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Expedition cruises to Antarctica are only possible during the southern summer between late October/November and March. This is the time when the ice break ups, which allows cruise ships to pass. Depending on the month, there are slight variations in what you’ll see and which antarctic animals you may spot:
November (Icebergs, Seals)
Best time to see the ice breaking into large icebergs and amazing sculptures. Wildflowers are in bloom, and it’s a great time to spot breeding elephant seals. However, it’s still very cold. Temperatures are way below freezing.
December (Warmer, Seals, First Penguins)
Days are long, with 20 hours of sunshine. Still a great month to spot seals and already some active penguins. It’s also getting warmer with temperatures around freezing.
January (Warmest Month, Penguins)
The perfect month for wildlife viewing, with plenty of penguins active, as well as seabirds and a few whales. Days are still long. It’s also the ‘warmest’ month with temperatures slightly above freezing.
February - March (Whales)
The best time for whale watching such as humpback, sperm, and orca. You can also spot fledgling penguin chicks, especially in February. It’s getting a lot colder again in March.
April - September (Winter)
Winter in Antarctica. The temperatures are freezing (up to -30°C). No possible way to visit, as the polar ice blocks the ship traffic.
Antarctica: Stunning and dramatic landscapes, as well as superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are like no other place on earth.
Normally you have to cross the Drake passage by boat, which takes 1-2 days with really rough weather. But now there is a new company called "Antarctica XXI" which flies over to King George island within 2 hours. We were very lucky to make a stop at Deception Island which is very rare due to bad weather conditions.
- Around Christmas and New Year is a busy time for Antarctica cruise travel. Plan well in advance and book ahead of time
- More useful tips: Antarctica Cruise Guide
Trip ideas, inspirations from a tour operator: Penguin viewing, kayaking, climbing polar peaks, snorkeling, scuba diving
G Adventures offers a stunning and affordable adventure tour (11 days): Antarctica Classic Tour
Pictures provided by Chris