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Antarctica: Hanging with the Penguins

Ultimate Antarctica - Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov
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Chart a course through the Drake Passage on your way across the Weddell Sea, the ice-choked region made famous by the saga of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men from the Endurance Expedition. Spend several days exploring the South Shetland Islands, the western and northern sections of the Antarctic Peninsula, the stunning Weddell Sea region, and the historic location of Elephant Island, before turning back north to the beautiful Falkland Islands on this 12-day small ship cruise.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Punta Arenas to King George Island | Embark
Days 2-3 : Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula
Day 4 : South Shetland Islands
Days 5-7 : Antarctic Sound | Weddell Sea
Day 8 : Elephant Island
Days 9-10 : At Sea towards Falkland Islands
Day 11 : West Point | Saunders
Day 12 : Port Stanley | Disembark | Punta Arenas


  • Explore the Gerlache coastline and cruise through the Lemaire Channel
  • Cruise the Errera Channel and visit penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island
  • Navigate in to the Weddell Sea while surrounded by tabular icebergs
  • Visit the Elephant Islands, home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony


Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Antarctica: Hanging with the Penguins Sea and sand Abandoned whaling village of Stromness, South Georgia Nesting Black-Browed Albatross on the Falkland Islands An old iceberg on the beaches of Deception Island

Day 1 Punta Arenas to King George Island | Embark

Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at the Chilean Antarctic base on King George Island, embark your ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, via zodiac. After settling in to your cabin and exploring your new surroundings, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner.

Day 2-3 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Overnight the ship sailed across the Bransfield Strait for an early awakening in the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent. For the next three days you have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline of Antarctica. If ice conditions allow, cruise through the Lemaire Channel and visit sites which may include Pleneau Island and the Penola Strait. To the south lies Petermann Island, home to a sizeable penguin rookery where both Adelie and gentoo penguins nest side by side. A visit to an active research base nearby provides a fascinating insight into the important climate change science occurring in Antarctica. There’s a fantastic walk on a nearby island and you can make a full traverse across a snowy knoll from one side of the island to the other. The old British Antarctic Survey hut of Wordie House begs for further investigation.

Returning north, pass the massive granite sentinels of Mount Scott and Mount Shackleton and perhaps attempt a second transit of the Lemaire Channel. The landscape all along this section of the Antarctic coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Your activity program is in full swing by now, and each day you can enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and Zodiac cruising among the ice with your expert guides providing insight and interpretation. Planned visits could include Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where you can encounter pods of humpback whales.

Day 4 South Shetland Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Head north towards Antarctic Sound– the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way hope to make a planned visit at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, sail the ship right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and home to several penguin rookeries along the black-sand beaches. History is all around as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and dilapidated wooden structures. Fur seals gather among the old structures seeking protection from the elements. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where the Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is an outstanding hike here to a location known as ‘Neptune’s Window’- high up onto the rim of the crater. 

Day 5-7 Antarctic Sound | Weddell Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Navigating into the Weddell Sea, you can see the vast sweep of the Antarctic icecap for the first time and find yourself increasingly surrounded by tabular icebergs. These gargantuan icebergs break from the ice shelves and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation and stunning photographic opportunities.

The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the rookeries you have visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island, and Brown Bluff. There are reports of successful sightings of emperor penguins in this area in recent years. Based on the size and plumage, the naturalists believe them to be juveniles out exploring and fishing– and possible residents of the known emperor colony on the southern side of Snow Hill Island.

As you head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender-pink sunset off the port quarter of the ship makes some of you pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who traveled these waters a hundred years ago.

Day 8 Elephant Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Approach Elephant Island from the south at Point Lookout - home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species your expedition crew has yet to encounter to date. Enjoy shore landings at the fabled Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats.

Day 9-10 At Sea towards Falkland Islands

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sailing north to the Falkland Islands, the spectacular seabirds are your constant companions soaring above the ship. Photographing these stunning birds in flight takes great patience and skill and your resident photography expert on board can show you the best techniques. Much of your time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. Enjoy onboard educational programs, interactive presentations, and lively discussions.

Day 11 West Point | Saunders

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in the Falkland Islands overnight and spend the day exploring the islands of West Point and Saunders. West Point is known for its sizable rookeries of rockhopper penguins and nesting black-browed albatross. One final highlight awaits– a visit to the wildlife-rich Saunders Island. Along the white-sand beaches and in the tussock grass hope to encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including gentoo, Magellanic and rockhopper, and your ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders is a fitting end to an epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life’s great travel experiences.

Day 12 Port Stanley | Disembark | Punta Arenas

  • 1 Breakfast
In the early morning, navigate through the narrows and into the harbor of Port Stanley. There is time to explore the town before you make your way to the airport for a return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). It is possible to connect flights to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. If you are staying in Punta Arenas, a transfer is provided to several downtown locations.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov


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Per person starting at
The Triple Cabins.
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Triple Share
Bunk beds and a sofa bed. Facilities are shared and there is a washbasin in the cabin, writing desk, porthole.
Twin Private Cabins.
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Twin Semi-Private
1 lower berth, 1 sofa bed and semi-private (one bathroom between two cabins) facilities. Writing desk, window.
Twin Private Cabin.
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Twin Private
1 sofa bed, 1 lower berth and private facilities. Writing desk, window.
The Superior Cabins.
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2 lower berths, sofa and private facilities. Writing desk, window.
The Shackelton Suite.
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Shackleton Suite
1 double berth, 1 sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters and private facilities, up-graded bedding. Fridge, TV, VCR, writing desk, windows.
One Ocean Suite.
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One Ocean Suite
1 double berth, 1 sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters and private facilities, up-graded bedding. Fridge, TV, VCR, writing desk, windows.


- Single Supplement: 1.5x for twin and superior cabins and 2x for suites. Single supplement is not available in the triple cabin category.

- Child and Youth Prices: 25% discount for young people aged up to 17 years, and 20% off for those aged from 18-21 years who can prove they are in full-time education.

Please note: Polar exploration can be unpredictable, which regularly causes variations to itineraries. Specific sites visited depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a 'guide only' and is subject to change.

Included in Cost:
- Flights from Punta Arenas to King George Island and from Port Stanley to Punta Arenas
- All meals during the voyage
- Welcome reception & welcome dinner
- Farewell dinner hosted by the Captain
- Daily afternoon tea with fresh snacks
- Coffee, tea & hot chocolate available anytime
- Access to wellness area (Finnish Sauna, Plunge Pool filled with sea water, Hot Tub)
- Natural essential oil amenities
- Services of English-speaking medical officer
- Use of multimedia room
- Use of on-board expedition rubber boots & wet weather gear
- All zodiac and landing excursions
- Zodiac cruising, hiking, guided walks, photography workshops, fitness & yoga
- Camping (subject to weather and ice conditions)
- Educational presentations
- Photography advice and instructions from the resident photographer
- Expedition guides, naturalist staff, and hospitality staff

Not Included in Cost:
- International and national airfares
- Visa and passport fees, airport taxes
- Pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodation in arrival/departure cities
- Meals & transfers in arrival/departure cities
- Personal expenses
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Massages from registered therapist
- Personal laundry charges
- Postage, telephone calls & email set up
- Medical expenses such as fees, prescriptions or medications
- Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)
- Trip interruption / cancellation insurance
- Gratuities to staff and crew


  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
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Erin Correia
Erin C

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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