Antarctica Cruise Cost: A Detailed Guide

Antarctica cruise cost

An Antarctica cruise is probably the greatest expedition cruise destination on earth. Sadly though, Antarctica cruise costs are quite high given the extreme remoteness of the White Continent. 

Because of the extreme environment, operating costs are high. Polar ships need to be ice-strenthend and able to withstand the harshest of environments. 

The good news is that once board your Antarctic vessel, there are very few other costs you need to worry about. The bad news is that there are a number of added costs you need to consider prior to your cruise - all of which we discuss below. 

Antarctica cruises can famously be picked up cheap on last minute deals. Whilst there are certainly last minute deals available, it's a myth that they are cheaper. The actual cheapest way of getting a cruise to the Antarctic is to book over a year in advance. This will give you the early-bird deals that are generally cheaper than last minute prices.

To help you plan and budget for your unforgettable cruise, we have laid out all the costs below in separate sections. We have also given a total budget at the bottom of the page.   

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Antarctica Cruise Cost

Obviously the main cost of any trip to Antarctica is the cruise itself. Antarctica is not a cheap destination and you'll need to pick your itinerary and ship according to your budget. 

With so many itineraries and operators out there, it can often seem a little difficult narrowing down your ideal itinerary. Luckily, we have written a guide on how to do just this - click here. Remember, a good Antarctic operators will be a member of IAATO and stick to their guidelines.

Essentially, you need to decide what you want to see and do during your cruise. Deciding if you want to visit South Georgia, cross the Antarctic circle, or visit historic exploration sites will narrow down your options. 

For people on a tight budget, the cheapest itinerary option is to take a basic 10 day peninsula itinerary towards the end of the season. Whilst you won't visit any of the above mentioned sites, you'll still make numerous shore landings and see much of Antarctica's wildlife. 

Another major element to consider is what type of vessel you sail on. There are three types of Antarctic ships; research, expedition and luxury.

Almost all Antarctic itineraries are offered on each type of ship. The type of ship you choose will affect your budget considerably. Below we discuss each. For a full list of Polar ships, please click here

Luxury ship

Luxury ships are the top end of Antarctic vessels and, because of this, cost considerably more. Although you're paying more, you get all of the home comforts and more aboard your ship. Suites will often have butlers and the food will be of an extremely high level. Luxury ships are also kitted out wth modern lecture theatres for more dynamic talks and excellent facilities such as jacuzzis, spas, gyms etc. 

For a basic peninsula cruise, prices start around $8,000 and go upwards of $15,000 depending on cabin. For a longer itinerary you will pay upwards of $10,000 for a basic suite. For a luxury suite on a long itinerary, expect to pay over $20,000.

Average price - $12,000.

Expedition ships

One of the most poplar options, expedition ships offer great facilities, whilst also not breaking the bank. Although by no means as luxurious as top level ships, you'll often get a gym, sauna and excellent food options on expedition ships. Expedition ships are generally quite small which allows them to make many shore landings. 

If you find an expedition ship itinerary for less than $7,000 you're doing well. Prices go upwards to about $15,000 depending on itinerary and cabin option.

Average price - $10,000.

Research vessels

Research vessels are for the budget-conscious traveler. Once used for actual research, these ships have been converted into basic cruise ships. Although facilities are very basic and cabins are small, you get a great sense of adventure aboard these ships. They also tend to be the smallest of the three types, meaning that you get a lot of shore excursions. 

If you're very lucky, you'll get a cruise for around $6,000. The is rare though and you'll need to book well in advance. You'll see prices advertised for lower, but don't hold your breath. Even aboard research vessels you can pay upwards of $20,000 depending on the itinerary. 

Average price - $8,000.

Antarctica cruise cost 1

​Flight Costs

Flights are one of the major Antarctica cruise cost considerations that people forget. 

Almost all Antarctica cruises depart from Ushuaia. Flights to this city are not cheap and this is a major budget consideration. Obviously the cost of the flight really depends on where you're flying from. People coming from Europe will pay more than North America residents. 

Flying to Ushuaia from Europe will cost somewhere between $1,500 – $2,000. This does depend on how early you book and where in Europe you're flying from. Flights from Africa cost roughly between $900 – $1500, once again, depending on the same variables.

Flights to Ushuaia from the USA vary significantly depending on season. We suggest budgeting in the region of $1000 – $1600 per person. 

