More than ice at the Antarctic Circle
Travel to the southernmost points of the earth during the Antarctic summer from November to March. Where gigantic icebergs, thousands of penguins and impressive whales can be observed, the ice classes of our small expedition ships enable a respectful and flexible exploration of great natural spectacles. Often just the start and finish points of your expedition are set. Great adventures lie in between - on flexible routes. Join us on board the HANSEATIC nature, HANSEATIC inspiration and the HANSEATIC spirit. We look forward to welcoming you!
Fascination of the Antarctic – board the new expedition class for breathtaking expeditions into the ice
Experience safety in the polar regions – thanks to the highest ice class for passenger ships
Off on an adventure – numerous Zodiac rides and landings take you right up to the wonders of nature
An ornithologist’s paradise – the Falkland Islands are home to more than 60 bird species
Well-dressed welcome committee – enormous colonies of up to 200,000 king penguins are waiting to welcome you on South Georgia
Quench your thirst for knowledge – your experts will draw your attention to wonders both large and small
To know is to understand – a team of renowned experts let you in on the secrets of the Antarctic
In use over and over again – the Zodiacs get you up-close and personal with the experience
Simply breathtaking – the giants of the seas will surface unannounced from time to time
Packed with experience – the experienced polar crew gets you to every destination
Fascination of the ice – enjoy unforgettable moments in untouched landscapes
Thrilling wildlife sightings – discover Adelie, rockhopper or gentoo penguins, for example
Not all seals are the same – which species will you be able to observe?
In a small group of explorers – experience the Antarctic with no more than 199 guests
Each region is a world of adventure
10 questions and answers about cruises to the Antarctic
Cruises to the Antarctic generally run in austral summer, i.e. between November and March. There are, however, very different highlights within this period. The best time for you depends on which natural spectacles you want to experience and which animals you would like to see. In November, the fascinating Antarctic world is on the cusp of change. Whales are returning to Antarctic waters, penguins are starting to mate and build nests, and baby elephant seals are just a few weeks old. The sea is still covered with ice, and fresh snow blankets much of the landscape. The white world is pristine, the ice immaculate. There are very few visitors to the Antarctic at this time.
December and January are an amazing time with almost 24 hours of daylight. These are the warmest months for a cruise. It is breeding season for wandering albatrosses, and fur seals are growing into adulthood. Most penguins are still in their breeding season in December, but some of the first chicks will be hatching. January then brings an Antarctic nursery, with penguin chicks everywhere you look and Antarctic fur seals raising their young.
If you want to watch whales and enjoy wonderful sunsets, the best time for a cruise is in February and March. Southern giant petrels and Cape petrels use these months to breed. The end of late summer in the southern hemisphere is also the time when many young penguins take to the water and gradually become independent from their parents. The Antarctic Peninsula is most accessible at this time, allowing cruises to pass beyond the Antarctic Circle.
Most of our cruises start and end in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in Argentina. You can reach Ushuaia on a charter flight through Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which is included in the cruise-only price. If you have a little more time, it's a great idea to organise a pre- or post-cruise programme in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. You can also add a visit to the Iguacu Falls to your Antarctic cruise.
Some expeditions start or end in Montevideo (Uruguay). We also offer pre- and post-cruise programmes for our guests here. Other cruises combine the Antarctic with the Chilean fjords and start or end in Puerto Montt (Chile). The semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica starts or ends in Christchurch (New Zealand), while the Expedition Antarctica from cape to cape starts or ends in Cape Town. The cruise-only price always includes the charter flight(s) from/to Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. You can book travel to and from Germany with additional travel packages from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises for departure and arrival.
This depends on how much time you have and what you want to see. All of the cruises promise outstanding experiences but the length of the cruises varies. The options include the "Grand expedition" routes (20, 22, 23 or 24 days) and cruises crossing the Antarctic Circle (24 days). You should schedule 25 days for an expedition from cape to cape and 35 days for the semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica. Both routes are special cruises that we do not include on our programme every year. The route is different from the classic Antarctic expeditions.
