Passengers board the "Antarctic Dream" where you will be greeted by our Expedition Leader and staff and shown to your cabin. Our departure is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Check in begins at 2:30 pm.
Wandering albatrosses, storm petrels and other seabirds will escort the vessel as you sail south across this famous passage named after Sir Francis Drake, the 16th-century English navigator. We will continue towards the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar waters sink beneath the warmer waters of the more temperate zone. In 1819, the British explorer William Smith described the South Shetland Islands as "barren and covered with snow, with seals in abundance". Yet, mosses and lichens thrive during the short summer at the low-lying peninsulas of these rugged islands located directly adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Aitcho Island will give us an early taste of what the Antarctic really is. It is the biggest island of the South Shetlands, where we will disembark in Potter Bay. In the afternoon we will disembark at Aitcho Island which is in between Greenwich and Robert Islands. We will continue with the crossing of the Bransfield and Gerlache Straits to enter Andvord Bay where we find Neko Bay.
Besides the magnificent scenery of mountains, snow and ice, in Antarctica you can expect to see a wide variety of the native wildlife. Other birds to look out for are blue-eyed shags, gulls, cape petrels, skuas, snowy sheathbills and Antarctic terns. Marine mammals that you are likely to see include Weddell crab-eaters and leopard seals while orcas, humpback and mink whales may be spotted at close range. The program includes your first landing on the White Continent (Neko Bay) and another on Port Lockroy (Gaudier Island). Neko Bay was discovered by Adrian de Gerlache, a Belgian explorer. Port Lockroy is close to Wiencke Island in the Antarctic Peninsula and was the principle base of the 1944 Tabarin Operation - the scientific research included the Antarctic’s first ionosphere measurements and also the first recording of an atmospheric whistle.
At this point of our program we will begin our return voyage. During the morning and, stressing again that (if weather permits, we will disembark or use our zodiacs in Paradise Bay. This is one of the most striking places of the whole Antartctic Peninsula. Here glaciers tumble into the sea, icebergs break off and are later carved into wonderful shapes by the wind.
In the evening we will visit Cuverville Island. Beside its dramatic scenery it is home to a large colony of nearly 5,000 pairs of Gentoo Penguins and other breeding birds including Giant, Wilson, White and Painted petrels while on its beaches seals and sea wolves. This rocky island is on the north side of the Errera Channel, between Ronge Island and the Arctowski Peninsula. Most visitors find the viewing of such abundant wildlife is every bit as rewarding as the magnificent Antarctic scenery, and you will be enchanted by these waterways. Navigating and exploring these channels is certainly one of the highlights of a visit to the Peninsula. Unfortunately on some trips they may be choked with icebergs and pack ice.
We sail south through the narrow Lemaire Channel who’s high, sheer cliffs suggest that no passage could be found. Once through the channel, known as one of the most beautiful places in the world, and provided climate and ice conditions are good enough, we will be able to visit Petermann Island which is the most southern land point of our expedition. Here we will disembark and will be able to see the most southern colony of Gentoo penguins which nest near our landing spot. On this island we will also be able to see a colony of beautiful Adelei penguins, skuas and blue-eyed shags. At Pleneau we should have the opportunity to take our zodiacs and visit impressive ice formations.
We continue sailing to Deception Island which is at the northwest side of the Peninsula. Deception Island is the largest active volcano in the area and one of the main sources of seismic and volcanic activity in the Antarctic.Sailing through the narrow passage into its huge flooded crater is a thrilling experience. Do not forget to bring your bathing suit as swimming in this water is a unique experience.
During the morning we will try to disembark in Whaler`s Bay and Pendulum Cove. In the afternoon and depending on weather conditions we will disembark at Livingstone Island (Hannah Point). This is one of the best places in the Antarctic to see fauna and we should see Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, skuas and blue-eyed shags. With luck we should also see sea elephants.
Today, we will leave the Antarctic and head north back across the Drake Passage. Now is the chance to compare and revise notes and dwell on the adventures of the past week, to take in the final lectures and to enjoy the delicious gastronomy on board as you return to Ushuaia.
After and early breakfast we will land at 9:00 am and bid farewell to our guests. Thus ends an incredible and unique expedition.
Please note that you should regard this itinerary as a guide only; our exact route and program varies according to the weather conditions we encounter. Flexibility is the key to success for all expedition of the Antarctic Dream.