Planning Your Trip
Which ships travel to Antarctica?
The 148-guest National Geographic Explorer and 126-guest National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution are purpose-built expedition ships designed to safely explore Antarctica. They are fully stabilized ice-class vessels with ice-strengthened hulls strong enough to push through the Antarctic ice.
When does Lindblad Expeditions travel to Antarctica?
The season for Antarctica is from November through February, which is the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, when days are longest and temperatures are highest.
When is the best time of year to travel to Antarctica?
The season for travel to Antarctica aboard National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endurance, and National Geographic Resolution is November through February, during the austral summer.
Within that time frame, there’s no bad time to travel. While specific conditions and wildlife events occur during specific months, interesting activity occurs throughout the season.
Are there differences in the types of wildlife I’ll see, and the experience I’ll have, depending on the timing of my expedition?
Guests on early-season Antarctica expeditions (November and December) are likely to see penguins building their nests and seal pups still being weaned by their mothers. In the early season, when ice conditions are just right, our captain is more likely to be able to “park” the ship in the sea ice so that our expedition team can lead a walk among penguins on the sea ice.
The height of wildlife sightings is December and January. Gentoo, Adélie, and Chinstrap penguins begin to hatch by the end of December and are running about by mid-January.
Guests on expeditions later in the season (February and March) will more likely be able to sail further south as ice recedes, allowing them to cross the Antarctic Circle. Marine mammal sightings, including orcas, humpbacks, and minke whales, increase as the season goes along. By late February, penguin chicks are beginning to fledge into the ocean.
Spring and summer arrive sooner in South Georgia and the Falklands. King, Magellanic, and Rockhopper penguins begin their breeding cycles by late October and early November. By February and March, chicks of all types – penguins, albatrosses, king cormorants, and other sea birds – are close to fledging, and elephant seals, southern sea lions, and South American fur seals are nursing pups. This is also an optimal time for watching whales.
What kind of weather can I expect in Antarctica?
The only feasible months for visits to Antarctica are the austral summer months of November through March. The daily temperature will usually be in the mid-30°s Fahrenheit. You can expect many clear and sunny days but overcast skies with poor visibility and occasional snowfall can also occur.
South Georgia’s weather is influenced by its rugged topography. The weather is highly changeable, alternating between periods of bad weather and often sunny weather lasting for two to three weeks. The katabatic winds flow seaward from the uplands with sometimes sudden and high intensity. Daily summer temperatures in the Falkland Islands average from 37°F-56°F. Overcast skies and rain are not uncommon, and it’s commonly quite windy.
Buenos Aires and Santiago will be at the height of summer during your visit. You can expect pleasant daily temperatures, cloudless blue skies, and only very occasional rain. The average daytime high is from 72°F-87°F, and the average nightly low is from 50°F-68°F.
Can I bring my children or grandchildren to Antarctica?
We believe sharing an expedition with our kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience which is why we've created the Global Explorers Program. Developed in conjunction with National Geographic Education, this unique program helps kids and teens under 18 get more out of exploring and have more fun, too. Learn more about the program here.
For Antarctica departures in 2021-22, all guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate. Please note: the country of Argentina defines “fully vaccinated” as 14 days past the final dose of a vaccine.
What are the requirements of minors under age 18 traveling with one parent/or legal guardian?
A minor consent form must be signed by the parents or parent not traveling with the child. It is also suggested that the legal guardian of the child sign and have notarized a letter of consent to travel with their knowledge.
Do I need any vaccinations?
Please consult the US State Department for any vaccination requirements for entry.
Is a medical form necessary?
Yes, it is mandatory that you and your doctor complete and return a required three-part General Medical Information Form prior to departure so that our ship’s medical professional is fully aware of your medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, pregnancy) and will be better able to care for you should an emergency arise.
Do I need a valid passport?
Yes, you will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your expedition.
Is a visa necessary?
If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, the only document you will need is a passport that is valid for six months after the end of your trip. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, please contact the Argentinean or Chilean consulates or embassies nearest you for visa requirements to enter Argentina or Chile. If a visa is required, it is your responsibility to obtain one.
What is the currency in Antarctica?
