Antarctica is Earth's southern most continent, containing the geographic South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness.
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89 °C (−129 °F). There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent.
Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok and Mirny. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries; to date, 49 countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations.
Join us for the ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia Experience
Majestic, unspoiled natural splendors await — snow-capped volcanoes reflected in crystalline lakes, massive glaciers and fjords, the rugged grandeur of Patagonia, Cape Horn and beyond, the sweeping landscapes and diverse wildlife of Antarctica.
A skilled expedition staff will plan and manage our cruise and coordinate special landings in Antarctica, choosing from numerous extraordinary options to give you the very best experience possible during your adventure, based on ice and weather conditions. Experts and special guest speakers will join us on board as well, offering insights and guidance to enhance your experience and help maximize your enjoyment and appreciation of this boundless land.
On board Seabourn Quest, every care will be taken to ensure your complete comfort and well-being, from a well-timed glass of champagne to a rejuvenating massage after a day ashore. Though we may be far from home, the signature touches that make Seabourn one of the world’s highest-rated small-ship cruise lines will never be out of reach.
Special modifications have prepared Seabourn Quest for the unique conditions in and around Antarctica. These important enhancements will enable us to venture closer than ever to the White Continent’s wondrous shores.
When you cruise with Seabourn, we promise a voyage that is nothing short of magical.