I always thought a trip to Antarctica was a pipe dream, but the continent has only grown more accessible. However, I knew that when I went, it would need to be on a budget. It is common knowledge that a trip to Antarctica can be costly. Ticket prices can be as high as USD 50,000. Like most people, I do not have that kind of money to spend, so I immediately started looking into budget options. It was then that I learned about “last minute” deals.
In this post, I hope to educate you on “last minute” deals, how to get the best ones, and other tips for booking a relatively cheap trip to Antarctica.
What is a Last Minute Deal?
When cruises fail to fully book their ship, they begin to offers deals. Over time, these deals gradually get better. Cruise companies and travel agencies drop the prices for Antarctic cruises significantly about two weeks before departure. So genuine last minutes deals are those that go on sale in that period. However, these same cruise companies and travel agencies advertise a lot of deals as “last minute deals” long before the two-week mark. Though these deals might seem significant, you can always get the best deal by waiting (which is hard to do as a type A person). I will also say that it gets a bit terrifying as you watch the “cheap” rooms gradually and eventually get sold out. However most, if not all, last minute deals are in fact for some of the “nicer” rooms, but still at lower prices than the “cheap” rooms. Stay strong, and you will get a great deal!
To get one of these great discounts, you need to know going into this trip that it will be very last minute. I didn’t book my cruise and plane tickets until two weeks before departure. Other travelers managed to buy their plane tickets in advance but also left the other details (housing and in-country travel) unplanned until they got their cruise tickets. Both options work as long as you are flexible.
How to Get a Last Minute Deal?
Now that you are ready to wait, this is the easy part. Find travel agencies (and there are a LOT of them) and join their emails listings, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. They post all their deals pretty regularly, so you just have to wait for the much desired last-minute deal. In fact, I learned about my last-minute deal from a Facebook post!
Another option is to get a ticket to Ushuaia, which is where almost every cruise departs from, and wander looking for last minute deals. Many companies post advertisements in town about their deals. The hostel I stayed at even advertised a few last minute deals. A few of my fellow budget travelers (who I met on the cruise) did this. However, they were also traveling the world for a year or more, so they had a lot more flexibility in their schedule.
The two travel agencies that I followed the closest, and found to have some of the best deals were Antarctica Travel and Freestyle Adventure Travel. Personally, I booked through Freestyle Adventure Travel because they offered a great deal, had terrific customer service, and advertise that they specialize in last minute deals for budget travels. I highly recommend* working with them!
*I am not affiliated with Freestyle Adventure Travel and get no perks from recommending them. I honestly just enjoyed working with them and found them incredibly kind, honest, and helpful.
When is the Best Time to Get a Last Minute Deal?
Having followed travel agencies for over a year, I can confidently say that they do offer last minute deals throughout the Antarctica season (November to March). However, most deals were at the beginning and end of the season. Also around the holidays, there seems to be a lot of deals as well. I went at the beginning of the season, in fact, my boat was the first one to get to the Antarctic continent for the season. I really loved this time, because the snow was still fresh and I got to see a lot of penguin mating rituals.
When to go is ultimately a personal decision. However, you have slightly more control over your schedule by trying early in the season where there are deals at least every week. I also found that some of the cons (listed below) are less by booking an earlier cruise.
Cons of Last Minute Deals:
Now it’s time to get honest about last minute deals. Sure you save a good chunk of change, but you also lose out on a few things. Below you will find my list of cons. I will say that my experience was INCREDIBLE and I don’t regret booking last minute. The cons seemed bad on paper, but the ability to go to Antarctica was more than worth it.
- Your trip is planned last minute, meaning some other aspects of your trip will be slightly more expensive (I’m talking airfare here).
- Some Antarctic excursions will be booked. Kayaking and camping are very popular, and often get booked very early.
- You don’t have much choice over the boat and therefore passenger size (fewer passengers mean you get more time of the continent)
Packing For a Last Minute Deal:
Another advantage of booking through Freestyle Adventure Travel is that they provide you with all the Antarctic clothing you need. Like A jacket, water-resistant snow pants, gloves, and hat. Other companies do not do this, and you will need to pack these items. Other than the items listed above, I recommend packing and wearing layers. Most days on the boat, I wore hiking pants with thermal underneath along with a long sleeve shirt. A lot of the time you can see a lot just from the ship (especially whales), so it was nice to have something warm so you can run outside to catch a look at the animal or scenery as you pass by.
I hope this has helped you in planning your trip. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I would love to hear from you!
-Teresa, the Type A Trekker