Fly cruising to Antarctica

travel to antarctica with one of our tours

written by Matt McMillan

You can now experience the majesty and beauty of Antarctica with fly cruises. That’s right, instead of enduring a long sea crossing in order to explore this wondrous destination you can now skip the majority of the Drake Passage and fly into either King George Island (South Shetland islands) or into the Falkland Islands. These flights leave from Santiago or Punta Arenas in Chile.

The Antarctic By Plane and Sea
If you want to experience Antarctica but wish to avoid a lengthy sea crossing then Eclipse Travel can offer cruises which either fly in both directions or are a combination of flying in one direction to or from Punta Arenas and cruising in the other direction between Antarctica and Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina.

see seals close up on our antartica toursWhy Fly Cruise Antarctica?
Fly cruises offer essentially the same inclusions of any Antarctica cruise with great opportunities to explore this amazing destination and its abundant wildlife with daily shore and zodiac excursions included. So a commonly asked question we get asked at Eclipse Travel is “what cruise should I choose and why should I consider a fly cruise”.  It’s worth exploring both the advantages and disadvantages of this type of cruise which in our opinion are as follows;

Advantages of fly and sea cruises Antarctica

Time savings –  By fly cruising Antarctica you avoid the lengthy crossing of the Drake Passage  which typically take around 2 days in either direction. If you are travelling from Australia  there are far better flight connections from Australia to Santiago or Punta Arenas than there are to Ushuaia where the regular sea cruises depart. This can further cut your travel time.

Skip the Drake and skip the seasickness – fly cruises avoid a lengthy ocean voyage and therefore decrease the likelihood of sea sickness. The Drake is notorious for being one of the world’s roughest sea crossings. Sometimes experiencing 12-13 metre swells however more typically being rolling swells of 2-5 metres. A fly cruise is a  good alternative if you’re turned off by the prospect of large seas.

Disadvantages of fly and sea cruises Antarctica

– despite the decreased length of your voyage the costs of fly cruise are significantly more expensive than sea cruises to or from Ushuaia. 

Potential delays – needless to say weather can be unpredictable in this part of the world and in extreme situations can result in a delayed or cancelled flight. Most operators offer an additional night in Punta Arenas at the conclusion of the fly cruise to give some flexibility. We would always recommend combining this sort of cruising with a trip to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park located just a few hours’ drive away from Punta Arenas. It should not be missed and a 4-6 day package at one of its many fabulous lodges or a trek in the park is highly recommended. By adding this buffer to the end of a fly cruise you can further alleviate any concerns with regards to delays.

No Drake – despite the chance of rough weather there is something special about crossing the Drake Passage on a Antarctic sea cruise. The feeling of accomplishment after arriving in Antarctica by ship like the explorers once did. There is also the excitement of your first sighting of icebergs, penguins, whales, seals and albatross.

view amazing icebergs

Fly Cruise Antarctica Your Options

There are several operators offering fly cruises to Antarctica. In our opinion the Ocean Nova vessel, the original pioneers of fly cruising to Antarctica, are still the best option. The Ocean Nova vessel is the finest small expedition vessel currently operating in Antarctica and with no more than 68 passengers you are ensured of an intimate Antarctic experience.

Eclipse Travel are preferred partners of the Ocean Nova and you can view details of our range of fly cruises here. Please contact us if you would like to discuss any cruise along with combining these with our range of South America tours. We can tailor any of our great packages to suit your unique needs.