Follow in the footsteps of the great polar explorers to the greatest cold desert on Earth, a place of wild and savage beauty and one of the last remaining 'unique' travel experiences.

Antarctica is the coldest and most remote continent, unknown to antiquity and discovered only in 1820, larger than Europe, twice the size of Australia, a vast white wilderness of ice fields and glaciers towering six thousand feet above solid bedrock, sunken mountain ranges and secret, primeval lakes only now being discovered for the first time.

Cruising is only possible during the southern hemisphere's summer from November to March, when temperatures can still be –5 to –8C and wind–chill remains a big factor.

So what's the appeal?

Literally there's nowhere else like it. But aside from that, and the transcendental beauty, there is the abundant bird and animal life including whales, seals, penguins and other sea birds, and the unforgettable sight of mighty glaciers calving into the sea...

After your flight out from the UK to South America, you sail from either Buenos Aires or Ushiaia (Argentina), right at the southernmost tip of South America. From there you cross the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, via ports of call which may include the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the South Orkney Islands, then return to Ushiaia.

Departures from South America explore the north–western part of Antarctica. Passengers interested in the story of Captain Scott may wish to explore cruises departing from New Zealand or Australia which approach from the opposite side of the continent via the Ross Sea, taking in the Ross Ice Shelf and giving access to the Antarctic research centres at McMurdo Station (USA) and Scott Base (NZ).

Cruises to Antarctica are carefully restricted so as to have minimum environmental impact on the pristine, fragile ecosystem of the region, and you will find just a handful of cruise companies offering itineraries to the area.

'Take only photographs, leave only footprints.'

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