Fly from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams (included in cruise fare). Enjoy a lovely tour of this scenic port town before stepping aboard Polar Pioneer to a warm welcome and a safety and introductory briefing before setting off down the Beagle Channel.
As you cross Drake Passage, keep watch for giant petrels, wandering and black-browed albatross, and your first icebergs. Fur seals and penguins pepper the sea surface as you approach your first landing in the South Shetland Islands.
An autumn dawn greets you in spectacular Antarctic Sound where you may stop at towering Brown Bluff before pushing on into the Weddell Sea. There’s a strong fossil focus this time of year, as the pack ice movement may allow a continental landing and the world-renowned fossil beds of Seymour, Vega and James Ross islands, and Nordenskjold’s Hut on Snow Hill Island.
So exposed is Cape Wild on Elephant Island, landings are rare, but your expedition team will try, if only to pay tribute to the man whose leadership kept Shackleton’s men alive for four months while awaiting rescue. Keep watch for great whales while sailing to South Georgia, with a possible detour to the remote South Orkney Islands.
Enter King Haakon Bay and attempt a ceremonial landing at Cave Cove, Shackleton’s first landfall, before continuing up past Peggotty Bluff, where Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean set off to cross the island.
Marvel at one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles - king penguin rookeries half-million strong, chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguin colonies, wandering albatross on nests, and beaches thick with elephant and fur seals. Walk the final leg of Shackleton’s epic, from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, before visting “The Boss’s” grave and whaling museum in Grytviken.
Crossing the Scotia Sea, watch for whales and enjoy entertaining talks by your expedition team.
In Stanley, the beautiful Falkland Islands capital, enjoy its excellent museum, post office, picturesque houses, welcoming shops and pubs. Sea Lion Island is home to extraordinarily diverse wildlife – from steamer ducks to Magellenic and rockhopper penguins, ruddy-headed geese and cormorants, elephant seals and sea lions.
Magnificent seabirds accompany you as you pass Isla de los Estados and sail up the Beagle Channel to dock in Ushuaia at dawn. Disembark for your continued journey home.