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King Penguins on South Georgia

Ultimate Antarctica - Weddell Sea and the Falkland Islands

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Ioffe
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This exciting expedition provides great diversity for those seeking a truly comprehensive Antarctic experience. It includes visits to 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 – a place forever connected to the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Adding to the experience, visit several locations in the Falkland Islands, including the homes of nesting albatross and the colorful king penguin.

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


  • Spend three days exploring the Gerlache coastline of Antarctica
  • Cruise through the Errera Channel and visit Cuverville's penguin rookeries
  • Navigate into the Weddell Sea and find yourself surrounded by icebergs
  • Visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the coast of Elephant Island


Akademik Ioffe

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

King Penguins on South Georgia Kayakers -- see the Weddell seal to the left? View the awesomeness of a King penguin colony A remote Arctic Community A seal sunbathes along the waters

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 Ioffe, 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. If weather conditions cooperate spend the night camping in Antarctica.

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. Landings at this location are tricky due to the currents and surf on the beach.

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 Ioffe

Per person starting at
Main Deck Triple Cabins
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Main Deck Triple
Deck 3. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day) and one upper berth. Shared facilities, in cabin washbasin, writing desk/chair, ample storage, and two portholes.
Twin Semi Private Cabins
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Twin Semi-Private
Deck 4. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage. Facilities are semi-private (one bathroom between two cabins) and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Twin Private Cabins
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Twin Private
Deck 4 and 5. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and ample storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Superior Cabins
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Deck 6. Two lower berths, a sofa, a writing desk/chair and ample storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Shackleton Suites
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Shackleton Suite
Deck 4 & 5. One double bed, one sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, IPod alarm clock, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, mini bar. Private facilities. Large window that can be opened.
One Ocean Suite
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One Ocean Suite
Deck 5. One double bed, one sofa bed & separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, IPod alarm clock, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, mini bar. Private facilities with tub. Windows overlooking the bow.


- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double or triple occupancy. Request the Twin or Triple 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 and superior cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.5 times the shared price, suites for 2 times the shared price. Single supplement is not available in triple cabins.

- 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 will 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 to King George Island and from Port Stanley
- Transfers from/to designated meeting points to/from the ship
- Luggage transfer from designated locations to/from your cabin
- 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
Payment & Cancellation Policies
Travel Agents
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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney

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