Embark in Ushuaia, ArgentinaBoard your expedition vessel at Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America. In the early evening, set sail traveling through the Beagle Channel. The long days mean plenty of evening light in which to experience the beauty of the channel, and to perhaps enjoy your first wildlife sightings.
At SeaAs you sail to the northeast, you will have the chance to enjoy a series of presentations that will prepare you for all the Antarctic adventures to come. On deck, the first sightings of albatross and petrels are likely to add to the sense of excitement.
The Falkland Islands
Arrive in the Falklands overnight and make your first shore excursion in the morning. Depending on conditions, explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago including West Point, Carcass or Saunders Islands, all rich in wildlife. Find an abundance of land and seabirds with many migratory species in residence, such as the wandering albatross and its smaller relative the black-browed albatross.
The breathtaking cliffs at West Point are home to busy rookeries of rockhopper penguins and Magellanic penguins nest in the tall tussock grass on privately owned Carcass Island, where you may see a variety of land birds. Here, hope to observe oyster catchers, geese and the endemic steamer duck along the rocky shores.
The next day visit Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, with its brightly painted houses and renowned philatelic bureau and museum. Learn about the historic importance of the harbour in Stanley that served as a major port during the 19th century for sailing vessels attempting to round the Horn, or seeking refuge after completing the formidable journey.
At SeaLeaving the Falklands, your journey continues southeast heading for the island of South Georgia. You’ll have a chance to learn about Antarctic conservation as well as the fascinating history of the area as your onboard presentations continue. Of course, there’ll be ample time to scan the seascape from the top deck in search of marine mammals and seabirds. Cross the Antarctic Convergence on this leg of your journey and notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Arrive in South Georgia, the most rugged and mountainous of the many islands in the Southern Ocean. The towering, snow-covered mountains and glaciers are truly magnificent to behold. Cruise the more protected eastern coast of the island, seeking out suitable landing spots as variable ice and weather conditions permit.
Hope to get ashore at Salisbury Plain where colorful king penguins crowd the beaches in numbers that are simply astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of adult birds and their young literally carpet the vast area. Another 75,000 pairs of king penguins nest at St Andrews Bay. Everywhere, albatross, skuas and giant petrels wheel overhead and fur seals are found in good numbers along the shore or frolicking in the water.
At Grytviken, visit an old whaling station as well as the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the greatest Antarctic explorers of all time.
Sea and South Orkney Islands
Crossing the Scotia Sea to the southwest, your expedition ship heads for Antarctica. Along the way, if time and conditions allow, make a stop at the South Orkney Islands, linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by a massive range of sub-marine mountains. This area is usually surrounded by sea ice and often guarded by large icebergs.
An attempt to land at Coronation Island is possible, known for its extensive moss beds, nesting penguins and beautiful snow petrels. You may also visit the Argentinean meteorological station located on the seldom-visited island of Laurie.
South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Mainland
En route to the South Shetland Islands, you may be able to land at Elephant Island. It was from here that Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on a small boat for South Georgia in 1916, undertaking one of the most remarkable sailing journeys of all time and returning 132 days later to rescue his men.
Spend several days cruising among the South Shetlands, an archipelago of bays, channels and some 20 islands off the Antarctic Peninsula. Enjoy frequent shore excursions via zodiac boat, exploring various islands such as King George, Half Moon, Aicho or Livingston. Here on these beautiful islands, enjoy superb wildlife encounters with Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, as well as several species of seal.
Weather permitting, enter the flooded caldera of Deception Island and enjoy a spectacular walk to the higher points of the crater rim, or explore an abandoned whaling station nearby.
Finally, arrive at the Antarctic mainland in Paradise Harbour or Hope Bay. Here witness some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet. Hope for temperate weather so you can undertake a shore excursion and set foot on the Antarctic continent.
Drake PassageLeaving the Antarctic Peninsula, head back across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage. The crossing is completed with the rounding of Cape Horn. Your final evening onboard is spent at a special Captain’s dinner where you’ll celebrate your extraordinary Antarctic adventures together.
Disembark at UshuaiaIn the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia where the cruise ends. You’re transferred to your hotel or to the airport for your onward flight.