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  • Amy snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • Chris Packham Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

Antarctica view from ship, Antarctic expedition

Antarctica holidays

With towering icebergs and a huge variety of wildlife, the Antarctic has a rich history dating back to the early explorers.

For the biggest variety of wildlife visit the Antarctic Peninsula, for huge icebergs and emperor penguins sail the Weddell Sea or for sheer scale and remoteness cruise the Ross Sea. 

For most travellers to Antarctica, the continent’s epic proportions and pristine white wilderness leave a profound impression. Our Antarctic cruises will take you through towering glacial scenery to meet a plethora of penguins. Nothing prepares you for Antarctica’s sheer scale. As you cruise past sheer ice faces, let the cold air into your lungs and take in the vast amount of space in one of the world’s least-visited continents. Follow in the footsteps of Shackleton and explore this mysterious white wilderness.

Walking with Penguins, Antarctica
Walking with Penguins, Antarctica

Our Antarctica cruise expertise

Steppes Travel was one of the first UK-based Tour Operators to offer holidays and cruises to Antarctica nearly ten years ago. Since then we’ve built an impressive reputation for Antarctica cruises based on detailed first-hand knowledge and forged long-standing partnerships with all the leading small ship boat operators.

Our Antarctic holiday and cruise specialists, have over 20 years of Antarctic experience between them and have personally inspected or travelled onboard many of the Antarctica ships we offer. This in-depth knowledge allows us to help you objectively narrow down the options based on your brief, to exactly the right holiday, boat and cabin for you.

Read more about Antarctic cruises

Ortelius, Antarctica
Ortelius, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Antarctic cruise

One of the best ways to travel to Antarctica is on board a cruise or expedition ship, but choosing the right vessel is key to a successful Antarctic adventure. At Steppes Travel we have over fifteen years experience planning trips to Antarctica, so you can rest assured that we know how your chosen vessel will be your floating home – a place to sleep, eat, unwind and learn about the fascinating region during evening lectures and offshore excursions.

However, as there are numerous vessels sailing around the waters of Antarctica, knowing which to travel on can be difficult. Using our years of experience and personal travels, we have hand-picked a selection of vessels that range from intimate traditional sailing boats to authentic expedition ships, suitable for everyone from solo travellers to honeymooners.

Join an Antarctic cruise

Flight landing on South Shetland Islands
Antarctica

Flying to Antarctica

Traditional Antarctic cruises begin in Ushuaia in Argentina (otherwise known as “The End of the World”), with the first two days spent crossing the infamous Drake Passage. This stretch of water can be rough, so those prone to seasickness might want to avoid it. Enter the fly-cruise. Ideally suited to those with limited time who are still keen to explore the White Continent, fly-cruises travel from South America to Antarctica in as little as two hours and completely omit the two-day crossing by sea.

With no long sea crossing at the start or end of your Antarctic adventure, the trip is cut down by up to four days. When time is in short supply, a more focused approach is required. By flying to Antarctica, you can be sure that your holiday time is spent getting snow on your boots, rather than being in transit.

Join an Antarctic fly-cruise

Need inspiration?
Browse our Antarctic holiday ideas.

Booking a tailor-made trip gives you the flexibility to customise your journey, travelling when and where suits you. Browse our Antarctic holiday ideas to start planning your next journey.

Experiences

Penguins of the Weddell Sea

Discover the clearest sea waters on earth, home to millions of penguins that include Adélies and emperors.

Camp near the South Pole

For a truly extraordinary and utterly unique experience, fly in to a specially constructed camp near the South Pole.

Explorers of Antarctica

Learn the fascinating history of the early explorers, perhaps visiting both the iconic huts and graves (and snow tombs) of Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott.

Icy Water Kayaking

Navigate alongside icebergs in Wilhelmina Bay, looking out for curious penguins and whales, or embark on an overnight camping expedition.

Snow Adventures in Antarctica

Try snowshoeing across the icy white plains of Antarctica, a challenging but exhilarating sport.

Navigate the Ross Sea

Sail through the remote ocean region that is home to emperor penguins, orca whales, and leopard seals, and see the largest floating body of ice in the world.

Photography Tour

Head out on a photography tour on Cuverville Island, known for its deafeningly noisy penguin rookeries.

Explore Bransfield Strait

Head out in a zodiac to take in views of the dramatic icy peaks and glaciated mountains of continental Antarctica.

The Polar Plunge

Plunge in the icy Antarctic waters of Paradise Bay, a completely exhilarating (and somewhat bonkers) way to experience the cold continent.

Diving in Antarctic Waters

Don a dry suit and take a dip in the icy cold waters of Antarctica to dive or snorkel with curious penguins and marvel at the ice beneath the surface.

