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.
Perhaps the most stand-out of these extreme itineraries is an epic semi-circumnavigation of the Antarctic Continent on board the 245-guest Le Commandant Charcot which, with its unrivalled ice-breaking capability, offers the widest range of unusual itineraries designed to travel to areas unreachable for other ice-strengthened vessels. Departing from Ushuaia on the 8th January 2024, a 28-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 Christchurch on New Zealand's scenic South Island.
Looking ahead to 2025? 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.
AE Expeditions' 132-guest Sylvia Earle offers a fascinating 14-night sailing departing Ushuaia on 22nd March 2024 which ventures into the ultra-remote Weddell Sea, following in the footsteps of Nordenskjöld's Swedish Antarctic Expedition. Starting in the South Shetland Islands, where Nordenskjöld and his team made their first Antarctic landings, you'll voyage into the Antarctic Sound and deep into the rarely-explored Weddell Sea - known for its myriad wildlife, historical significance and enormous icebergs. You'll be joined on board by Saunders Carmichael-Brown, who was part of the small media team on the expedition that found Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous shipwreck, the Endurance.
Quark Expeditions' newest vessel, the 199-guest Ultramarine, offers a fascinating 16-night sailing departing Ushuaia on 13th November 2023, 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.
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.
Hapag-Lloyd's 230-guest Hanseatic Inspiration will sail from Ushuaia on 9th February 2024 on a 19-night voyage that offers an in-depth Antarctica exploration including stops at the Falklands, South Georgia, the fascinating glaciers and icebergs of the Lemaire Channel and the chance to explore more of South America with a disembarkation point in Uruguay.