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In Shackleton’s Footsteps

Roundtrip Ushuaia - Example 20 Day Cruise aboard Sylvia Earle
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Embark on a 20-day polar expedition cruise, retracing Shackleton's odyssey. Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea, Elephant Island, and South Georgia. Witness tabular icebergs in the Antarctic Sound, and visit the historic James Caird path. Enjoy South Georgia's wildlife sanctuary, including fur seals, elephant seals, and four species of penguins. Conclude the adventure with a hike from Fortuna Bay to the abandoned Stromness whaling station, retracing Shackleton's final leg across South Georgia from east to west. 
Highlights
  • Retrace Shackleton's steps: Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea, Elephant Island, South Georgia
  • Marvel at enormous tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea
  • Explore South Georgia's wildlife: Fur seals, elephant seals, and penguins
  • Hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness whaling station
Activity Level: Easy Active
Moderately active but not overly strenuous. This level includes activities like casual cycling, yoga, or excursions/activities that typically last 3-5 hours total each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ushuaia

Upon arrival in Ushuaia, you're greeted by a representative and transferred with fellow expeditioners to your assigned pre-voyage hotel. If you're already in Ushuaia, please head to your hotel. Check-in begins at 3.00 pm. Later this afternoon, stop by the hospitality desk in the hotel lobby from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm to collect luggage tags and confirm participation in the Beagle Channel and Isla de Los Lobos Cruise tomorrow. The team provides embarkation details, addresses queries, and offers dining and shopping suggestions.

Expeditioners arriving after 7.00 pm receive a welcome pack at check-in and are requested to visit the hospitality desk between 8.00 am to 10.00 am tomorrow. Enjoy leisure time for the rest of the day. Meals are at your own expense.

Day 2: Ushuaia | Embarkation

This morning, enjoy breakfast and check-out, ensuring your cabin luggage is tagged with your name and cabin number. Leave your cabin luggage at the hotel reception, where it will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance and placement in your cabin. Keep valuables and personal items with you throughout the day.

Your morning is free to explore Ushuaia.

For those joining the afternoon catamaran cruise, gather at the hotel lobby at 12.15 pm for transfer to the port at 12.30 pm. Sail the Beagle Channel, passing the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse and colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants.

Alternatively, enjoy your day and meet at your hotel lobby at 3.00 pm, or at 3.30 pm near the pier for transfer to the pier for embarkation.

Once onboard, settle into your cabin before mandatory briefings. Gather on deck as the ship departs, enjoying views of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.

This evening, join fellow expeditioners, the expedition team, and crew for a welcome dinner to kick off the thrilling Antarctic adventure.

Day 3-4: Drake Passage Crossing

Settle into your stateroom and make yourself comfortable! The onboard gym, wellbeing centre and well-equipped library are yours to discover, and your expedition team will offer a series of presentations on Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment to help enrich your experience. You will also be invited to collect your Muck Boots and attend important briefings on biosecurity, wildlife-watching guidelines and Zodiac safety, in preparation for your first landing in Antarctica. 

On day four the excitement is palpable as you near the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, with everyone converging on the observation decks to spot their first iceberg. Now that you’re south of the Antarctic Convergence the ocean takes on a whole new character, as you’re surrounded by porpoising penguins and dramatic icebergs. The memory of your first iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, travelers may attempt our first Antarctic landing in the late afternoon. 

Day 5-7: Antarctic Peninsula

It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience to cherish forever.  

Once travelers arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are yours to explore, and travelers have a host of choices available to you. 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. 

While on the Peninsula, travelers generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. Make sure you 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 your favourite spots along the peninsula.  

While ashore travelers 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 do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting! 

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 marvel at sculptural icebergs and photograph spectacular scenery. 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. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve into the sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent. 

Day 8: Weddell Sea

The famed Weddell Sea is central to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which we 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

Today, set a course for Elephant Island, the isolated outpost where 22 of Shackleton’s men endured several winter months under the shelter of two upturned boats.

