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In Shackleton's Footsteps

Roundtrip Ushuaia - Example 20 Day Cruise aboard Greg Mortimer
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On this 20-day In Shackleton's Footsteps Expedition Cruise Roundtrip Ushuaia aboard Greg Mortimer, start your exploration from the top of the Peninsula and venture into the Weddell Sea to reach Elephant Island, where Sir Ernest Shackleton's crew lived for several months. Finally, you will sail across the Scotia Sea to South Georgia, where Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean faced several challenges on land. Throughout the trip, the expert expedition team will be available to provide captivating information, and interesting stories, and guide you to significant sites from that incredible adventure.
Highlights
  • Marvel at Weddell Sea's icebergs in 'Iceberg Alley' of the Antarctic Sound
  • Explore Shackleton's Endurance expedition and its 2022 shipwreck discovery
  • Discover South Georgia's King penguins breed, moult and raise chicks
  • Hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness and see the whaling station
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ushuaia

Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be met by a representative and transferred to your downtown hotel. 

This afternoon, visit the hospitality desk in the lobby between 8.00 am and 12.00 pm, or 3.00 pm and 7.00 pm, to collect your luggage tags, and confirm if you wish to join the Beagle Channel and Isla de Los Lobos Cruise (sea lion island) tomorrow. The team will confirm details regarding your embarkation day, answer any questions and provide you with information on where to dine or purchase last-minute items.   

The remainder of your time is at leisure. 

Assigned accommodation: Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort or Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel 

Day 2: Ushuaia | Embark

This morning, enjoy breakfast and check out. Ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labeled with your name and cabin number. Take your cabin luggage to the hotel reception, before, or at check-out. Your luggage will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance, to be placed in your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.  

Your morning is at leisure to explore Ushuaia. 

Those wishing to join the afternoon catamaran cruise, meet back at the hotel lobby at 12.45 pm ready to transfer to the port at 1.00 pm. Here you board your catamaran and sail the Beagle Channel, towards the city’s iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Crossing the Bridges Archipelago you’ll slow down to watch colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants sun themselves on the rocky outcrops, while gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses, and cauquenes are often sighted. The cruise offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountain range, in addition to hearing tales of the people and communities of the region. 

Alternatively, enjoy your day at leisure and meet at your hotel lobby at 3.45 pm to be transferred to the pier for embarkation. 

Once onboard, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from the port, gather on the deck to commence your adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.  

This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica. 

Day 3-4: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
As you commence the Drake Passage crossing, make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Your expedition team prepares you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and starts your lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife, and environment.

Your wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in your wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.

Your wildlife experiences begin as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following your vessel. On sea days, you may enjoy the facilities on board the vessel including the gym, and wellness center, or the relaxing in one of the observation lounges. 

Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the afternoon of day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks watching for your first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once you are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, you may attempt your first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.

Day 5-7: Antarctic Peninsula

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the freshest, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever. Once you arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are yours to explore, and have a host of choices available to you. Because you are so far south, you will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. 

Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.

You generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You will want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula. 

While ashore you aim to stretch your legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to participate in the activity whenever conditions allow, and of course, keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting! The polar plunge can take place at any time during the voyage, so listen out for the announcement from the expedition team and get ready for the most exhilarating dip of your life! 

In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (open at the captain’s discretion) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Listen out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve into the sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of the pristine paradise of the splendid white continent.

If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to enjoy that activity whenever conditions allow. 

Day 8: Weddell Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The famed Weddell Sea is central to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which you are here to retrace. In the summer of 1914 Shackleton and his crew of 27 men sailed into the Weddell Sea to attempt the first overland crossing of Antarctica. As they approached their starting point, their ship the Endurance became trapped in sea ice, sinking any hopes they may have had of completing their objective. Little did they know, this was the beginning of a completely unexpected and remarkable journey. The incredible series of events that followed have made Shackleton’s voyage one of the most celebrated in polar history. 

Remote and inaccessible, entry into the Weddell Sea is highly prized among polar adventurers. Your passage begins at the northernmost extreme of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the beautifully barren Antarctic Sound. In this seldom-visited part of the Peninsula volcanic peaks tower above penguin colonies, and wave-sculpted icebergs parade through the deep channels leading to the Weddell Sea.  

