The Difference between Vessels
There is no shortage of superb expedition vessels operating in Antarctic waters. The best way to experience Antarctica is by small, expedition vessel. This generally means, less than 200 passengers. However, many vessels only accommodate between 120-140 passengers. The reason for this is simple. Only 100 passengers are allowed at a landing site at any one time. Luxury cruise operators have therefore decided that the perfect number of guests lies generally within the 100-140 passenger range. Though only 100 passengers are allowed ashore at any one time, other guests can be out kayaking, scuba diving or exploring by zodiac. So there is no cause for alarm if you choose a boat that can take over 100 passengers.
Most of the vessels Natural Focus offer are in this range. However, we also offer vessels that accommodate as few as 67 guests – mostly on the Fly the Drake departures (this is because the aircrafts used to fly to King George Island take a maximum of 70 guests).
In the last few years we have seen a big shift towards the “luxury” end of the market. Ships with all the amenities you can think of – spas, saunas, Jacuzzis, gyms, as well as other things that make your stay more comfortable – stabilisers, and large staterooms and suites.
There are still several “expedition” vessels, that are generally smaller, older vessels (that are still very comfortable!). They all have expert guides and staff, just fewer bells and whistles. The other benefit of sailing on these older vessels is that they are more intimate – sometimes carrying as few as 67 or so passengers.
Although the type of vessel might play a part when choosing your Antarctic cruise, there are other even more important factors to consider, such as the length of time you have to travel, where you want to visit, when you wish to go and of course, cost; the more days onboard ship the more expensive the cruise.