First things first, I spent Christmas in Antarctica in 2015 and I don’t think I can say enough great things about that expedition. The people, the sights, the experiences, absolutely everything was amazing. Antarctica was always a dream destination of mine and if you found this post without having followed the blog before, I’m sure it is for you as well. So lets get down to business. Antarctica is generally accessed by flight ($$$$) or by cruise ($$$), and it’s not exactly cheap. If you follow the websites you will find excursions starting around the $5,500 mark and going all the way up to the $15-20,000 range. Also, you can only go during their summer time, which ranges from November-March(ish). Obviously there is a slight premium added depending on the dates of the voyage (Christmas/New Years), but otherwise prices fit in that range. It is cheaper to go in the beginning and end of the season, but the weather at the end of the season is very unpredictable and could lead to more of a cruise viewing than actually getting off for excursions (consider yourself warned!).
So you want a better price? There are two companies (that I know of) that specialize in last minute deals. You can either get in contact with Daniela at http://www.ushuaiaturismoevt.com.ar (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can contact Sarah @ Freestyle Adventure Travel (Sarah@freestyleadventuretravel.com). Of the 8 or so of us that booked last minute deals on my ship, we all used one or the other. Last minute means you get the deal about 1 week in advance, and if you are in the area or flexible enough you can save big. The lowest room price for Quark Expeditions Ocean Diamond over Christmas was about $7,500 (triple-share), and all of us “last minute” bookers paid $5,700 and got either a single or double room. You can get the best deals at the beginning of the season, I’ve heard as low as $4,000, but no lower. I should also mention that does not include the extras like camping, kayaking, booze, etc. and you would be wise to not get your hopes too high because they are sometimes, but not always, sold out in advance. Lots of spots opened up for camping a couple days into the trip due to cancellations of people who thought it over and decided getting sleep is more valuable than the novelty of camping.
Cool, so now you’ve got your place on the boat and you’re heading to Ushuaia to embark. What do you need? Rewind, if you have the chance buy all of your gear outside of Ushuaia or El Calafate, because you pay a premium in those towns. The basics you need are waterproof pants, gloves, a warm hat, and some nice thick socks. If you have to, wait until you get on the boat for the pants, the rain shell pants are $80 instead of $140 in Ushuaia, but off Amazon probably only $35. Most cruises will give you a really nice waterproof parka (jacket) and they loan you boots and life jackets for excursions. The other thing you should bring, is your own alcohol. Yes, if you drink, buy your booze in town/duty free and bring it on the boat and save loads. I made the rookie mistake of not doing that, but atleast the boat had some $3 beer specials and was otherwise $6. At the end of the cruise you have a gratuity for the excursion and hotel crew which totals about $190 US (on Ocean Diamond w/ Quark) so be ready for that, it is a small price for everything they do!
Bottom line, if you can afford it, do it! Antarctica is a place that leaves you in awe over and over again. As usual thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments, post them below!
Happy New Year and Stay wild!
(keep in mind prices may vary depending on boat and size, but turns out the size didn't really matter, my ship had 189 and we all got on land every stop and also went zodiac cruising)