When to visit Antarctica

Antarctica guards its secrets in an icy grasp for all but five magical months, when the sea ice slowly retreats and penguins, seabirds, whales and seals make their way south for an intense breeding and feeding season.
Purpose built for Polar regions, Scenic Eclipse’s strengthened hull and Polar Class 6 rating allows you to safely access places others can’t, from the first month to the last. Walk straight on to sea ice, watch penguin chicks hatch, herald the arrival of seal pups on the beaches and humpbacks offshore – every voyage offers unique experiences. Add the wonders of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands to your itinerary and combine these with the ultra-luxury of Scenic Eclipse for your ideal voyage. Here are some seasonal highlights to help you decide which voyage to choose:

Spring/Early Summer (November – December)

On the Antarctic Peninsula, Spring is a favourite time for many, especially photographers, who delight in pristine snowscapes. Fast ice clings to bays along the west coast, and one ship’s barrier is another’s gateway to wonder. On board Scenic Eclipse, the World’s First Discovery Yachts™ your dreams become reality. Flightseeing above magnificent Lemaire Channel, heliski hidden powder stashes, and explore the ice edge the rarely-seen sea floor in our custom-built submarine, Scenic Neptune.
Watch penguins begin courting, nest-building thievery and egg incubation. By late December, chicks hatch to be fed by parents that share fishing and feeding duties. Minkes, humpbacks and Southern Right whales arrive to feed beneath near 24-hour daylight. 

Summer (January –Early February)

Peak season on the Antarctic Peninsula, rookeries are full of chicks, parents dodge leopard seals and skuas scan for the unattended. Crabeater and Weddell seals lounge on ice floes, females often nursing newborn pups. Ice retreats enough to allow easier access to the Antarctic Circle and the Weddell Sea and opens up new vistas to enjoy from our two custom built helicopters. As summer winds down, adolescent chicks fledge and are curious, often approaching visitors before running the leopard seal gauntlet on their first swims.
On South Georgia, penguin chicks almost as big as their parents need constant feeding and are old enough to play with juvenile seals. Days continue to be long and temperatures rise above 5°C, the warmest of the year. On board Scenic Neptune, explore waters never dived before by submarine. Enjoy a seal ballet, schooling pelagic fish and maybe even whales. In the Falkland Islands, Magellenic penguin chicks emerge from burrows, and King penguin chicks hatch.
Antarctica Seals
Our Beyond the Antarctic Circle voyage journeys into the Weddell Sea to visit the famous Snow Hill Island, where thousands of Emporer penguins nurture their young, before returning to the Antarctic Peninsula’s west side. Navigating south, further then most expedition ships go, discover exquisite waterways like Lemaire Channel, the Gullet and Crystal Sound to celebrate crossing the Antarctic Circle (66°33’S). If ice conditions allow, we may reach rarely-visited Marguerite Bay for a true Discovery Adventure.
On South Georgia, testosterone runs high amongst male fur and elephant seals, who battle to create and protect their harems. King penguins balance eggs on their feet and albatross reveal their gawky, gorgeous chicks. By mid-to-late December, in both South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, most penguin chicks have hatched.

Fall (Late February – Early March)

antarctica whales
As autumn approaches, cormorant chicks bravely begin to fly and whales, now well fed, group up before beginning their great migration north to breeding grounds. Brilliant sunsets herald nightfall, patches of sea freeze as you watch, courting leopard seals captivate with eerie song and the last gentoo penguins are chased out into the Southern Ocean by winter’s ever-increasing ice barrier. South Georgia is alive with millions of fur seal pups cavorting in swim schools, King penquins packing beaches while the newly-discovered Type D orcas and elusive sperm whales pass nearby.

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Helicopter and submarine activities are weather permitting, subject to availability and regulatory approvals, and incur additional costs.