In the morning, join your expedition team in the lecture room to hear the remarkable story of Shackleton and his men, who spent 9 months trapped in Weddell Sea pack ice and 6 months camping on drifting sea ice before embarking on a daring escape from the ice in three open boats. After battling wind, currents, swell, and treacherous ice for almost a week, they finally reached Elephant Island, a stark, ice-covered extremity of the South Shetland Islands, after 497 days at sea.

Intend to sail past Cape Valentine to view the beach where the men first landed over 100 years ago, then follow the coastline west to the exposed promontory of Point Wild. Here, Shackleton’s 22 men endured several harsh winter months under their upturned boats, awaiting rescue. Weather permitting, embark on a Zodiac cruise or make a landing at historic Point Wild.

Day 10-11: Scotia Sea

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 our 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 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.  

Day 12-16: South Georgia

As you near the rugged island of South Georgia, take a moment to reflect on Captain James Cook, who arrived here in 1775 and thought it to be the northern tip of a great southern continent! Despite being a small island only 176 km (110 mi) long, with a 3,000 m (9,842 ft) snow-capped mountain range, South Georgia is rich in wildlife and human history.

As you approach, jagged mountain peaks rise steeply, with seabirds often soaring around the ship. Sail along the coast, admiring the spectacular glaciated scenery and enjoying some shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. Explore this enchanting coastline at your leisure!

Embark on Zodiac cruises around craggy coves and along the rocky coastline in search of penguins, seal haul-outs, and bird cliffs. Keep an eye out for South Georgia’s mesmerizing kelp forests, swaying gently on the water's surface.

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

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

For Shackleton fans, the optional hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness is a highlight. This route follows the final stage of Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean’s traverse of South Georgia, from King Haakon Bay on the east coast to Stromness in the west, where they finally found safety after 24 harrowing months at sea. The trail rises to a spectacular alpine plateau before descending steeply towards the abandoned Stromness whaling station. Conditions permitting, we aim to repeat this final section of their traverse.

Day 17-19: At Sea

As you sail from South Georgia, you'll be enthralled by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow the vessel, skillfully 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
During the early morning, cruise up the Beagle Channel 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 all continue onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport or your hotel is included in the cost of the voyage.  

Note: At the conclusion of the trip, it is not recommended booking flights departing from Ushuaia before 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays. 

Ship/Hotel

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle
Sylvia Earle Observation Deck
Sylvia Earle Library

Ushuaia - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$24,695 2-3 travelers
Greg Mortimer-Aurora Stateroom Triple
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Aurora Stateroom Triple
22.67m2 (244ft2) - There are two Aurora Stateroom Triple cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms.
Sylvia Earle Aurora Stateroom Superior
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Aurora Stateroom Superior
19.9m2 - 20.8m2(214.2ft2 - 223.9ft2) - Located on Deck 7, the Staterooms feature french balconies, floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear.
Sylvia Earle Balcony Stateroom C
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Balcony Stateroom C
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 11 Balcony Stateroom C cabins - most economical, fitted with all the necessities and comfortable for up to 2 people. These cabins are scattered throughout Deck 6.
Sylvia Earle Balcony Stateroom B
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Balcony Stateroom B
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 17 Balcony Stateroom B Cabins - standard cabin, many fitted with interconnecting features making them great for families or groups. These cabins are located at the fore and aft of Deck 4 and 6.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Stateroom A
19.5m² - 28.7m² (209.9ft² - 308.9ft²)- 23 Balcony Stateroom A cabins - premium cabin, and the most abundant on board. These cabins are located in preferred positions on Deck 4 and 6 which provides easy access between Decks via the internal stairs or elevator.
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Balcony Stateroom Superior
29.2m2 - 35.2m2 (314.3ft2 - 378.9ft2) - Located on Deck 4 and 6, the Staterooms feature floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Some of these rooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.
Sylvia Earle Junior Suite
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Junior Suite
Up to 41.6m2 (447.8ft2)- 4 Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage 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.
Greg Mortimer-Captain's Suite
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Captain’s Suite
43.8m2 (471.5 ft2) - Captain's Suite - the largest of all our rooms, will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite, you'll need to get in early to secure this 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
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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