There is no currency in Antarctica. The monetary unit of Argentina is the Argentine Peso, and Chile uses the Chilean Peso. U.S. dollars and major credit cards are generally accepted by restaurants and stores in Argentina and Chile. Therefore, you will only need a small amount of local currency. We recommend that you bring U.S. dollars in small denominations and exchange only the amount you will need for miscellaneous expenses.
What is included in my expedition cost?
Lindblad Expedition costs are all-inclusive:
- All ship and hotel accommodations
- All meals aboard ship and most meals ashore except when an itinerary provides an “at your leisure” morning, afternoon, or evening.
- Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are complimentary (with the exception of some premium selections).
- Tips, taxes, port charges, and service charges (gratuities to ship’s crew at your own discretion)
- All shore excursions and sightseeing, entrance fees, and special-access permits
- Transfers to and from group flights
- Use of kayaks and Zodiac excursions
- Services of a ship’s physician
- Services of our expedition team
- One fully lined, windproof, water-resistant jacket per guest
- International airfare is always shown as a separate cost since many of our travelers prefer to use frequent-flyer miles
- There are never hidden charges, like port charges
Of course, you’ll want to check carefully the inclusions for the journey you’ve selected, but you can rest assured there will be nothing hidden. Activities and shore excursions are included in the cost of every Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic trip. We don’t want you to miss out on anything. Many cruise lines charge you extra, often hundreds of dollars, to see the sites that prompted you to book in the first place. With us, all activities and sightseeing are included—from guided hikes to kayaking. You’ll always have the freedom to pick and choose activities as your day unfolds: a long hike, a shorter walk, kayaking, a Zodiac excursion, or relaxing aboard ship. After all, these are not scheduled tours, these are expeditions. Everyone is different—every day is different.
Is there a time difference in Antarctica?
Argentina and Chile are two hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). While in Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endurance, and National Geographic Resolution recognize the local time in Argentina. Our itineraries cover one time zone (Argentina). If you prefer to use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Argentina is UTC -3:00 hours during this expedition and the ship observes this time while in Antarctica. For more information, see http://www.timeanddate.com/time/map/.
Are airport transfers included?
Yes, for guests arriving between 7:00am and 11:30am on the day of the group arrival.
Are there luggage restrictions on the charter flight?
You are restricted to one checked bag of not more than 50 pounds per person. You’re also permitted one carry-on, which may not weigh more than 17 pounds per person.
Packing and Preparation
Will I need Dramamine or seasickness patches?
While the ships are fully stabilized, you may want to bring some preventative medication if you are susceptible to motion discomfort; please check with your personal physician for recommendations.
How much cash per person should we bring?
That’s a personal choice. You will be able to use credit cards aboard. Unfortunately, we are unable to cash personal checks or traveler’s checks for cash on board.
What kind of clothes do I need?
Our style is always informal. The relaxed atmosphere of every journey, a Lindblad Expeditions hallmark, is something our travelers tell us they particularly enjoy. There is never a need for fancy clothing, so our recommendations on your travel wardrobe are all about comfort, practicality, and the conditions in the region you're exploring.
However, you may wish to bring more formal attire. Buenos Aires and Santiago are highly cosmopolitan cities, and it is common practice to dress with elegance, particularly for an evening out. We recommend that men bring at least one coat and tie, and we recommend that women bring a dress or skirt and blouse, as well as a shawl or blazer for cool evenings and air-conditioned restaurants. It is very uncommon to wear shorts in Buenos Aires and Santiago, even during the afternoon, so please pack accordingly.
What footwear is a necessity in Antarctica?
One pair of fully waterproof knee-high rubber boots with sturdy, high-traction soles are essential. We stress the importance of boots that are completely waterproof so that your feet will not get wet when you step into shallow, icy water during wet Zodiac landings. Additionally, boots should have good traction because you are likely to encounter poor footing on ice and rough terrain. Also, comfort is important—if your boots are too heavy or bulky, your footing will be awkward during hikes.
If you prefer to rent your boots and other gear, you can learn more about our Ship to Shore program.
Is a parka provided?
Yes, a fully lined, windproof, water-resistant parka is included in the cost of your expedition. Information about what size parka you will need will be sent to you after you make your reservation.
*Parkas are not included on Southern Odyssey: New Zealand and the Subantarctic Islands.
