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Clothes for Antartica Scenic Cruising

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Will be on Princess cruise that does several days of scenic cruising of Antartica and hope to spend a great deal of time out on deck.  For those that have done this type of causing, what type of clothes / coats / accessories did you wear?  We plan to layer but was wondering if anyone had any specifics suggestions or pictures they could share.  Was wind or rain a factor on your trip?


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Expect windy conditions with temperatures around freezing, but not much below.   What clothes that means for you may be different than what I'd wear.  Windproof is key


Rain is always possible, but if you are windproof, you are likely mostly rainproof as well

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Agree that you need very good windproof abilities for your outer jacket (if it's breathable, all the better). There is usually no rain in Antarctica (it snows) but depending on where your cruise goes other than Antarctica it would be good if it's waterproof (agree that good jackets usually are both).

If you use layers, the outer jacket does not need to be very warm, so this way it can be versatile and re-used outside Antarctica. 

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I haven't done any big-ship cruising (though 12,700 tons did feel pretty big compared to 4000 tons!) but I love to be out on deck during repositioning and ship cruising!


Windproof is indeed essential, but unless you're especially hardy, you'll probably want some good insulating layers as well. The breeze from the moving ship definitely ups the windchill factor quite a bit, so I find that I needed to layer up a lot more than I do when landing.


Personally, I splurge and bring along my biggest, bulkiest parka that's actually rated to -30°C because I like to throw it on at a moment's notice to run outside! But I don't usually wear much underneath it, so you can get by just as well by having a good layering system.


If you want to be out for long periods of time (an hour or more), I'd recommend a thermal base layer, a warm insulating layer (e.g. a thick fleece), and a windproof/waterproof shell. It's also good to have thick socks so you don't lose heat through your feet. And a hat and gloves of course! Additionally, a shell pant like a rain pant can be nice to have for blocking the breeze on your lower half. Since I have a pair of thin rain pants with me for landings, if I know I'll be outside for a long time, I'll throw them on before I head out.

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  • 1 month later...

I agree with all the above posts layering with a windproof/waterproof shell in addition I would highly recommend a fleece buff.  It is a circular piece of fabric (I made mine) it can be worn many different ways as a scarf, earmuff and others and it takes up little room in your suitcase. 

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Background for judging relevancy to your cruise-by trip - I just came from an expedition cruise to Antarctica (sail date December 29 to January 16 via Scenic Eclipse, starting from Ushuaia to Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica).  The weather was “balmy” thirties degrees F, and I have experienced colder weather in New Jersey.  We were very lucky to be able to make all landings (except skipping one zodiac cruise due to strong wind).  The kind of weather that you will be facing cannot be more severe than what I experienced while participating all outdoor activities such as kayaking, 2-hr zodiac cruising, landings, hiking, and scenic cruising on deck outside.

I found sufficient wearing mid-weight, 100% merino base layers (double up if prolonged stay outside) underneath a thin waterproof/wind-proof pair of pants and outer jacket.  For the outermost layer, I did not need to wear any thick parka; instead, I wore a thick hooded raincoat provided by Scenic.  What I found a must to wear were neck and head coverings.  I wore either a thin merino wool baclava or cotton beanie with a wool scarf.  (A better option is to wear two merino wool neck buffs and use one to cover head when needed.). For keeping my legs and feet warm, I wore merino wool socks (one short pair plus one long pair) undernearh Scenic’s provided Muck boots when riding zodiac or landing and hiking shoes onboard.  If the excursion required a prolonged stay outside, I wore insulated Gortex pants instead of the thin outer pants.  For keeping my fingers warm, I wore thick waterproof gloves.  I did not need merino glove liners, and I wore them only during kayaking (Scenic provided the outer gloves attached to the paddle).


If you are not used to cold climate, you can add a warm mid layer top (long or short sleeved).  I think layering multiple thin layers are warmer than one thick layer.  More importantly, do not wear cotton next to your skin.  Merino wool is the best for baselayer. The wind-proof, waterproof outlayer, hooded jacket along with the buff/baclava will protect you against wind and wetness (from blown sea water or melted snow).

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For your information, I purchased all of my merino wool clothing from Minus33 dot com. I find their price reasonable and quality superior.  I bought waterproof and wind proof pants from Northface, and find the active clothing best quality, design, and comfort.  I got my gloves from llbean.

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21 hours ago, simonpjd said:

If you are lucky it will snow . But unlikely. Antarctica is a desert.

While it's true that the interior does not see much precipitation, the peninsula receives a fair amount:


Annual Precipitation (mm)


I've had a few substantial snowfalls on my trips, and once I managed to make a small snowman before the crew got out to clear the deck. (They actually took care to clear around Mr.Snowman, so he got to spend the day with us!)

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Multiple layers with a good outer shell was the trick.  Only mistake was with my gloves. I went to a slightly less insulated version so I could manipulate cameras, etc. and I should have added a liner underneath for an extra layer


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On 2/4/2020 at 4:31 AM, simonpjd said:

If you are lucky it will snow . But unlikely. Antarctica is a desert. It won’t be as cold as you think it will be. Take a warm hat and gloves. And a good camera for those penguins and hopefully whales. 


Have you actually been there ? I have been 4 times and have been heavily snowed on each time - especially along East and West Antarctica and in the Ross Sea - but also all along the peninsula.

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Yes I have been on 2 expedition trips. And only 2 days snow in that time. One was a very exciting landing in a snow blizzard on South Georgia. One left the ship with a couple of inches on deck and looked and was spectacular. Gosh I loved those trips. 
Biggest tip if you are thinking of going would be to save and go on a smaller vessel and definitely include Falklands and South Georgia. That’s where the best wildlife is.

yes I have just doubled or even trebled the cost from a sail by trip but you will never regret it.

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I had a medium weight parka, hat, and good gloves.  Other than that I had lounging clothes underneath - yoga pants and t-shirts.  You don't have to spend loads on stuff - the weather is fairly mild (around freezing but not much colder than that).

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