Continuing further east, embrace the expedition spirit as you forge your way as far as possible into the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea is renowned for its breathtaking tabular icebergs and expansive sea ice, which attracts an abundance of wildlife, including crabeater seals, Weddell seals, and an array of seabirds. Take some time out on deck to observe the flight of storm petrels, prions, and Antarctic cormorants drawn here by the rich blooms of Antarctic krill that flourish in the shelter of this ice-covered sea. 

As you travel, take a moment to reflect on the truly historic seas you’re sailing. It wasn’t so far from here that the wreck of the Endurance was discovered, mostly intact, on March 5, 2022. Researchers aboard the polar research vessel S.A. Agulhas II were astonished to find the well-preserved vessel only 6.4km (4 miles) south of the position calculated by Captain Worsley in 1915 when he last laid eyes on his ship. 

Day 9: Elephant Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you set a course for Elephant Island, the lonely outpost where 22 of Shackleton’s men survived several winter months under the shelter of two upturned boats.  

In the morning, join your expedition team in the lecture room to hear the awe-inspiring story of Shackleton and his men, who spent 9 months stuck in Weddell Sea pack ice and 6 months camping on drifting sea ice before making a desperate escape from the sea ice in three open boats. They spent almost a week battling the wind, currents, swell and treacherous ice to finally make landfall on Elephant Island, a striking, ice-covered extremity of the South Shetland Islands, after 497 days at sea.  

Plan to sail past Cape Valentine to see the beach where the men first put ashore over 100 years ago, then follow the coastline west to the exposed promontory of Point Wild. This is where Shackleton’s 22 men survived several bitter winter months under their upturned boats, hoping for rescue. Weather permitting, we will take a Zodiac cruise or make a landing at historic Point Wild. 

Day 10-11: Scotia Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
After an exciting program of excursions and activities in Antarctica, relax and enjoy the slower pace of sea days as you sail towards South Georgia.  
As you make your way across the Scotia Sea you’re following the route taken by Shackleton and five of his men when they sailed from Elephant Island in search of rescue. In their open wooden boat, the James Caird, they spent 17 days sailing into the unknown across this perilous patch of ocean. This boat journey, which concluded with their safe arrival in King Haakon Bay on the west coast of South Georgia, remains one of the greatest stories of maritime navigation and survival in polar history.  

As you sail the onboard lecture program continues, with a series of entertaining presentations on South Georgia’s wildlife, geology, and history in the lecture room. Or you might prefer to simply unwind: take a long lunch, catch up on your gym sessions, or curl up with a book from the polar library. 

The Scotia Sea is known for its abundant wildlife including fin, humpback, and blue whales. Keep watch for these gentle giants and elusive orca, which patrol these waters. Venture out on the deck with your camera to capture cape petrels and prions wheeling, and albatross soaring gracefully amidst the swell.  
Of course, thoughts of Shackleton and his voyage are never far away.  

“Nearly always there were gales. So small was our boat and so great were the seas that often our sail flapped idly in the calm between the crests of two waves. Then we would climb the next slope and catch the full fury of the gale where the wool-like whiteness of the breaking water surged around us.”  
- Ernest Shackleton 

Day 12-16: South Georgia

  • Ship
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
As you near the rugged island of South Georgia, spare a thought for Captain James Cook, who arrived here in 1775 and believed it to be the northern tip of a great southern continent! In fact, it is a small island only 176 km (110 mi) long, but with a 3,000 m (9,842 ft) snow-capped mountain range, some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife and a truly fascinating human history, South Georgia is an island of incredible riches.  

As you approach, jagged mountain peaks rise steeply, while seabirds are often spotted soaring around the ship. You will sail along the coast, taking in the spectacular glaciated scenery and enjoying a little shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. This enchanting coastline is yours to explore!  

Zodiac cruise around craggy coves and along the rocky coastline in search of penguins, seal haul-outs, and bird cliffs. Remember to keep an eye out for South Georgia’s kelp forests—these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerizing as their fronds sway back and forth on the water’s surface.  