What are the ships’ amenities?
Onboard public areas
A choice of public areas is available for all guests aboard all three ships. Some areas, such as the restaurant, are listed here, but there is more information about meals in the “Dining” section below.
On National Geographic Explorer, public areas include the restaurant, bistro bar, chart room, global gallery, library, lounge, internet café, mud room with lockers for expedition gear, fitness center, sauna, spa, and observation lounge.
On National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution, public areas include the dining room, main lounge and bar, outdoor café, global gallery, observation lounge and library, fitness center, sauna, spa, sundeck, whirlpool hot tub, and mud room.
On all three ships, the Bridge is open to guests, giving you the opportunity to meet the captain and officers and to learn about navigation.
Heating & Air-conditioning
The ships are fully climate controlled, either heated or air-conditioned, depending on the outside temperature.
There are grand view windows in the restaurants, libraries, fitness centers, lounges, and observation lounges, connecting you to the outdoors.
All three ships feature an onboard library with an extensive selection of books pertaining to the region.
For those interested in downloading digital photos aboard ship, there is a digital photo kiosk, which will enable you to download your photos to various types of digital media.
Email and internet access are available on board. Your personal email and internet may be accessed from your own device in your cabin or in one of many Wi-Fi areas aboard. Charges apply. Please note that when the vessel is operating at high latitudes, or in deep fjords, satellite email access may not be possible.
Laundry and pressing services are available at an additional charge. There is no dry cleaning.
Telephone & fax
Satellite telephone calls and fax transmissions are available at an additional charge.
National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endurance, and National Georaphic Resolution are equipped with wheelchair-accessible elevators that operate on most decks.
Smoking and vaping
For the comfort of all our guests, smoking and vaping are permitted only in designated outdoor areas.
What are the cabin amenities?
Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature (heating or air-conditioning) in your cabin.
On National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endurance, and National Geographic Resolution, certain cabin categories (Cat. 5, 6, 7) have exposed balconies with furniture. These balconies range in size from approximately 37 to 90 square feet.
All cabins face outside with either windows or portholes. Cabins with balconies have sliding glass doors. Some portholes may be covered periodically during rough seas.
We supply Lather brand conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products. In addition, Expedition Essential Kits are provided for each guest. Toiletries are also available for sale in the global gallery.
Hairdryers are available in a drawstring bag in each bathroom.
Each cabin is equipped with a flat-screen LCD for video programming. Video programming includes movies, educational programming, and live feeds from the screens in the lounge.
On National Geographic Explorer, the desk in each cabin has an outlet for 110v and 220v (European). Additional outlets of both types are located in every cabin.
National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution have universal outlets at 220v. Adapters are available onboard.
The ships are not equipped with safety deposit boxes, though every cabin aboard National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution has a small hotel safe. Guests are asked to see the purser if they have something that must be kept in the ship’s safe, although we recommend leaving valuables at home. All passports are kept throughout the duration of the voyage by the purser.
What is the food like?
Our food program focuses on fresh, local, sustainable cuisine with a wide variety of choices and delicious options. Our highly skilled culinary teams specialize in meeting every need during your voyage. We always feature local flavors, fresh fruits and vegetables, highest quality seafood and meats, well-thought-out vegan and vegetarian options, fresh breads, and desserts. Everything served has been carefully selected for your enjoyment, and we work with local farmers, fisheries, and suppliers wherever possible. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know in advance. Due to the size of our vessels, we are not able to provide kosher meals. Our restaurants feature open seating and incredible views of the outdoors. This allows you to meet your fellow travelers and dine with our expedition staff and special guest experts.
Do I need to dress up for dinner?
Throughout your expedition, there is no need for formal clothing, unless you’re inspired to wear it. The onboard atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code. However, you may want to bring one set of mildly business-casual clothing (trousers and jacket for men; slacks and sweater for women) for hosted dinners with the captain or other special guests.
Are snacks available during the day and in between meals?
Daytime snacks, fruit, cookies, coffee, espresso, tea, hot chocolate, and soft drinks are available throughout the day.
Is alcohol available on board?
Yes, alcohol is available and complimentary on board.
What is Recap?
Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers for an expedition ritual we call Recap. This is a Lindblad Expeditions tradition, as much a part of the expedition as riding in the Zodiacs. Recaps are generally held each evening in the lounge prior to dinner and include informal presentations by the staff and a lively review of the day’s events involving both staff and guests. At the conclusion of Recap, your expedition leader will review the activity options for the next day.
What type of meal requests can be accommodated on the ship?
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and many food allergies can be accommodated. We are capable of providing kosher meals on some expeditions with advance notice. Please call to let us know of any dietary needs or concerns well in advance.
Is there a gym or fitness center on board?
Yes, our ships feature a glass-enclosed fitness center with gym equipment including treadmills, stationary bicycles, an elliptical cross-trainer, free weights, benches, and body bar. There is also an outdoor stretching area.
Is there a spa onboard? What kind of treatments do you offer?
All three vessels feature well-appointed spa treatment facilities, saunas, and fitness centers. On National Geographic Explorer, the LEXspa treatment room, sauna, and fitness center are located on the wellness deck. On National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution, the LEXspa treatment room, sauna, fitness center, and whirlpool hot tub are located on the observation deck. A wellness specialist is available for wellness elements ranging from massages, facials, and body treatments to morning exercise classes inspired by yoga, qigong, and Pilates, as well as personalized guidance with the fitness equipment. Our highly-skilled wellness specialists offer a variety of services, including massages, facials, and body treatments, as well as morning classes to start your day off. Spa treatments are available for an additional fee and you can schedule directly onboard.
Will I be able to access the Internet while onboard?
Yes, our ships are equipped with satellite communications for email and internet access, and telephone and fax, for which charges apply. You may access Wi-Fi on your laptop, tablet, or phone to check email or surf the web, but you may find that the internet connection is not strong or stable enough to support Skype or video chat. If you choose not to travel with a computer, there are internet kiosks available.
Can my family and friends contact me in case of emergency at home?
Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of contacts and phone numbers indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency. The ship is equipped with satellite communications for internet access, telephone, and fax.
Is there a medical professional on board?
Yes, there is a medical professional on board all voyages, and his/her services are free of charge. The medical professional is available at any time in case of emergency. Please inquire about the doctor for your individual expedition.
How will I pay my bill for personal items on board?
The shipboard currency is U.S. dollars. In foreign ports, a small amount of local currency will be available for exchange aboard ship. All services and products purchased on board the ship may be paid for by cash, check, or credit card (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Card).
Are gratuities included?
All gratuities are included in your expedition cost.
Can I visit the ship’s Bridge?
Yes. On all our ships, guests are welcome to visit the Bridge to meet our officers and captain and learn about navigation and the extensive equipment located on the Bridge.
Do the ships have a pool?
No, our ships do not have pools, although National Geographic Resolution and National Geographic Endurance feature outdoor jacuzzis.
How will I explore Antarctica?
Key to our operation is our fleet of Zodiacs, the amphibious landing craft we use to land on remote islands and shorelines that would otherwise be inaccessible. These sturdy inflatable rubber boats are the same craft that Jacques Cousteau used in his expeditions for over 30 years. They are widely recognized as the safest and most versatile small boats afloat. The Zodiacs we use are 19 feet long, powered by outboard engines, and are capable of carrying 10 to 12 people with ease.
Lindblad Expeditions pioneered kayaking from expedition ships in polar regions. Kayaking provides one of the best means for personal exploration. Our ships are outfitted with a fleet of kayaks for everyone who wants to participate. They are very stable and easy to master for novices and experts alike. Lessons and assistance will be offered for newcomers to the sport, so all interested parties may join in this activity. There is something special about being alone, or with a partner in our double kayak, paddling along a remote coastline. Conditions in Antarctica will determine where and when you’ll be able to kayak. Your expedition staff will always strive to provide you with this experience but will never compromise your safety.
Undersea tools for exploring
Our ships are equipped with panoply of underwater exploration equipment, including an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) that can dive 1,000 feet below the surface and bring up images to view on LCD screens in the comfort of the lounge. Splash-Cams or hydrophones bring to life the sights and sounds beneath the sea, and our undersea specialists may also dive for a look at marine life. These tools allow us to go further and get closer to nature’s wonders. For more information, see our Tools for Exploration.
