Antarctic Circle Cruises & Tours

Antarctic Circle travel gives you the opportunity to cross the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises, joining a select group of travellers and adventures who have journeyed and explored this far south. Follow in the wake of Captain James Cook, one of the first explorers to cross the Antarctic Polar Circle as you set sail on an Antarctic Circle cruise bound for a latitude of 66° 33’ south.
 
Antarctica is the southernmost continent and the world’s final frontier. The frozen landscape is formidable, with towering rock faces, snow-capped peaks, mountains, glaciers and immense, imposing icebergs. A true immersion into Antarctica will see you crossing the Antarctic Circle to the region officially known as ‘The Antarctic’, a place where a mid-summer day lasts 24 hours. As your Antarctic Circle cruise threads its way through the icy waterways, you will be in awe of the spectacular scenery that surrounds you. The land is dotted with numerous penguin and seal colonies, orcas and leopard seals patrol the waters and snow petrels soar above. You will be mesmerized not only by the landscape but also by the wildlife.
 
So why not go beyond the Antarctic Peninsula on an Antarctic Circle cruise, crossing the Circle to the home of the midnight sun, desolate but beautiful landscapes, shifting ice and Weddell seals, to a place that few have been?  
 

'The expedition crew were very knowledgable and all the ships staff were fantastic. We crossed the Antarctic circle and went the furthest south the ship had been thanks to the great skills of the captain. I loved this trip! Penguins, seals, orca whales, wildlife in abundance!!' - Corinne

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Featured Antarctic Circle Trips & Deals

POPULAR  From 19,500

Cruise to the wild areas of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia plus explore the icy limits of Antarctica.

POPULAR  From 11,415

Be one of the few adventurous travellers to cross the Polar Circle on this expedition to Antarctica. Witness impressive icebergs & legendary wildlife.

POPULAR  From 11,999

Go further south and cross into the Antarctic Circle. Go beyond the normal Antarctica tour areas.

Antarctic Circle Cruises

10 NIGHTS From 20,300

Fly to Antarctica but go further south to the Antarctic Circle. A comprehensive cruise for those with a short timeframe.

9 NIGHTS From 20,710

Fly to Antarctica, one of the most spectacular & pristine places on earth . Sail to the far south & cross the Antarctic Circle.

12 NIGHTS From 32,210

A foray into a seldom-seen land. From the “End of the World”, you’ll continue onward, exploring the icy wilderness of the world’s most remote continent.

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Antarctic Circle Cruise Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pinktarctic paradise A big thank you for putting such an amazing group together. This trip was a life long ambition for me and it is a trip I will never forget. From our wonderful host, Greg to Alex our expedition leader, this trip was just incredible. Not only did I experience one of the world's last great wilderness' but our intimate encounters with wildlife is something I will treasure forever. I feel truly blessed. Chimu Adventures should be applauded for the wonderful work they do in Latin America with charities and this fundraising adventure testifies what an amazing company they are. I will have no hesitation to book with them again, and will be telling everyone I know the same!
Date published: 2015-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Images of Antarctica trip Just returned from an incredible trip to Antarctica onboard the MV Ushuaia. Wow. The trip to was impeccable from start to finish. We had some incredible landings, and saw any absolute abundance of wildlife. Our host, Craig Deuchar of Chimu was delightful, and went well put of his way to assist everyone aboard. A big well done to him. Despite one awful person on the trip - quote possibly one of the rudest, unlikeable people I have met who refused to embrace the experience and other passengers, we all had a wonderful trip. All in no small let due to Craig! Our onboard auction was wonderful too!
Date published: 2016-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best place we have ever been! Words cannot sum up how amazing this destination is. Everything ran impeccably, and the service aboard the MV Ushuaia was simply fantastic. Craig, our Chimu host was wonderful, and went out of his way to make sure everyone aboard had a great time. His service and interest in everyone was outstanding, and they way he dealt with one particularly nasty passenger aboard is to be commended. I would not hesitate to recommend Chimu Adventures to anyone. Thanks for an amazing trip. From Colombia, to Guatemala, Argentina, Chile and our Antarctica cruise - everything ran smoothly, and we commend you!
Date published: 2016-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Antarctic Peninsula - Each Day was a Feast Reflecting back, I was so glad Jason Dudson changed our ships. All gear for the snow and ice was included in the new one, so not having to hire gear and being able to make changes onboard ship was a relief. The friendliness of everyone on board made for a great trip. Photos & videos were shared and returned to us as a slide show before we disembarked. So many memories and I've barely touched the surface with the checking out of files.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Antarctica My trip on the MV Sea Spirit was everything I had hoped for and more. The expedition staff and hotel staff were flawless. The passengers well traveled and a great range of ages, I have made many lifelong friends on the trip! Of course, the bird life, marine life, mammals, penguins and landscapes are incredible. I am still unable to put into words how jaw droppingly beautiful and exciting it was to set foot on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. I would highly recommend a trip to the area to anyone with a sense of adventure and a love of animals and photography.
Date published: 2015-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly beautiful place I had a very firm picture of what I expected Antarctica to be like, and it exceeded all my wildest dreams! What surprised me most was the variety, so many different weather conditions which helped make places just a few miles apart seem vastly different. We were also given such a variety of ways to experience Antarctica, through wildlife sighting, camping, zodiac rides, hiking, historical places, scientific seminars... never time to get bored, rarely even time to write a diary! The ship (Sea Adventurer) was comfortable and practical - the library and the bridge became 2 of my favourite places. The food on board was great quality and very plentiful and the staff were helpful and friendly across the board. I cannot recommend this highly enough!
Date published: 2015-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Adventure of a lifetime! We had an amazing experience on this trip; it was truly the adventure of a lifetime. Craig Deuchar from Chimu was super helpful and informative, both with our booking and throughout the trip, and the expedition staff were enthusiastic, professional, knowledgeable, and responsive to the Antarctic conditions and the needs of the passengers. It was so awesome making landings and getting up close to the icebergs, whales, penguins, and seals, and I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who is considering a trip to Antarctica. It was worth every cent!
Date published: 2016-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A trip out of this world 10 days trip to Antarctic Peninsular. A bit shaky across the Drake Passage, as was expected, otherwise a beautiful sailing between the islands and icebergs. Lots of landings to see the native inhabitants with hundreds of Penguins, also Wales, Seals, Birds and Orcas. The staff on board were terrific and so helpful. The food was enough with a good breakfast and two 3 coarse meals (lunch and dinner) with fruit and afternoon snacks available. The cooking was a bit plain at times but still eatable. All in all, a terrific trip, quiet unforgettable.
Date published: 2015-02-11
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Country Information

