Specializing in Antarctica Travel and Arctic Cruises since 1996

                   Antarctica        Choose your Region       Arctic

Polar Cruises is the expert in small-ship travel to Antarctica and the Arctic. We are uniquely qualified to help you plan your polar expedition to the most pristine wilderness areas on earth.

Since 1991, our staff has participated in voyages to the Antarctic and Arctic regions as Expedition Trip Leaders, Naturalists, Program and Operations Managers, and passengers. Polar Cruises staff knows the ships and trips from personal experience because we travel to Antarctica and the Arctic every season.

Many tour companies run Antarctica cruises and Arctic adventures, offering a wide range of polar travel options, itineraries, dates and prices. We evaluate the quality of the ships, operations, tour programs and companies, and provide polar cruise ship information and expedition trip reviews. Then we talk to you about your travel preferences and book the best polar vacation for you. Pick a few polar vacations and tours that interest you. Then call us:

Toll-Free at 888-484-2244 or 1-541-330-2454 from outside the U.S. or Canada.

Differences between Antarctica and the Arctic Regions

Antarctica Arctic
Continent surrounded by water Ocean surrounded by continents & Greenland
2% ice free Limited land ice
Sea ice mainly annual, salty, and less than 2 meters thick (6 ½ ft.) Sea ice mainly multi-year, low in salinity and more than 2 meters thick (6 ½ ft.)
Marine mammals (whale and seal); no terrestrial mammals Terrestrial mammals (reindeer, wolf, musk ox, hare, lemming, fox); marine mammals (whale, seal, polar bear, walrus)
Penguins & less than 20 bird species More than 100 bird species
Lichens About 90 flowering plant species


Antarctica is the southern polar region, and the Arctic is the northern polar region. Polar regions have extremely cold, harsh climates that require plants and animals to adapt in interesting ways.

What’s the key difference between the regions? Antarctica is a continent surrounded by ocean, while the Arctic is an ocean almost completely surrounded by land. 

Arctic ice is typically thicker than Antarctica ice (6 - 10 ft and in some places 12-15 ft). However, with water under it, some of the water’s heat escapes through the ice. Even in winter, some of the ice breaks up and releases ocean heat to warm the air. The Arctic receives relatively warm water from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

Most of Antarctica is covered by a few thousand feet of ice – though there is some geothermal heat beneath the ice, that heat can’t escape. The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica, and winds from its strong storms help create an ocean current that circles the continent. This reduces the amount of warm water that reaches the land. The result? The Antarctic region is colder than the Arctic.