Day 1 Punta Arenas, Chile | Port Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark
Your journey begins in the morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. Meet your fellow travelers at the airport and fly on the scheduled service to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute flight you are met on arrival and transferred to the pier.
Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is charming with brightly colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, is a sobering reminder of recent history.
There is time to explore the town before you make your way to the ship for embarkation. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner, and cast off for the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2 Sea Lion | Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This windswept location is situated in the southern archipelago. Launch the Zodiacs and go ashore to view the remarkable wildlife colonies found here. Three species of penguins including gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper exist in the vicinity. Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are found hauled out on the beaches. Once ashore look for king cormorants and striated caracaras. Weather permitting, you may have time to visit neighboring Bleaker Island, another settlement on the exposed southeastern coast of the Falklands.
Day 3-4 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sail southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. These days at sea are never dull. Much of your time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals as well as seabirds. Friendly onboard experts continue to fill minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. Learn about Polar conservation - a theme particularly close to the hearts of guides and crew. The anticipation grows particularly as the ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence. Notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Day 5-7 South Georgia
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on the island of South Georgia - the most rugged island in this region. Begin your exploration of the island by Zodiac cruising in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay. Large numbers of fur seals and the much larger elephant seal line the beaches. Living in the tussock grass, king penguins and their chicks may number up to 100,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plains, St Andrews Bay, and Gold Harbor. The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross.
South Georgia is a thrilling location for history buffs as the rusting relics of the early whaling industry are all around. A highlight is a visit to Grytviken – the largest of the former whaling stations on the island, and where you can visit the gravesite of Shackleton, buried here in 1921. For many, being in the presence of the great explorer is a highlight of the trip. There’s an excellent museum at Grytviken, maintained by the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and the restored church built by the original Norwegian whalers is another highlight.
Day 8-10 Scotia Sea | Elephant Island
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Weather and ice dictate your crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica, leading the ship perhaps to the South Orkney Islands or Elephant Island. As with all of your itinerary planning, the expedition leader and captain make a decision on the locations to visit based on the conditions at the time. The South Orkney Islands represent the peaks of a submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, connecting South Georgia to the South Shetland Islands. Often shrouded in fog and surrounded by ice much of the year, a chance to visit these islands doesn’t come often.
Large icebergs announce your arrival in Antarctic waters. If conditions allow, hope to see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, having lost HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. From the tiny beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. If conditions allow, attempt a landing at Point Wild on Elephant Island.
Day 11-15 South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland lies the South Shetland Island chain. Possible landing sites include King George Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour, or Hannah Point. Weather conditions permitting, sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. Enjoy an outstanding hike at these locations. The old whaling station and aircraft hangar at Deception Island beg for further exploration.
After so much anticipation, enter the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. Snow-covered mountains soar from the dark waters. Along the shoreline in the bays and harbors of the peninsula live an incredible abundance of wildlife. Large rookeries are home to chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins. Seals live on the ice floes, including the powerful leopard seal. Gulls, skuas, and cormorants are also found nesting and feeding at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Explore by Zodiac boat and ashore where a range of wonderful activities awaits. Locations to visit include Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island, and the Errera Channel. Join the photographic guide and take close-up photos of the penguins, or of the impossibly blue ice. Or enjoy a hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle with one of the adventure guides. If the opportunity presents itself, visit a science base or old historic hut. The sea kayakers may range up to several miles from the ship, for a truly memorable experience. You have a range of great choices.
Day 16-17 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, it’s time to return to South America. The educational presentations continue as well as the entertaining and memorable voyage recap by the Expedition Leader. Join the ship's photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, you may make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition to some of the most remote corners of the planet. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 18 Ushuaia, Argentina | Disembark
In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Be transported to your hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It is possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.