Classic Antarctica Cruise: Most Popular Cruise to Antarctica


The Classic Antarctica Cruise is the quintessential Antarctica experience.

The cruise is generally run over 10 or 11 days and takes you to the Northern most section of Antarctica – the Antarctic Peninsula. 

This is by far the most popular cruise to the White Continent and is generally the cheapest option for those wishing to visit Antarctica.

You get a lot of bang for your buck though as the Classic Antarctica Cruise takes you to some of the most popular sites along the peninsula coast, including Deception Island, huge sculptured icebergs and numerous penguin rookeries. You’ll see many lounging seals and spot some of the giants of our world – whales! Along the way you’ll learn about the history of Antarctica and discover fascinating insights into the fauna of the region via on-board lectures.

Your Classic Antarctica Cruise begins with a voyage across the infamous Drake Passage, a notoriously rough section of sea that many people view as a right-of-passage. People who suffer from severe sea sickness should probably consider the Antarctica Express Cruise instead. In our opinion, the Drake Passage is one of the highlights of the trip!

Once you reach the peninsula you will be making two shore landings a day (depending on weather and cruise size). During these landing you’ll have a chance to get up close and personal with some of Antarctica’s most iconic wildlife, including Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adélie penguins. Most cruises will also offer passengers the chance to do some kayaking and possibly even a swim or two!

The Classic Antarctica Cruise is the perfect option for first timers or for people with a slightly tighter budget.

To enquire about visiting Antarctica, please click here.

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Classic Antarctica Cruise

Route Map


Route Itinerary

Please note that all operators have slightly different itineraries. The one detailed below is the typical itinerary that most operators adhere to. Please also remember that operators must sail to the weather and that exact landings and visits cannot be guaranteed in advance.

Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia

Day 2: Embarkation Day

Day 3-4: Crossing the Drake Passage

Day 5-7: South Shetland Islands and Antarctica Peninsula

Day 8-9: Crossing the Drake Peninsula

Day 10: Disembarkation in Ushuaia

Trip Variations

  • Circle Cruise
  • Basecamp cruise
  • Express cruise
  • Falklands & S. Georgia

The Circle cruise takes inn the Antarctic Peninsula like the classic cruise but then pushes on down south to cross the Antarctic Circle! Click here for a detailed page.

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Antarctica Guide do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist please complete the form.

Great recommendation, thanks!

Mark W


Classic Antarctica Cruise FAQ

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Ships that sail the Classic Antarctica Itinerary

Ocean Diamond

One of the most modern ships in the region, the Ocean Diamond is a classy vessel that offers space for 189 passengers. The ship is equipped with a wellness program, several bars, polar library, theater-style auditorium and gym.

Rooms are comfortable and spacious and the deck area is large and perfect for viewing wildlife.

The Ortelius

The Ortelius is an ice-strengthened vessel designed for extreme cruises to the Polar regions. The Ortelius holds 116 passengers and has basic, but comfortable accommodation.

The ship is equipped with two dining rooms, a bar and a lecture theatre room and a good amount of deck space.

National Geographic Explorer

This luxury vessel houses 168 passengers and is one of the most state of the art polar ships out there! Fully stabilized and equipped with a Wellness Specialist and Spa Therapist, the National Geographic is a favorite among many.

All 81 cabins are window facing and there is tons of deck space to wander about in comfort.

National Geographic Orion

Slightly smaller than its Explorer brother, the Orion is extremely well appointed, cozy and elegant. The ship holds 102 passengers and comes equipped with a spa facility, outdoor cafe, library and dining rooms.

Probably one of the most comfortable ships in Antarctica, the Orion is always highly recommended.


One of the larger research vessels, the Plancius can take up to 116 passengers and is fully ice-strengthened for those tough Polar regions! The ship has a comfortable feel and there is loads of deck space to wander around. The bar has large, panoramic views and the observation lounge also doubles as a presentation room.  

A basic, but tough and cozy ship with great views.