Fitz Roy mountain near El Chalten, in the Southern Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile
Patagonia, Argentina
Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Before & After your Antarctic Voyage

For those travellers wishing to make more of their time in South America before or after an Antarctic expedition, we offer a plethora of tailor-made extensions.

Perhaps spend time in Argentina, taking a scenic flight over Iguazu Falls or joining a wine-tasting workshop in Mendoza. Travel to Chile to hike in Torres del Paine or board a flight to Easter Island with its remote mythical Moai. For the ultimate wildlife holiday, join a cruise in the Galapagos Islands or consider travelling to Antarctica from New Zealand and add an extension to the Pacific Islands of Tonga, Fiji or Tahiti.

Explore Antarctica

  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • Falkland Islands
  • South Georgia
  • Weddell Sea
  • Ross Sea

Antarctic boat options

The best way to experience Antarctica is onboard a cruise or expedition ship and choosing the right vessel is key to a successful Antarctic cruise. There are many different ships available from expeditionary vessels through to the more luxurious ships.

More luxury accommodation

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Sue Grimwood

The vast continent of Antarctica is Sue’s happy place. Immune to the pungent smell of penguin poo and the halitosis of elephant seals, she fell in love with its seemingly endless snowscapes, icebergs the size of stadiums and fascinating history of the explorers.
Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

James Armitage

James has been lucky enough to visit Antarctica by boat, crossing the infamous Drake Passage and flying down to Antarctica, allowing time to visit the 7th white continent, observe charismatic penguins and kayak beside a breaching humpback whale.
Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

Frequently asked questions about Antarctica

Can solo travellers join an Antarctic cruise?

As these voyages offer a collective experience in the company of like-minded people, they’re very well suited for single travellers. You have the option to either share a triple or twin same-sex or to cover the supplement to secure your own cabin. If sharing, a cabin mate will be allocated to you by the boat operator.

Do I have to have a certain level of fitness?

This is an active cruise with optional daily walking excursions over uneven terrain and to be able to get the most out of it you should be in good general health. In order to join the excursions, you must be able to easily get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level and to be able to get in and out of the awaiting zodiacs, which can be awkward, particularly in choppy seas. Staff will be on hand to assist all passengers, so don’t worry about this, it’s just something to be aware of.

How adventurous are Antarctic expeditions?

You can make your expedition as relaxed or adventurous as you like. With no predators on land you are free to explore or if you prefer, sit quietly on the edge of a penguin colony. Close encounters are common as penguins are curious creatures.

If you want to stretch your legs and get some height, extended guided walks are provided sometimes with snowshoes or skis. The opportunity of a night out camping on the ice should not be missed – it may not be the most comfortable night of your life but certainly a memorable one. Kayaking on crystal clear waters surrounded by porpoising penguins is an exhilarating experience. For the height of adventure and a unique perspective, snorkelling and diving are available on some voyages.

How rough is the Drake Passage?

This is a tricky one as the crossings can be anything from a millpond to a force nine hurricane, the latter being the less common. Ultimately it’s down to a little luck, but most people find that their own experience wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

We can certainly help to reduce concern by recommending boats known for their stability. For those still worried, it is possible to avoid sailing the Drake Passage altogether by taking a two-hour flight rather than undertaking a two-day sea journey.

If you are sailing from Ushuaia in southern Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula, remember that cruises will take two days to get there and two days to get back. This stretch of water can offer up some interesting weather and if you are at all prone to seasickness, make sure you go prepared.

What aircraft flies to Antarctica?

Generally the aircraft that fly to Antarctica are 70-passenger BAE-146 which are high-wing aircrafts with very short runway requirements. There is a limited luggage capacity of 20 kg per person in total (combined hand and hold luggage). There are big advantages to the limited capacity of the aircraft, in that you will join a sailing with just 70 passengers aboard a ship designed for more than 100. Antarctica season runs from November to March. Fly and cruise options tend to have a slightly shorter season to cruising, they start in December and finish in February. These options are very popular and places fill up fast, book early to avoid disappointment.

What should I expect from an Antarctic expedition?

Experiencing Antarctica first-hand can be overwhelming – the smells, the sounds and above all the scale. Penguin poo has a particular perfume. There’s the honking bray of penguins, the shrill party whistles of young chicks trying to find their voice, the bleating, mewing, strangulated cries of a creche of young fur seal pups. The deep visceral gurgling of the stomachs of elephant seals. The staggering size of the icebergs, the vast numbers of penguins. That’s the trouble with visiting this part of the world: sensory overload. The weather, the seas, the scenery, the marine life, the bird life, the colours, the contrasts. You scour your memory database for superlatives, you are constantly reaching for your camera – thank goodness for digital cameras – but however much you try, you are never quite able to capture the experience.

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We were blown away by Sue’s in-depth knowledge of everything from endemic species to the history of Shackleton and his men. No question we had went unanswered, and no little detail was missed.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you.

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