Crossing the Drake Passage by sea is a rite of passage for many visiting Antarctica. For others, skipping this part of the journey frees up more time to explore the 7th continent. Choosing to fly south to Antarctica and then sail north (or vice versa) – or even flying both ways – is a great way to maximize your trip when time is of the essence.
Sailing the legendary Drake Passage by ship typically takes two days filled with on-board activities and educational opportunities. A comfortable charter flight out of vibrant Punta Arenas, Chile, however, can have you over the Drake and experiencing Antarctica in just hours.
Fly the Drake Both Ways: Time-Saving Last-Minute Cruises
Fly the Drake expeditions begin with an included flight from international gateway Santiago, Chile to Punta Arenas, Chile, where you’ll meet your group and enjoy a welcome dinner. The following day, you’re off on a 4-hour charter flight to meet either the Sea Adventurer or the all-suites, all-inclusive Island Sky at King George Island.
These 7- and 8-day Antarctic expeditions without Drake Passage sea crossings offer the same penguin-lined beaches, adventurous Zodiac cruises and immersive education as our longer trips, but they’re optimized for time-constrained travelers. From the South Shetland Islands to the White Continent, keep an eye out for whales, seals, penguins and seabirds the closer you get.
Flights to Antarctica Connect with Small Exploration Boat Hans Hansson
A 4-hour charter flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, over the stunning Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini and on to King George Island, affords an incredible aerial view of the Antarctic Peninsula on clear days. Keep your camera handy, as you’ll have a bit of time to take pictures on King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, before boarding the Hans Hansson.
A refurbished Baltic Sea rescue boat, Hans Hansson is the smallest and most intimate ship in our fleet. You’ll join hosts Captain Dion Poncet and wife Juliette Hennequin for meals, alongside just 11 other passengers. This authentic, comfortable small exploration boat is renowned for its ability explore special, out-of-the-way destinations that larger cruise ships can’t access. See Uncharted Antarctica: Bespoke Expedition to explore this unique adventure’s day-by-day itinerary.
Fly To/From Antarctica and Connect to Easter Island
Our fly/cruise options are short on travel time, but long on Adventure Options and add-ons.
Explore historic Antarctic science stations during a hiking expedition, or walk amongst thousands of nesting penguins. Get up close and personal with wildlife - including whales, seals and penguins - while cruising in a Zodiac, or opt for a kayaking excursion for an even more intimate view of the land and sea.
Flying in one direction and cruising the other allows you to save precious time but still take part in that iconic voyage across the Drake by sea. On Antarctic Express: Fly South, Cruise North, you’ll reach Antarctica in only 3 hours. Or choose Antarctic Express: Cruise South, Fly North to enjoy our expert-led immersive on-board education program in preparation for the exploring you’ll take part in over the next several days.
Cruising one way and flying another means you’ll depart from one city and return to another, which gives you a chance to experience both. Flights depart and return to Punta Arenas, but Ushuaia, Argentina, is our port of embarkation or disembarkation for Antarctic cruises.
You can also extend your adventure before or after these trips, with a 5-hour flight to one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, Easter Island. There, you’ll enjoy 3 nights’ accommodations and have ample opportunity to explore the island’s volcano, Rano Raraku, as well as the famous moai, monolithic human figures carved in ancient times by the Rapa Nui.
Winter Cruises Offering Relaxation and Adventure
In North American, winter cruises are considered almost exclusively as tropical getaways – warm-weather, sun-and-fun, island-hopping cruises. But for the ultimate adventure and to completely unplug, expand your horizons farther south this year – much farther south.
Learn more about the benefits of fly/cruise trips in this video: