Day 1 Embark in Ushuaia, Argentina
Embark the Silver Explorer, settle in, and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. During the afternoon be introduced to some of the important crew members and your Expedition Team. At sail-away bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the westerly winds and the funnelling effect of the passage. Within the Drake Passage is the ever-shifting Antarctic Convergence. Here nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that glide in the air currents of your ship’s wake such as the black-browed albatross, sooty shearwaters and white-chinned petrels. Have your camera ready to capture the magical color of late night sunsets.
As you sail on your initial transit, familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Explorer and the Expedition Team members. Attend wildlife, geography and history discussions hosted by your expert naturalists and guest lecturers that prepare you for the exciting adventures that lie ahead. When available, visit the Bridge and meet your Captain and officers; information can be posted in the “Chronicle”, the daily onboard newsletter.
Day 4-8 Antarctic Peninsula
- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
While sailing in Antarctica, every turn can reveal a new and breathtaking adventure. As the pack ice becomes thicker you are moving closer into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular icebergs and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters.
Each day you can attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, cruise amidst colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations led by a team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain can determine your best course depending on weather, ice conditions, and wildlife you may encounter. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands: As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island, it is very likely you can be greeted by gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Other annual seabirds include the southern giant petrels. While in the Zodiac, you might spot a leopard seal prowling the shore for penguins.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (mainland Antarctica): Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-meter-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and cape petrels use this as a breeding area. As you explore the area, a Weddell seal may be seen basking in the sunlight. If conditions permit, you might hike onto a nearby glacier.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel: Cuverville’s large bare rock areas provide nesting sites for gentoo penguins. Snow petrels and cape petrels also may be seen whilst Wilson’s storm petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. During Zodiac tours around the many icebergs, hauled-out Weddell seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay (Antarctic Peninsula): The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers, and icebergs. From the ship, observe Argentina’s “Base Almirante Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations. Here, you can actually set foot on mainland Antarctica. View the wildlife from sea level while cruising by Zodiac. There’s a good chance you come across a crabeater seal relaxing on an ice floe or locate minke whales.
Paulet Island: The island is home to 80-90 thousand Adelie penguins that come here to breed. On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of blue-eyed shags. Kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, and Wilson’s storm petrels are amongst the other birds that visit or breed on Paulet Island. The crew of Otto Nordenskjöld’s Swedish Antarctic Expedition relief ship Antarctic had to over-winter on the island in 1903. Remnants of their hut still remain.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago: The island is named for German geographer August Petermann and was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74. Various geological features such as the many leucocratic dikes along the shoreline and the more granitic composition towards the small ice-covered summit are clearly visible. Rock surfaces show glacial polish, some glacial grooving, and nice samples of frost shattering. During your landing, be able to observe rookeries of Adelie penguins, gentoo penguins, and blue-eyed shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago: Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel, and was first explored during Charcot’s 1903–05 French Antarctic Expedition. The island was named for the expedition’s photographer, Paul Pleneau. Amongst the common breeding birds are gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and south polar skuas. Southern elephant seals are often hauled-out in wallows. Enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island): Deception Island is an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. Your resident Geologist takes the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while naturalists might introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island: The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s and since 1996 as a museum and gift shop. Snowy sheathbills and gentoo penguins roam and nest outside the museum. Perhaps sight a whale or a leopard seal on your Zodiac approach to Goudier Island.