Andrew Peacock/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Yolanda Crous
December 14, 2016

If shopping for a trip to the seventh continent is giving you sticker shock, you’re not alone.

“These are some of the priciest cruises in the world,” says Jim Taylor, president of Polar Cruises, an agency that specializes in voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica. Here’s why.

Ships

Most vessels have strengthened hulls and are able to navigate very rough and icy seas. Only a limited number exist that can travel in the region. Low supply + high demand = $$$.

Energy

Ice-class ships use more fuel, which generally costs more in South America’s southern ports. And because Antarctica has no ports where the vessels can resupply, they must carry everything on board. 

Maintenance

Thanks to the rough waters of the Drake Passage, these ships undergo a lot of wear and tear. Plus keeping all those Zodiacs in peak condition takes time and money. 

Crew

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators requires at least one guide for every 20 passengers on land, and expedition staff tends to be highly educated—many have doctorates.

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