New Island is a wildlife and nature reserve, and its many birds and animals are protected by an environmental conservation group. Once ashore, hike into the rocky cliffs to a rookery where rockhopper penguins and blue-eyed shags share the same nesting area. Observe black-browed albatross going about their daily routines and may even spot upland geese. Your onboard historian will tell you about ‘Barnard's barn’ – a stone structure once belonging to an early settler, as well as the wreck of the Protector III – an old minesweeper used for seal hunting, now grounded just off the shore.
A flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine your best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands (just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait)
• As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island, it’s very likely you’ll be greeted by the locals…penguins! Penguin species here include gentoos and chinstraps. Other annual seabirds include the Southern giant petrels.
• While heading back to the ship, you may have company as a leopard seal or southern elephant seal follows alongside your group’s Zodiac.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent)
• Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-metre-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock.
• Adelie and gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and pintado petrels use this as a breeding area.
• Birds such as the all-white snow petrel and skuas may be seen from a distance.
• As you explore the area, a Weddell seal may be seen basking in the sunlight.
• Wait long enough and you might see the Adelie penguins standing along the rocks, finally making their way into the surf.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel
• Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for gentoo penguins.
• Snow petrels and pintado petrels also may be seen whilst Wilson’s storm-petrels nest in the higher scree of the island.
• During Zodiac tours, hauled-out Weddell and Antarctic fur seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay (on the Antarctic peninsula)
• The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs.
• From the ship, observe Argentina’s Base Brown, one of many Antarctic research stations.
• Here, you will actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica.
• View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac with one of your experienced Expedition Team members. There’s a good chance you’ll come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, or if you’re very lucky, your Zodiac driver may locate a pod of Minke whales.
• As you arrive, you may well be amazed by the sight of Adelie penguins covering the entire island. The island is home to 80-90 thousand Adelies that come here to breed.
• On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of blue eyed shags.
• Kelp gulls and snowy sheathbills are amongst the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s storm-petrels are regularly seen.
• Listen as your Expedition Team guide tells of Otto Nordenskjold and his party that over-wintered on the island in 1912. Remnants of their hut still remain.
• If time permits, take a Zodiac cruise to view impossibly blue icebergs, Crater Lake and the Adelie penguins making themselves at home on the ice floes.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island)
• Deception Island is home to a collapsed volcano and an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows.
• Your resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while your historian will introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island.
• Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
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