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 13 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.
Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as your ship makes her way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as numerous Polar experts prepare you for your adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, cross the Antarctic Convergence where you will notice a distinct drop in temperature as the Akademik Sergey Vavilov enters the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and even several whale species some of which are known on occasion to fully breach from the sea.
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, hope to make as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature's glory. The first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Matha Strait or Marguerite Bay. Given favorable ice conditions, push the exploration even further southward, looking for historic and wildlife sites. From the most southerly point (south of the Antarctic Circle), make your way north along the Antarctic Peninsula, cruising through the narrow waterways and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula. Spectacular waterways such as Crystal Sound, the Lemaire Channel, the Neumeyer Channel and the Gerlache Strait will all feature in the itinerary. Landing sites might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay, Petermann Island and the Yalours, where you will observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as an abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of penguins. At Half Moon Island visit a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. Hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and possibly have an opportunity to spot orcas and Minke whales as you go. Plan on walking ashore on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. Although it will not be your first glimpse of the Antarctic, a walk ashore on the Continent will evoke emotions to carry with you for the rest of your life. The scenery here is amazing. In particular the oddly shaped icebergs looking like sculptures, as well as the colossal 'tabular' icebergs that break away from the continent's ice shelf. Some may wish to camp on shore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether it is onboard or onshore expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet.
As you leave this magical place and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, celebrate the conclusion of your Polar expedition at a special dinner.
In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.