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Okay okay, with such a HUGE ticket price, everyone wants to know HOW to pay for Antarctica – but what if you don’t really wanna pay? You’re sitting here, looking at this $7,000 USD shared cabin on the bottom deck of a boat for a 10 day Antarctica cruise and you’re like….mmm, yeah. Just show me the hands down CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica.
No amount of overtime or second job is gonna get me there. Not without losing my mind first.
AND I GET IT. In fact, while I don’t regret paying (almost) full price for my trip, I do wish I had known a few of these factors beforehand. I mean, they wouldn’t have worked for my situation necessarily…but I learned after the fact about the cheapest way to visit Antarctica that would’ve cut my prices in half – or more.
But don’t worry. Lucky for you I’m a blogger and I’m here to share the cheapest way to visit Antarctica with you!
For the low low price of $299 for a consultation call and signing up for my newsletter!
Lol jk girl it’s gonna be in this post (for free), just keep reading haha.
How Much is Antarctica?
Before we get into the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, I gotta put the price range into perspective for you. If we’re JUST looking at the cruise ticket, then honestly it depends on which Antarctica cruise company you go with because factors like trip duration, ship accommodations and amenities, and which (if any) additional activities are added on!
Depending on what you want to do and see, versus what you’re okay on skipping out on, it could affect which cruise (and it’s ticket price) are better suited to your preferences. For example, if you’re not interested in kayaking or camping on ice, then you might not want to pay for a ship where those additional activities are built into the price. Or if you KNOW you really want a more luxurious experience with an indoor hot tub with a scenic view and multiple in-room tv channels, then a humble ship more focused on getting outside for wildlife viewing might not be for you.
Okay okay, but what are the prices? Typically for a single person in a double room, prices range from $7000 to $20k+ , again, depending on the ship and trip duration. Yeah…we’re gonna need to cut some of these costs down. Sure you could go with the cheapest Antarctica cruise, but do you still want to pay thousands and not see what you want?
The Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica
I usually go on and on with backstory and the who what when why how of a post, but honestly you came here for one thing and one thing only. What is the CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica. So here’s the answer:
Don’t buy a ticket.
No, I’m not talking about stowing away on a cruise ship and popping out when you reach the 7th continent. In fact, for both safety and legal reasons, I strongly advise against doing that.
What I mean is…do not buy a cruise ticket. Just go to Ushuaia, Argentina (where 95% of Antarctic cruises depart from). If you’re a detailed oriented person and a travel planner, that advice is probably KILLING you to hear, but trust me, it’s the cheapest way to visit Antarctica.
It doesn’t matter if you fly straight to Ushuaia or if you hop around South America for a bit on a longer journey, but once you end up in Ushuaia, that is where your Antarctic journey begins. So why exactly is this the cheapest way to visit Antarctica?
Because once you’re in Ushuaia, you’re going to find multiple ticket booths selling discounted Antarctica tickets. And by discounted…I mean like 50% OFF. Maybe even more.
Let me paint a picture for you.
I had already bought our Antarctica tickets by the time we landed in Ushuaia, but since my boyfriend didn’t know we were going to Antarctica (LOL long story for another time), he was super intrigued by all of the ticket booths offering Antarctic cruises.
“Let’s just pop in to see how much tickets are!” he said, eyes sparkling. “I know it’s going to be a lot, but let’s just see so we can know how much to plan for in the future.”
Little did he know.
Since I couldn’t spoil the surprise, we popped into one of these booths. There are a few different ones, but honestly they all operate the same. Basically cruise companies and Antarctic tours sell their un-booked rooms to these booths at a LOW LOW PRICE. Then the booths sell the last minute rooms to people in person for also a low price. It’s the cheapest way to visit Antarctica. It’s a win for the cruise companies, a win for the booths (a third party), and a win for YOU – the customer!
What’s the Catch?
Does it sound too good to be true? There’s gotta be some catch to this cheapest way to visit Antarctica, right?
Well, the pro is obvious. Instead of paying, for example $7000 USD to visit, you could now get that same exact ticket for $3000 USD. Still, yanno, a good chunk of change, but WAY lower than the retail value.
But what are the cons?
Well, there are a few. The biggest, and arguably the one that is the most important, is that this cheapest way to visit Antarctica, just showing up in Ushuaia and going from there, is unpredictable. It’s a gamble. Not in the sense that there will or won’t be last-minute tickets – there WILL be 99% of the time, but…a gamble in what kind of ticket you will be getting.
When you buy your ticket in advance, you are able to choose which tour is best for your preferences, which dates work in your schedule, etc etc. The tradeoff for getting the cheapest way to visit Antarctica is giving up those choices.
When you show up at one of the last minute sales booths, they will give you a list of the upcoming rooms available. It could leave in a few days, next week, or even NEXT DAY – so you’ll want to make sure you have an Antarctica packing list already in mind. You also don’t get to choose the duration, so it could leave tomorrow and be a 10-day trip, or a 20-day trip. And, not surprisingly, you don’t get to choose the tour company either.
So it could be a small intimate cruise with only 100 guest passengers, or a huge ship with 400, which will affect the locations the ships can dock at and how many people can be on land at a time. The company could be on the more humble side in terms of accommodations, or the super luxurious National Geographic tour, which even at 50% off is over $10,000. So…it really is a gamble.
Who Can Take Advantage of This?
All this to say – this method doesn’t work for everyone. If you want to take advantage of the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, the bottom line is that you have to be flexible. In literally ALL aspects.
First and foremost, you have to be flexible with time. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of getting the cheapest way to visit Antarctica. Even if you are not flexible in any other way, if you have a flexible time window, eventually the right tour for the right price will become available. It’s just not guaranteed when.
