DAP and Royal Caribbean plan 5* hub for Antarctic tourists | Polarjournal
From abroad to Puerto Williams: The town, which has a population of around 2,500, is to be home to a 5-star hotel with 200 rooms from 2025 on, accommodating guests of Royal Caribbean for the Silversea ships. Image: W. Bulach via Wikicommons CC BY-SA 4.0

With the resurgence of tourism and expedition trips to Antarctica, plans have also been revived for what the future holds in the booming industry. In particular, the two countries Argentina and Chile, on whose territory the most important tourist gateways to Antarctica are located, are in the focus of considerations. Plans have now been revealed for Chile’s Puerto Williams, based primarily on a collaboration between a cruise line and an airline.

A 5-star hotel near Puerto Williams airport and flights from Santiago with Chilean airline DAP are what cruise line Royal Caribbean plans to offer its Antarctic cruise guests in the Chilean village of Puerto Williams. To this end, it has agreed to collaborate with DAP and will invest between $15 million and $18 million in the business. For this purpose, the company “Turismo y Hotelles Navarino”, which among other things operates a well-known lodge in Punta Arenas, is to be purchased. The planned hotel is to be built near the Puerto Williams airport and will be ready in November 2025. This was reported by various Chilean media last week.

Already since last year, Royal Caribbean has let its expedition tour operator Silversea use the Chilean location, which was originally planned as a naval base, to take guests to Antarctica. Flights from Santiago directly to Puerto Williams, organized by DAP, brought guests to the ship. The considerations behind this were not only financial, but were also influenced due to the COVID regulations that had prevailed in Chile and Argentina at the time. A quick transfer from Santiago to the ship by the most direct route was intended to reduce the risk of infection back then.

Now the group has chosen the small port town, which was built in the early 1950s, as its starting point for Antarctic voyages. “Chile is a fantastic gateway with stable infrastructure and excellent services,” Royal Caribbean explains. “From here, our guests can discover the unique beauty of the last unexplored continent while enjoying comfortable conditions.” In addition to Puerto Williams, however, travel will continue to be offered from Punta Arenas.

For the Chilean airline DAP, the cooperation should prove more than worthwhile. Already this season, Silversea is flying from Punta Arenas to King George Island instead of offering passage through the Drake Passage. With the flights from Santiago to Puerto Williams and Punta Arenas, the cooperation will be intensified. Image: Janitoalevic via Wikicommons CC BY-SA 4.0

DAP is also excited about the new opportunities that have arisen with the collaboration. Last year, the airline was already responsible for the flights from Santiago to Puerto Williams. This season will also see the addition of flights from Punta Arenas to the sub-Antarctic island of King George, Silversea’s “Fly and Ride” program. In addition, DAP is to act as Royal Caribbean’s logistical and representative partner in Antarctic operations. “The fact that Royal Caribbean has chosen us as a partner for the logistic handling is a tremendous confirmation for our management” explains CEO of DAP, Nicolás Pivcevic.

However, Silversea’s Antarctic travelers will have to be patient until the hotel is completed. But this has been nothing unusual anymore for the last two years.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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