WHEN TO GO TO THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

As with the entire Antarctic continent, Antarctic Circle travel is only feasible during the southern hemisphere’s summer generally between December and March when the sea ice melts enough to enable access to this southerly point. Access is determined by the weather conditions and it cannot be guaranteed that your vessel will be able to continue this far south.

WEATHER ON THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

Antarctica is a land of extremes - it is the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world. It is considered a desert as it receives less than 254 millimetres of annual rainfall or precipitation. The interior of Antarctica has an average annual precipitation of only 50 millimetres, whereas along the coast, precipitation rates are much higher, averaging 200 millimetres a year. The continent’s interior is extremely cold with little snowfall. The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was -89.2°C at Vostok Station. Coastal areas experience milder temperatures with summer temperatures generally reaching a maximum of between 5 and 15°C, with long periods of constant sunlight. In winter, mean temperatures are usually between -10°C and -30°C near the coast, falling to below -60°C on the high interior plateau, with long periods of constant darkness.

WILDLIFE ON THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

Penguins - There are five species of penguin that live on the Antarctic continent - Adélie, emperor, gentoo, chinstrap and macaroni penguins, with only emperor and Adélie penguins making the Antarctic continent their true home, breeding on the shores of the continent and nearby islands. Chinstrap penguins breed on islands around Antarctica whilst gentoo penguins are found on islands ranging from the Antarctic to the sub-Antarctic.

Other Birds - The range of birds found in the Antarctic and flying over Antarctic waters is extensive and every spring, over 100 million birds breed around the Antarctic coastline and offshore islands. These include albatrosses, petrels, skuas, gulls and terns.

Seals - Six different species of seal live in Antarctic waters - Ross, Weddell, crabeater, leopard, fur and elephant seals. The first four are ice specialists that breed on the sea ice in spring. Ross and leopard seals tend to be solitary whereas crabeater and Weddell seals breed in colonies. Elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals are found north of the pack-ice, breeding on beaches in dense colonies. Weddell seals live further south than any other mammal.

Whales - Orcas or killer whales are toothed whales that are common in Antarctic waters. Minke whales are the most adapted of the Antarctic baleen whales to ice. Blue and minke whales venture further into the sea ice than other whales such as humpback and sei and have been seen as far south as 78°S in the Ross Sea.

GEOGRAPHY OF THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

 The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the Earth’s major circles of latitude at approximately 66° 33’ south. The position of the Antarctic Circle is not fixed as it fluctuates with the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The Antarctic region extends from the South Pole to the Antarctic Circle. The zone immediately to the north is known as the Southern Temperate Zone.

