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Everyone is going to Antarctica these days! In preparation for my trip, I read many packing tips. But some packing lists were written by people who have not taken a trip to Antarctica and didn’t answer all of my questions. Hopefully, this article will answer all of your questions based on my experience cruising on an Atlas Ocean Voyages cruise.

Remember that the secret to dressing for an Antarctica Cruise is layers, layers, layers! Consider what activities you’ll engage in to ensure you’ve covered all bases. My goal is always to pack and carry only a carry-on and a personal item. I share what I brought and what I wish I’d got instead.

What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: cruise ship staff waiting for passengers on Atlas Ocean Cruises
This is how the staff dress while helping us on and off the zodiacs.


Antarctica cruises are held during the southern hemisphere summer: November to February. Expect daily temperatures around 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). The coldest months are January and February. Because of its location, you’ll experience close to 24 hours of daylight. 

Don’t let the cold dissuade you from exploring Antarctica. Be mindful and prepared so you don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation, and follow your guides. Ensure you check the weather daily so that you’re appropriately dressed.

PRO TIP: The Amazon links included in this post are only for products I use! I did not link to items that failed the assignment of keeping me dry and warm.

What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: three travelers in lime jackets on black sand beach with cruise ship in background
You can see that my travel partners got hot and removed their gloves!


Here are the basics I packed, and because it was summer in Argentina, I had to account for both a few days of warm temperatures and whether I would be able to wash clothes in my sink. My cruise ship did not have independent laundry facilities, though I could use the laundry service for a fee.

Having never been on an expedition cruise before, I packed the following, mainly considering what I would need for the excursions and how I usually packed for a cruise. It turns out that you can wear whatever you’re comfortable with! Most people wore jeans or casual outfits the entire time. Do wear closed-toe shoes, though, since the ship is often rocking, and you don’t want to trip!

What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: two men in lime jackets with Atlan Ocean Voyages World Traveller ship in background
You’ll be coldest and wettest during your zodiac outings. Keep warm and dry!


The one thing your outdoor clothing needs to be is waterproof. Why? Many of the popular activities in Antarctica involve water or being near water. Zodiacs, small rubber boats, take you to land destinations, but you may fall into the water. Waterproof clothing also protects you from the wind, and the chill makes any temperature feel a lot colder than it is!

Some of your items will get wet on every outing, and if your cruise has two daily tours (like ours on Atlas did), you’ll want to double your items that will not dry in time for your next outing.

  • Waterproof winter boots (Generally provided by the cruise company.)
    • Nothing is worse than walking around in cold, wet boots. You need them to be waterproof for your Antarctica explorations.
  • Waterproof winter coat (Generally provided by the cruise company.)
    • Stay warm and cozy by wearing a waterproof winter coat that will protect you from the elements.
  • Puffy jacket
    • A puffy jacket is easy to fold and carry as a middle layer, keeping you warm and taking up almost no room. I did not bring a puffy jacket.
  • Fleece jacket or fleece vest
    • Another good middle layer is a fleece jacket or vest. These will keep you warm and dry quickly. I brought both of these, but our jackets had a removable vest that I would have used and avoided packing them.
  • Waterproof winter pants
    • Stay dry and warm by wearing waterproof pants over your long underwear.
  • Wool hat
    • You want to keep your head warm and covered. Wool or fleece does this best. Pack two; they will get wet if it is snowing or drizzling.
  • Gloves
    • Some people prefer mittens, but I like gloves. I found those with touchscreen tips helpful in taking photos without removing them entirely. I am still looking for a completely waterproof pair – so you will need two.
  • Fleece gaiter
    • Keep your neck and face warm. Use either a gaiter or a scarf that can cover your lower face. You’ll need two of these.
What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: man and woman in pool on Atlas Ocean Voyages World Traveller
Always pack a bathing suit. Always.


In the interest of transparency, I include non-clothing items to pack for Antarctica that are specific to me as well as general items that you’ll need:

