An expedition to Antarctica traditionally starts with crossing the Drake Passage between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. It takes around two days sailing to reach Antarctica. For some this is the ultimate way to start their Antarctic adventure, for others it’s something they would rather skip. If lucky, your crossing may be quite calm but it often involves high waves, strong winds and sometimes even storms. A challenge for many expeditioners as this often equals seasickness.

Pioneering Antarctic Air Cruises

Our partner Antarctica21 pioneered travel to Antarctica in a new way providing quick access to the White Continent. In 2003, they started ‘Antarctic Air Cruises’, a comfortable alternative during which you fly over the Drake Passage. The short two-hour flight takes you from Punta Arenas (Chile) directly to Antarctica, where you board your expedition ship. No stormy crossing. No seasickness. Just fly & cruise! Another good reason why you should consider an Antarctic Air cruise? Traditional cruises usually take around 11 days of which you spend 4 days at sea crossing the Drake Passage. During an Antarctic Air Cruise you can see the highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula in one week! A quick and comfortable way to enjoy your boutique wilderness adventure in Antarctica.

Fly & Cruise on small boutique expedition ships

The three small expedition ships that offer these Antarctic Air Cruises (Ocean Nova, Hebridean Sky and the new Magellan Explorer) almost feel like private yachts. Offering direct access to areas along the Antarctic shore that larger ships simply can’t reach. And because they only take a maximum of 75 guests, you get on and off faster, so you have more time to savor every moment ashore.

Launched in 2019, the new Magellan Explorer features innovative technology and modern design. This stylish expedition vessel has been custom built for the Antarctic Air Cruises according to the latest Polar Code specifications. Perfect for adventurous small-scale expeditions to Antarctica.

Key benefits of an Antarctic Air Cruise

  • COMFORT Avoid sailing 2 days at rough open seas, fly from Chilean Patagonia to the Antarctic Peninsula and start your cruise.
  • SPEED Reach Antarctica in 2 hours instead of 2 days or more. 
  • SIZE Small ships with a maximum of 75 guests offer a personalized experience and operational flexibility.

What’s it like to be on a boutique Antarctic expedition?

Director Expedition Operations Mariano has worked with Antarctica21 for 10 years and has extensive experience and a passion for polar regions: “Being on a small-ship means less noise, less distraction, more Antarctica! By default in extreme environments, plans will always change; being small allows for more flexibility and adaptability for travel plans. And probably, most importantly staff can establish a personal connection with guests. We can run into each other in the hallways and chat about the day in the observation lounges. During an expedition, it seems like we all become part of the same team that is exploring this amazing destination at the end of the world. For me, it’s one of the best parts of the job.”

Our partner Antarctica21 is a leader in expedition cruises to Antarctica and therefor constantly developing and innovating their programs and operations. As a fellow member of IAATO, they consider every detail of their operations with the goal of minimizing the environmental impact.


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