The Antarctic Circle is over 17,500 kilometres in length with the area south of the Polar Circle covering 20,000,000 square kilometres and accounting for around 4% of the Earth's surface. The Antarctic continent covers most of the area within the Antarctic Circle.

South of the Antarctic Circle, the sun remains continuously above the horizon for 24 hours at least once per year and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year. This means that for at least one day a year the sun is visible at midnight and for at least one day a year it is not visible at noon. This is why the Antarctic is known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun”.

HISTORY OF THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn proved that “Terra Australis Incognita” (Unknown Southern Land), was a continent in its own right if it existed

  • Captain James Cook and his crew were the first to cross the Antarctic Circle in 1773

  • Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the third time in 1774 reaching 71° 10′ south on January 30, the furthest south attained in the 18th century

  • The first confirmed sightings of mainland Antarctica were in 1820

  • Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen’s Russian expedition discovered Peter I Island and Alexander I Island - the first islands to be discovered south of the Antarctic Circle

  • The first undisputed landing on Antarctica was in 1895 at Cape Adair

  • The Belgian Antarctic Expedition led by Gerlache was the first expedition to overwinter within the Antarctic Circle in 1898

  • Sir Douglas Mawson led the first party to reach the South Magnetic Pole during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907-9 Nimrod Expedition

  • Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911, following a dramatic race with Englishman Robert Falcon Scott

  • The first successful overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole took place in 1958 led by Vivian Fuchs with Edmund Hillary leading the back-up party

FURTHER READING
  • Race for the South Pole by Roland Huntford

  • Douglas Mawson: The Life of an Explorer by Lincoln Hall

  • Scott of the Antarctic by David Crane

  • The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic Journey 1910-1913 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

  • The South Pole by Roald Amundsen

  • In Search of the South Pole by Huw Lewis-Jones & Kari Herbert

  • Sir Edmund Hillary: An Extraordinary Life by Alexa Johnston   

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be fit to cross the Antarctic Circle ?

A high level of fitness is not necessary for crossing the Antarctic Circle, but you need to be in good health as although there is generally a doctor on board the ship, you are a long way from any other medical assistance. The majority of activities are focused around shore excursions and Zodiac cruising and so you need to be agile and able-bodied enough to climb into and out of the inflatable Zodiacs from both the ship and the shore. On shore landings you may need to negotiate uneven and slippery ground. Shore excursions generally involve some walking.

Is it safe to travel to the Antarctic Circle?

All of our tours are 100% tried and tested to ensure that when you travel with us, you are doing so in a controlled and safe environment with trained experts. We consistently monitor weather conditions and will always provide you with the best possible adventure without risk of injury to you or the vessel. While some landings and activities may need to be rescheduled or cancelled due to weather, every effort is made to have a contingency plan should such conditions become a reality during your expedition. Chimu have been the experts in Antarctic Circle travel for well over 10 years and use our vast experience and knowledge when picking the vessels we sell to provide you with an adventure that is unforgettable for all the right reasons.

How long does it take to reach the Antarctic Circle?

The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises and Antarctic Circle cruises are generally only a couple of days longer than a standard Antarctic Peninsula itinerary. Most cruises that set sail from Ushuaia explore the Antarctic Peninsula before crossing the Antarctic Circle around day 7, 8 or 9.

What is the Antarctic Circle ?

The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the Earth’s major circles or parallels of latitude at approximately 66° 33’ south of the equator. It is an imaginary circle around the Earth parallel to the equator, marking the boundary between the Southern Temperate and Southern Frigid Zones. It also marks the approximate limit south of which the sun remains above the horizon all day on the summer solstice.

How is the Antarctic Circle different to Arctic Circle ?

The Arctic Circle is the Antarctic Circle’s equivalent in the northern hemisphere. Lying within the Antarctic Circle, he Antarctic is a continent surrounded by oceans, 98% of which is covered in the South Polar ice sheet. There are no terrestrial mammals found in the Antarctic, only marine mammals such as whales and seals. The Arctic, however, is an ocean surrounded by landmasses, much of which is tundra and boreal forest. Mammals include polar bears, reindeer and Arctic foxes. There is also a wide variety of plant life that can exist in the Arctic including mosses, lichens and flowering plants. The South Pole is located within the Antarctic Circle and the North Pole within the Arctic Circle.

What is the Polar Circle?

The Polar Circle is either the Antarctic or the Arctic Circle, located at approximately 66° 33’ south and north of the equator respectively.