Day 1 Ushuaia | Embark
Today is the first day of your adventure. As you board your research vessel in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with 'your home' for the next 14 days, you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of you. In the early evening, set sail and begin your voyage, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel and into the Drake Passage. Enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sai south towards Antarctica joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross, who you come to know well on this journey. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and a photography expert can show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of the modern research vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history and the locations to visit in the coming days.
Day 4-7 Antarctic Circle | Antarctic Peninsula
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Seeing the continent for the first time takes your breath away. Given favorable ice conditions, your first goal is to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Further exploration this far south is highly dependent on optimal weather and ice conditions. If conditions allow, push even further to the south.
This vicinity marks your turnaround point and from now on, cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. Hope to visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut.
Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies, the smallest of the Antarctic penguins, nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here is a highlight of the voyage.
Day 8-10 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. The good news is, your adventure is not over and you still have several days of exciting exploration ahead.
Orne Harbour is another celebrated location to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides excellent access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large gentoo penguin colony which you can observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site. For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real thrill. It is in this vicinity where you can spend a night ashore camping, if weather conditions permit. The ship has all the gear and an expert team of guides to make this unique experience happen.
Your are now at the most northern point on the Peninsula. Visits to Mikkelson Harbour and nearby Cierva Cove round out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, reflects on an incredible week of exploration.
Day 11 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if conditions allow, aim to sail the ship into the sunken volcanic caldera at Deception Island, or visit nearby Half Moon Island, home to a sizeable colony of rowdy chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. The MacFarlane Strait is a good place to spot humpback whales. In the early evening, push into the Drake Passage and chart a course back to South America.
Day 12-13 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Pushing out of the MacFarlane Strait and leaving the icy landscape behind, the ship traces a course back to South America. Onboard presentations continue and the seabirds once again join the ship for your journey north. The expedition leader delivers a memorable voyage recap and a celebration with a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship. If conditions allow, attempt a rounding of Cape Horn. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a remarkable journey to the frozen continent.
Day 14 Ushuaia | Disembark
In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers as you transfer to the airport for return flights home.