Ocean Endeavour

One of the larger expedition ships in Antarctica, the Ocean Endeavour can take up to 199 passengers. perfectly equipped for polar sailing and passenger comfort, the Endeavour comes with a full ice-strengthened hull, large sundeck, spacious restaurant and several large lounges!

The sauna, gym, juice bar and many zodiacs make the Endeavour one of our favorites.

Sea Spirit

With 116 passengers, the Sea Spirit is one of the smaller Expedition style vessels. However, the ship has a nice cozy and friendly feel because of this and the lounges are spacious and the library is well stocked.

The outside deck area has a hot tub and area to serve bistro meals in good weather. Perfect and intimate vessel for Antarctica.

Le Boreal

One of the more luxurious vessels in Antarctica, the Le Boreal can house just under 200 passengers and comes with several restaurants, several lounges, salon, steam room, spa and gym.

The decor is modern and stylish and the ship even comes with an elevator! Expect large open deck space and well appointed cabins on this luxury Antarctica vessel.

Le Lyrial

The French Connection! The Le Lyrial is very similar to its sister ship – Le Boreal. Incredibly luxurious for an Antarctica ship, the Le Lyrial is equipped to handle 199 passengers and provides extensive deck space and seating areas throughout the ship.

The vessel has a spa, gym, sauna, several restaurants and lounges, lecture theater and extensive library. Often, there is far more non-English speaking guests on board.


This small expedition ship carries a 132 passengers ans was completely refurbished in 2009. Thanks to this, the cabins are large and well appointed, each one being window facing! Deck space is large and ideal for wildlife viewing whilst the interior areas are comfortable and cozy.

Much of the common space has large windows for ideal viewing.


Named after the ship used by Norwegian Explorer Fridtjof Nansen, the Fram was purpose built in 2009 and is one of the largest vessels in Antarctic waters with space for 269 passengers! Items from the original Fram are positioned around the ship which makes for a nice touch.

As can be expected from a ship this size, the Fram contains several Jacuzzi’s, a gym, several restaurants and lounges and a full spa facility.

Hebridean Sky

In June 2016, the 116 passenger ship underwent a multi-million dollar restoration project to bring the vessel into the modern age – and it worked.

The Hebridean Sky now boasts state of the art stabilization, fuel efficiency and communications system. The ship is ideal for people looking for a feel of camaraderie, similar perhaps to a yacht experience.

Island Sky

One of the smallest expedition ships in Antarctica, the Island Sky is the perfect vessel for wildlife watching. Equipped with 11 zodiacs and excellent deck space, you’ll never miss a thing.

The interior is elegant and the facilities are excellent. All cabins are outward facing and come with private en suite bathrooms.

Silver Explorer

Probably the most luxurious ship in the Polar Regions. The Silver Explorer takes only 132 passengers, but boasts facilities of a much larger vessel. Facilities include a spacious library, Internet Cafe, full-service spa, boutique shopping, beauty salon, fitness center, sauna and two top-deck Jacuzzi’s! The ship also boasts 8 zodiacs so no one ever has to wait for landings! If you can afford it, this is a very cool ship.

Ocean Adventurer

The Ocean Adventurer carries 132 passengers and was purpose built for Polar cruises. This fact can be seen everywhere – the cabins are all window facing and the large lounge, dining room and library are all totally lined in glass so you never miss a single view point! 

Food is to die for and the staff are extremely friendly. Deck space is considerable and there are several zodiacs for frequent shore landings.

Silver Cloud

Carrying just 200 passengers, the Silver Cloud is the smallest luxurious ship in Antarctica. Interior is modern and deck space in large. There are five dining options, including a Relais & Châteaux restaurant!

The ships has a number of shops, internet cafes and panorama lounges. If you need to unwind then the full spa facility will do just that.

The Ushuaia

The Ushuaia is one the most respected vessels in the Polar region and well up to the task of the Weddell Sea! Ice-strengthened and originally built for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the boat has now been refurbished to accommodate 88 passengers and nearly 50 suites!

Large deck space, open bridge policy, open plan lounge and full media lecture room make this one the most popular vessels.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Antarctica Guide do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

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