Even more rare are the milestones of sailing the Weddell Sea, travelling beyond the Antarctic Circle and, perhaps most adventurous of all, semi-circumnavigating the continent. As expedition vessels have become more advanced and operators vie to entice travellers on ever more exciting sailings, we're seeing more and more unusual itineraries that travel further and push the boundaries of expedition cruising.
Scenic's 2024/2025 Antarctica season will see the new-for-2023, 228-guest Scenic Eclipse II join the stylish Scenic Eclipse with an expanded range of itineraries. Sailing round-trip from New Zealand's Dunedin on 31 January 2025, the ship will venture into the rarely-visited Ross Sea and explore the remote Balleny Islands, offering one of the most pioneering Antarctic voyages available from the luxury operator.
Quark Expeditions' newest vessel, the 199-guest Ultramarine, offers a fascinating 16-night sailing departing Ushuaia on 15th November 2025, which ventures into the ultra-remote Weddell Sea with the goal of reaching the emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill. Beginning with a twin-engine helicopter transfer you'll land as close to the penguin colony as possible in what is truly one of the rarest wildlife experiences available in travel.
Starting in the South Shetland Islands, you'll voyage into the Antarctic Sound and deep into the rarely-explored Weddell Sea - known for its myriad wildlife and historical significance - this is where Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous ship, the Endurance, became trapped - as well as enormous icebergs. You'll also have the chance to learn about the incredible, fascinating fossil-rich volcanic islands from the onboard palaeontologist.
One of the most stand-out of these extreme itineraries is an epic semi-circumnavigation of the Antarctic Continent on board the 230-guest Hanseatic Inspiration which is a perfect combination of technical expertise and thoughtful design.
Beginning in Ushuaia on 28th January 2025, this 32-night cruise takes you to barely explored regions of the Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas, visiting land so remote that even today it remains terra nullius, unclaimed by any sovereign nation, eventually finishing your voyage in on New Zealand's scenic South Island.
Silversea's 200-guest Silver Endeavour is the world's most advanced luxury expedition ship and offers an exceptional discovery itinerary departing in March 2025.
This epic 21-day exploration sailing from frontier town Puerto Williams includes three days among the wilderness of South Georgia and the Falklands as well as a traverse of the Antarctic Sound, a 37-mile channel of vast icebergs that have broken free from the Larsen Ice Shelf; be sure to keep an eye out for such wildlife as Gentoo penguins and whales.
6. Quark Expeditions - Epic Antarctica: Crossing the Circle via Falklands and South Georgia: December 2024
If your sole focus is to travel beyond 66°33' S and cross the iconic Antarctic Circle then Quark Expeditions are also maximising the capabilities of their advanced ships, with the 199-guest Ultramarine, embarking on a comprehensive exploration of the region on a fascinating sailing.
Departing Ushuaia on 17th December 2024, when the ice conditions are at their most favourable, a 21-night voyage includes the beaches of South Georgia, renowned for their incredible wildlife, the Falklands, the Antarctic Peninsula, and a crossing of the Antarctic Circle.
Ponant's 234-guest Le Soléal will sail from New Zealand's Dunedin on a 21-night voyage that offers an in-depth Antarctica exploration in the Ross Sea region, following in the footsteps of iconic explorers Scott and Shackleton.
The voyage includes stops in the ultra-remote, lesser-explored subantarctic islands of New Zealand including Campbell Island, the Balleny Islands and Australia's Macquarie Island, all of which offer myriad birdlife and some of the world's largest penguin colonies - the latter home to 100,000 breeding pairs of king penguin, the third largest in the world. Plus, there's a chance to explore more of New Zealand and Australia with a disembarkation point back in Dunedin.