There are two ways to access the Antarctic Peninsula: sailing across the Drake Passage from Ushuaia, Argentina or flying over the Drake either from Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, Chile. After experiencing many Drake crossings and Fly the Drake trips, below are our pros and cons of both sailing and flying the Drake Passage.

Sail the Drake:

Pros

  • Birdwatching! You will have the chance to see & photograph some of the largest seabirds in the world soar around the ship.
  • You will have plenty of time to attend various Polar lectures by the onboard naturalists to build up your Antarctic knowledge prior to your arrival.
  • Experience the wildlife & scenery in the Beagle Channel. Have the chance to see a beautiful sunset as you sail away from Ushuaia. Common wildlife sightings in the Beagle include Black-Browed Albatross, Imperial Cormorants, Magellanic Penguins and dusky dolphins.
  • Less of a chance of having a trip delay or interruption.
  • More voyages and ships to choose from.

Cons

  • The Drake Passage often has high swells which means a lot of motion on the ship and a higher chance of getting seasick.
  • For those short on time, sailing the Drake adds 4 days as it takes an average of 2 days to sail across each way.

Fly the Drake

Pros

  • It avoids spending multiple days sailing in the potential rough waters of the Drake Passage and therefore may be more comfortable for travelers prone to seasickness.
  • It saves time as the flights between Patagonia and Antarctica take just 2 hours vs. 2 days sailing each way. The shortest Fly the Drake trips are 8 days. If you sail across the Drake the shortest trips are typically 11-12 days.
  • Some fly cruises are operated on smaller ships offering a more personalized experience and allowing guests to maximize time on shore.

Cons

  • Higher chances of having a trip delay or interruption due to weather conditions. Should there be a weather delay, it would impact the amount of time you have in Antarctica.
  • Not as much time to get in educational lectures by the expedition staff.
  • You would miss out on seeing the large seabirds in the Drake.
  • Fly the Drake trips can be higher in price.

Still can’t decide which option is best for you? If so, you may want to consider a one-way fly / one-way sail the Drake so you can experience both!