Coronavirus and Travelling to Antarctica

Updated: 4th March, 2020

Antarctica has been one of the most fiercely protected regions in the world for decades – read on to learn how the recent coronavirus outbreak is affecting expeditions to the far south.

The recent coronavirus outbreak seems to be causing a lot of confusion among travellers heading to Antarctica and although we understand how distressing the news may be, it’s important to know that the White Continent, and its embarkation ports, remain virus-free. That’s because Antarctica has been one of the most fiercely protected regions in the world for decades and commercial expedition cruising has been strictly regulated since the very beginning. The latest wave of precautions, specific to coronavirus, have simply been added to a long list of safeguards already in place.

Antarctica cruises, we can confirm, remain as gloriously rewarding as they’ve always been.

Penguins standing on a rock with Antarctica mountains in the background
The friendly locals. Photo: Shutterstock

Here are a few things you’ll want to know about cruising to Antarctica, right now:

Antarctica cruise operators are at the top of their game

There’s no doubt the cruising industry, in general, has been one of the hardest-hit tourism sectors of all during this latest health epidemic. Antarctica expeditions have always been one step ahead, however, as their health guidelines for visiting Antarctica have historically been among the strictest in the industry.

Taking guests on an expedition to such a remote and pristine continent has meant that health and safety precautions have been stricter than anywhere else, and that’s why Antarctica remains the only continent not yet affected by coronavirus. Moreover, small ship cruising to Antarctica has the added advantage of size – or, rather, lack thereof. Maintaining the highest level of hygiene on an expedition ship hosting <250 passengers is infinitely easier than doing the same on a megaliner with a capacity of more than 2,500 guests.

We keep up with the latest travel advisories – and so should you

The coronavirus updates seem to be coming in thick and fast and we’re constantly keeping updated on the latest recommendations by our government. The best thing you can do is to avoid the speculation and, instead, keep abreast of the most respected travel advisories, those issued by your government and those of the countries you are visiting.

Useful Resources

Smart Traveller – A reliable Australian source of information, Smart Traveller is running an updated coronavirus-covid-19 advisory page which includes a wealth of useful info and tips on how to minimise your chance of infections whilst travelling as well as what to do before you leave home. You can also subscribe to their newsletter updates so you won’t miss a beat and get push notifications for Argentina, the most popular embarkation point for Antarctica expeditions.

UK Government Travel Advice – If you’re travelling to/through the UK, you’ll find the travel advisory page has a detailed list of and special areas to avoid on your travels as you transit from home to Antarctica.

World Health Organization (WHO) – Seen as the epitome authority on international health recommendations, the World Health Organization is the best website to check out if you want to learn more about the current coronavirus outbreak and the best precautions to take to avoid infection. Factual and rational, the easily downloadable guides will help you stay healthy and cope with mounting stress, as you travel abroad.

None of the above travel advisories recommend you consider cancelling your travel plans – they simply guide you to avoid infected areas of certain countries. There is absolutely no need to reconsider your travel plans if you’re heading to Antarctica. In most countries, people are being advised to exercise normal safety precautions – to follow the same protocols you would if you were trying to avoid catching anything whilst travelling.

How strict guidelines ensure our small ship cruises remain coronavirus-free

There is, of course, a wealth of measures in place to ensure that all Antarctica cruises remain coronavirus-free and we’re more than happy to personally advise our current and prospective guests on what they can do to ensure their journey – be it happening next week or next month – run as smooth as those Antarctica waters.

Some of the effective measures in place on small ship Antarctica cruising adventures, right now, include:

  • Updated pre-boarding health information form which everyone must fill in.
  • Comprehensive health checks prior to embarkation.
  • Embarkation is denied to anyone who has visited or transited to a heavily affected area in the 14 days prior to boarding, regardless of nationality or length of stay.
  • Embarkation is denied to anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has either been diagnosed or is suspected of having been infected with the coronavirus, within 14 days prior to cruising.
  • Initial and immediate medical support given to anyone exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.
  • All our ships have implemented additional disinfection measures, far and beyond the norm.
  • The situation is being constantly monitored and new measures will take effect immediately, if need be.
  • Prospective guests will be kept up to date via email prior to boarding should there be a need to upgrade/downgrade restrictions.

All these are added precautions that complement health directives already in place in your own country of departure, which is why our implemented measures have been thoroughly effective so far.

If you are heading to Latin America to join one of our small ship Antarctica cruises, we recommend you contact us to discuss your flight itinerary so we can advise you if there is a need to change your route.

And for the rest…just keep calm and wash your hands!

2 Cute Gentoo Penguins waddling out of the water
Gentoo penguins in Antarctica. Photo: Shutterstock

Your health and well-being are our top priority

Needless to say, the health and safety of our guests and staff are of paramount importance and, for this reason, we follow the guidelines as set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and Cruise Lines International Associations (CLIA) – amongst other bodies that oversee the operation of small-ship cruising worldwide – as do our most trusted international operators. The most important thing you can do is to simply be informed.

We hope we’ve put your mind at ease, either if you’re about to head to Latin America and Antarctica to enjoy a small ship cruise, or are planning to shortly.

Ready for the expedition of a lifetime in Antarctica?

We’ll see you on board.

A person in a red jacket explores the waters of Antarctica by zodiac.
Discover the pristine environment of Antarctica. Photo: Shutterstock

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.”