Imagine gliding through a silent sea of icebergs, the only sounds the occasional calving of glaciers, the call of seabirds, and the excited murmur of your handful of shipmates. Nowhere else on Earth rewards avid adventurers like Antarctica, the globe’s most remote and magnificent polar wilderness. It’s easy to see why it makes so many nature travelers’ bucket lists!

But first things first. Why would you choose a Nat Hab Antarctica expedition over a standard cruise to the White Continent? Well, if you’re aching for authentic immersion in the land of penguins and icebergs, our trips are your ticket there.

Why Choose a Nat Hab Antarctica Expedition?

Giant ships can’t access the smaller channels we visit, plus, on a typical cruise, you’ll be in the crowded company of many more travelers than you would aboard our more intimate boats. With Nat Hab, you sail on a vessel that accommodates just 7 or 12 passengers, guided by expert naturalists.

Add to this the fact that we truly love what we do, and we specialize in nature travel. If your main goal is to experience Antarctica’s nature and wildlife, you’ll benefit from our Expedition Leaders’ vast expertise and knowledge. After all, we are the world’s foremost nature travel experts—these are the only types of trips we run!

So, how do you know which of Nat Hab’s two Antarctica adventures is right for you? We’ll be honest: Even we find it difficult to decide. They’re both just that good! Here, we’ll get into the details of both our new Ultimate Antarctica by Expedition Yacht trip and our Sailing Antarctica Polar Wildlife Expedition.

We hope this guide provides insight into what you can expect from the different styles of boat, and what you’ll do at sea and on land on each voyage. This is a heady choice and an extraordinary adventure, so if you have further questions after learning about these Antarctica trips, please reach out to our Adventure Specialists for more information!

Sailing Antarctica: An Intimate Exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula

If you’re aiming for exclusive and exhilarating, our Sailing Antarctica expedition yacht voyage is for you. You’ll sail with just seven travelers on an ice-strengthened motorsailer. The only other living creatures in your company are the seals, whales and penguins you’ll see on the ice and in the water. A world-class skipper and seasoned polar crew will ensure that intrepid explorers like you enjoy a rare experience of one of the most remote and magnificent places on Earth.

Distant photo of Ocean Tramp Arctic sailboat with mountains and rocks in distance

© Catherine Lang

Aboard Ocean Tramp

Our S/V Ocean Tramp is a 66-foot expedition motor sailboat that can accommodate eight guests (but we travel with only seven, affording everyone a bit more breathing room). She’s optimally designed for small-scale polar exploration, with swift passage across open seas yet with agility enough to permit intimate exploration of the rugged coastline and secluded bays that are inaccessible to larger cruise ships).

Ocean Tramp Arctic sailboat

© Kelly Daughtry

Take it from Sara Higgins, Senior Adventure Director for Nat Hab: “You feel like the ship is your home and like you are on a true expedition exploring Antarctica. You really get to know fellow travelers and crew.”

The Ocean Tramp’s expansive forward and aft decks make for great whale- and leopard seal-watching. And there’s a roomy, well-lit dining space inside with padded banquette seating around a generously sized table.

Happy travelers pose on their sailboat in Antarctica

© Colby Brokvist

Four guest cabins offer varying configurations, with the largest cabin being the Shackleton Suite, with a private en suite bathroom. For solo travelers, there’s room for a single guest in the Beagle Cabin. What you sacrifice in terms of room space by not choosing a mega-ship will be made up for in spades when you realize how close and personal you are with this stunning land and seascape.

Aboard Australis

Our S/V Ocean Australis is a 75-foot ice-strengthened sailing vessel that is a sturdy, seasoned veteran of polar waters. Guests spend nearly two weeks on the motorsailer, which contains two Zodiac tenders for access to remote coastal areas. Like the Ocean Tramp, she’s well suited for small-scale polar exploration across open seas, along rugged coastline and into quiet bays.

Penguins on rocks with antartica sailing ship in the background

© Colby Brokvist

Compact, cozy and featuring modern-day comforts, the Australis interior offers four cabins for a max of seven guests. There’s a saloon with a large dining table and entertainment options, as well as a well-equipped galley kitchen.

The spacious outdoor cockpit has a removable sunshade and is a great spot for a barbecue on the aft deck when the weather allows. Guests may climb into the crow’s nest for 360-degree views and fantastic wildlife viewing. Four guest cabins offer varying configurations and levels of privacy.

Sailboat floats through icy beautiful blue Arctic waters with two whales swimming around travelers

© Ben Wallis

Ultimate Antarctica: A Luxe Sailing Expedition Like No Other

Get ready for an adventure of epic proportions aboard a ship you might not first expect when sailing to Antarctica. With unparalleled grace and vigor, the Hanse Explorer, a 156-foot luxury expedition yacht, carries just 12 guests in comfort and style into a land of icy wonders. It’s a vessel you would normally have to completely charter, but we’ve taken that chore out of the equation and done it for you.

