Most of my friends thought I was crazy when I announced that I wanted to go to Antarctica to round out visiting all 7 continents for my Bucket List, but the fact that you’re reading this must mean that you too are thinking of taking on this exciting adventure! The large Antarctica trip cost made me delay for a while, but I finally took the plunge (literally! Polar Plunge haha!) and made my way to Antarctica. So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica? Here are the actual prices that I paid for my Antarctica tour. They are broken down by categories for your convenience.
Note: For this trip, 100 Pesos was about $1.66 and $1 was about 60 Pesos
Activities ~ Antarctica Cruise Cost
Could you do it cheaper? Absolutely! If you’d like to use me as your travel agent, I offer free camping or $350 off of kayaking or your trip in general 🙂
Keep in mind: These are optional extras, but you don’t have to do them. All other activities are included in your tour price.
Holllllllllly crap was this worth it. I wasn’t sure that it would be worth a full $1000 price tag, but it was. Yeah sure, I had to work my arms a lot more than I would on a normal day, but having penguins jumping and swimming alongside you is absolutely priceless. We got up close and personal with wildlife on a different level than those who only went on land. A grand extra on your Antarctica cruise cost might seem like a tipping point, but I assure you, it’s worth it.
There was also a day where there was a lot of brash ice floating around, so we kayaked through that and that added a special element to the experience as well. Read more about what it is like and if Antarctica kayaking is worth it here!
I’d also like to add that I was extraordinarily lucky in how gorgeous the weather was. We had very calm waters and bright blue skies every day except the last day. I’m glad the weather didn’t cooperate for kayaking on the last day though because the land excursion on Elephant Island was really something (You’re able to choose if you want to do Kayaking or a landing every time. They tell you what to expect in both situations, and then you can choose which feels best for you).
This activity was really a “for the story” experience. We were brought to a small island near the ship. It was more intimate than the ship since there were only about 60 of us. We had small 2 person tents and all the gear was supplied.
What was fun about it was that penguins and some Sheathbill birds would come walking around and through the camp!
If you do decide to go camping, please know that it is a special experience that isn’t the most comfortable and be sure to bring enough to stay warm. I’m still glad that I did it, but I think I’m all set on doing it again haha. Read more about my experience camping in Antarctica!
The Polar Plunge was free except maybe for the cost of my dignity and warmth! We ended up being able to do the Plunge on the last operations day (on Deception Island). We had enjoyed gorgeous weather for several days, but wouldn’t you know it, on the day of the Plunge was the worst weather of the trip! Isn’t that always the way haha!
Tierra Del Fuego National Park
This half-day excursion is offered the morning of departure on the Expedition. I didn’t actually attend this one because I wanted to 1) Check out Ushuaia and 2) Didn’t want to hike that much to save my energy and muscles for the tour! Ironically, my friends went on this excursion, and I had about 2000 more steps that day than they did! They said it was a good time, and here is a picture that they took on it. They said it was worth it, but I also think staying in Ushuaia was worth it, so really you’ll have a good time regardless. I’ve included the price in case you were interested.
This Maritime and Prison Museum was in Ushuaia and was made out of a former prison! It was pretty cool because every cell was a separate small exhibit. It was pretty expensive considering low Argentine costs, but it was still interesting. I would recommend only going if you’re really into history.
Accommodations ~ Antarctica Travel Cost
Total: $0 All included
Could you do it cheaper? Free is free!
Keep in mind: All accommodation prices on the Expedition ship are included as is the first night hotel.
When I arrived in Ushuaia, I was taken to my hotel Las Lengas to spend the night as included in my tour package. Others stayed at the Hotel Albatros. Now that I’ve been to Ushuaia, I really wish that I’d gotten to stay at the Albatros. If you book yourself or book through me, just make sure you’re scheduled for the Albatros. It’s more centrally located instead of Las Lengas which adds about a 15-minute walk to get to the “good parts” of town.
After the tour ended in Ushuaia, I flew back to Buenos Aires for a few days. Since I’d been to Argentina before (check out my Argentina Budget which is specific for Argentina), I knew that I wanted to stay in Palermo which is a more funky and fun part of town.
Here are my suggestions for accommodations in Buenos Aires if you choose to extend your stay:
- For Mid Range ($50-60ish a night): The Soho Hotel and Soho Point Central are right next to Plaza Serrano and a bunch of fun bars and murals.
- For slightly more luxurious (about $150 a night): The Glu Boutique Hotel is super cute and also very close to all the fun stuff.
Transportation ~ Antarctica Trip Cost
Could you do it cheaper? Don’t think so!
Keep in mind: Airport pick up and drop off in Ushuaia were included in the tour price!
Airport pick up and drop off was included in the tour price, but only for Ushuaia. Once I flew back to Buenos Aires, I did need to get an Uber to the hotel. I made sure to fly into the airport inside of Buenos Aires (AEP) rather than the larger international airport (EZE) to save some money as well since EZE is so far away. I’m not including the Buenos Aires costs since this is just the Antarctica cruise cost post.
For the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, I bought that well in advance to keep the costs down, but another girl on my tour got pretty much the same price about a month in advance, so it seems to be a pretty standard fare. I booked using my trusty Skyscanner.
Food ~ Antarctica Vacation Cost
Could you do it cheaper? Oh yeah, I definitely splurged on some food in Ushuaia!
Keep in mind: Food was included while on the expedition ship.
