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Antarctica is one of the great unexplored areas of the world but can be seen
with an Antarctica cruise. It wasnt until the last fifty years
that there has been any appreciable exploration or study of the vast frozen
continent. Now the tourist with sufficient money can actually view and set
foot on this unique part of the earth.
The tourist season for Antarctica is restricted only to the months of December
through February when it is the peak of summer in the southernmost part of
the world. Only vessels equipped for the icy waters cruise to one of the
coldest areas of the earth. Three major cruise lines offer Antarctic
cruises: Celebrity Cruises, Orient Lines, and Radisson Seven Seas. Smaller
specialty expedition companies also offer other trips to this destination.
Celebrity Cruises travels to Antarctica for an Antarctica cruise with
the polar icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, a refitted 1980s Russian polar
research vessel. This ship takes a fortunate 106 passengers to the polar
region with the amenities expected from Celebrity Cruises such as pool, sauna,
and gym. Accommodations are small by comparison to a cruise ship; staterooms
can be as small as 135 square feet while a suite with private bath is only
285 square feet.
Currently Celebrity Cruises has one 11-day trip to Antarctica
cruise scheduled for departure February 6, 2006. The price is
approximately $10,000 per person. The cruise originates and returns to Ushuaia
Tierra Del Fuego, the southernmost town in South America near Cape Horn.
As with all cruises in the frozen waters, destinations depend upon actual
weather conditions during the Antarctica cruise.
Orient Lines provides several Antarctic cruises each year aboard its
world traveler ship Marco Polo. This ship was originally built in Germany
in 1965 and was rebuilt in the early 1990s. It has twelve decks and
carries 826 passengers, a cruise ship not a research vessel like the Kapitan
Khlebnikov. Accommodations vary from deluxe and regular suites to a full
complement of cabin categories to choose from. Orient Lines has a high reputation
for quality and the Marco Polo is a full service ship with many restaurants
Orient offers a variety of Antarctic cruises throughout the season
from December to February with the option of 11 to 33 day cruises, depending
upon point of departure. The longest trip begins in the Caribbean, passes
through the Panama Canal and tours the west coast of South America before
touring Antarctica. Once the ship reaches the Cape Horn area, regular 11-day
cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia Tierra Del Fuego. Other cruises
are 15 or 18-day Antarctic cruises that start in Santiago, Chile or
Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prices start at around $5,000 per person for the
Radisson Seven Seas provides cruises to Antarctica aboard the ship Explorer
II. Explorer II is designed to cruise safely in the polar region. While this
vessel carries 300 passengers elsewhere, only 198 people can take the
Antarctic cruise. Explorer II is a small cruise ship with all the
amenities expected from a luxury and award-winning cruise line such as Radisson
Radisson Seven Seas provides only two cruises per year in the Antarctic region,
both in the month of January. Both cruises are round trip from Ushuaia Tierra
Del Fuego and are 12-day trips. While the 2005 cruise itinerary shows cruising
the Antarctic Peninsula, the 2006 cruises show only cruising the South Shetland
Islands without mention of the Antarctic continent. Prices start at around
$7,500 per person for the 12-day cruise.
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