The weather may be warming up in the northern hemisphere, but quite a buzz is being generated about icy Antarctica, which increasingly appears to be the destination of choice for the expedition-minded. Among the first-class ships being dispatched this autumn is the new-build MV Le Boreal (second picture). Chartered by Abercrombie & Kent (www.abercrombiekent.co.uk; from £8,569 per person), it will make three consecutive expeditions in one trip, touring variously South Georgia and the Falkland Islands before following in the steps of Shackleton on the Antarctic continent (December 7-January 5), and hosting climate-change lectures from US expert Dr James McLintock.
Meanwhile, award-winning US operator Lindblad Expeditions (www.expeditions.com) is setting its new state-of-the-art National Geographic Explorer (first picture; think an ice-breaking hull – with rain showers in the cabins and prestige champagnes in the bar) on course for a series of southern-hemisphere expeditions. Peter Hillary, son of Edmund and noted South Pole-crosser, will lead and lecture on three of the 14-day December explorations (from $10,270 per person, departing December 7, 17 and 27).
And high-end, high-octane travel outfitter Momentum Adventure (www.momentumadventure.com; from £55,000 per person) will offer a 21-day South Pole itinerary (departing November 26) with the option to sail, rather than fly, from Tierra del Fuego across Drake’s Passage and up the Antarctic peninsula. The twin draws of all these luxury boats – low passenger numbers and exceptional service – mean that it is essential to book before the summer’s out.