Ushuaia was the first real stop of the tour and where the tour began. I landed in the afternoon, so the first meal in Ushuaia was dinner where I went to Santos! Santos was pretty close to the pier and Hotel Albatros. What really drew my attention was that a window had a giant sticker/screen on it with a picture of the Plonlein from Rothenburg (where I used to live in Germany). Weird! A burger and fries here was about $5. Yes, please!
Breakfast was included the next morning, so the last meal on land before everything was included was also in Ushuaia. I managed to convince some people to go with me to a fancy looking parrilla called Casimiro Bigua. It was a bit expensive coming in at about $18 for a pretty massive steak. However, that same steak in the States would easily have been $40+ No regrets! It’s right across the pier. You can’t miss it. There were some cheaper ones around on the main street, but this whole trip was #TreatYoSelf.
I also bought some provolatas for the table. I thought it would be like the provoletas I had at an Argentine restaurant in Atlanta (basically a bunch of small balls of melty cheese to spread on bread or steak!), but it was more a large bowl. Still good!
All of the food on the actual tour was included, and it was SO good. Some days were buffet options and some were a sit-down and order from a menu. I have some food allergies, and they came up to me at breakfast every day and asked what I wanted to eat later in the day. Then they would bring me a dish without my allergens! My favorite was this lamb!
Alcohol ~ Cost to Visit Antarctica
For alcohol, I’m not going to mention how much I had to drink on the ship, but I will tell you how much everything costs, so you can figure out how to apply it to yourself 🙂
On the ship, there was a happy hour every day where you could get a specialty cocktail for $4! They were always Antarctica themed which was super fun. For the other drinks, I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were, especially since we were trapped on board! Beer or wine was $5 (a bottle of wine was $18), soft drinks were $2, liquor was $6-8, and some specialty drinks as well. Nothing over $8.
In Ushuaia, I did have a beer with lunch here and there, and they were $3.50 each at most places, but one cocktail at Hard Rock was a little over $5 which is still rather surprising since I got the same drink in Poland for more!
Also in Ushuaia, before we got on the boat, a few of us decided to bring some libations with us to cut costs. I brought a bottle of watermelon vodka which I mixed with Sprite (delicious!) and some people brought some bottles of wine. My bottle of vodka was $6!!! Man, I wish we had those prices at home!
Souvenirs ~ Antarctica Expedition Cost
Could you do it cheaper? Most stores aren’t really haggling places, but you might be able to at the Artesenal Market by the pier in Ushuaia.
Keep in mind: I don’t really like haggling in places with tourism because I feel like they need the money more than me.
I collect spoons, and I got one for barely over $2 which might be the cheapest, yet! Even though I already had a spoon from Buenos Aires, I really wanted one for Antarctica. I sadly couldn’t find any that said “Antarctica,” so I just got one with penguins. I saw several spoons all over the place, but some were much more expensive. In Ushuaia, there are so many souvenir shops, that I recommend waiting to purchase anything until after you visit a few stores.
I didn’t get anything at the artesenal market, but there is one by the pier with more handcrafted goodies.
On the ship, I’m not sure if it counts as a souvenir, but I did buy a penguin USB to tote home videos and pictures from the trip. It was $15 for 16 GB. The gift shop on board was a wild place because something would be a really reasonable price and others would be wildly expensive.
The biggest “fee” was travel insurance. I guess it’s not really a fee, but it needed to go somewhere. With tour groups, they almost always want you to get travel insurance. It covers baggage, flight delays, and medical. Even if they didn’t require it, for a trip like this, I definitely wanted that coverage. What if I missed the ship because of flight delays? What if my bags were lost and I needed to buy gear? What if I got injured?? Yes, get travel insurance to protect your Antarctica trip cost that you’ve already paid! I purchased mine through World Nomads, I’ve found that to be the cheapest almost every time!
A fee that was added on a lot was called the cubierto. It’s almost like a dine-in fee. It didn’t cost much, but it was added on in certain restaurants.
Tour ~ Antarctica Tour Price
Could you do it cheaper? Buying it as soon as it comes out will keep the price down.
Keep in mind: If you book through me as a booking agent, I will offer you $350 off or free camping upgrade 🙂
The tour itself covered accommodations while on the expedition ship, all food on the ship, activities during the day on the ship, and experts on board! Some people paid much more because they booked so late. Read more here about why I picked this particular Antarctica cruise.
I will also be writing an article in more depth about what to expect on a trip like this, so stay tuned for that one.
Since I’m an agent, I was notified as soon as new trip dates were released. That’s going to be the cheapest time to get a cabin. The March dates are often cheaper, but at that point, they don’t offer camping. So if you’re not into camping, that would be a way to save money.
Flights to get to my Antarctica Cruise
I don’t usually include flights in my budgets because we are all coming from all over the world! However, since it will be involved in many of your Antarctica vacation costs, I wanted to mention mine. I signed up for the Delta Amex Credit Card to get the sign-up bonus! I used 100,000 points (but I also upgraded to Comfort Plus since it’s a 10-hour flight!) and $91.33 to get my RT ticket from Atlanta.
In conclusion, yes, Antarctica is expensive, however, this tour does include a lot more than my usual tours! And if you think about the amount of STAFF and EQUIPMENT needed to make this journey safely, well then I don’t think this price was outrageous at all! Plus most people I’ve talked to had $10,000 as their starting budget, and I made it out barely over $8k all said and done.
So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica?
Grand Total: $8267.69