When is the best time to visit Antarctica?
Antarctica cruises run during the region’s summer months, roughly late October to late March, though availability depends on the cruise route.
If you choose to book early or late in the season, there is generally more availability and less demand. The benefit of taking an Antarctic cruise during this time is that there may be fewer passengers aboard the vessel, resulting in a more intimate cruise experience and a higher expert-to-passenger ratio, which means more time with the expedition team.
October, November and March are also popular with photographers. In October and early November, the Antarctic landscapes are still blanketed in snow from the winter, with sea ice so thick you can walk across it. By March, the sun is lower in the sky, so you can enjoy gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.
December, January and February are the most popular months to visit Antarctica, but with good reason. The sea ice melts and breaks away, opening up routes for exploration and ensuring safe passage to more remote areas, such as the Antarctic Circle and the Weddell Sea.
These months are also a prime time for wildlife watching, with adorable penguin chicks waddling about in December and January, whilst February marks the peak whale-watching season, when migrating pods call these waters home.
If you’d like to travel to Antarctica during these months, make sure that you plan well in advance to ensure availability.
As for the notorious rocky waves of the Drake Passage, there is unfortunately no time of year when this stretch of open ocean gets calmer (linking South America with Antarctica, where the Atlantic and Pacific collide in the Southern Ocean, the waves here are infamous for seasickness). However, if you’re concerned about the two-day sea crossing, there are options to the fly the Drake if you’d prefer.