Can I Go Ashore in Antarctica?

by Julia on October 31, 2019


When going on a cruise, one of the highlights of your travel is to be able to take selfies and pictures of the majestic beaches and shores of the destinations where your cruise will be stopping over. If you want to take your cruise experience to the extreme, going to Antarctica is your option. Although there are other cold and frozen destinations around the world, Antarctica can be considered as the true extreme. It is located in the southernmost part of the globe and it is one of the coldest, if not, the coldest part of the Earth. If you want Instagram-worthy documentation of your cruise to Antarctica, you’ll need to take a photo while being ashore in this land. But can you go ashore in Antarctica?

What are the Ways to Get to Antarctica?

You can reach Antarctica by water and by air. By water, you have the option to on a standard cruise or on a luxury cruise. By air, you can take a fly-cruise that leaves from Punta Arenas from Chile to King George Island, where you can take a cruise around the Antarctic Peninsula before flying back to Argentina. There are pros and cons to the travel options, and it is up to you to decide which one is worth taking. Traveling by water can get you exposed to rough seas and generally cost more than traveling by air, but you also get to experience being up close and personal with nature and the frozen landscape of Antarctica. Air travel may be convenient, affordable and spares you from rough sea travel, but you only get a momentary aerial view of Antarctica and limited stay in one of its islands (King George Island).

Do You Need to Be Fit to Travel to Antarctica?

Yes, you should be fit and in generally good health if you want to travel to Antarctica. Be prepared for the shifting and weather patterns while at travelling at sea and bring the right change of clothes for extra protection. Although cruise ships generally have a doctor on board, it pays to be healthy and fit when you board the ship as you will be far away from any other assistance.

You also need to be sufficiently able-bodied to get in and out of Zodiacs (small, inflatable and open-air boats for nature-viewing excursions) from the ship and from ashore and you should have full mobility to negotiate uneven, slippery grounds and the rocking motion of the Zodiac. These crafts are best used for exploration by water, such as dolphin and whale-watching excursions or sight-seeing trips along the rocky and frozen Antarctic coastline. Be prepared for the wind-chill factor during the excursion. You also need to be prepared for wet landings, where the Zodiac pulls up at a beach or shore, and you and your co-passengers need to hop out into the water and wade a few feet into the shore.

Can You Go Ashore in Antarctica?

It would have to be a conditional yes. This is because it will have to depend on the number of passengers a cruise ship will carry, which is under the provisions of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and the Antarctic Treaty. Signers of the Antarctic Treaty and members of the IAATO do not let guests go ashore in Antarctica if their ships have 500 or more passengers on board. Thankfully, there are plenty of small cruise expeditions that allow shore visits in Antarctica. These types of cruise ships carry between 50 and 150 passengers and there are also a few purpose-built ones that carry up to 250 passengers. They are within the allowed number of passengers that can go ashore, so you are sure to get your on-shore experience with these types of cruise ships. These ships mostly have shore landing activities, where they plan one or two shore or Zodiac excursions per day, depending on whether the weather conditions.

There can be three different types of walks you can do while ashore in Antarctica. The most common one is the low or ground-level walk where you and your co-passengers get to walk over a short distance and can have frequent stops for picture taking. Another type would involve gaining more altitude and covering more ground and less stops. However, once you arrive at the destination, you’ll get to see a wider vantage point and a greater scope to see the beauty of Antarctica. The third type is often an activity for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, but you can join if you share the same passion. This walk may require more physical activity or may involve spending a lot of time in one area, depending on the circumstances. Nevertheless, standing ashore in Antarctica is a feat in itself that only a few people have done so far.


Going ashore in Antarctica can be accomplished with a bit of planning and preparation. You must need to know what type of cruise you have to take to be able to go ashore. You also need to be physically fit and have no problems with your mobility, as going ashore involves boarding and disembarking from Zodiacs. Going ashore in Antarctica is probably in most traveler’s bucket list, and you’ll be glad to cross that one out. So book a tour to Antarctica now and fulfill that goal.

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