We recommend that you also take a look at the information about cruise timing in the first section. This gives you a good idea of the experiences you can expect in different months.
Antarctica is known for having the coldest and harshest climate in the world. Temperatures in inland areas can fall as low as -70 °C in August, the coldest month. When our expedition ships travel to the Antarctic, we are in the Antarctic summer - the warmer months. The climate in the coastal regions is also milder than in inland areas. Temperatures are generally between -5 °C and +5 °C.
Everybody experiences cold and wet conditions differently. Polar explorers of the past generally wore three layers of clothing, an approach still followed by visitors to the region today. The innermost layer - in direct contact with the body - absorbs sweat. Thermal underwear is best for this layer. Our feet often get coldest first, so be sure to bring thick woollen socks and good insulating insoles for your rubber boots. The second layer - consisting of hard-wearing trousers and a wool or fleece jumper - keeps your body warm. The third layer protects you from wind and rain. Waterproof trousers are essential for this, as there will be light spray on Zodiac rides (travelling in expedition rubber boats). Your jacket should be made of thick, water-repellent fabric with a hood and several pockets. Mittens are better at keeping your hands warm than gloves. You will also need a warm hat. Good sunglasses will protect your eyes, and oil-based creams will protect your face and lips (look for high SPF). You will be provided with a warm parka and rubber boots on board during your cruise to save space in your luggage.
The sailing through the Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and the Pacific meet, is both famous and infamous. The west wind drift that pushes through the eye of the needle between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula can make the Drake Passage one of the most turbulent stretches of water in the world. It is actually the storms that can make this sea route uncomfortable and not the masses of water and their currents, as is often assumed. The Drake Passage is actually much better than its reputation would have you believe. Calm passages on mirror-smooth seas are just as common. If you suffer from seasickness, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before the cruise. There are lots of tricks that may help you. After all, every Antarctic traveller has to complete this passage at least once. Depending on the conditions, the passage will take a day and a half to two days.
No two days are the same in the Antarctic. The course is repeatedly adjusted according to the weather and ice conditions. However, to give you an impression of what an expedition day could be like for you, we have put together an example itinerary here. There is even more information available in our travel diaries.
Generally, you should be in good physical condition for an Antarctic expedition. We therefore require all guests to complete a medical questionnaire in advance. This must be certified by your GP or the practitioner who is treating you. This is necessary because there is no medical care network in the Antarctic. All our ships feature a hospital with a qualified doctor, a good inventory of medications and medical equipment. The questionnaire process is for your own safety, and the information will be treated with strict confidentiality. In addition, almost all landings in the Antarctic are made by Zodiac. You must therefore be able to get into the expedition rubber boats. The shore activities also require a high level of physical fitness. Surfaces can be slippery, rocky or frozen - you must be steady on your feet.
When it comes to an expedition cruise, bigger is not necessarily better. Our small, state-of-the-art ships with the highest ice class for passenger ships (PC 6) are extremely manoeuvrable and have a small draught. This means that we can keep going to places where larger ships have to turn back. In Antarctica, there is also a rule than a maximum of 100 people can go ashore at once. So that we can operate in two Zodiac groups, we only take a maximum of 199 guests with us on board all our Antarctic expeditions, rather than the maximum 230 guests that the ships can accommodate. This means that we are extremely flexible in line with the weather and ice conditions, offering you multiple landings a day and allowing more time per landing.
Experiencing the beauty of our planet brings certain responsibilities along with it. For that reason, our aim on cruises with our new expedition class is to preserve vulnerable habitats. Preparations for your Antarctic expedition should therefore include thinking about the correct way to behave in particular. There will be a specific briefing about this on board at the start of each expedition. Our experts and experienced guides will show you the most sustainable ways to experience the flora and fauna in a conscious and respectful way when you reach the area. This applies in particular to keeping a safe distance from the animals. No smoking is permitted in the Zodiacs (expedition rubber boats) or in protected nature reserves. We leave no rubbish behind and take away nothing more than memories and photos. Further information can be found on the website of the German Environment Agency www.umweltbundesamt.de and IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) www.iaato.org.