Weddell Sea Quest Cruise

Monika Schillat
A view from the ship.
Claudio Suter
An Adelie Penguin protecting her new born.
Paul Oneill
A seal sits on snow.
Guests on the deck of the Ushuaia viewing the arctic landscape.
Monika Schillat
King Penguins at the base of a snow covered mountain range.
Learn from the lecture series on your antarctic tour
The bar aboard the Ushuaia.
Embark on an expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands & the Weddell Sea aboard the MV Ushuaia. The Weddell Sea will always be remembered as the polar region that still echoes the ill fated expedition of the great British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. After Amundsen and Scott had reached the South Pole, Shackleton planned the Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition to make the first crossing of Antarctica, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole. The 1914 expedition was a failure but it produced one of the greatest stories in the history of polar exploration.

Day 1

    Depart from Ushuaia

    Embark the Ushuaia in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. After you have settled into your cabins sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass.

    Days 2-3

      At Sea – Crossing the Drake Passage

      Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As you sail across the passage, lecturers will be out with you on deck to help with the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in your wake. The open bridge policy allows you to join the officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. A full program of lectures will be offered as well. The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Capt. William Smith of the brig Williams. With favorable conditions in the Drake Passage your lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals on Day 3.

      Days 4-6

        Exploring the Weddell Sea

        This is where huge tabular icebergs roam. In some years, the Erebus & Terror Gulf and Weddell Sea are chock-a-block full with ice, making for exciting ice navigation. Get up early and go out on deck. It may be 3:30am in the morning, but the sunrises will be unlike anything you've ever seen. Huge tabular bergs break from the Larsen, Ronne, and Filchner ice shelves and combine with one-year-old and multi-year sea ice to produce a floating, undulating panorama of rugged ice scenery. All-white Snow Petrels are likely to be coursing over the floes, often joined by Pintado Petrels. The usual passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula traverses the Antarctic Sound, which is 30 miles (48 km) long and 7-12 miles (11-19 km) wide and runs northwest- to-southeast. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza, are located on the western side of the Sound. Brown Bluff, a promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula, is located south of Hope Bay. Both of them might be possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the center of the Peninsula´s Adélie Penguin population. Devil Island, Paulet Island and the already mentioned sites, might give us ample proof of this. The numbers of penguins are breathtaking. Sometimes juvenile Emperor Penguins have been sighted, riding ice floes but are by no means regular in the area.

        This region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Four visitor sites have links to this expedition: Hope Bay, Paulet Island, Snow Hill Island, and Cape Well-Met on Vega Island. Your expedition staff will be pleased to share their exciting story with you. Nordenskjöld´s expedition was the first to overwinter in the Peninsula. His ship the Antarctic, under the command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen, was trapped in the ice and sank, but the men survived on different locations and even managed to carry out significant scientific research in the area.

        Days 7-9

          Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands

          The Antarctic Peninsula´s remarkable history will also provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as Minke whales and orcas at close range.

          Hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways: the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel and Neumayer Channel. Possible landing sites may include: Paradise Bay, which is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post office at Port Lockroy.

          Further exploration will lead you to the South Shetland Islands. The volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauling out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, so is visiting the crescent shaped island Half Moon, home to Chinstrap Penguins in breathtaking surroundings.

          There might also be a chance to visit the enigmatic Elephant Island. Sir Ernest Shackleton fans will need no introduction to this historic windswept island. In 1916 Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will return with a greater knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a truly remarkable part of the world.

          Days 10-11

            At Sea – Crossing the Drake Passage, northbound

            Leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join your lecturers and naturalists on deck as you search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.

            Day 12

              Arrival in Ushuaia

              Arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark after breakfast.
               Cat CCat BCat ASuperiorSuite
              2014-Dec-07$6,050$7,840$9,790$10,370$10,900
              - Fuel surcharge may vary: no surcharge if the price of the barrel of crude oil is $100 or lower.
              - Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double occupancy. Request the Twin Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.
              - Twin cabins (except suites) are available for single occupancy at 1.5 times the share rate. Suites may be reserved at 2 times the share rate. A third berth (sofa bed) in a few suites maybe occupied at 50% of the published twin share rate.
              - Special family rates: A child (under 16 years) accompanied by two adults will be free of charge in a triple Superior cabin or triple Suite.
              FUEL SURCHARGE applies if price of crude oil barrel is $100 or higher.

              Please note: The above itinerary is a guide only. Your exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the Captain and/or Expedition Leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions and they will try their best to reach the Weddell Sea. However if ice conditions do not allow access the route might be changed to West Antarctica. A daily program sheet will be issued on board. Flexibility is the key to success.

              Deposit & Payment

              Initial deposit is 40% trip cost, and most travelers will call our office and pay the deposit with a credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, and Discover. Alternatively, you can send a check to our Missoula, Montana, office or register online at: https://www.adventure-life.com/forms/register

              Final payment is due 100 days prior to departure.

              Final payment by bank transfer, check or Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex. Credit Card payments subject to 3% convenience fee and maximum $15,000 charge.

              Booking last minute? No problem! Please contact one of our trip planners, and we can get you on your way if booking less than 100 days prior to departure.

              Click here to see a copy of our Terms and Conditions.

              Cancellation Policy

              Days Prior to departureFee
              90 days or more$700 per person
              89 days or less100% trip cost