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
Cross the infamous Drake Passage
The Drake Passage is the name given to the infamous stretch of open ocean between the tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
It usually takes 2 or 3 days to cross the Drake Passage, and this is a great time to learn from your expert Antarctic naturalist guides. Through a series of fascinating talks and lectures, you'll begin to learn more about the remarkable wildlife and awe-inspiring geology of the Antarctic continent.
Your guides are always on hand to help you identify the sea bird species that always follow the ships, as well as spotting whales and other cetaceans that can be seen en route to the Antarctic Peninsula or the South Shetland Islands.
Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Sometimes overlooked as a destination by people keen to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands are a must-see destination in their own right.
Often the first and last landfall on an Antarctic cruise, many people are taken aback by the stunning beauty of these islands. What better way to make contact with the Antarctic than by making your first beach landing here surrounded by gentoo penguins?
Apart from some of the most southerly species of penguin, the South Shetlands are home to a huge range of Antarctic wildlife, and they make a superb introduction to the wildlife of the whole region, including key species like elephant seals, humpback whales, and more.
With active volcanoes, the relics and remains of its history as a centre for whaling, and some of the most beautiful Antarctic mountain scenery, the South Shetland Islands are a fitting first destination for any Antarctic cruise.
Fly to Punta Arenas
As we approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to farewell Antarctica and our amazing adventure before boarding our flight (approximately one hour and forty-five minutes) to Punta Arenas, Chile. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
In Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to our group hotel for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Hotel Dreams del Estrecho (or similar)
Note: King George Island is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required for safe take-off and landing. We apologise in advance for any possible delays.
Your unforgettable Antarctic cruise comes to an end in Punta Arenas
Dates & Prices
Preferred date unavailable? Contact us
Single Cabin Supplement
When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.
All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Ushuaia on Day 1.
Charter flight King George Island to Punta Arenas on Day 8.
One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Punta Arenas on Day 8.
Onboard accommodation during voyage, including daily cabin service.
All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell receptions including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team.
Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
One 3-in-1 waterproof, polar expedition jacket.
Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage.
Comprehensive pre-departure information.
Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
Gratuities for ship’s crew.
What's not included
International or domestic flights – unless specified in the itinerary.
Transfers – unless specified in the itinerary.
Airport arrival or departure taxes.
Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges.
Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges.
Hotel accommodation and meals – unless specified in the itinerary.
Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges.
All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges.
Should I Cross the Drake Passage by Ship or Fly to Antarctica?
When it comes to traveling to Antarctica, one of the first questions that often arises is, "Can I fly to Antarctica?". The answer is: Yes, you can. Most trips start in Patagonia (Ushuaia and Punta Arenas) and cross the Drake Passage by ship, but there are also trips that use planes to cross that infamous sea passage. Here are the Pros and Cons for each method:
Flying to Antarctica:
Pros: Flying to Antarctica is the quickest way to reach the continent. It offers convenience and is often the choice for those with very limited time.
Cons: There are limited commercial flights to Antarctica, and these are primarily reserved for research and expedition purposes. Tourist accessibility is limited, and it can be costly. Also, as not many trips include flights, you'll be limiting your choice a lot if you decide to only look for such trips.
Crossing the Drake Passage by ship:
Pros: If you choose to cross the Drake Passage by ship, you embark on an incredible adventure. This journey is not just a means of transportation; it's an expedition in itself. The crossing takes 1.5 - 2 days, which are filled with scientific lectures that prepare you for the experience. You'll witness diverse wildlife, including penguins and whales, as your anticipation starts building up. To us, the crossing is a quintessential experience of a true Antarctic explorer.
Cons: Crossing the Drake Passage takes some time, and the seas can be rough. It's not the quickest way to reach the continent, and you need to allocate more time for your expedition.
In conclusion, when it comes to traveling to Antarctica, you have these two choices. Flying offers efficiency and direct access, perfect for specific purposes. Crossing the Drake Passage by ship provides an unmatched adventure and connection with Antarctica's unique environment. Consider what truly matters to you, and you'll find the Antarctic transportation choice that suits your goals and spirit of exploration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Antarctic Explorer Express
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