Arrive in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city near the tip of Argentina, for the first day of your adventure. Board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and become familiar with your new "home" for the next 20 days. As you settle in, wonder about the exciting journey ahead of you. In the early evening, set sail and begin your voyage by charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
If you choose, spend this first day on the ocean with your onboard polar experts. They will be educating travelers as you go deep into the wonders of Antarctica. Sailing northeast, swooping seabirds, including the wandering albatross, join your ship.
Arrive in the Falklands Islands overnight. Wake up and get excited to make your first shore excursion. Explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. Your first penguin sightings may be on the island of West Point, with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island, observe nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers, geese, and the flightless steamer duck who is a permanent Falkland resident. The next day make a stop in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. As you wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses, learn how this quiet harbor was once a major port in the 19th century for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn. Also make a stop in Stanley's famed philatelic museum to take a gander at its impressive collection of historic stamps.
Sail southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. These days at sea are never dull. Much of your time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals as well as seabirds. Friendly onboard experts continue to fill minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest adventurers to explore Antarctica. Learn about Polar conservation - a theme particularly close to the hearts of your ship's guides and crew. The anticipation grows as you cross the Antarctic Convergence and notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on the island of South Georgia - the most rugged island in this region. Cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots such as Salisbury Plain or St. Andrews Bay. The highlight of both these excursions is the mind-boggling abundance of king penguins that live here by the hundreds of thousands, covering every inch of the shore. But that is not the only wildlife on display: fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and our constant companion the albatross is never far away. Hope to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his right hand man Frank Wild.
Also known as "the Boss" Frank Wild was Shackleton's commander. He wished to be buried beside Shackleton but his wish never materialized due to the outbreak of WWII a week after his death. Our voyage falls exactly three years following the transport of Wild’s ashes to South Georgia, possible in thanks to a seven-year research journey by South African author and polar expert, Angie Butler, who discovered Wild’s ashes in Johannesburg.
As you cross the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica, hope for weather conditions to allow for a stop at the South Orkney Islands. Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous sub-marine mountain range, these islands are often shrouded in mist and are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. If you are lucky, an excursion to Coronation Island is possible. There, observe penguins nesting in moss beds alongside graceful snow petrels. You may also stop at the remote island of Laurie to visit its Argentinean meteorological station.
If conditions are suitable, stop first on Elephant Island en route to the South Shetland Islands. It was here that Shakleton and his crew took refuge in 1916 after his ship was destroyed by pack ices in the Wendell Sea.
Then spend time cruising among the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Excursions to the islands may take you to King George, Half Moon, Barrientos, or Livingston. On these trips, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as the Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins who thrive here.
Weather permitting, visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. Rugged scenery, geological sites, and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific history conspire to make this place a perfect museum of Antarctica's natural and exploratory past. For those wanting to stretch their legs, take a spectacular hike to the crater rim. Finally, after so much anticipation, arrive on the Antarctic mainland at Paradise Harbor or Hope Bay. From colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless ice sheet, the scenery here is truly breathtaking. Weather permitting, we hope to undertake an excursion to set foot on the White Continent itself.
Heading north, make your way back across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn. Spend time sharing and reflecting on the incredible adventure of your last few days. As you sail up the Beagle Channel, celebrate the conclusion of you expedition with a special dinner.
In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia. Transferr to your hotel or to the airport for your onward flight.