Yacht Hanse Explorer Arctic expedition smiling and waving passengers and crew

© Martin Enckell

Our Ultimate Antarctica voyage aboard the Hanse is for those whose expeditionary spirit is especially strong and who are drawn to explore in a context of exceptional comfort. Aboard this special ship, you’ll find all the amenities of home (and then some), while at the same time having intimate access to the icebound ends of the Earth.

Aboard Hanse Explorer

What some may describe as a “superyacht,” we tend to think of as an elevated expeditionary experience—all the attributes of a large expedition vessel, but with just 12 fortunate guests onboard.

“Even by Nat Hab standards—where the smallest groups venture to the planet’s wildlife places to view wildlife in the most intimate of contexts—this expedition is truly special,” says Ben Bressler, Nat Hab’s founder and president.

Hanse Explorer Yacht in Arctic waters surrounded by beautiful blue green glacial fjords

© Justin Hofman

No need to book the entire vessel—we’ve got it taken care of. You’ll get the freedom and flexibility of a private charter, safety, comfort, understated elegance, and a light-flooded interior that makes you feel one with the wild world beyond. Built in Germany in 2006, she was completely retrofitted in a multi-million-dollar redesign in 2020, including new state-of-the-art stabilizers that make for a more pleasant ride. This ship is also designed to move at a faster pace than the motorsailers we use, so you can expect to cover more distance (weather-depending).

Hanse Explorer Yacht luxury deck lounge

Expect all the luxuries of a world-class yacht but with an expedition-oriented style and more move-about space than on the motorsailers. From the bar and lounge in the heart of the guest area, you can sip your favorite drink while gazing out at panoramic views. Head out through glass-paned sliding doors to the outside decks. Dining choices crafted by an acclaimed international culinary team, an inviting observation lounge, the deluxe Finnish sauna and the top deck hot tub are just icing on the cake.

When it’s time for some shut-eye, retreat to six elegant and practical guest cabins on the main deck, all identical with private en suite bathrooms, lots of natural light, a TV, desk, and ample closet and bureau space. There’s an Owner’s Suite for an extra indulgence, situated on the Upper Deck, with a king bed, en suite bathroom and large, connected open private sitting area and office.

Hanse Explorer Yacht luxury deck lounge

Overall, the Hanse Explorer is still an expedition ship, but the home you return to after your daily adventures is a more well-appointed one. By creating a calm interior with understated elegance, there is no effort to compete with the grandeur of the passing scene. In every aspect, she is one of the toughest, safest, most nimble and comfortable ships of her size.

Antarctica Encounters

Whichever ship or itinerary you choose, you’re guaranteed experiences like none other. On a smaller vessel like Ocean Tramp or Australis, we can be a bit more flexible with our itinerary, and you’ll feel part of the team making decisions about where to go and what to do. Regardless, here are just a few of the extraordinary moments you might have:

Nat Hab & WWF Expedition Leader teaches travelers about climate change and wildlife in Antarctica

© Kelly Martin

  • A post-dinner Zodiac cruise where you happen upon whales feeding or a leopard seal on the hunt for penguins.
  • Seeking the best lighting conditions for photography, particularly aboard the nimbler motorsailers.
  • Kayaking amidst icebergs and along rugged shorelines to see Antarctic wildlife at eye level.
  • Where landing permits, hiking ashore on pristine polar beaches that we share only with penguin rookeries, Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals.
  • Glimpsing your first icebergs and the snow-clad mountains that indicate the South Shetland Islands.
  • Spotting huge populations of albatross, petrel, skua, gull, tern and cormorant.
  • Camping ashore in the most remote and ethereal environment you’ve ever experienced (available on the motorsailer itineraries only).
Travelers aboard a zodiac photographing icebergs and glaciers in Antarctica

© Catherine Lang

Wondering what other wildlife you’ll see in Antarctica? Get all the deets on Adelie, chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, whales, seals of all ilk, dolphins and seabirds in our Antarctica Wildlife Guide.

Wildlife guide expedition leader sketches wildlife and scenery in travel journal in Antarctica

© Conor Frantzen

Antarctica: Never the Same Trip Twice!

Do keep in mind that weather dictates our Antarctica itineraries, activities and routes. In fact, it’s that wild, unpredictable nature of the trip that makes it so magical and memorable. No two trips are exactly the same, and we know whichever Nat Hab Antarctica adventure you choose, it will be utterly life-changing.

Smiling and laughing Nat Hab & WWF Expedition Leader teaches travelers about climate change and wildlife in Antarctica

© Catherine Lang

> Read: Diminishing Sea Ice Threatens Delicate Antarctic Ecosystem (from our conservation travel partner, World Wildlife Fund)

Ready to explore the White Continent? Learn more about our Sailing Antarctica and Ultimate Antarctica trips!