Explore Travel Insurance

An uninhabited wilderness, wholly removed from what we recognise as life, awaits in Antarctica. The largely-untouched seventh continent is home to wildlife, sceneries and habitats that most of us will have never seen or encountered before.

So, we’re extremely lucky that this otherworldly landscape is accessible to adventurous travellers. However, there are some precautions you should take before packing your snow gear. Here we break down everything you need to know about travel insurance for Antarctica and more!

Travelling to Antarctica

Going to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From the majestic icebergs to penguin colonies, there’s so much to this magnificent icescape that can’t be described with words alone.

There are two ways to get to Antarctica: by plane or by cruise. Those wanting a ski expedition or hoping to avoid the infamous Drake Passage may be interested in a flight. However, cruises are the more popular option, with each cruise offering various activities and stops, potentially including brief trips to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia on your way to the Antarctic Peninsula.

However, certain risks come with going to the most isolated continent in the world.

Things can go wrong on any holiday, so taking out travel insurance can help you prepare for unexpected events that may cause you financial loss, like flight cancellations due to bad weather, stolen luggage or other events listed in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Without travel insurance, you may be left out of pocket for these expenses; however, not all travel insurers will provide cover for trips to Antarctica, so you will need to research thoroughly before you purchase any cover.

Do I need travel insurance for Antarctica?

Antarctica is very remote, so medical attention and evacuation can be extremely expensive if you don’t have adequate cover to protect you. Because of this, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a responsible tour operator who doesn’t demand that you get travel insurance.

While travel insurance isn’t mandatory for all cruises, there are some that may deny boarding if you don’t have an adequate level of coverage. The necessary level of coverage may vary depending on your tour operator and your individual circumstance and needs.

Kayaking by an iceberg in Antarctica

What should my travel insurance for Antarctica include?

Antarctica is a unique destination for the ultimate adventure, so there are unique ways to prepare for your journey across the Southern Ocean. However, a great way to start preparing for any destination (not just Antarctica) is with travel insurance, and here’s why.

Cover for medical expenses and emergency evacuation

Tours to Antarctica may require passengers to have international travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation, medical expenses, hospitalisation and emergency repatriation.

You can normally get covered for all these with comprehensive travel insurance, but you should always check your product’s PDS before purchasing.

Cruise ships may have basic medical care, but any serious injuries that require emergency evacuation to the nearest country can potentially cost you thousands. Travel insurance can help cover these costs.

When it comes to travelling abroad, you may need additional vaccines depending on your health and medical history. Contact your local general practitioner for more information on how you should prepare for your adventure.

Cruise cover

Most travel insurance policies don’t automatically include cruise cover. So, if you purchase travel insurance without including cruise cover as an optional add-on, you will not be covered for losses relating to the cruise.

An adequate insurance policy can protect you financially when things don’t go as planned. This is especially useful for Antarctica cruises, which are some of the more expensive cruise trips a traveller can take due to its remote location, expensive transportation and limited trip availability. Cruise cover can provide insurance for:

  • Overseas medical and hospital expenses
  • Medical evacuation at sea
  • Cabin confinement due to sickness
  • Cancellation costs for pre-paid travel arrangements
  • Trip delays and rescheduling fees
  • Missed cruise departure
  • Missed pre-paid shore excursions
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage or personal belongings
  • Additional expenses
  • 24-hour emergency assistance.

Remember to always read the policy’s PDS to know exactly what you’re covered for before purchasing.

Adventure sports cover

Unless you plan to stay inside the cruise ship for the entire trip, you may also want to get adventure sports cover. This product will let you participate in a range of adventure sports with the safety of knowing that you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

Some sports that this type of policy covers may include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Glacier walking
  • Kayaking
  • Trekking
  • Ice fishing.

Check your policy’s PDS for more details on what type of activities you’re covered for.

Ski touring cover

For the adventurous skier, Antarctica is an ideal destination to test out their skills. However, ski trips aren’t generally included in cruises and usually involve flying directly to Antarctica for a skiing expedition. If this interests you, or you plan on taking part in other snow activities, you should consider ski and snowboarding cover in case of an accident or unexpected event.

