Arrive and embark in Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost town. Explore the quaint city or local countryside. Alternatively, consider a day trip off the beaten path to the raw, natural archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. It's a hiker's paradise with rugged snow-capped mountains, glaciers, flower-filled meadows and boggy quagmires. In the afternoon, board your ship, Ocean Victory. Your journey begins as the captain navigates through the calms of Beagle Channel, a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago.
Sailing onward, cross the famed Drake Passage - a body of water that marks the intersection of the cold Antarctic with the warmer Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Drake Passage is known for strong westerly winds, rolling seas, and its nickname "The Roaring Fifties." While this passage may be challenging, rest confidently aboard the expedition vessel, which is purpose-built with stabilizers, powerful engines and a highly qualified crew. The most spirited sailors consider Drake Passage a lifetime achievement – and soon you can tick it off on the list yourself! In the Drake, the excitement builds as Antarctic wildlife comes into view with your first sight of seals, penguins and albatrosses.
Having crossed the Drake, explore the sub-Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and marvel at the captivating landscapes encountered along the way. Weather permitting, make your first landfall on King George Island before continuing further south to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Over the coming days, begin the exciting Antarctic experience at the very tip of the Continent. During these days in the Antarctic Sound, named in 1902 after the Swedish vessel Antarctic, the Captain and the Expedition Team will keep a watchful eye on the mighty tabular icebergs, born from the floating Larsen Ice Shelf further south. The expedition crew will aim to have both continental and island landings on the shores of Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea, always on the lookout for some of the unusually large penguin colonies that have recently been observed.
The itinerary and activities over the next few days depend on weather and ice conditions. The route and shore landings will be determined by the Captain and Expedition Leader and communicated to the guests through regularly scheduled briefings.
From the Weddell Sea, continue your journey into the open sea, just as Ernest Shackleton and his men did more than a hundred years ago. Having lost their ship Endurance deep south in the Weddell Sea they moved slowly north on ice floes and later in open lifeboats until they reached Elephant Island. From here started one of the most remarkable boat journeys in the polar history, when Shackleton and five of his men for two weeks navigated the 720 nautical miles to South Georgia to call for recovery of the stranded crew on Elephant Island.
South Georgia offers stunning wildlife experiences with a wealth of breeding penguins, sea birds, sea lions and seals, all seeking shelter in this oasis amidst the roaring Southern Ocean. Previous whaling history pops up in most of the fjords you will explore – not least in Grytviken, the only inhabited settlement on this mountainous island. Grytviken is also the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton, after he died on yet another Antarctica voyage in 1922. Explore the fjords of the north coast for 2-3 days and take as many shore landings as time and the swelling sea will allow.
Days at sea are great for participating in lectures, photo sessions and recaps, reading books in the ship library and watching the ubiquitous storm petrels and albatrosses from top deck, or just to relax.
During the morning, the ship approaches Falkland Islands and in the early afternoon Ocean Victory will cast anchor in the sheltered natural harbor of Port Stanley. Utilizing Zodiacs, land in town center, and take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Stanley.
On the following day, make landings – weather permitting – at two of the islands’ many magnificent wildlife spots.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!