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Penguin jump in Antarctica

Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake

Roundtrip Punta Arenas - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Ocean Explorer
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Skip the four days of Drake Passage crossings and optimize your Antarctica experience by flying! A short two-hour flight takes you between Punta Arenas, Chile, and King George Island. Once in Antarctica, the penguins, seals, and whales keep you and your camera busy, as do the massive icebergs, mountains, and glaciers, which create other-worldly landscapes on the white continent. Within hours of your departure you are greeted by your team of experts on the ship and head out on your first Zodiac experience in search of wildlife on this unique Antarctic cruise.
Ready to take off!Antarctic SunriseTravelers on a zodiac tour in AntarcticaWalking in AntarcticaPenguin jump in Antarctica
Highlights
  • Fly over the Drake Passage and experience the fastest way to Antarctica
  • Explore beaches dotted with leopard seals and three species of penguins
  • Zodiac cruise around Pleneau Island in search for whales and icebergs
  • Look for calving icebergs at Neko Harbor & watch leopard seals as they hunt
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: Punta Arenas, Chile

Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, the most populated city in Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy for days. By early afternoon, a representative brings everyone together to your starting hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed about preparing for your embarkation day.

Note: Please arrive at Punta Arenas airport by 3:00 PM.  Due to King George Island's unpredictable weather, scheduled charter flights may be made the night before the planned date should there be weather disruptions.

Day 2: Punta Arenas | Fly to King George Island | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
Your charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica has you crossing the legendary Drake Passage in only a few hours. Far below, the ship is approaching King George Island for your arrival. Your first glimpse of dramatic Antarctica landscapes is from a very unique perspective, as your plane descends for landing in the South Shetlands. After landing, stretch your legs and spend some time exploring the island before being transferred by Zodiac to your ship. Meet the rest of your shipmates and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula!

Note: A clear sky with great visibility is required for safe take-off and landing at King George Island. Should the weather be uncooperative at this remote airstrip, flights can be moved earlier, or delayed later.  Historically, 85% of flights occur on the day they are scheduled.  But if this is not possible, the ship operator will follow their established contingency plan, which can be read here

Day 3-6: Antarctic Peninsula | South Shetland Islands

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
There are few places in the world as evocative as Antarctica. Much of the continent is indescribable and can only be fully appreciated through the human eye.

Your first sightings are from the ship itself. As the Captain and Expedition Team keep their eyes out for whales and seabirds, be alerted to any new sightings. Your team of expert lecturers also provide in-depth explanations of the geology, history, and wildlife of the region.

Even more exciting are your daily excursions to land. Your first Zodiac landing is something you never forget! Walking up to a beach that is dotted with penguins and seals is the most intimate way to experience the unique wildlife of Antarctica. Each landing is different and is dependent on weather, but every day presents new sightings and photo opportunities and it is not long before you can tell the difference between an Adelie, gentoo, or chinstrap penguin.

You may take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs in Pleneau Island one day, followed by a hike to a penguin rookery the next day. From the booming shot of a calving glacier at Petermann Island to the complete silence of night while camping on the ice in Antarctica, welcome each day with the excitement and energy of a young child.

Your Expedition Team is with you all along, providing insights into the places you visit and offering photography tips to get the most out of your expedition.

Day 7: King George Island | Disembark | Fly to Punta Arenas

After your seven days of exploration, say goodbye to the Expedition Team and disembark at King George Island. Your three-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas, Chile brings your journey to an end. After transferring from the airport to the hotel, you can enjoy one final dinner to reminisce about all the sights and sounds of Antarctica.

NoteIf the weather at King George Island does not allow for flights this morning, the ship operator will follow their well-established contingency plan, again. 

Day 8: Depart Punta Arenas

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, make your own way to the Punta Arenas airport for your homeward flights.

Note: Flights arranged for later in the day provide more buffer against any of those potential flight delays out of King George Island.

