It’s getting tougher and tougher to visit Antarctica as environmental restrictions tighten. Fewer cruise ship and tour operators are being given access to this pristine and icy continent, and those who do gain access must agree to rigorous standards regarding the seaworthiness of its ship, the safety equipment onboard, and the number of passengers it can bring to the area.
That’s why Crystal Cruises’ forthcoming Antarctica Holiday itinerary aboard Crystal Symphony will be such a treat. This 18-night itinerary departs Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 21, 2013 and arrives in Valpariaiso, Chile on January 8, 2014. The highlight will be Christmas and New Year’s in Antarctica.
This itinerary covers a lot of ground from Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn, and Ushuaia in Argentina to Uruguay’s Montevideo to Puento Arenas, Puerto Montt, and Valparaiso in Chile. There’s even a visit to the United Kingdom by way of Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. For travelers who adore being at sea, this is the cruise you want to book. You’ll sail some of the world’s most famous waterways, like the Drake Passage, Cape Horn, the Chilean Fjords, and the coast of Chile.
Outdoor enthusiasts will be busy on this trip as a plethora of tours are available to view volcanoes and waterfalls on land and whales and seals out at sea. One excursion even puts you in a kayak in the middle of the famous Strait of Magellan. Guests will sightsee by air, hike, and zodiac across Antarctica to view penguin breeding grounds, the glacial scenery of King George and Ardley Islands, and isolated Air Force homes. For the adventurous, there’s even an overnight excursion at the Chilean Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base. (That experience is limited so book early if it is of interest.)
Foodies will enjoy tours of working farms and sipping fine Chilean wines during the journey through Patagonia.
While Crystal Symphony will be far off the beaten path, the holidays will still be celebrated with vigor. The ship will be decked out for the occasions and there will be a special gourmet Christmas feast—complete with a visit from Santa for younger cruisers—and a New Year’s gala. Religious services will be observed.
Interesting guest lecturers will be onboard throughout the voyage, including Edward J. Larson, a historian of science and Antarctica expert; Professor David Drewry, a climate change researcher; Chris Fallows, a shark conservationist; and Dan Raviv, a CBS News correspondent.
Crystal Cruises is offering discounted cruises fares for those who book this voyage by August 30. It’s the only one of its kind for the 2013–2014 season.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com and writes for a variety of outlets, including her website Luxury Travel Mavens. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.
Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Crystal Cruises.