However, it’s important to understand that many insurers may not accept regular winter sports cover for Antarctic ski trips, as it’s usually limited to on-piste activities. Therefore, you may need to purchase ski tour cover for protection while exploring the Antarctic slopes. Ideally, your cover should include:

  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Medical treatment and hospital expenses if you’re injured on your trip
  • Protection for your ski equipment against damage, loss or theft.

While you should always check your policy’s PDS, this is especially important when travelling to uncommon destinations and participating in high-risk activities. Before purchasing your cover, you should read the policy’s terms and conditions, provisions and exclusions to understand if you’re covered for everything you need.

Theft and loss of belongings

If someone steals your cash, damages your belongings or your luggage is delayed in arriving, this feature may cover some or all of the expenses that come with these scenarios.

Be mindful that you won’t be covered if your belongings were stolen while unattended, as you didn’t appropriately protect your possessions. You also won’t be covered if a third party (like your airline or tour operator) compensates you for the loss, delay or damage.

Trip cancellation and delays

Cancellation and delay cover will usually be included in cruise cover. This type of cover is crucial as Antarctic cruises are often delayed due to severe weather.

Outdoor activities like kayaking, camping or exploring the magnificent glaciers may be cancelled last minute. If you’ve missed out on a pre-paid shore excursion or have a non-refundable deposit for an activity, your travel insurance may compensate you for those costs (if the cruise hasn’t already reimbursed you).

Antarctica is uninhabited apart from the scientists that come and go, which means there are no indoor activities or local cafes to pass the time in if the weather goes awry.

Travel with confidence. Compare Now.

Antarctica travel insurance: Exclusions to watch out for

All travel insurance policies have specific exclusions that may limit the cover. These will vary depending on your insurance provider and policy, but in general, some common exclusions may include:

  • If you didn’t disclose any pre-existing medical conditions. You may not be covered if you try to claim because of an incident related to a pre-existing medical condition that you didn’t disclose or that your insurer didn’t agree to cover.
  • If you leave your belongings unattended. Your belongings will only be covered if you took the necessary precautions to keep them safe.
  • If you go skiing off-piste. Although you should get snow and ski cover if you plan on doing snow activities, most insurers won’t cover you if you go skiing on an off-piste slope. All ski slopes in Antarctica are off-piste and may not be regulated or have the equipment to keep you safe.
  • If you go against the advice of your activity guide. If you ignore your cruise or activity guide’s advice, your insurer may not cover you in the event of an accident.
  • If you were intoxicated when you were injured. Drug or alcohol-related injuries usually aren’t covered.

Find out more about what’s not typically covered by travel insurance policies by visiting our page on common travel exclusions. Your policy’s PDS will specify any exclusions applicable to your cover.

Enjoying the adventure of a lifetime

Sea kayaking with whales

Go sea kayaking in the icy blue waters of Antarctica. Admire the humpback whales, penguins, leopard seals and other animals in their natural habitat as you navigate the tranquil seas. If you’re not one for kayaking, you can also go on a zodiac cruise (a guided tour on a small inflatable boat) to explore the majestic seascape.

You can see pods of whales break up the surface of water and ice right next to you at almost any time of day. Kayaking is one of the best ways to whale watch.

Camping by starlight

If you love the outdoors, you’ll love camping in Antarctica. You’ll have the opportunity to get your hands dirty and build your campsite on a glacier. You may have to wait until the weather clears up, but once you go, it’ll be an unforgettable experience.

Keep in mind that your tour guide may ask you to be environmentally responsible and stay at least two metres away from wildlife. However, the curious penguins in Antarctica may waddle right up to you while you camp.

The lack of people living in Antarctica means there’s no pollution clouding the skies. Watch the sky change colours as it hits dusk, and a speckled milky way lights up your night. It’s possibly one of the best places in the world to stargaze.

Have a drink at the Vernadsky Research Base

The only bar in Antarctica exists in the Vernadsky Research Base. Scientists at the research base, who’ve taken up the hobby of distilling vodka, supply this bar. It’s the southernmost bar in the world and a great place to have homemade vodka!

Two chinstrap penguins sitting on a snow covered mountain

Is Antarctica safe?

While there’s a community of scientists who live in Antarctica depending on the season, there are no permanent residents, towns, cities or commercial industries.

While it can be very safe if you go with a guide, Antarctica is still the coldest place on earth. In fact, the Antarctica is known to go below -80 degrees Celsius in winter.1 Extreme cold can put travellers at risk for hypothermia and frostbite.2

Antarctic operators may provide you with some safety equipment, such as proper boots and warm jackets. However, you shouldn’t rely on just this; make sure you bring your own warm, snow-appropriate clothing. You should also take care to keep any gear and camera equipment warm as the extreme cold can freeze expensive equipment.

While severe weather can delay cruises, they’ll still travel in moderate weather conditions. The journey from Australia to Antarctica can go over rough seas – particularly through the Drake Passage – which can put travellers at risk for seasickness. If you’re prone to travel illness, make sure you bring seasickness pills prescribed by your doctor.

Top hacks for travelling to Antarctica

1. Plan ahead

The best time to travel to Antarctica is the summer months (November to March), when the sun rises above the horizon and melts the ice for safe passage. These warmer months are ideal for penguin chicks, whale calves and seal pups, not to mention you’ll enjoy it more as well considering you won’t be travelling in freezing temperatures.

Make sure you have extra coverage for all activities you intend to enjoy. Unlike other countries, many cruise operators won’t allow you to travel unless you have travel insurance for Antarctica. So, it’s a good idea to look up how much travel insurance cover you’ll need to be able to board your cruise.

2. Pack well

Even though you’re likely going in the summer months, it’s still going to be extremely cold, so make sure you pack enough warm clothes and grip shoes. If you get seasick, prepare for the long ride to the Antarctic glaciers by getting everything you need to ease your seasickness.

Don’t forget to bring a good camera as well – you’re about to head on the adventure of a lifetime!

3. Be mindful of the environment

Antarctica’s biodiverse environment and ecosystem can be destroyed quickly by human impact. While cruise operators and scientists work hard to educate visitors and minimise their environmental footprint, it’s ultimately everyone’s responsibility to protect this vulnerable natural reserve.

Antarctica is also the largest wilderness area on earth, and it remains relatively pristine.3 Littering is strictly monitored and regulated, and you may be asked to take other precautionary steps to minimise your impact on Antarctica.

4. Travel visa-free!

You won’t need a visa to travel to Antarctica, but you’ll need a valid passport and a permit. Your cruise operator will normally organise this for you; however, it’s a good idea to double-check with them just in case.

If you’re heading to South America to depart on your cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina or Punta Arenas, Chile, you will most likely not need a tourist visa. However, Australian citizens will have to pay a reciprocity fee either prior to arrival in Argentina, or upon arriving in Chile, to be granted entry.

If you’re considering a holiday somewhere other than Antarctica, check out our guide to travel cover for other countries.

Adrian Taylor, Executive General Manager

Antarctica travel insurance tips by our travel expert, Adrian Taylor

  • Some insurers may not cover losses in Antarctica, so please check the coverage, terms and conditions of a policy before making any purchase. You may want to contact an insurer directly to ask about coverage for Antarctica.
  • Consider the cover you need for medical expenses, cancellation fees and luggage, as well as any additional cover you may need for cruise or ski holidays. You’ll need to buy a policy that suits all the requirements of your trip.
  • You might want to choose a higher excess to reduce your premium. But remember that your excess is what you pay out of pocket if you need to make a claim, so always choose a manageable excess amount.
  • Always declare any pre-existing medical conditions you may have as part of your travel insurance application. Your insurer will decide whether to cover your pre-existing conditions, and you can rest assured there are no surprises if you’re injured or become ill while travelling.

Compare travel insurance for Antarctica

No one wants their dream adventure ruined by an unfortunate injury or cancellation, especially if you’re having to pay out of pocket. That’s where travel insurance can help to keep your trip smooth-sailing.

If you’re looking to get travel insurance for Antarctica, try our travel insurance comparison service! You can compare a variety of policies from some of Australia’s top insurers in minutes.



1 Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Australian Government – Antarctic weather. Accessed August 2022.

2 Smartraveller – Severe weather: Hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, tornadoes and flooding. Accessed August 2022.

3 Australian Antarctic Division – Visitor guidelines. Accessed May 2022.

single alexksander portrait in bottom global block

Ready to look for a better deal? It’s easy to compare with us.

Compare travel insurance
single sergei portrait in bottom global block