Penguins and polar ice caps may not immediately evoke images of luxury, but there are a surprising number of services springing up that offer an up-market approach to seeing the sights of Antarctica. However be warned, no matter how luxurious the product, crossing the Drake passage can be a somewhat character building experience. You may have calm flat seas or they could be huge rolling 20 foot plus waves.
You can now opt to fly across the Drake passage and miss the crossing altogether. For the braver souls, the following are the most comfortable ships to embark on this adventure upon.
Polar Cruises, have an entire fleet of luxury ships to cruise around the continent in style. Each boat provides TVs, elevators, spacious rooms, butler service and verandas, so there’s no need to trade in comfort for adventure.
Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent have developed a number of diverse itineraries in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, all designed to show the best these spectacular destinations have to offer. Their Antarctica Expedition package gives adventurers the chance to kick back in style aboard state-of-the-art vessels, which feature private balconies, al fresco heated dining and an outdoor pool. The package also includes Zodiac excursions, a cocktail reception and one night’s deluxe accommodation in Buenos Aires.
White Desert aim to change traveller’s perceptions of arctic excursions. Offering a few expeditions a year to their upscale, well-furnished camp, the group allows only a couple of hundred adventurers the chance to experience the inner part of the icy continent, complete with home comforts. Starting with a five-hour private flight from Cape Town, guests land on an ice runway overlooking a frozen waterfall. They are then taken to their cosy and eco-friendly camp which is entirely solar and wind-powered. Sleeping pods are made of protective fiberglass and include a double bed, desk and private bathroom.
Meals are provided with champagne and guests can participate in a range of activities from kite-skiing to penguin watching. As part of its commitment to the environment, the entire camp is dismantled at the end of each season, leaving behind no traces of human life.