Antarctica: what does it cost and how do I get the most affordable deal?
If you shop around for Antarctic trips, you are only choosing from about 15-20 vessels. Further, there are only a small handful of specialists representing a range of vessels. Some companies only represent one vessel. It's important you know this, as choice of vessel is really important. The most important thing to know however, is that everyone is selling the same products.
So you don't have to waste time trawling the internet to come to the same conclusion, we have reviewed over 100 Antarctic peninsula tours, with 15 expedition vessels and rates published by four of the most reputable Antarctic travel companies. This is what we found:
- All operators are selling exactly the same vessels.
- The price-variation for cabins between operators is almost identical.
- Most companies have websites that publish 'from' rates based on triple or quad-share (often shared bathroom facilities) - which is fine, if that's what you are looking for.
- You can get up to a 20% price difference, depending on the dates you choose to travel.
- The December/January period attracts higher prices and lower availability, due to higher seasonal demand.
Price per day to visit Antarctica
This is a review of 100 tours published online, with a range of expedition style vessels. The prices shown are twin-share cabins with private ensuite.
Average Minimum Maximum
11-15 days 1095 740 1600
17-22 days 1078 658 1577
The prices we list are within these variations. The lower limits depend a lot on time of year and duration of trip (see below). These are all things to seek advice about. However, if you're on a limited budget, you may not be able to get the lowest rates, as they tend to be for the longer duration trips (so the overall price is higher).
Time of Year
We found that the cost varied around the average trip price by as much as 12% more in January, to 8-9% less in October and November. December and February were about average.
In general, you can expect a twin-share cabin to cost on average between $800-$1,200 per day, excluding flights.
In general, there is a slight reduction in price overall, with increasing trip duration.
There is a lot of variation in trip prices, so the trend is a bit obscured. There may be a trend towards more longer trips during the high season (when prices are highest anyway) plus, this is no doubt a popular holiday duration, particularly for Americans.
Over about 15 days, average trip price per day drops off from an average of of nearly $1,190 a day for 15 days, down to less than $1,000 per day for trips of 3 weeks or more. This introduces a price variation of almost 20% in some cases.
Another way to make a saving is on cabins. This really depends on the vessel. Some have quad-share or triple-share accommodation. There are some ships with shared ablutions and others are all ensuite. Again, depending on your preference, you can look at cabin type.
Cheap deal ghosts
Beware, many of the deals you see on offer online, are advertising the lowest possible price, in the lowest season. It may suit you but don't be fooled into thinking that's the price you'll get.
If you've read our other advice, you'd know already, that flight costs increase by as much as $2,000 close to the start of the Antarctic season. Any savings you think you can make can be blown if you don't realise this.
If you're budgeting for Antarctica and you have some flexibility around dates and duration, start at about $1,000 a day and that gives you room to explore the different options. Anything less and you are restricted to low-end cabins, end-of-season trips and short duration (remember, short trips can have Drake Passage crossings and ill weather could jeopardise much of your time on the ice). Also, look out for low-price deals involving ships that aren't allowed to land on Antarctica and remember, only 100 people at a time can land, so if you're on a ship with more, you will time-share your time onshore with others.
We can't offer more recommendation than to seek advice from someone you trust. We've chosen our specialist partners for the reason that they can provide you with the valuable insights you need, to be able to make the right choice and find the best possible price for your particular needs.
We prefer to make sure you are well-informed and fully understand what the costs will be and, just as importantly, what you can expect from the trip - what you will see depends on time of year (you won't see bull Elephant Seals after November) and trip duration will determine whether you get to places like the Falklands or South Georgia.
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The team we have working on your travel arrangements have almost 100 years combined experience helping people plan specialist travel. One thing we know for sure is that if a deal looks too good to be true, the chances are it is. Agents aren't there to make your trip more expensive, they are there to negotiate the best deal possible for the experience you want - the 'cheap deal' you find online is rarely what you think it is. We regularly encounter a range of upsets, mishaps and costly mistakes caused by impulsive purchases in response to deals online. Travel, particularly to foreign nations, is a big purchase and it helps to have someone you can call on to seek the advice you need before you travel.