Continent of the Frozen Beauty
Antarctica, the White Continent is isolated, untouched and immersive. It is the coldest, driest, windiest and iciest continent on Earth. Antarctica wasn't spotted until 1820 and it was the last continent to be explored. This rugged landscape is some 1,200 miles long, and reaches beyond the Antarctic Circle. Since it is frozen, windswept and so remote - it has no permanent inhabitants. Being a land of extremes, with its cold climate and harsh conditions, Antarctica has given rise to some fascinating and awe-inspiring wildlife. You can watch leopard seals on a hunt, witness chinstrap penguins at play and listen to the singing of the great whales of the deep. Antarctica is also home to most of the icebergs on Earth, marvel at these glaciers and icebergs along the peninsula that have been carved into unique shapes by the wind and waves. Antarctica is one of those bucket list destinations that many dream about.
Area of Antarctica - 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent.
Cruising Waters - Atlantic Ocean
Cruising Region - Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Drake Passage
Capital of Antarctica - As Antarctica is a continent and not a country. The land is managed under the Antarctic Treaty, originally signed in 1959 by the 12 countries involved in scientific studies on the continent at that time. It now includes 48 countries from around the world. The McMurdo Station is a United States Antarctic research center on the south tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents.
Time Zone in Antarctica - The Earth's longitudes meet on the geographical South Pole in Antarctica. This means that, South Pole operates GMT but you can walk through all 24 time zones in a few seconds. Bases and stations around Antarctica tend to keep either the time relating to their home territory or the supply line that feeds them.
Major Airports - You can fly in and out of Buenos Aires, Argentina; if the cruise is departing from Ushuaia, Argentina. Similarly, if your cruise is departing from Punta Arenas, Chile then you can fly in and out of Santiago, Chile.
Visa Requiremnets - Since Antarctica is not own by any country there is no visa requirement, but you need to apply for visa of the country in which you are flying-in to take the cruise. For example, Mostly Hurtigruten Cruises depart from Ushuaia in Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile hence Departure and Arrival cities will decide on the visa requirements.
Language - On board Hurtigruten Cruises, announcements and communications are done in both English as well as German OR French languages.
Cruises to Antarctica operates during 'Austral Summer' (Austral is a scientfic term used for Southern Hemispere). November to March is the only possible season of cruising. When to travel and what is best according you depend on the experiences inspire you to travel here.
November - Most adventours and offers opportunity to explore Antarctica in its most undisturebed form. Temperatures are colder and huge volumes of ice are still breaking up and pristine snow forms crisp white backgrounds. You can witness penguines building nests and stone stealing as this is the season of penguine mating and by end of this month nests will be full of eggs!
December & January - Warmest months of the Antarctica with upto 20 hours of sunlight in a day. Wildlife activities are at the full swing, due to perfect conditions for seal pups and penguin chicks – as well as whales. December and January bring new life to the icy wilderness. On the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, newborn seal pups are blinking in the near-constant sunlight, and penguin chicks can be seen huddled in together on the islands and along the Antarctic Peninsula, while the adults head off to hunt for food.
February to March - The weather is still good and the wildlife active but, most importantly, this is the best whale watching time of the season. This time of year you are also likely to have better access to areas further south as polar ice melts. You will rarely walk on snow during this time; expect rocky and muddy landings.
This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine the schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the final sailing itinerary during the voyage. Hence, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.