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Why this might be the best year ever to visit Antarctica

June 17, 2021
3 min read
Why this might be the best year ever to visit Antarctica
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If you've been dreaming of a trip to Antarctica, this might be the year to make it happen.

There's a narrow six-month window each year when you can visit Antarctica, and this December the stars (and sun and moon) are aligning so you can also view a total solar eclipse during your trip — and it's not too late to book this journey of a lifetime. If you've been hoping to see a total solar eclipse, it's your last chance until April of 2024.

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Commercial voyages can only reach Antarctica from late October to March when the sea ice opens up enough to allow ships through. And it's a lengthy journey: Short trips start around eight days and some can extend to three weeks.

Tourists have become increasingly interested in the southern continent, and there are now a number of tours that vary in price and duration, though even the least expensive itineraries will run you several thousands of dollars. Cruise lines and tour operators such as Silversea, Viking, Quark Expeditions, Seabourn, Intrepid and Abercrombie & Kent all lead Antarctica expeditions.

There are even travel providers with itineraries dedicated to seeing the solar eclipse this year.

Even the best tour company, however, can't guarantee you'll have clear skies. Poor conditions can obviously affect your ability to see the eclipse, and Antarctica is known for its unpredictable weather.

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse is predicted for Dec. 4, 2021, and Antarctica may be the only place on Earth you'll be able to get a complete view of the eclipse this time around. The view will be best the closer you are to the so-called path of totality.

Total Solar Eclipse (Image by SA Expeditions/Nick Dall)

After the eclipse in December, the next time a total solar eclipse isn't expected until April 8, 2024. That one, however, won't require a trip across the globe. Instead, it's set to carve a path through Mexico, the central U.S. and eastern Canada.

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But if 2024 is too far away and you have Antarctica on your travel list, you might want to consider seeing one of nature's happiest accidents this December.

Of course, COVID-19 could still pose a challenge for travelers looking to visit Antarctica this year. Right now, tourism isn’t banned from the continent, but there are only a few avenues to get to Antarctica, and you’ll have to follow the rules of entry for those countries.

Related: You can now cruise from the Arctic to Antarctica on this over-the-top new voyage

Most Antarctica voyages depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile. Both countries are closed to tourists at this time, but the situation could change in time for the solar eclipse sailings.

Even if you don't see a perfect total solar eclipse, you'll still get to experience Arctic waters, pristine glaciers and penguins. Not a bad deal, right?

Featured image by Image by Jo Crebbin/Shutterstock
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more