The Air-Cruise Model: Fly Over Drake Passage to Antarctica & Cruise
When planning your trip to the 7th Continent, our recommendation is to fly over the Drake Passage to Antarctica and spend more time cruising around Antarctica. This option allows you to arrive quickly, save on vacation time, and not worry about potential seasickness from turbulent waters. Below is a quick explanation of how flights to Antarctica operate to help you decide if you should fly over the drake passage to Antarctica or sail instead.
Sailing the Drake Passage to Antarctica
The Drake Passage is the body of water that separates the last piece of land belonging to the American continent, Cape Horn, and the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica.
The Drake Passage is where the Antarctic, the Pacific, and the Atlantic oceans meet, making this merging point one of the most turbulent waters on Earth.
The Drake Passage is variable at best. At worst, it is the stuff of folklore, of legend, of tales told by seamen. Crossing the Drake Passage by ship can be an experience, both good and bad.
Nevertheless, it does take at least two days to cross, assuming somewhat calm waters. Spending those two days at sea can be an excellent opportunity to get to know your crew and fellow shipmates; however, the four days at sea (to and from Antarctica) can chip away at vacation time.
If the weather does not cooperate, you can either have a delayed arrival to Antarctica, or you might have to leave the continent ahead of schedule to avoid incoming storms. In addition, for those with sensitive stomachs, seasickness is a definite possibility.
The Traditional Way from Ushuaia: 4 Days Crossing the Drake Passage
To reach the Antarctic Peninsula, travel operators sail the tempestuous Drake Passage. But this comes with the inconvenience for the traveler.
- At least 50 hours South to reach the Antarctic peninsula
- At least 50 hours North to get back to South America
- Usually through rough seas, potentially causing seasickness
Fly Over the Drake Passage to Antarctica
The alternative option is to fly over the Drake Passage. With flying, there is also the possibility of delayed arrival to Antarctica or early departure to avoid bad weather. You can learn more about flight delays here.
On the other hand, a two-hour flight is much more comfortable, and we have only had two significant delays since beginning operations in 2003. As with any flight, the weather is a critical component, even more in Antarctica.
Flying over the Drake to Antarctica does give you extra time to explore Chile and the beautiful Chilean Patagonia, including Torres del Paine National Park and Punta Arenas, a beautiful part of the world that beautifully complements any trip to Antarctica. Not to mention enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep and a delicious meal in Punta Arenas before flying out.
Landing in Antarctica is also a unique experience. Imagine landing on the last and final continent, surrounded by beautiful, pristine snow, and enjoying your first excursion on the continent without delay. Remember, you didn’t have to spend two days at sea getting to Antarctica to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. After your two-hour flight, you’re in Antarctica, and your journey begins.
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Antarctica21’s Air-Cruise Model
Only a 2-hour flight and then sail in Antarctica. Antarctica21 is the world’s first Antarctic air-cruise and has led the way since 2003.
Antarctica21’s innovative approach offers wilderness adventures that combine a 2-hour flight from Punta Arenas, located in the Chilean Patagonia, to the Antarctic peninsula, where our expedition vessel waits for the travelers to embark on an incredible journey. With our air-cruise model of travel to Antarctica, our guests enjoy a comfortable, quick and intimate travel experience packed with adventure.
Skip the stormy waters of the Drake Passage. Rough seas are common in the Drake Passage. You don’t have to experience seasickness and discomfort to reach Antarctica. With Antarctica21, you can simply fly the Drake Passage.
Reach the Antarctic Peninsula faster, and have more time for exploration. Less time crossing the Drake Passage means more time for exploration in Antarctica, increasing your chances of seeing more wildlife diversity, visiting historical sites, and appreciating the breathtaking beauty of a preserved environment. A nearby highlight is Torres del Paine National Park, a 4-hour drive from Punta Arenas, the expedition’s departure point.
Small-ship, yacht-like experience, smaller groups, more time ashore Our ships carry a maximum of 75 guests per voyage. For each landing, all passengers are allowed to disembark at once in our 7 zodiacs. Disembarkation is efficient so that you can enjoy more time ashore. Only one dedicated flight per departure! A pod of whales is visiting? All guests disembark at once to enjoy the zodiac tours and landings. IAATO regulations set a limit of 100 persons ashore at a time. Read more about the benefits of sailing on a small ship in Antarctica.
- Our Fleet
Our aircraft carries a maximum of 75 guests on each voyage. Antarctica21 operates exclusively with small ships which can explore further, where bigger ships can’t. Magellan Explorer is the world’s first ship purpose-built for Antarctic air-cruises.
Antarctica21 Options for Air-Cruises
The Antarctica21 air-cruise takes you over the Drake Passage, avoiding the discomfort of a rough sea crossing, and lands you on the continent in just two hours. You reach Antarctica on our quick flight, rather than a two-day crossing, and then are quickly immersed in the beauty of the Seventh Continent.
- Antarctica Express – an air-cruise designed for travelers looking for a quick and affordable visit to the White Continent.
- Classic Antarctica – this air-cruise is our most popular itinerary, sail between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Polar Circle – one of the most adventurous expeditions that we offer. Our main objective on this air-cruise expedition is to try and reach the Antarctic Polar Circle.
- Antarctica & South Georgia is a remarkable experience that takes you through the western Antarctic Peninsula and Elephant Island to South Georgia.