Will we see emperor penguins?
We do see them occasionally, but not on every voyage. We can expect to see large colonies of gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap penguins.
Do we cross the Antarctic Circle?
It is very rare in the early season, due to heavy ice conditions further south. We may attempt this in the later season, but it always depends on weather and sea conditions.
Do we set foot on the continent?
Yes, we will be setting foot on the Antarctic peninsula.
You often refer to the value of flexible schedules. What does this mean to me?
Often the most memorable events are those that are unplanned. That’s why every Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic itinerary has flexibility built into the schedule. Once in the Antarctic Peninsula region, considerable time is left open for exploring. So if we happen to encounter killer or humpback whales, for example, we’ll have the time to stop and watch rather than having to rush off somewhere else. To get a sense of what these adventurous, open-ended days are like, spend some time reading our Daily Expedition Reports, looking at the destination and time of year that most interests you.
Is Antarctica physically challenging?
This expedition can be physically demanding, and you should be in general good health and able to walk short distances over uneven and rough terrain unassisted. Since you are traveling to a remote area without access to sophisticated medical facilities, you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition.
Are there short and long hikes?
Yes, your expedition team always offers hikes of varied lengths for different fitness levels and interests. Naturalist-guided walking and hiking options will be offered throughout your expedition, as conditions allow. Hikes and walks may be done over snow, ice, and rock, depending on the time of year. Distances will vary, and often involve an incline or irregular terrain. Shorter walks will always be offered.
Would hiking sticks be helpful or just get in the way? Are they even permitted?
Hiking sticks are permitted and could be helpful. Walking sticks are provided onboard, but many guests also prefer to bring their own.
What activities can be done on one’s own while in Antarctica?
Given the nature of an expedition to Antarctica, you’ll have opportunities to take Zodiac excursions and hikes in the company of a naturalist. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you can take advantage of our fleet of kayaks to explore on your own. If you’re spending extra time in Argentina or Chile before or after your expedition, we offer several pre and post voyage extensions, or we will be happy to assist you with suggestions about independent travel.
What is a wet landing?
When you board a Zodiac to make a landing, at times there is shallow water to walk through after you disembark the Zodiac and walk ashore.
Will there be kayaking opportunities?
Yes, it is likely. Sometimes weather conditions simply don’t allow for it, but generally we are able to go kayaking at least once each expedition. Our ships are equipped with fleets of double kayaks—to give our guests the opportunity for personal, “eye-level” encounters with wildness. Lessons and assistance will be offered for newcomers to the sport, so all interested parties may join this activity.
What kinds of photography assistance and learning opportunities do you offer?
National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Resolution, and National Geographic Endurance have a National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic-certified photo instructor aboard every voyage. After all, travel and photography go hand in hand. And with the partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, it’s natural that photography has become a vital component of our expeditions.
While all of our expeditions offer a full contingent of specialists to give you plenty of options and an in-depth experience—ornithologists, marine biologists, historians, oceanographers, and other experts—our Photo Team is there to help you take the best travel photographs of your life whether you’re an interested beginner or a seasoned pro. The photo team can enhance everyone’s voyage with useful tips for improving your images, strategies for being in the right place at the right time, and assistance with using your camera to take the best possible photos.
What can you tell me about the expedition staff on board?
One of the most important aspects of every Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic trip is the expertise of our knowledgeable staff of naturalists, photography experts, biologists, oceanographers, historians, National Geographic photographers, and other specialists who provide talks, guidance ashore, and daily camaraderie. These engaging people will greatly enhance your experience, sharing special insights into areas of the world they know intimately.
Will there be talks or presentations on board?
Your expedition team is key to your experience. They not only accompany all your explorations off the ship, they also give engaging talks and informal presentations on board. The state-of-the art lounge is equipped with facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations. Naturalists will share their knowledge and add insight to all you see and do. Our undersea specialist shoots undersea footage and then shows images on flat screens in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, giving you a rare view of the undersea world in Antarctica. Our National Geographic photographers share their images and offer one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.
Is English spoken on board?
Yes, our expeditions are conducted in English, and everyone on our expedition team speaks English. Some are multilingual as well.