Zodiacs will also shuttle you from ship to shore, where you can visit some of the largest king penguin colonies on Earth, take a guided walk among fur seals and elephant seals (making sure you listen to your guides and keep your distance!), and wander along pebbled streams and grassy glacial outwash plains. Visit the remnants of South Georgia’s thriving whaling stations and visit the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose incredible voyage of survival is synonymous with this island.  

In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may ship-cruise through fjords with towering cliffs of ancient stone, or into deeply indented bays towards dramatic glacier fronts. This is a great time to find a comfy spot in the observation lounge to enjoy uninterrupted views of South Georgia’s majestic coast. 

For some intrepid Shackleton fans, the optional hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness will be a highlight. This route follows the final stage of Shackleton, Worsely, and Crean’s improbable traverse of South Georgia, from their landing place in King Haakon Bay on the east coast to Stromness in the west, where they finally found safety after 24 harrowing months at sea.  

From Fortuna Bay, the trail rises to a spectacular alpine plateau, before angling steeply down towards the abandoned Stromness whaling station. Conditions permitting, aim to repeat this final section of their traverse.  

“Bright moonlight showed us that the interior was tremendously broken,” Shackleton wrote. “High peaks, impassable cliffs, steep snow- slopes, and sharply descending glaciers could be seen in all directions.”  

Day 17-19: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
As you sail from South Georgia, you will be enthralled by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow the vessel, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.  

If time and weather conditions permit, you could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia. 
 
As you sail on towards Ushuaia you may choose to spend your final precious moments at sea soaking up the views on deck, enjoying the onboard facilities, or attending final lectures. There is plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean, have a drink with newfound friends and reflect on the voyage you’ve shared.  

On the final night, celebrate your unforgettable voyage with newfound friends at a special Captain’s farewell dinner. 

Day 20: Ushuaia | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Cruise up the Beagle Channel in the early morning, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you are free to disembark around 8.00 am. Farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue your onward journeys with a newfound sense of the immense power and beauty of nature. 
 
On disembarkation, passengers on flights departing prior to 2:00 pm will be transferred directly to Ushuaia Airport, while those fortunate enough to be continuing their travels in this spectacular region of the world, will be transferred to their post-voyage Ushuaia accommodation. Passengers flying after 2.00 pm will have time to explore Ushuaia, prior to an afternoon airport transfer, the details of which will be provided onboard prior to disembarkation. 
 
Note: At the conclusion of the cruise, it is not recommended to book flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12:00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays. 

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Greg Mortimer

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Greg Mortimer

Ushuaia - Hotels

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170 ft² - 245.41 ft² - Greg Mortimer features 8 porthole rooms, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms, perfect for adventurers who are looking for a comfortable base that's close to the action.
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Balcony Stateroom Superior
303.54 ft² - 432.70 ft² - With a bit more room to stretch the legs, the Greg Mortimer's two Balcony Suites are perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear. Featuring private balconies, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area, these will sell out quickly!
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Junior Suite
The Greg Mortimer's four Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage 418.71 ft² - points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony.
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Captain's Suite
478.99 ft² - The largest of all the rooms, the Greg Mortimer's singular Captain's Suite will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite.
Included
  • 18 Breakfasts, 17 Lunches, 18 Dinners
  • 19 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • Beer, House Wine, and Soft Drinks with Dinner 
  • Educational Lectures and Guiding Services from Expedition Team 
  • Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
  • Port Surcharges, Permits, and Landing Fees
  • Captain's Welcome and Farewell drinks including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
  • Complimentary use of Muck boots during the voyage
  • All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
  • All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
  • On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
  • Half-day tour of Ushuaia on Day 2, prior to embarkation
  • One night's hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Ushuaia on Day 1
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Airport Departure Tax - Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
  • Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
  • Optional activity surcharges
  • Reciprocity and Vaccination Charges
  • Passengers traveling with Aurora Expeditions are required to be covered by a reputable travel insurance policy that includes baggage loss, cancellation & curtailment of the holiday, medical, accident, and repatriation/emergency evacuation coverage worth at least $250,000 USD.

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