Polar regions: when to go?
Some Antarctic cruises start to operate in late October, and the advantage of being a guest on one of the first trips of the season is seeing the start of the courting and mating season of the penguins of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Down near the Antarctic Peninsula cruises need to push past the winter sea ice.
This time of year sees the winter ice in Antarctica further break up into stunning icebergs and sculptures. Wildlife courtship rituals continue, including male seals establishing their breeding beaches, and wildflowers are in bloom in South Georgia and the Falklands.
December – January
High summer in Antarctica. Days are long, the temperatures are at their ‘warmest’. Penguins, seals and seabirds are active everywhere. Christmas and New Year is a very busy time for Antarctica cruise travel, so needs to be booked well in advance.
February – March
These are the best months to see whales such as humpback, sperm and orca in Antarctica. Fledgling penguin chicks can be seen and sea birds are still abundant.
April – September
Winter in Antarctica – stormy seas, freezing temperatures and no possible way to visit.
Though the austere Arctic landscape is often imagined to be a cold white wasteland, the brief months of summer from June – August see the flora blossoming and the fauna emerging from their long winter dormancy. Travellers on an Arctic cruise will have a chance to see an abundance of wildlife, from caribou and moose to humpback whales and ringed seals, and up to 200 species of birds, including fulmars, puffins, guillemots, and eagles.
High season in many Arctic destinations, when the weather is at its warmest. These months can also be a good time to see the elusive polar bears, grizzlies emerging from their winter dens, and caribou migrating to their summer habitat.
August and September
For other wildlife, late summer is prime viewing time. Another perk to visiting in August is that this time marks the first of four months of stunning displays of the aurora borealis, which can be a highlight of the dusk and night time hours on an Arctic cruise.