UPDATED AUGUST 2019
Planning a cruise to Antarctica without a travel companion to share cabin costs? We give you the lowdown on the fantastic benefits of solo travel to this amazing continent and tips on how to avoid high supplement costs. And remember: just because you travel solo to the end of the world, it does not mean you’re ever going to be lonely!
Even the most ardent and experienced explorer may hesitate at the prospect of cruising Antarctica solo. Much of this has to do with the method of travel – cruising – something often deemed to be ideal for loved-up retirees on their second honeymoon. You’d be surprised to discover just how many travellers do cruise solo to Antarctica. A bucket-list traveller experience such as this is often a very personal choice: the love of the extreme, of adventure, of out-there places and magnificent raw nature is not something with which many are comfortable. So many, young and old alike, find themselves itching to travel to Antarctica but have no one to go with.
Read on to discover why solo travel to Antarctica is actually quite genius, why it doesn’t have to be any more expensive, why loneliness doesn’t even come into the picture in the slightest and why, despite what many believe, solo cruising is on the rise.
Why you may WANT to cruise Antarctica solo
We agree that, oftentimes, the best experiences in life are those we can share with our loved one. Yet we also know that there’s arguably nothing worse than travelling with someone who simply doesn’t share your passion for a particular place or activity. Antarctica is a magnificent, immersive and unreal travel destination but that kind of remoteness and adventure may not suit everyone. Plus, it’s not an inexpensive journey to undertake, and it’s possible that your closest friends (or even your partner) just aren’t up to it. This isn’t a shopping spree in Hong Kong – cruising Antarctica is not something you can talk someone into doing on a whim. It may well be the most rewarding and unforgettable journey you’ll ever take, but Antarctica is a place that talks to the heart of the traveller, usually over many years, and not something to be ticked off a list.
So if you happen to have no-one in your immediate circle who shares your passion for exploring the startling frozen end of our planet, why not cruise Antarctica solo and share the experience with like-minded folks? Who says sharing is only valid with those you already know?!
There’s amazing camaraderie on Antarctica expeditions
When cruising to the White Continent on a small or medium-sized expedition ship, you’re thrust together with a group of fellow adventurers, just like you, eager to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. You cruise together, dine together, ogle at marching penguins together, go on Zodiac expeditions (a distinct attribute of expedition cruising) and spend your evening excitingly recounting the day’s happenings. There’s a unique type of camaraderie that develops aboard an Antarctica expedition ship that’s not usually seen in other cruising destinations. One that is created by the sheer fact that you are all together in one of the most remarkable and isolated places on earth. Not only is it common to tackle one of these expeditions solo (solo travel to Antarctica is actually a growing trend) but passengers frequently form life-long friendships.
Cruising solo to Antarctica means you can actually have the best of both worlds. In a place where contemplative solitude is offered on a silver platter, you have the option of companionship or aloneness, at your leisure. In this regard, cruising Antarctica solo can be one of the most rewarding travel experiences you could ever have.
You’ll find your ‘group’ in no time
We usually find that groups develop rather swiftly on Antarctica expeditions. There’s the ‘sitting at the library for a chat with a cup of tea’ group and the one who braves the element to be outside on wildlife watch at any given time. There’s the immensely active group (you know, the one that wants to kayak, snowshoe and hike all the time), the one who stays up late every night and the one who wakes up early. Then there’s the one who rides the wickedness of the Drake Shake excitedly and the one who absorbs all the lectures with vigour and discusses everything together, from the wildlife of Antarctica to the environmental concerns. You’ll find your group, don’t worry, and you’ll most likely find several during your expedition.
You’ll still have plenty of alone time
If you’re an avid solo traveller, then you will have undoubtedly developed an absolute love of alone time. We hear you. Don’t fear that your vibe will be crushed when cruising solo to Antarctica: there’s actually plenty of downtime on expeditions which can be great for getting to know other travellers and for indulging in a little R&R on your own. Whether you recharge your soul best with company or on your own, you’ll have plenty of time to do both, especially if cruising from Ushuaia, which gifts 4 days of sailing time whilst crossing the Drake Passage.
Even those with travel companions will want alone time
There’s something about an expedition to Antarctica that stirs the soul of every explorer. It’s a contemplative and intense experience and one that is immensely personal. Even those with travel companions will invariably feel a need for some alone time or (something that happens very often) find they gravitate to other travellers who share their specific, personal interests. From photography to nightcaps at the bar; from hiking to lecture attending, resting quietly in the cabin, taking to the gym for an hour or wildlife-watching from deck: everyone has different desires at any given time and you’ll discover everyone on board, whether with travel companion or not, will naturally spend some time ‘doing their own thing’.
Everyone, cruising solo or not, needs to experience Antarctica on their own.
Solo travel to Antarctica – it doesn’t have to be more expensive!
One of the best things about travelling solo to Antarctica is realising that you won’t be the only one going at it alone: most times, there will be other solo travellers of the same gender with whom you can share a cabin. Depending on the ship, you have a choice of double, triple and even quad shared room, so you can do away with the extra single supplement charged by some ships.
Moreover, there are quite a few ships that recognise the need to cater for the growing number of solo travellers, and once you’re booked as a single in shared occupancy, you won’t be charged extra if they can’t find you a cabin-mate.
But, at the end of the day, if you do want a cabin all to yourself (be it single or double) note that supplement prices among ships can vary quite a bit, so let your travel agent know if you’d prefer your own space and they’ll find the best deal for you at time of booking. So popular is solo travel to Antarctica nowadays that some expedition ships even wave the single supplement altogether.
Companionship or privacy? The choice is yours!
Antarctica cruises are the epitome ‘group tours’, and you’ll never have to worry about sitting at a dining table all alone, feeling like the loser with no friends. No, really! Travelling alone may have some downsides in other parts of the world, but on an Antarctica cruise, it is utterly inconsequential. The free seating at mealtimes is a genius way to mingle with different people every day and the group excursions a fabulous way to share all those once-in-a-lifetime experiences you’re bound to have. You’ll be in excellent company from the moment you board your ship until you disembark, yet will have plenty of chances for ‘me time’ whenever you crave it.
Which expedition ships are better for solo travellers?
Your choice of expedition ship will likely have more to do with itinerary, travel style and budget than with anything else. Considering the fact that, nowadays, some ships travel to Antarctica with up to 80% single occupancy (are you finally convinced of just how popular solo cruising really is?!) every ship offers exceptional service for single travellers. Larger ships will obviously offer greater chances for share cabins at lower prices (due to them hosting more guests and having more cabins), yet smaller ships offer a more intimate and overall friendlier atmosphere, which is what single travellers usually desire most.
If we haven’t yet managed to convince you that a solo Antarctica Cruise is a fab idea…then just call us! There’s an amazing group of like-minded adventurers looking to share an unforgettable journey to the most awe-inspiring place on earth. And we’d love to introduce you.
To find out more about all things Antarctica check out the Antarctica – Resources, News, Facts and more.
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Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”