So if you take a big block of time off anywhere between November-March (or if are able to work remotely), I’d recommend not leaving the Ushuaia-Antarctica bit for last, so you have more of a window to get something that works for you. Plus, if there’s a trip available the next week, you could even leave Ushuaia and come back!
The second area to be flexible in is the Antarctic experience itself. If you don’t really care about HOW you experience Antarctica and you just want to get there, then it doesn’t matter as much which company you go with as long as the ticket is in your budget. If you’re okay potentially not camping or kayaking in Antarctica, or the duration of the ship (which will determine if you cross the Antarctic Circle or visit the Falkland/South Georgia/South Sandwich Islands) – or if you don’t necessarily NEED the most plush expedition ship, then go for it!
Tricks and Deals
We unfortunately cannot all just show up to Ushuaia and go from there. For me personally, I have a non-remote job with a specific amount of paid time off. Plus, the friends I did the cruise with were getting married, so even if I did know about the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, it wasn’t guaranteed that their cruise would have had last-minute rooms available.
And it didn’t haha.
For the vast majority of people who work non-remote jobs, or have pets, or kids, or routine doctor’s appointments, or school obligations…we don’t have unlimited flexibility on time. And that’s okay! Booking in advance isn’t the CHEAPEST way to visit Antarctica, but you can still get some good deals to at least help nudge the price down a little!
The first, look at booking your trip farther in advance (like, 1.5+ years!) and/or around major sale holidays like Memorial Day, Black Friday, Labor Day, etc. Antarctic tour companies usually post about their upcoming cruises at least a year-2.5 years in advance. For example, I went to Antarctica with Poseidon Expeditions, and as of today (Mar 1st, 2023), they already posted Antarctic Cruises listed for Nov 2024- Mar 2025 and are ready to book! Booking those would qualify for their “super early bird special”, which on average gives a $2000 USD discount.
My ticket was 1.5 years in advance and I got the “early bird discount” knocking $1300 USD off the ticket price! Scoreee. Plus, buying in advance can also help you figure out how to pay for Antarctica after you put the deposit down. Do you need to pick up some extra shifts for a while? Maybe go on a budget or more aggressively save? You have time and now…a motivating deadline!
How to go to Antarctica for FREE???
But wait…TECHNICALLY wouldn’t the cheapest way to visit Antarctica would be to do so for free? Okay okay, you got me. Technically yes…and you CAN travel to Antarctica for free…it’s very limited who can. If you are a fairly prominent travel blogger or influencer though–
–wait…you’re reading my blog?? Lil ol’ me?
Can you give me a shoutout on IG or something?
Hahah kidding (👀👀), but if you are, then you can host a group trip to Antarctica! The only company I’ve heard of doing this (so far) is Chimu Adventures, so I’m going to share their stats. Basically how it works is that, as an influencer, you are convincing people to book their Antarctica cruise through them, and in turn, if you get at least 15 people to sign up, then your spot is covered!! If you get 30 people, you get 2 free spots! You need at least 10 people to sign up for the trip to happen, and in that case you will at least get a discount yourself.
This could also work if you are planning on doing a fun group trip anyway – why not make it to Antarctica?? That would really be the cheapest way to visit Antarctica, and everyone else would get a nice bulk-booking discount too!
The only travel influencer I know and would recommend is Kesi from Kesito and Fro! I’m not sure which company she is partnered with, but she has such infectious good energy and her last Antarctica group trip looked like it was a BLAST! Highly highly recommend checking her out, especially if you want a good lively environment!
Working in Antarctica?
Wait…so basically am I telling you can one-up the cheapest way to visit Antarctica and actually get PAID to visit Antarctica?
That’s exactly what I’m telling you.
Antarctica isn’t like typical destinations. It isn’t like anywhere else in the world, actually. If you want to “live” in Antarctica, albeit temporarily, then the only way are on bases stationed there. The USA has three bases, but I believe 74 countries have at least one base somewhere on the massive continent. If you’re a scientist of some sort – GREAT! Because they’re research bases!
If you’re not…well, don’t worry, you can still get a support job! For example, as an American, the U.S. Antarctic Program deploys roughly 3,000 people to Antarctica every year, mostly during the austral summer from October through February. There are also programs for artists, writers, and journalists to operate out of an Antarctic base!
Outside of bases, you can also apply to work on an Antarctic cruise, either as an expedition guide if you are adventure inclined, or as a crew member! This would technically involve you being more at sea than on land, but hey, you still get there somehow.
I don’t personally have any experience or insight into this, but I’d recommend checking out Michelle at Wander Eat Write who got paid to live in Antarctica by working at one of the bases. Michelle has gotten paid to travel to every continent, so she knows her stuff!!
Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica: Conclusion
Wow, I’m surprised I kept this post on topic, haha. But there you have it, the cheapest way to visit Antarctica – plus a few extra for discounts! It’s still not CHEAP by any means, but hopefully this post gave you some reassurance that there is a cheapest way to visit Antarctica. It’s not a race though, so don’t feel compelled the shell out thousands now, but something to keep in mind for sure!
If you’ve been to Antarctica, let me know what you think of these penny pinching ways to make the cruise a taddd more affordable. Or…if you have your own cheapest way to visit Antarctica, PLEASE (for the greater good!!), let me know in the comments below!
2 thoughts on “The #1 Cheapest Way to Visit Antarctica: Big Ballin on a Budget!”
Thank you Kay! SO much good information <3
Yayyy! I’m so glad it was helpful! Thank you for reading!