  • Anti-nausea patches
    • After hearing horror stories about the Drake Passage, I asked my doctor for a prescription for nausea patches.
    • Mild nausea sufferers may want these non-prescription patches.
    • Those who don’t suffer from nausea or want natural remedies may wish to try psi bands or crystallized ginger.
  • Hair towel 
    • I have a thing about my hair! I decided to bring my lightweight hair towel.
  • Silk pillowcase
    • Yes, I’m that person, but my hair goes crazy with new waters, so I protect it with a silk pillowcase. Plus, it helps me to look more rested!
  • Adapter/transformer
    • Argentina outlets feature two options: two round prongs and three flat prongs. Look for adapters labeled as types “C” and “I.” Our Atlas Ocean cruise ship had outlets that accommodated all kinds of outlets and power, but I still needed one for my stay in Buenos Aires. The standard voltage in Argentina is 220 V (compared to the US 120 V). I did bring a cruise ship-approved power outlet so that I could charge several items simultaneously.
  • Headphones
    • In addition to needing them for your electronics, consider bringing a plug-in type to use on the airplane or if you take a tour bus.
  • iPad
    • For a short trip like this, I like to download some shows or movies just in case the inflight entertainment isn’t working and to wind down in the evenings. An iPad is smaller and lighter than a laptop.
  • Cell phone
    • Cell phones are the primary camera for most of us and our mainstay of communication.
  • Waterproof Pouch for cell phone
    • Because there are many times when you’ll want to take photos when the cell phone might get wet, protect it with a case.
  • Hand Warmers
    • Put some in your pockets to keep your hands toasty during outdoor activities such as looking at penguins and other ocean life. They also double as power banks in a pinch.
  • Reading Glasses
    • I packed several pairs since I need to remember to take them with me in taxis and other places.
  • Sunglasses
    • Sun reflecting off the snow makes for a lot of glare. Protect your eyes with a pair of quality polarized sunglasses.
  • Snacks
    • Pack a few of your favorite protein bars just in case of a flight delay or if you need an extra snack during a tour.
  • Book (always for a flight!)
    • Sometimes, I like flipping through a book. A kindle is perfect if you have one.
  • Medications
    • In addition to your prescription medications, don’t forget to pack your favorite pain relief pill (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve), cough drops, and melatonin.
  • Eye Mask
    • Your summer visit will mean daylight for an extended number of hours. Bring an eye mask not only to help you sleep during your flight to and from Argentina but to help you sleep during your cruise.
  • Sunscreen
    • Given the sun’s glare off snow and ice, you’ll want to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Airtags
    • Make sure that your suitcase is traveling with you! Place an air tag or tile in your bag so that you can check where it is using your “Find My” app. 
What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: cruisers with boots over snow pants and under snow pants
Ensure the ankle openings on your pants will slide OVER your boots. You want the water to slide off you, not go into your boots.


Completing full transparency, here are the personal items and toiletries I packed for Antarctica:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Makeup
    • Mascara
    • Eye pencils
    • Color corrector
  • Skincare
    • Moisturizer
    • Chapstick

Did I share too much? Maybe, but I don’t want you to forget anything! The small shop on our Atlas ship sold a handful of items, like toothpaste and shaving cream, but they were pricey.

What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: lime green jackets and black boots in lockers in the mud room on Atlas Ocean Voyages World Traveller
Mud room lockers – you’ll keep your wet stuff here.



The Argentine Peso is the local currency in Argentina. Argentina’s exchange rate is a mess! The official exchange rate while I was there (February 2023) was 190 pesos to $1 US dollar. The “blue dollar rate,” unofficial black market, was 380 pesos to $1 US dollar. Access the blue dollar rate (your hotel and tour guides will give you recommendations) by bringing US cash and avoiding using your credit card! You can send yourself money through Western Union to get a rate close to the blue dollar rate if you’re uncomfortable using the unofficial exchangers. 

Bottom line: US cash is king in Argentina!


When traveling to Antarctica, don’t forget to bring your passport. Bring your driver’s license with you if you rent a vehicle for your travel before or after your Antarctica cruise. 

Most US, Canadian, and European visitors can enter Argentina without a visa. Visitors can generally stay for up to 90 days without a special permit.

Ensure that someone back home has a copy of your passport in case you need a backup. You should also keep a copy on your phone (or cloud) if yours is lost or stolen while traveling. 

What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler | image: zodiac taking out kayaks for passengers in Antarctica
If you plan on kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding, make sure you can move easily in your layers.


I did not need my fleece vest. The removable vest from the provided coat was sufficient for us to wear around the ship and be comfortable.

I did not need my sweater, turtleneck, or most of my warmer clothing. The temperature onboard was consistently comfortable. I could have saved considerable room in my bags by bringing lighter clothing.


As mentioned above, the temperature onboard was consistently comfortable, so I wish I had packed more short-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve tops.

While my gaiters served their purpose, I recommend an adjustable one with a drawstring so that you can adjust it higher on your head. Here is an example of the adjustable gaiter I would bring next time (note: I have not purchased or tried this product).

I wish I had a warm pair of waterproof gloves that allowed for touchscreen capability to take photos. My gloves were not waterproof enough and were soaked by the end of each outing. While I had two pairs, I’m still looking for that waterproof pair!

I also wish I had packed an extra bag I could check upon returning. The jacket the cruise lines give you is no joke! They’re thick and warm and take up a lot of room in a bag. 


Don’t be scared to visit Antarctica. This beautiful continent shines and is worth a visit.

Have you visited Antarctica? Do you have additional suggestions? Share with us in the comments below.

Looking for more Antarctica and cold weather travel tips? Check out these articles:

Happy travels,
Annick, The Common Traveler

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What to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise | The Common Traveler shares what to bring (and not bring) on your Antarctica cruise! Use her helpful tips to avoid overpacking and enjoy the best cruising experience.

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