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Polar research station

Journey Below the Antarctic Circle

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard RCGS Resolute
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This remote stretch of the Antarctic Peninsula is visited for just a few short months each year. From January onwards, seasonal ice conditions give you best chance of achieving your objective - crossing the Antarctic Circle. Witness expansive landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries, and large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. Detaille Island, below the Circle, is a spectacular location. The snowy peaks soar more than 2,000 meters above the ice-strewn waters. Aim to cross 66 degrees, 33 minutes south of latitude, which officially marks the position of the Antarctic Circle on the global map. Return north along the heavily glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine, Fish, and Yalour Island archipelagos and into the Gerlache Strait and Danco coast.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Santiago, Chile | Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark
Days 2-3 : At Sea - Towards Antarctica
Days 4-5 : South Shetland Islands | Antarctic Peninsula Exploration
Days 6-8 : Antarctic Circle Crossing and Southern Gerlache Coastline
Day 9 : Aitcho Islands
Days 10-11 : Drake Passage
Day 12 : Stanley | Disembark | Santiago, Chile

Highlights

  • Cross the fabled Antarctic Circle, visiting remote historic locations
  • Spend a night ashore camping like the early Antarctic explorers
  • Visit a working scientific base to learn of its important climate research
  • Discover Petermann Island, home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery

Ship

RCGS Resolute

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Polar research station An old iceberg on the beaches of Deception Island Kayak quiet waters as you sail to remote coves of Antarctica Albatross cruising the Drake Passage to Antarctica Glacier trekking in Antarctica

Day 1 Santiago, Chile | Stanley, Falkland Islands | Embark

Depart Santiago this morning on your special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. On your arrival, you will be transferred from the airport into town. There is time to explore the town or enjoy a guided visit to nearby Gypsy Cove which provides your first opportunity for observing the local wildlife, including nesting Magellanic penguins and other sea birds. Making your way to the port, you board our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into your cabins and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.

Day 2-3 At Sea - Towards Antarctica

  • Ship
  • 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 you 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 4-5 South Shetland Islands | Antarctic Peninsula Exploration

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of Antarctica's fringing islands are laid out before you. Even your experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.

The McFarlane Strait makes a natural entry point into the South Shetlands. There are several landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we sometimes encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. In the afternoon, cruise along the coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is a memorable experience. If the weather conditions allow, the ship will sail 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 Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike, high up onto the rim of the crater.

Overnight, your ship navigates across the Bransfield Strait and aims for the broad expanse of Willhelmina Bay. This is a known whale 'hot-spot'. It's a rich feeding ground for humpback and minke whales and you can hope to encounter these gentle giants from the ship or when cruising in the Zodiacs. This is a spectacular location, featuring sweeping views of the glaciers up to the mountainous ridge of the Antarctic peninsula. Nearby lies the Errera Channel - home to several exceptional sites, including Cuverville Island with its substantial gentoo penguin rookery, Ronge Island and the snow-capped dome of Danco Island. In the soft evening light, commence your journey south, towards the Antarctic Circle.

Day 6-8 Antarctic Circle Crossing and Southern Gerlache Coastline

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
You'll have covered substantial distance overnight as you head south. The objective is to cross the Antarctic Circle this afternoon, hoping for a shore landing at Detaille Island. An abandoned British science station - ‘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. Toast your success on crossing the Antarctic Circle turning your gaze northwards, viewing the spectacular chain of glacier-covered peaks stretching as far as the eye can see. This coastline begs further exploration, which is exactly what you can plan to do.

Heading north, the peaks of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott loom on the horizon. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings and observation of the gentoo penguins who nest here in large numbers. Just offshore, 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 will be a highlight of the voyage. If ice conditions permit, aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour, which provides a continental landing opportunity. There is a wonderful hike here, up to a high point which provides jaw-dropping views. Zodiac cruising in the glacial amphitheater of Skontorp Cove is also a possibility.

Navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island - a little visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and you may encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbour also allows for another off-ship excursion. After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and you can expect sightings of humpbacks, or the resident pod of orcas that inhabit this stretch of water.

Day 9 Aitcho Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The adventure is not over, you will visit several additional landing sites in the South Shetlands including the Aitcho Islands. There are some great hiking routes here showcasing the colorful mosses and lichens found on the island. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins nest here and on the beaches, they usually encounter seals coming and going from the surrounding waters. Fort Point situated on Greenwich Island is another favored location for a visit. Eventually, you will leave the snow-covered peaks behind you, pushing northwards on your return trip to the Falkland Islands.

Day 10-11 Drake Passage

  • Ship
  • 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 coast of the southern Falkland Islands in the early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

Day 12 Stanley | Disembark | Santiago, Chile

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning you find yourself back in the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to the crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago, your journey comes to an end. 

RCGS Resolute

Deals

Save $800
Early Bird Savings - Book before January 31, 2019 and save $800 per person and enjoy a complimentary pre-voyage hotel night. Some restrictions may apply. Select departures only. Contact us for details.
Applies to Feb 26, 2020 departure

Per person starting at
$13,695
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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Main Deck Triple
Deck 3. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge, portholes, writing desk and chair, and private washroom facilities.
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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Twin Private Cabin
Deck 4. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge, large windows, writing desk and chair, and private washroom facilities.
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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Superior Cabin
Deck 5. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge, large windows, writing desk and chair, and private washroom facilities.
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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Superior Plus Cabin
Deck 5. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge, large picture windows, writing desk and chair, and private washroom.
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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Shackleton Suite
Deck 6. 22 m2. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge convertible to a sofa bed, large picture windows, a large desk, expansive cabinetry, and washroom facilities including both a shower & bathtub.
RCGS Resolute Cabin
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One Ocean Suite
Deck 6. 44 m2. Double or two single beds. Features a sectional lounge convertible to a sofa bed with matching club chairs, large picture windows, a large desk, expansive cabinetry, and washroom facilities including both a shower & bathtub.

Notes

Rates Includes: 
  • Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip
  • Transfers from a central meeting point in Stanley on Day 1 and from the port to the airport (or a downtown
    hotels) at the conclusion of your voyage on Day 12
  • Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes 
  • All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
  • 24-hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar/lounge, plus in-cabin tea and coffee-making facilities
  • Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine bioligists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
  • Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
  • Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
  • Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
  • Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). 
  • Resident photography guide available to assist all guests plus access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management
  • An emergency-trained Physician onboard every voyage
  • Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
  • Onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness center including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
  • Sea Kayaking program available (additional charge of US$795pp) – must be reserved at the time of booking your voyage and you must have some prior paddling experience
  • Access to well-stocked library full of polar reference books
  • End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
  • Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
The Expedition does not include:
  • Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary
  • Visa and passport expenses
  • Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
  • Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
  • Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
  • A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount – US$12-15 per day)
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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