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Antarctica Express: Crossing the Circle

Fly over the Drake passage to onboard the Ocean Explorer

Length

11 Days

Ship category

Premium

Ship type

Mid-Sized Ship

Capacity

138 Passengers

Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle

12 Reviews

Trip highlights

Humpback whales swimming alongside the ship

Walk among the King Penguins

Step a foot on the 7th continent

Fly the Drake passage

The Polartours experience

Best price guaranteed

Experience the chill of a polar plunge

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project

Polar experts to answer all your questions

Experience a polar adventure like no other by crossing the Antarctic Circle aboard the comfortable and spacious Ocean Explorer. Maximize your journey by skipping the lengthy ocean transit and flying over the Drake Passage by charter plane, combining the excitement of our Crossing the Circle: Southern Expedition itinerary with a direct round-trip flight from Chile to your polar-ready ship. This unique Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle voyage offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula and venture further south to reach 66⁰33´.

Set foot on the 7th continent and cross the iconic Antarctic Circle, a milestone few achieve in their lifetime. Discover polar wildlife as you sail south to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia Island. Observe breathtaking ice formations, majestic whales, and playful seals swimming alongside the ship, with polar birds soaring overhead. Walk among the continent's penguins and immerse yourself in their natural habitat.

Enhance your cruise experience with a wide range of activities available on your Zodiac, including sea kayaking through channels dotted with icebergs. Take the exhilarating polar plunge and check off other achievements from your bucket list. Join us on the Ocean Explorer for this extraordinary expedition, and create memories that will last a lifetime as you explore one of the most remote and awe-inspiring regions on Earth.

Your ship: Ocean Explorer

Ocean Explorer Deckplan
Sauna
Jacuzzi

Our Polartours team is very proud to introduce the wonderful Ocean Explorer, the latest addition to the fleet, purpose-built for polar expeditions.

With a capacity for 138 passengers, this modern vessel boasts cutting-edge expedition ship technology, including the renowned ULSTEIN X-BOW®, ensures a smooth and comfortable sailing experience.

We have been enchanted by the light-filled two-story library located at the bow, offering a welcoming ambiance for guests to unwind. The Scandinavian-designed cabins, most with verandas, providing luxurious accommodations, exceeded our expectations.

We, … Read more about Ocean Explorer

Cabins

Studio double
Studio Double

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Studio single oe
Studio Single

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

1

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Deluxe veranda forward oe
Deluxe Veranda Forward Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Deluxe veranda oe
Deluxe Veranda Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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Deluxe veranda middle
Deluxe Veranda Middle Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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Studio Veranda Stateroom Ocean Explorer
Studio Veranda Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Explorer suite oe
Explorer Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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Owners Suite Ocean Explorer
Owners Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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studio veranda singleOE
Studio Veranda Single

Type:

Single

Max. occupancy:

1

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Junior Suite Ocean Explorer
Junior Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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Grand Veranda Stateroom Ocean Explorer
Grand Veranda Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

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Royal Veranda Stateroom
Royal Veranda Stateroom

Type:

Double/Matrimionial + Sofabed

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.

Paddling Excursion

0 Days

Paddling Excursion

Please note that depending on the ship, length of your cruise, and the itinerary, this price may vary. Inquire with your Polar Specialist. Enjoy being out on Polar waters on a two-person inflatable kayak, which enables you to enjoy a more intimate sailing experience in an unforgettable location. The kayaks are stable and comfortable, the perfect vehicle to see the Polar regions from a different perspective. This is a one-time activity, and no prior experience is necessary. IMPORTANT: This activity is dependent on weather conditions and logistics.

Price on request

Sea-Kayaking-What-To-Wear-In-Antarctica

0 Days

5.0

(1)

Sea Kayaking

Embark on an exhilarating sea kayaking adventure in some of the world's most magnificent and biodiverse wilderness areas, including Antarctica and the Arctic. Take in the breathtaking scenery as you navigate through ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. In Antarctica, spend unforgettable moments with penguins, seals and whales, and keep an eye out for the occasional encounter with leopard seals or killer whales. In the Arctic, paddle through bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around huge icebergs. Led by experienced guides, you will join a small group of like-minded adventurers to explore the picturesque coastlines of these wild and remote destinations. Paddling offers an intimate and unique way to experience the beauty of these regions and make the most of your time there. Important: This activity is subject to weather conditions and logistics.

Price on request

Stand Up Paddleboarding

0 Days

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Please note that depending on the ship, length of your cruise, and the itinerary, this price may vary. Inquire with your Polar Specialist. Combine surfing and kayaking into one fun and unique Antarctic experience. Stand-up paddle boarding is conducted in small adventurous groups, accompanied by a safety Zodiac boat. You’ll paddle around in calm bays and harbors, in good weather conditions only. IMPORTANT: This activity is dependent on weather conditions and logistics.

Price on request

Punta Arenas
Hotel Carpo Manzano
Punta Arenas

Navigating the Strait of Magellan

Visit of Graveyard

Whales and other aquatic mammals

Patagonian Steppe

Nao Victoria Museum

Passing through Cape Froward

Arrival at Punta Arenas

Cemetery Sara Braun

Walking City Tour Punta Arenas

Strait of Magellan

Drive to the "fin de camino"

Route at the end of the world

Strait Magellan

Flight to King George Island

Penguins on Magdalena Island

Patagonian Ice Field

Exploring Punta Arenas

Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, the most populated city in southern Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and shops to keep you busy for days. By early afternoon, a Quark Expeditions representative will meet you at the official starting point hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed on preparations for your embarkation day.

