Where the mighty waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide. 

The Antarctic is undoubtedly a bucket-list destination, but the sometimes-calm, sometimes-volatile body of water known as Drake Passage is the stuff of travel legend. Known to many as one of the roughest sea passages in the world, this icy expanse not only offers rare glimpses into the world of several marine mammals but also allows you the time to come to terms with the sheer size and scale of the Antarctica region. Whether you want to scout the horizon for breaching humpback whales or take a deep breath of the fresh, icy air from the top deck, our Drake Passage cruises will undoubtedly be an unforgettable adventure. 

Our Drake Passage cruises & tours

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Follow the whales of Antarctica as they migrate south on this 11-day expedition cruise,...

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Set off on an 11-day expedition on board the Ocean Endeavour, revealing the landscapes...

Highlights of Drake Passage

A lone traveller leaning on the railing of the Ocean Endeavour ship, looking out to sea.

Breathe in the fresh Antarctic air

There are very few places in the world where you can completely switch off and be at one with the natural landscape that surrounds you. Drake Passage is one of those places. Escape from the general cacophony of ship life and make your way to the bow for a deep, lung-full of the fresh and icy Antarctic air. Please refrain from acting out Leo’s ‘king of the world’ moment though. 

Two people doing a yoga stretch

Participate in a yoga class

When you think of on-board activities, yoga may not be the first one that comes to mind, however, it’s one of the best ways to rejuvenate your soul and leave you feeling refreshed for the journey ahead. Take the time to participate in a class with a professional instructor and release any tension or stress you might be holding onto (you definitely don’t need that in the Antarctic). 

Woman choosing a blue covered book in a library

Take advantage of the polar library

If the weather is misbehaving during your journey through Drake Passage, there are still plenty of things to do on board to keep you entertained. That’s where the polar library comes in. With books on everything under the sun, including fascinating facts on your otherworldly destination, enrich your mind in preparation for the rest of your polar adventure. 

Two travellers cliinking champagne glasses on the top deck with an iceberg in the background.

Get to know your fellow adventurers

You can’t go on an eye-opening, life-changing trip to the Antarctic without spending time getting to know the wanderlust-ers travelling with you. Crossing the Drake Passage is the perfect time to relax, get a drink, regale your shipmates with stories of your previous adventures, and get excited for the epic one you're about to go on. 

A humpback whale head breaching the water's surface during the crossing of Drake Passage.

Spot various Antarctic animals from the ship’s top deck

If you think that just because there’s no land in sight, you won’t see any animals during your voyage across the notorious Drake Passage then perhaps you should think again. Drake Passage is full of animal life from high-flying albatross to breaching whales. The opportunity to photograph these creatures in all their Antarctic glory is a definite pinch-me moment you’ll remember for years to come.  

A group of travellers standing on the deck, looking out at the icy landscape of Antarctica.

Learn about Antarctica’s epic history from polar experts

It might seem like there's not a whole lot to do when crossing the Drake Passage but the team of polar experts on board would say otherwise. Knowledgeable on all things Antarctica including the region's history, geology, and biology, treat yourself to a presentation or lecture from the professionals who know it best so you know exactly what you're sailing into. 

Drake Passage tour reviews 

Drake Passage FAQs

Trips on or before 31 December 2022

If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.

Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

The Drake Passage is situated between the southernmost tip of Argentina (Ushuaia) and stretches to the top of the Antarctic Continental Shelf. The passage itself is 1,000km in length and takes around 36 hours to cross in good weather and up to 48 hours if the water is choppy.   

Despite its reputation of being one of the most treacherous water crossings in the world, the Drake Passage is extremely safe. While that may not have been the case for the first explorers of the region centuries ago, new technology, safety procedures, and specialised equipment nowadays ensure you'll have an extremely uneventful crossing. 

Learn about how long it takes to cross the Drake Passage

In short, no. You don't have to cross the Drake Passage to get to Antarctica but it is often viewed as one of those 'bucket-list' things you simply have to do if you're travelling to the region. If the thought of a 48-hour journey over turbulent seas isn't for you, you can opt to take a plane straight over the crossing via a chartered flight. 

While you can experience horrible weather conditions and rough waters at any time of the year, summer is generally considered to be the best time to make the crossing through the Drake Passage. This is because the weather is usually calmer and doesn't produce as many storms as the weather in spring or autumn. This means that travelling in either June, July, or August will theoretically give you the best chance of avoiding awful weather. 

Read more about the best time to cross the Drake Passage

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

Read more about Antarctica