What to pack on an Antarctic voyage

As Antarctica is one of the most remote, rarely visited, parts of the world, knowing what to pack for your voyage isn’t always easy. So, in case you’re unsure what clothes to pack for a cruise to Antarctica, we’ve put this simple cruise outfit planner together.

Plan ahead

It’s best to pack thoughtfully for Antarctica’s climate. Unless you travel there frequently, there’s no reason you’d know what clothes to bring on a cruise to Antarctica. We all experience the cold (and warmth) differently, but it pays to bear in mind daily temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula can range from well below freezing to the upper 40°F/4°C. Plus, windchill can make things feel much colder, especially as you’ll be spending a lot of your time outdoors in places that are subject to strong winds.

Stay warm

Think of this guide as your personal cruise wardrobe planner. When you’re thinking about what clothes to take on a cruise, it’s worth remembering that the outside temperature in Antarctica can feel much colder than the reading on a thermometer. So we recommend you wrap up extra warm. Layering is a great way to do this. Wearing several lightweight, loose-fitting layers is better than opting for one heavier layer. This is because the different layers allow for pockets of air between each item of clothing, which provides extra insulation, and it means you can remove or add layers when your body temperature changes.

Choosing clothes

A lot of the action on an expedition cruise happens outside, so dress codes are very relaxed on our voyages. Pack clothes that are comfortable and easy to wash. And it pays to consider how you’re going to pack everything. For instance, do you know how to pack a cocktail dress in a suitcase? Is a cocktail dress something you’ll definitely need? Some guests find it helpful to choose their clothes, then go back and edit their choices after an hour or so.

What to pack

For the polar regions you’ll need casual trousers, jeans, long-sleeved t-shirts and a thin jumper or bodywarmer. You’ll be cosy and comfortable when you’re inside the ship, but it’s always good to have warm clothes handy for when something out on deck takes your interest. Waterproof trousers, to wear over your pants or thermal underwear, are essential for Zodiac trips and land excursions. You’ll need to bring a warm, windproof hat that covers your head and ears, and a collar scarf to protect your neck and chin from the elements. Polarised sunglasses will help reduce the glare from the snow and ice, protect your eyes from UV rays, and help you see the details of the Antarctic scenery better. It’s also worth packing mittens, ski gloves and insulated glove liners to keep your hands warm and dry. Also, you might want to pack swimming and fitness gear if you plan to visit the spa, pool or fitness centre. Evenings are informal, but maybe pack a couple of casual shirts, and skirts or dresses for dinner, and something stylish for special occasions, such as cocktails with the Captain. When it comes to footwear, keep it light and easy to pack. We provide a pair of rubber Muck boots for Zodiac excursions and onshore landings, so a pair of lightweight trainers will be fine. Steer clear of bringing high-heels, especially stilettos, as the seas can get rough at times, and you’ll need to keep your balance.

Expedition extras

When you travel to the polar regions with us, a Swan Hellenic expedition parka will be waiting for you in your stateroom on the first day of the cruise. This is yours to keep after your voyage. Your parka is water and windproof, and features an adjustable hood with fleece lining for added warmth, a visor for optimal visibility in all conditions, and a high collar and elongated cuffs to give you extra protection. You’ll also receive a branded waterproof backpack, which will be useful for protecting your camera and any other electronic gear that you want to bring for shore landings.

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