Business Flight to King George Island
King George Island
King George Island

King George Island

Embark at King George Island

Your charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica enables you to cross the legendary Drake Passage in only two hours, while far below your ship will approach King George Island for your arrival. Your first glimpse of dramatic Antarctic landscapes will be from a unique perspective, as your plane descends for landing in the South Shetland Islands. After landing, make your way to the shore, before being transferred by Zodiac to your ship to set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula!

South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands

Yankee Harbour

Baily Head on Deception Island

Northeast beach Ardley Island

Penguin Island

Telefon Bay

Hannah Point

Pendulum Cove

Elephant Island

Point Wild

Turret Point

Barrientos Island

Whalers Bay

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.

Antarctic Peninsula
Before and After Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula

Detaille Island

Half Moon Island

Horseshoe Island

Pleneau Island

South of the Polar Circle

Petermann Island

Yalour Islands

Stonington Island

Wordie House, Winter Island

Torgersen Island

For the hardiest of adventurers only, this is the "deep south"!

Discover the wonders of the South West side of the Antarctic Peninsula, a region that truly embodies the spirit of the "deep south." This extraordinary journey begins just below the Lemaire Channel, extending southward towards the captivating Yalour Islands. If you are lucky you will enjoy remarkable frozen vistas with invigorating Zodiac and ship cruises bringing you up close and personal with the wonderful ice landscapes of places like Crystal Sound.

If conditions are right, you will cross the Antarctic Circle, and get ashore to some remote historical sites - and be able to describe yourself as a true Antarctic explorer.

Antarctic Peninsula
Before and After Antarctic Peninsula
South Georgia

Cuverville Island

Georges Point, Rongé Island

Neko Harbour

Port Charcot, Booth Island

Goudier Island

Danco Island, Errera Channel

Damoy Point

Jougla Point

Astrolabe Island

Orne Harbour

D’Hainaut & Trinity Island

Orne Islands

Portal Point

The North-West portion of the Antarctic Peninsula is the most frequently visited by expedition cruises and is home to many of the most popular landing sites. The Gerlache Strait is renowned for the stunning scenery with the snow covered mountains, as if covered in icing sugar, with numerous glaciers tumbling down to the sea.

Being the most northerly part of the whole continent, the Peninsula enjoys the mildest Antarctic condition, with temperatures in winter averaging a balmy -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F)! In the summer, things warm up to an average of just above freezing. Large areas of this part of the peninsula are ice-free in the early season, being important breeding and feeding grounds for many iconic Antarctic species.

It's here that many of the historic Antarctic expeditions began, and where early military and scientific bases were first established, some of which you will be able to visit if conditions allow. These remarkable artefacts have been left as time capsules, their contents showing remarkable levels of preservation thanks to the dry and cold climate.

Business Flight to King George Island
King George Island
King George Island

King George Island

Embark at King George Island

After your week of exploration, you’ll say goodbye to your Expedition Team and disembark at King George Island. Your two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas, Chile, brings your adventure to an end. After your group transfer to the hotel, you are free to explore and enjoy an evening on your own, in the city or at the hotel to reminisce about the sights and sounds of Antarctica.

Punta Arenas
Hotel Carpo Manzano
Punta Arenas

End of Air Cruise

After breakfast, you are welcome to continue on your own travels or make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your homeward flights.

Dates & Prices

From

Until

Info

Availability

Price

24

Jan

2025

3

Feb

2025

3 Spots

Book now

From

USD 33,295

24

Jan

2025

3

Feb

2025

3 Spots

Book now

From

USD 33,295

9

Jan

2026

19

Jan

2026

Available

From

USD 20,314

9

Jan

2026

19

Jan

2026

Available

From

USD 20,314

28

Feb

2026

10

Mar

2026

Available

From

USD 17,195

28

Feb

2026

10

Mar

2026

Available

From

USD 17,195

Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

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.

What's included

Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leaders, including shore landings and other activities

All Zodiac transfers and cruising as per the daily program

All shore landings as per the daily program

All shore landings as per the daily program

Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping

All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board throughout your voyage (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)

Select beer and wine during dinner; and coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock

Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled

A photographic journal documenting the expedition

A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for landings and Zodiac cruising excursions

An official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep

Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin

All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program

All luggage handling aboard the ship

Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person

Group arrival transfer in Ushuaia from airport to pre-expedition hotel on Day 1

One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Ushuaia with breakfast (Note: The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available.)

Group transfer from hotel to ship on embarkation day

Group departure transfer upon disembarkation in Ushuaia from ship to local airport or to luggage storage facility

What's not included

International airfare

Passport and applicable visa expenses

Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned

Meals unless otherwise specified

Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance—strongly recommended

Excess-baggage fees on international flights

Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac landing and cruising excursions, or any other gear not mentioned

Laundry, bar, spa services and other personal charges, unless specified

Phone and Internet charges

Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and shipboard crew

Additional overnight accommodation

Arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated

Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities

Credit Card charges may apply

A fuel surcharge may apply at a later stage. More info

Reviews

Marilyn G.

Ocean Explorer Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Premium

The trip to Svalbard lives up to all my expectations. Animals, accommodations, activities and meals all lived up to my expectations.

Rose C.

Ocean Explorer Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Premium

Fabulous: guides, food and staff excellent

Mengqi Z.

Ocean Explorer Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Premium

Excellent experience

FAQ

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.

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
  • Kayaking
  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Life Onboard & Seasickness
Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle

4.9

(12)

Premium

From

USD 17,195



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