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The Infamous Drake Passage: To Fly or to Cruise?

The Infamous Drake Passage: To Fly or to Cruise?

Congratulations! You have decided to visit one of the last great untouched places on Earth – Antarctica.

But with several great companies to choose from, how does one choose? In the next series of articles, we’ll go through the difference between flying over the Drake Passage and cruising through; what happens if there are flight delays; and what size ship might be right for you.

Let’s start with the most important question – do you fly or do you cruise?

Sailing the Drake Passage

A crazy and unpredictable body of water, it is where the Pacific, Atlantic and Southern Oceans meet. The water is variable at best. At worst, it is the stuff of folklore, of legend, of tales told by seamen.

Crossing the Drake Passage by ship can be an experience, good and/or bad. But it does take at least two days to cross, assuming somewhat calm waters. Spending those two days at sea can be a great opportunity to get to know your crew and fellow shipmates, however, the four days at sea (to and from Antarctica) can chip away at precious vacation time.

If the weather does not cooperate, you can either have a delayed arrival to Antarctica and your first landing, or you might have to leave the continent ahead of schedule to avoid incoming storms.

For those with sensitive stomachs, seasickness is a definite possibility. This can leave travellers who were excited for the trip distressed and uncomfortable, to say the least. And full disclosure, with turbulent waters, there is always the slight possibility for injury.

Flying Over the Drake Passage

The other option is flying over the Drake. This, too, offers the possibility of delayed arrival to Antarctica, or early departure to avoid bad weather. However, a two-hour flight is a lot more comfortable. As with any flight, weather is a critical component. And it goes without saying the flights in this part of the world are hard to control.

Flying over the Drake does give you extra time to explore Chile and the beautiful Chilean Patagonia including Torres del Paine National Park and Punta Arenas; a beautiful part of the world that beautifully complements any trip to Antarctica. Not to mention, enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep and a delicious meal in a land-locked restaurant before flying out.

Landing in Antarctica is also a unique experience. Imagine, landing on the last and final continent, surrounded by beautiful, pristine snow and enjoying your first excursion on the continent without delay. Remember, you didn’t have to spend two days at sea getting to Antarctica to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. After your two-hour flight, you’re IN Antarctica and your journey begins.

We are partial to flying over the Drake. After all, we pioneered the Antarctica fly and cruise model, and as of February 2017 have proudly operated 141 flights since 2003.