What are the best clothes to wear on your dream cruise to Antarctica?

When you book an expedition cruise to Antarctica it can be tempting to pack your entire wardrobe. You need warm weather clothes for Buenos Aires but polar clothing for the Antarctic. Before you know it, your suitcase overflows and you need to wrestle it shut. Once onboard your cruise ship, it can become a logistical nightmare to figure out what to wear for different excursions. In this post, we highlight the best clothes to wear on your dream cruise to Antarctica. We highlight the best clothing for different types of activities you will undertake during a February cruise when temperatures range from -6C to 6C. Fear not, we have quick links to examples of all the clothing too so if you need to top up your wardrobe before you travel, you can see exactly what we wore.

Stunning views of Antarctica from our expedition cruise
Stunning views of Antarctica from our expedition cruise

Note, we travelled on Scenic Eclipse. Each evening, we received a schedule for the next day with suggested clothing. Depending on which cruise you book, you may receive something similar but just in case, this post will help you regardless of tour operator.


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Activities during your dream cruise to Antarctica

Any expedition cruise to Antarctica will include a variety of excursions including zodiac cruises, zodiac landings and possibly SUP, kayaking and more. In this post we will cover the best clothes to wear on the most common types of activities you might enjoy during your dream cruise to Antarctica.

Shards of ice in the bays of Antarctica
Shards of ice in the bays of Antarctica

The best clothes to wear on zodiacs

There are two types of Zodiac excursion and what you wear for each will differ slightly.

Zodiac cruises

You will not land during a zodiac cruise. Instead, a cruise is an opportunity to sightsee on a intimate scale. The zodiacs can get much closer to wildlife and spectacular scenery than the expedition ship. However, Zodiacs can travel at speed and with icy Antarctic winds accosting you, staying warm can be a real issue.

You may be out on a cruise for 60 – 90 minutes and should wrap up much more for a zodiac cruise than you might for a zodiac landing.

Out for a zodiac boat ride
Jason and I on a more sedate zodiac cruise

Best clothes to wear for a zodiac cruise

Personally, I wore;

  • Two thermal tops (on really cold days I added an extra layer). I particularly love this set from NOOYME which comes in a variety of sizes for men and women, plus you can select your favourite colour.
  • A thicker top like a fleece hoodie (no need to buy technical clothing for this layer)
  • My Scenic Eclipse jacket
  • Heated socks (these are the exact ones and they cost £29.99)
  • An extra pair of merino wool socks which cost £25.99 a pair
  • Thermal leggings – £30.99 and available for both men and women in a variety of colours and sizes. These are part of the NOOYME set including a thermal top.
  • Hiking trousers like these ones. I absolutely love my pair of Peter Storm hiking trousers because of how versatile they are. In Buenos Aires you can unzip the two lower layers and in Antarctica you simply zip them back on. They are super comfortable and look smart.
  • Waterproof over trousers. Do not be tempted to skip these as you will regret it! I like this set because they also have zips to convert them but you can elect for any pair that suits you. I would recommend selecting a pair however that have zips at the bottom to make it easy to slide them over your boots.
  • A thin pair of gloves like these. If you wish to take photos you can do so without having to remove all your layers. Frostbite is not a good look!
  • Plus a much thicker pair like these ones. On zodiac cruises your hands get really cold if it is a cold and cloudy day. Note, if you have ski clothes they will suffice. There is no need to buy something special.
  • A hat liner like this one to double up on head warmth.
  • A woolly hat of your choice. Thicker is better!
  • A neck cowl (do not forget this one as it makes the world of difference)
  • Your life jacket which you can find in your cabin

What else to take for a zodiac cruise

For a cruise, I recommend that you leave your camera behind and simply pop your mobile into a waterproof case like this one. These were absolutely brilliant for zodiacs and other activities as they fit neatly over your head, protect against spray and if you should drop them in the water, they float. Well worth the investment! Not to mention that when you go on your next summer sun holiday you can take pictures in the swimming pool without fear of dropping it in the water. Winner!

Port Lockroy overlooking the bay
Port Lockroy overlooking the bay

Zodiac landing

As the name suggests, on this type of excursion the zodiac is simply a means of transportation to shore to view wildlife, hike or see other spectacular sights. Because you will walk around it is likely that you get much warmer and so may wish to lose a layer or two. On some of our hikes we saw people remove their jackets entirely.

Jason and I walking inside the caldera of Deception Island
Jason and I walking inside the caldera of Deception Island – not sure what he said to make me laugh!

Best clothes to wear for a zodiac landing

Personally, I wore;

  • A thermal top (on really cold days I added an extra layer) like this set from NOOYME.
  • A thicker top such as an hoodie
  • My Scenic Eclipse jacket
  • Heated socks
  • Thermal leggings
  • Hiking trousers
  • Waterproof over trousers.
  • A thin pair of gloves
  • A thicker pair of gloves
  • A neck cowl
  • A hat liner
  • A woolly hat
  • Your life jacket

Heated socks

What to take for a zodiac landing

You may wish to take the following items with you on a zodiac landing;

  • Your camera in a waterproof bag (not recommended)
  • A GoPro. I would definitely recommend a GoPro over an expensive camera. Not only is the picture quality great quality, it is more robust and is waterproof. There is little chance that you will avoid spray on zodiacs and you may end up in the water when disembarking the zodiac. It is much easier to keep hold of a small GoPro on a wrist strap like this one than it is a camera. Furthermore, if you drop your GoPro this strap floats and you have a much greater chance of being reunited with your device.
  • Your phone for easy photos but wrap it in one of the waterproof pouches I mentioned about. They only cost about £5 each and you can fix them firmly around your neck and they will stay dry. This was one of my best buys for this trip.
  • Water especially if you are going on a longer hike. I took my running jacket for these hikes as I found it less annoying than carrying a bottle and continually having to find it in my bag. This is the one I use and it doubles up for runs when you are back in Buenos Aires.

Want to know more about Antarctica cruises?

So hopefully this post has given you an idea of the kind of clothes you need for each type of outing on an Antarctica cruise. Now don’t worry if you are planning what to pack for your cruise as I have future posts coming up which cover the best clothes to wear onboard as well. To ensure you do not miss this valuable information before your cruise, sign up to my newsletter and you will not miss a post. Sign up here.

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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