Hope to begin with Christmas Eve at Elephant Island, the most notorious island in Antarctic history where 22 bedraggled members of the Endurance expedition lived under two upturned lifeboats for 135 days awaiting the return of their leader, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Weather permitting; attempt a landing at historic Cape Wild, now home to chinstrap penguins and a memorial bust.
Aawake Christmas Day in the astounding ice of the Weddell Sea where the majestic emperor penguin is a likely sighting as you navigate farther south. Huge tabular icebergs calved from the ice shelves of the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula will challenge the limits of your appreciation for nature.
Continue with landings and cruises in the Antarctic Sound. Known as “Iceberg Alley”, the sound is an astonishing assortment of floating ice both large and small as well as a large concentration of Adélie penguins. Hope to visit the Adélies on the Antarctic continent at Brown Bluff or Hope Bay. The 48 kilometer-long (30 mile) waterway is your gateway from the Weddell Sea to the South Shetland Islands and the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The west side features the most scenic bays and channels of the Peninsula with penguin rookeries, seal wallows, bird colonies and whale feeding areas as well as sites of historic and scientific interest. The trip may include picturesque Neko Harbor, sheltered Paradise Harbor, the Humpback Whale favored Wilhelmina Bay, the striking Lemaire Channel, the wildlife-filled Penola Channel, or the majestic Neumayer Channel. You may stop in an active scientific base such as Poland’s Arctowksi or Ukraine’s Vernadskiy as well as an historic base such as U.K.’s Port Lockroy or Wordie House. Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins abound, and Weddell, Crabeater and Elephant Seals are often found hauled out to rest along with the predatory Leopard Seal and the aggressive Antarctic Fur Seal. Minke and Humpback Whales are frequent visitors in the late season and Orca sightings are also common.
New Year’s Eve will be celebrated during your last night among the icebergs as you say good bye to the Deep South.