Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. Gather at your central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark your expedition ship. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2-3 At Sea - Towards Antarctica
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in biodiversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. Hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross, giant petrels, and smaller Cape petrels are constant companions as make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the photography expert is on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of your modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, history, and the locations you may visit in the coming days.
Day 4-7 Antarctic Circle | Lower Antarctica Peninsula
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Seeing the continent for the first time takes your breath away. Given favorable ice conditions, your first goal is to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Further exploration this far south is highly dependent on optimal weather and ice conditions. If conditions allow, you may push even further to the south.
This vicinity marks your turnaround point and from now on, cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. Visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut.
Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins, nest here and share the location with gentoo penguins and imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here is a highlight of the voyage.
Day 8-10 Gerlache Strait | Antarctic Peninsula Exploration
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
The goal is to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic viewpoints. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. The good news is, your adventure is not over and you still have several days of exciting exploration ahead.
Orne Harbour is another celebrated location you may visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides excellent access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large gentoo penguin colony which you can observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site.
For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real thrill. It is in this vicinity that you may spend a night ashore camping, if weather conditions permit. The gear and an expert team of guides are provided to make this unique experience happen.
You are now at the most northern point on the Peninsula. Visits to Mikkelson Harbour and nearby Cierva Cove round out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, reflect on an incredible week of exploration.
Day 11 South Shetland Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around you as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. 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 also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.
On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where you can encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise.
Day 12-13 Drake Passage
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
As you make your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and you can enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. Join the photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 14 Ushuaia, Argentina | Disembark
In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests are transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It is possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.