Where in the World Do You Want to Go: Antarctica Bridge Opens Up the White Continent

Antarctica has been described by many as an unforgettable, life-changing experience of stark, otherworldly surroundings and beguiling wildlife — which is why the experience should be accessible to more luxury travelers.

Which has been — until now — a challenge. Voyages to Antarctica, which depart from Argentina’s Ushuaia, must sail for two days across the notoriously choppy Drake Passage to get to the White Continent. Returning, there’s another two days on the Drake.

What if you could eliminate those four days at sea on a 10-day sailing — and still have six days to explore Antarctica? Now you can.

With the creation of Silversea’s Antarctica Bridge fly-cruise program, those with limited time — or those who have previously sailed the full itinerary — can step foot in the continent just over 90 minutes after takeoff from Punta Arenas, Chile. The chartered, business class flights are piloted by skilled Chilean navy pilots with 10,000 hours of flight time.

The fly-cruise program begins and ends on King George Island in the South Shetlands, known as the Gateway to the Last Continent. The journey brings Silversea guests on unscheduled experiences kayaking, boating, or simply walking along the icy shoreline to admire and explore Antarctica’s natural wonders. Guests might see penguins, seals, or towering rock-and-ice formations — all with just days spent on the Seventh Continent.

“Flying to Antarctica is an incredible experience,” says Conrad Combrink, Silversea’s SVP of Expedition, Destinations, and Itinerary Management. Even if guests have been to the destination before, he mentions that flying in is a completely unique experience to the two-day ocean voyage. There is an announcement to put on your rubber boots and parkas about 15 minutes prior to landing, which is unlike a Drake Passage crossing or a typical flight.

Combrink says the fly-cruise program has been a dream of his since Silversea Expeditions launched in 2008. “Today, with Antarctica Bridge, the White Continent has never been closer.” And Combrink would know; he has been to Antarctica more than 76 times and maintains that no matter how many times you go, “It’s always a dream destination.”