Arrive in Ushuaia. Enjoy the Argentinean leather markets and succulent lamb dishes that make Patagonia famous as you explore the southernmost town in the world. Highlights of Ushuaia include an award-winning museum and trips to nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park and its popular “Train at the End of the World.”
Arriving at the ship in the afternoon, you are greeted by your Expedition Team and ship's officers at a safety and orientation briefing followed by the Captain's welcome dinner. After dinner, relax and take in the mountainous scenery on our early evening sail down the Beagle Channel past Magellanic penguin, rock cormorant, and sea lion colonies.
Among the wildlife spotting opportunities as you sail south are the albatrosses, prions, and petrels that frequently follow the ship. Your Expedition Team is sure to be out on deck as well, looking for the whales and dolphins that may also be seen in the area. On board experts begin the presentations with informative and entertaining talks on the wildlife, history, and geology of the Falkland Islands and Southern Ocean. Helpful briefings on environmental regulations and expedition safety are also held in the ship's comfortable lounge.
The westernmost settled outposts in the Falklands are remote farms that have been family-owned for six and seven generations. The sheep graze alongside albatross colonies and rockhopper, king, and macaroni penguin rookeries while striated caracaras patrol overhead and upland geese graze at the water's edge. A visit to one of these homesteads often includes an invitation for cakes and a cup of tea.
Chosen for its sheltered harbor and access to abundant fresh water and peat for fuel, Stanley is easy to discover on foot as most shops and services are centered on the port. The museum, the post-office featuring first day covers, plenty of shops with locally made wool items, and Stanley's lively pubs are all available. It is also possible to experience the wildlife of the Falklands from the town, including sea lions and Peale's and Commerson's dolphins in the harbor or bird life in nearby Gypsy Cove.
There is plenty of wildlife spotting as the ship makes its way east across the Antarctic Convergence and officially enters Antarctic waters. Shipboard presentations continue, featuring the exciting history and abundant wildlife of South Georgia.
South Georgia holds a unique positions inside the Antarctic Convergence, yet it remains outside the limit of the yearly sea ice - this makes the island an ideal home for tens of millions of breeding penguins, seals, and seabirds. Magnificent mountain scenery, glaciers galore, a rugged coastline punctuated with castellate and tabular icebergs, a rich historical tapestry, and an astounding array of wildlife are all available as you travel down South Georgia's leeward coast. Landing sites feature huge elephant seals, aggressive fur seals, macaroni penguins, albatross, petrels, skuas, and gulls. King penguins, from fuzzy little chicks to fattened adults, can be seen by the hundreds of thousands! Plan to visit historic Grytviken whaling station, home of the whaling museum, Norwegian seaman's church, the active British Antarctic Survey station, plus the tiny graveyard where the great Antarctic explorer Sire Ernest Shackleton is buried.
Moving further south, informative presentations and wildlife viewing continue as the icebergs become more and more plentiful.
The land of superlatives: Antarctica! Your Expedition Leader and Captain create a flexible itinerary based on weather, ice, and opportunity. Approaching the Antarctic Peninsula from the east, cross the northern boundary of the Weddell Sea; this large cold body of water rotates clockwise driving cold water and ice north towards South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands. Large tabular icebergs born in the Weddell drift north into your ship's path while the ocean currents drive nutrients from the deep, feeding countless species of marine animals. Large groups of whales are common, along with scores of seabirds thriving off the bounty the Weddell provides.
The route here aims to highlight the most scenic bays and channels of the Peninsula with stops at 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, Wilhelmina Bay (a favorite of humpback whales!), or the majestic Neumayer Channel. You may also make a stop at an active scientific base such as Poland’s Arctowksi or a 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 predatory leopard seals and the aggressive Antarctic fur seal. Minke and humpback whales are frequent visitors in the late season and orca sightings are also common.
Your onboard lecture series continues, as well as wildlife spotting, as your ship sails back North to Ushuaia. Reflect on beautiful Antarctica and its fragile future.
Following breakfast, disembark in Ushuaia with time to catch a flight home or to stay and explore the city at the end of the world.