Antarctica By The Numbers: Cruise to This Elusive Continent

Antarctica By The Numbers: Cruise to This Elusive Continent

A journey to Antarctica is one few have made, but many dream about. With a Holland America Line cruise, that dream can easily become a reality.

Antarctica is a destination of superlatives, with words like “biggest,” “largest” and “coldest” often used when speaking about the world’s most remote continent. The breathtaking scenic beauty, remote locale and amazing wildlife make it a journey worth taking, so read on to see why Holland Ameirca Line’s Captain Rik Krombeen — who has spent seven seasons cruising South America and Antarctica — thinks an Antarctica cruise is one of the coolest adventure you’ll every take.

Antarctica is a world by itself, a continent by itself … It is an extreme once-in-a-lifetime experience … I definitely think it should be on everybody’s bucket list. — Captain Rik Krombeen



In 2016, Holland America Line is offering four exceptional cruises to Antarctica. Three of the itineraries are aboard Zaandam and include nine calls in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The voyages sail between Valparaiso, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and span 21 days, giving guests three weeks of incredible port visits and scenic cruising.

The fourth Antarctica exploration is aboard Prinsendam on the 67-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage departing Jan. 4. This roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Florida, cruise heads through the Panama Canal, along the west coast of South America, down to Antarctica and back up the east coast along Argentina and Brazil.



Antarctica is teeming with penguins. In fact, there are about 29 million of them! Guests often see these flightless birds resting on icebergs or swimming in the ocean as the ship sails around the region. Of the 17 penguin species worldwide, six are found in Antarctica: Adélies, Chinstraps, Emperors, Gentoos, Macaronis and Rockhoppers. Be sure to have your camera ready on deck and you can get some fabulous photos of the penguins in action.

Guests who want to get up close to penguins can visit a colony from the port of Punta Arenas. The Off the Beaten Track: Magdalena Penguin Reserve tour visits Magdalena Island, declared a Natural Monument in 1982 and home to one of the largest penguin colonies in southern Chile. A substantial colony of Magellan penguins nests and breeds here, and at this time of year most of the chicks will have hatched.



Did you know that 99 percent of Antarctica is covered in ice? And that ice is pretty deep. It averages a mile in thickness! Maybe that’s because it’s the coldest continent. Temperatures in the winter can drop below –73°C (-100°F). Fortunately the ships visit in the summer so the temperatures are kinder. But be sure to pack a sweater!



During Zaandam’s 21-day cruises, guests will spend a great deal of time soaking up the region’s incredible beauty with 11 scenic cruising experiences. In addition to three days exploring (1) Palmer Archipelago, (2) Danco Coast and (3) the Antarctic Sound in Antarctica, the ship will sail in the wake of famed explorers while cruising to and through the (4) Amalia or (4) Brujo Glacier, (5) Canal Sarmiento, (6) the Strait of Magellan, (7) Cockburn Channel, (8) Beagle Channel, (9) Chile’s Glacier Alley, (10) Cape Horn and (11) Drake Passage.



The distance between Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the northern tip of the antarctic peninsula is 630 miles. That translates into approximately 547 nautical miles.



Although it’s the fifth largest continent, Antarctica has an area of about 5.4 million square miles — about one-and-a-half times the size of the United States! That includes its islands and attached floating plains of ice. Antarctica also lies almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle, which is at about 66 degrees south latitude.

Antarctica is quite an impressive continent, and the amazing numbers only confirm that it’s an adventure not to be missed. Are you ready to book your cruise of a lifetime to Antarctica? Be sure to pre-book your penguin shore excursion and other tours so you get your first picks!

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if your dream cruise is included and book now!


Join the Discussion


  1. Johanna Oostewegel May 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I am booked! It will be an adventure to be sure. Scratch one more of the bucket list.

  2. Prof Prem raj Pushpakaran April 29, 2019 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Prof Prem raj Pushpakaran writes — 2020 marks the 500th year of discovery of strait of Magellan sea route!!!

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