For some, that puts it off limits as a charter destination, but for others, it makes the Antarctic a yachting venue without parallel. The season is short, the cruising regions are remote, and it’s by no means family-friendly. But with blue whales, armies of penguins, spawning leopard seals, drifting icebergs and impenetrable glacier fields, it’s a richly rewarding charter destination. Such is the majestic brutality of this region that the only realistic yacht charter base on the entire continent is the Antarctic Peninsula.
Perched out in the far north, its splintered landmasses offer good shelter and a much greater variety of destinations than the long, exposed coasts; and its position, 500 nautical miles south of Cape Horn, makes it relatively accessible from the Argentinian outpost of Ushuaia. The Peninsula is at its tourist peak between December and January, when the receding ice expands the cruising grounds. However, must-see stopovers on any charter trip should include the remarkable horseshoe-shaped Deception Island, with its unique volcanic harbour; Half Moon Island a little further northwest; Paradise Harbour, an old whaling region with magnificent icebergs; and Lemaire Channel, a narrow passage between precipitous Antarctic cliffs.