Carving time out of your life and routine for an Antarctic cruise used to be an undertaking. It would take weeks – even a month or more – to reach the 7th continent. Even then, you had quite the trip in store - one of the more “adventurous” aspects was sailing the Drake Passage.
Today, our fleet of small expedition ships, icebreakers and a small exploration boat is well equipped to handle Polar Region waters. Amenities like his-and-hers saunas, panoramic observation lounges, spacious cabins, luxurious personal care products and an on-board spa make ours some of the best cruise ships around. And yet, sometimes, a flight over the Drake, either to or from Antarctica, can be just the ticket. Here's why:
1. Save Time
Flying the Drake south, north or even both ways gives time-constrained travelers the chance to enjoy their cruise to the fullest! Our newly expanded Fly the Drake program lets you experience Antarctica in as little time as 1 week. Through to 2018, we're offering 7- and 8-day Antarctic cruise options where you can fly both ways between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Antarctica.
Our Antaractic Express: Crossing the Circle itineraries will see you off on a comfortable charter flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island before you enjoy a 10- or 11-day adventure on the 7th continent. You could also Cruise South, Fly North, embarking from Ushuaia, Argentina, and then returning by charter flight. Or do the reverse and Fly South, Cruise North, leaving you time to enjoy the Drake crossing on one of the best cruise ships in Antarctic waters to the end of your voyage.
So just how much travel time can you shave off your expedition? It typically takes 2 days to cross the Drake Passage by ship, yet it's only a 4-hour flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island.
2. Enjoy Spectacular Aerial Views
In those 4 hours, or during your charter flight transfer from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas (where applicable), you'll have a bird's-eye view of incredible landscapes, from South America to King George Island.
Cross your fingers for clear weather as we pass over Chile's Torres del Paine National Park en route from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The region's lush forests, soaring mountains and electric blue glaciers are a stunning sight from high above.
Keep your eyes open for breaching whales and soaring seabirds as you fly over the Drake Passage. View working scientific stations and the small villages of King George Island, the largest island in the South Shetlands archipelago, as your charter flight comes in for a landing.
For an even greater adventure, extend your trip with a 5-hour flight from Santiago to Easter Island, one of the world's most remote and mysterious islands. Famous for its volcanic rock statues, Easter Island is an adventurer's dream, with volcanoes, tombs and stunning topography to be explored. Witnessing the spectacle from up high during your arrival and departure is an experience you won't soon forget.
3. Avoid a Potentially Rocky Trip
Passengers prone to seasickness will welcome the opportunity to fly over the Drake. Dan Zak, one of Quark's on-board doctors, has access to 2 types of anti-motion-sickness medications on the ship: Phenergan (promethazine) and Antivert (meclizine). “Ideally, we'd like you to have consulted with your family physician before departure, to ensure there are no interactions with other medications you may be taking,” he says.
As much as we try to avoid seasick-inducing conditions, the Drake can offer passengers a rollicking ride. Skipping this part of the voyage entirely is a good choice for those not fond of rough sea conditions.
4. Explore Punta Arenas
Extend your trip a few days in the vibrant Chilean metropolis of Punta Arenas, on the Strait of Magellan. So named in honor of 16th-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, this region is both a historic hub and a bustling modern city.
View the remains of the Lord Lonsdale shipwreck in the morning and go whale watching in the afternoon. Befitting its surroundings, much of the fun to be had in Punta Arenas is on the water. Visit the small island of Isla Magdalena y Mara to spot sea lions and penguins, or explore the many replica ships at Museo Nao Victoria. Check out our other recommendations of the top things to do on your layover in Punta Arenas.
The night before embarkation, you'll meet with a Quark representative at the official starting point hotel. Make new friends and get to know your fellow passengers during the welcome dinner.
To learn more about flying the Drake, contact one of our experienced Polar Travel Advisers today.