Day 1 Ushuaia | Embark
Begin your adventure aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city at the tip of Argentina. Familiarize yourself with your new "home" for the next eleven days and as you do, stop to wonder about the exciting journey ahead. Enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner, and then cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime. Set sail in the early evening on a course through the Beagle Channel.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Much excitement is in the air as you cross the Drake Passage, sailing ever closer to the white continent. As you sail into these fabled waters, on-board naturalists split their time between whale watching from the deck and leading lively discussions about marine life in the ship's presentation room. Be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and a photography expert is on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of the modern research vessel. See your first icebergs, a huge variety of seabirds, and, with luck, several whale species. Watching whales fully breach out of the sea is a sight you remember forever!
Day 4-7 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Awake today and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before you.Take a deep breath– you have arrived. The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets, and numerous islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’, are home to gentoo, Adelie, and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. Here you can encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, often found relaxing on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are found in sizeable numbers in this region. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Fournier Bay is a known whale ‘hot-spot’ and ice permitting, explore it in Zodiacs hoping to encounter pods of whales. The science team hopes to deploy non-invasive tracking devices on the whales to collect data on dive and feeding patterns. Observation and photography of whale flukes (tails) is something everyone is encouraged to participate in both from the ship and while Zodiac cruising. Whale flukes are unique identifiers of particular animals, in much the same way as a human finger print. Collecting and analyzing this data is vital to the understanding of whale migration patterns and social behavior.
In addition to your whale encounters, enjoy a regular program of exploration on and off the ship. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with your expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is a memorable activity and sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship. A photography guide is on hand to help you with your camera handling, image composition, and the peculiar light found in Antarctica.
Planned excursions could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay never disappoints and is another important location where the scientists hope to deploy their research tools. Neko Harbour is yet another highlight and offers an excellent hiking route providing stunning 360 degree views.
After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and frequent sightings of humpbacks and even the fast moving orca are often seen.
Day 8 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers, aircraft hangar, and dilapidated wooden structures. There are several other nearby landing sites to tempt you including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you can encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. In the evening, navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
Day 9-10 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
As you make your way back to Ushuaia, the educational presentations continue and you can enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by the Expedition Leader. Join a photography expert in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 11 Ushuaia | Disembark
Arrive in Ushuaia early today. Following breakfast on board, say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Transfer to your hotel or airport, whichever your individual plans entail.