Explore our expedition voyages to the Antarctic region, all designed to engage your heart, mind, and spirit through the duration of the journey.
Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, lying entirely below 60° South. It is the highest, driest and coldest continent, a practically uninhabited, ice-covered landmass almost twice the size of Australia.
The name "Antarctica" originates from the Latin/Greek-derived word "antarcticus" - opposite to the north.
Our expedition cruises to the last continent concentrate on the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent which stretches toward South America, as well as voyages which include the wild Falkland Islands and the wildlife paradise of South Georgia.
However you choose to experience Antarctica, experience with us!
Area of Antarctica
Population of Antarctica
Facts about Antarctica
- Antarctica holds around 85% of the world’s fresh water. Around 14,000,000 km² - around 98% of the continent - is covered in ice up to 5km thick.
- Antarctica was the last of Earth's continents to be discovered in 1820, although there have been many less-reliable claims of prior discovery. A continent often known as 'Terra Australis' had been theorized to exist at Earth's southernmost latitudes for millennia, unconfirmed until only around 200 years ago. .
- Antarctica is fringed by ice shelves - floating glacial tongues extending hundreds of miles offshore. The largest of these is the Ross Sea ice shelf, covering more than 510,000 square kilometers; roughly the size of France!
- Mount Erebus is the southernmost active volcano in the world, and the second-highest mountain in Antarctica. Despite the cold it has a lava lake in its inner summit crater.
Politics of Antarctica
Inhospitable, inaccessible and incredibly challenging to live in, Antarctica has never been part of any nation state. Since its discovery in the 1800s, it has been occupied by humans from a variety of nationalities, for a variety of purposes including military, hunting and scientific activities. Seven nations claim territory in Antarctica: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. However, all of these countries are founding signatories (along with Belgium, Japan, South Africa, the United States and the Soviet Union) of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, under which all territorial claims are suspended, and all land below 60° South is reserved only for peaceful scientific and other international cooperation.
Antarctica does not qualify as a country in its own right, and therefore has no currency, capital or even true settlements; the largest 'town' on the continent is McMurdo Station, an American base of around 1000 people.
While Antarctica is reserved for peaceful activities, countries continue to stake their claim in more subtle ways. The establishment of scientific stations, post offices, births of children on the continent, marriages, deaths, historic monuments and exporatory expeditions have all been points of contention between national parliaments and Antarctic programs worldwide. Despite turbulent world events since the signing in 1959, the treaty remains strong, and 56 states are now signatories.
Geography and Weather of Antarctica
Antarctica is unique among Earth's continents. Around 98% of the continent is covered by ice. The continent is generally divided into East and West, divided by the Transantarctic Mountains. West Antarctica is lower lying, holds the largest two ice shelves, and contains around 10% of the ice on the continent. East Antarctica is larger and higher, and the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds around 90% of the continent's ice - the vast majority of all freshwater on Earth.
The Transantarctic mountains continue to form the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends towards South America. By far the most accessible region of the continent, the majority of scientific bases and tourism are concentrated here. The entire continent is oceanographically isolated from the rest of the world by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the ferocious flow of water which roars unimpeded around the Southern Ocean. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is responsible for the vicious winds which occur throughout the continent.
Antarctica is of course extremely cold. While the Antarctic Peninsula regularly records summer temperatures above 0°C during summer, allowing small snow-free areas to form, the majority of the year is well below freezing. The coldest area of the continent is not in fact the South Pole, but the core of the East Antarctic Ice Dome, the part of the continent furthest from any ocean. The coldest natural temperature on planet Earth was recorded here by satellite in August 2010, an agonising -93.2°C/-135.8°F.
Our Antarctica Expeditions
Join us on our classic 10-day voyage to the Great White Continent and experience the incredible wildlife, stunning mountain scenery, and gigantic icebergs in the action-packed days.
Our extraordinary 19-day voyage follows the courageous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's trail to Antarctica and the South Shetlands. Sailing between Elephant Island and South Georgia offers a small glimpse into the passage made famous by him 100 years ago. He and his men first floated on an ice floe through the Weddell Sea to Elephant Island. He then navigated the 1600 km course from Elephant Island through the open seas of the Drake Passage to reach Stromness whaling station on the island of South Georgia.
South Georgia is one of the world's greatest natural wonders. Wildlife-packed beaches, former whaling stations and jaw-dropping scenery are guaranteed on any of our itineraries which include this storied isle.
However you choose to experience the wonders of the White Continent, experience with us!
10 day expedition cruise
Next departure: Dec. 14, 2023
Storied and sought for centuries, the great White Continent beckons intrepid modern-day explorers from all over the world. Experience incredible wildlife, stunning scenery and gigantic icebergs in...
18 day expedition cruise
Next departure: Nov. 19, 2024
On this extraordinary 18-day voyage, explore the fascinating Falkland Islands and mind-blowing South Georgia before heading to the South Shetlands Islands and the Antarctic peninsula. All the...
11 day expedition cruise
Next departure: Jan. 10, 2024
On this inspiring 11-day cruise, we explore the great White Continent's magnificent landscapes, icy seas and incredible wildlife, before passing 66°33′S– the legendary Antarctic Circle.