A cheaper option is often available if you take a flight to Buenos Aires instead. Because it's a major airport, international flights are often cheaper here. From there you can take an internal flight to Ushuaia. This is not always cheaper, but it's certainly worth considering. 

If money is no object, you also have the option of taking a chartered flight into Antarctica itself. These are rare, require planing, and often cost in excess of $30,000. 

Always keep in mind that your Antarctic operator should be able to advise you on the best option when it comes to flights. 

Antarctica cruise cost 2

Extra Activites

Most Antarctic cruises will offer extra activities on top of the cruise price. These are particularly common on research and expedition vessels. 

Popular Antarctic activities include kayaking, skiing, and camping. These activities need to be pre-booked and you'll be taken on a special excursion during your cruise. These activity are completely optional, but you will need to pay extra for them.

Whilst the extra price can seem annoying, these activity are truly unforgettable. Not many people can say they skied in Antarctica, camped out on the ice or kayaked around an iceberg. 

The price ranges depending on activity and operator. Kayaking is usually around $600 - $900, whilst camping is slightly less. We generally advise to budget around $700 per person for an extra activity.

​Gear and Clothing

Another cost consideration for your Antarctic cruise is gear and clothing. Antarctica is a cold, even in Summer and you'll need to pack some warm layers!

Many operators will actually provide you with a parka and muck boots. However, some will not - you'll need to speak to your operator prior to departure. 

Regardless of this, you'll still need to bring a rain jacket, fleece and base layers to keep you warm. If you live in a cold climate this may not be necessary. 

Although you may already own them, bringing a good pair of binoculars is key! Spending extra on a  good pair is high advisable as a clear image will make a world of difference to your wildlife viewing experience. A good camera and some trekking poles won't go amiss either! 

What you budget for gear and clothing largely depends on what you already own. To be safe we recommend budgeting $500 to cover any unexpected purchases. 

Please click here for detailed packing list. 

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


Although no one likes to think about it, having proper cruise insurance is not only advisable, but mandatory on all Antarctic cruises. Your operator will not allow you on the boat without proof of adequate insurance. 

Adequate insurance does not mean the free travel insurance you got with your credit card. It means insurance that covers you for remote rescue and evacuation up to at least $500,000, repatriation, cruise interruptions, and adventure activities like kayaking. 

Most standard policies won't actually cover you for any of this. If they do, it will not be up to the necessary amount. The key is to read the small print. 

To help you understand what you really need to be covered for, we have written a detailed cruise insurance page here

Adequate travel insurance is not cheap and can range from $100 - $500 depending on your itinerary length, destinations, and activity list. We suggest putting at least $250 aside for this. 

Antarctica cruise cost 3

​Miscellaneous costs

As with all things, there are a number of small costs to think about when traveling. Although these do not sound like much at the time, they build up quickly and can often be a little depressing! 

Transportation: A taxi will be need to and from the airport. We suggest budgeting about $50. 

Passport and visa expenses: For American citizens there is no visa fee required to enter Chile or Argentina. This does vary though depending on your country of residence. We suggest budgeting $50.

Hotel costs: You'll probably stay at a hotel one or two night before or after your cruise. We suggest putting aside $200 for this. 

Laundry: Laundry costs are cheap, but still worth budgeting for to be thorough. $10 should cover it. 

Drinks: Non-alcoholic drinks are often covered, but some cruises also charge for soft drinks. This really depends on the operator. Some of the luxurious ships don't even charge for alcohol. If you drink, we suggest budgeting $200.

Tips: Tips are customary aboard Antarctic vessels. These are usually paid in one lump sum after the cruise. Generally, operators suggest $20 per day, per person. For a standard 10 day trip budget $200.

​​Total Budget

The budget calculated below is for one person, purchasing one activity and taking a standard itinerary. It also includes gear, hotels, flights, insurance and miscellaneous costs such as tips, transportation etc.

Please note that this is an estimate only - all itinerary and cabins cost different amounts. We strongly recommend booking early, no matter your budget. 

Lowest Possible Budget


Research Ship Budget


Expedition Ship Budget


​Luxury Cruise Budget


A word on lowest budget: If you are currently in South America traveling and have your travel insurance purchased, gear ready and staying in hostels. You could potentially take a trip to Antarctica for less than $7,500. This would not include an activity and you would be in shared accommodation. 


If you have any queries or questions regarding Antarctica cruise costs, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

Leave a Comment: