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On this Antarctic cruise, skip the Drake Passage crossing and fly instead

A shorter way to an Antarctica cruise starts with a no-sweat flight from Chile.

Expeditions to Antarctica usually begin with a tough crossing of the Drake Passage from Argentina to King George Island that takes a few days. It can be a perilous crossing that passengers dread, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Tour company Adventure Life organizes expeditions that let passengers skip the crossing and fly instead -- saving time and a white-knuckle trip.

The Missoula, Mont.-based company offers an eight-day Antarctica Air Cruise that starts with a two-hour flight from Punta Arenas at the tip of Chile to King George Island, the largest in the South Shetland Islands.

It's there that travelers board the Ocean Nova and begin the cruise. It sails along fjords and icebergs between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, according to an Adventure Life statement.

During the cruise, you can take Zodiac boats to explore the landscape with a guide; observe wildlife including penguins, seals, whales and sea birds; or opt to go sea kayaking (an extra $895 per person) or snowshoeing (an extra $195 per person).

Prices start at $9,995 per person, based on double or triple occupancy. It includes the cruise, meals, some shore excursions and flights to and from Chile.

Departures are planned next December, January and February, and trips may be customized too.

Info: Adventure Life, (800) 344-6118

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