Ship/Hotel

Ocean Explorer

Ocean Explorer
Atrium - Two level lounge
Explorer Presentation Lounge

Punta Arenas - Hotels

Dates & Prices

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Save up to 30% on Antarctica 2024 - 2025
Book your Antarctica 2024 - 2025 cruises now and enjoy up to 30% savings. On select departures, an additional savings of up to 5% discount may be applied if paid in full at the time of booking. This offer is valid only for new bookings, subject to availability, and not combinable with other discounts. Additional restrictions may apply. Please contact us for details.
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Save up to 30% on Antarctica 2025 - 2026
Book your Antarctica 2025 - 2026 cruises now and enjoy up to 30% savings. On select departures, an additional savings of up to 10% discount may be applied if paid in full at the time of booking. This offer is valid only for new bookings, subject to availability, and not combinable with other discounts. Additional restrictions may apply. Please contact us for details.
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Per person starting at
$18,295
Ocean Explorer - Studio Double
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Studio Double
The Studio Double, located on Deck 3 and classified as Standard, offers a peaceful atmosphere with a porthole window, all necessary amenities, and a double bed of twin berths. It can accommodate up to two occupants in its 175-186 sqft space.
Studio Veranda State Room
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Studio Veranda Stateroom
The Studio Veranda Stateroom, located on Deck 6 and measuring approximately 173 sq. f. (16.1 sq.m.), is classified as Standard and features a floor-to-ceiling glass view that opens to a walkout balcony, one double bed that can be configured into two singles, a desk and chair, TV, state-of-the-art 'infotainment' system, and a private bathroom with shower, vanity and heated floor, making it ideal for 1-2 occupants.
Ocean Explorer  - Deluxe Veranda Forward Stateroom
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Deluxe Veranda Forward Stateroom
The Deluxe Veranda Forward Stateroom is a standard class on Deck 4, providing guests with privacy, elegance, and sweeping views from their private veranda. It is 168-195 sqft and has a bed configuration of one double bed made up of two twin berths, with a maximum occupancy of 2.
Ocean Explorer - Deluxe Veranda Middle Stateroom
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Deluxe Veranda Middle Stateroom
The Deluxe Veranda Middle Stateroom, located on Deck 4 and classified as Standard, offers guests easy access to all ship amenities. It is 203-272 sqft and accommodates 1-2 guests on a double bed made up of two twin berths plus some with a fold-out sofa bed.
Ocean Explorer - Deluxe Veranda Stateroom
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Deluxe Veranda Stateroom
Experience the panoramic ocean views from the comfort of a Deluxe Veranda Stateroom on Deck 4. This room has a bed configuration of one double bed made up of two twin berths plus a fold-out sofa bed, a size ranging from 200-205 sqft, and a standard class.
Ocean Explorer  - Studio Single
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Studio Single
The Studio Single is a standard class located on Deck 3, with an occupancy of one person. It features a double bed made up of two twin berths, a porthole view, a desk and chair, a TV, a state-of-the-art 'infotainment' system, and a private bathroom with shower, vanity, and heated floor, all within approximately 177 sq. ft. (16.5 sq. m) of space.
Grand Veranda State Room
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Grand Veranda Stateroom
This premium Grand Veranda Stateroom, located on Deck 6 and spanning over 195-205 sqft, is perfect for 1-2 occupants. It features a double bed made up of two twin berths plus a fold-out sofa bed, and it has easy access to the lounge, dining room, and private veranda.
Royal Veranda State Room
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Royal Veranda Stateroom
The Royal Veranda Stateroom, located on Decks 4 and 6, is a spacious premium-class cabin that can accommodate up to two guests. It features one double bed made up of two twin berths and a fold-out sofa bed, and its size ranges from 189 to 272 sqft.
Ocean Explorer - Studio Veranda Single
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Studio Veranda Single
The Studio Veranda Single is a premium cabin located on Deck 7, with an occupancy of 1 person, featuring a twin single bed, a private bathroom with shower, vanity, and heated floor, a state-of-the-art 'infotainment' system, and a floor-to-ceiling glass view that opens to a generous walkout balcony, covering an area of approximately 162 sq. ft. (15.1 sq. m.).
Junior SuiteJunior Suite Receiving area
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Junior Suite
This Junior Suite, located on Deck 6, boasts an impressive decor and layout, a private veranda, and proximity to the lounge and downstairs dining room. It is 296-299 sqft and has a bed configuration of two rooms: one double bed made up of two twin berths and a fold-out sofa bed. It accommodates up to two guests and is classified as Premium.
Ocean Explorer - Explorer Suite
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Explorer Suite
The Explorer Suite is a premium class accommodation located on Deck 7, featuring a unique 2-room layout with a double bed that can be configured into two singles in the inner bedroom, a fold-out sofa bed in the outer sitting area, walk-out access to a double-sized balcony from either room, 2 TVs, state-of-the-art 'infotainment' system, private bathroom with shower, vanity, and heated floor, as well as an additional powder room in the outside sitting area, and can accommodate up to 2 guests.
Owners SuiteOwner's Suite - Receiving area
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Owners Suite
The Owners Suite, located on Deck 7, is a premium class, palatial apartment that features a large master bedroom, living room, dining area, two master bathrooms, and a private veranda with stunning views while accommodating 1-2 occupants with a bed configuration of two rooms, one double bed made up of two twin berths, and a fold-out sofa bed, all within a total size of 443 square feet.

Notes

- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double occupancy. Request the Twin Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.

- Standard Cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.7 times the double occupancy rate. The supplement for a Premium Cabin is 2 times the shared rate.

Insurance: Emergency medical evacuation coverage for a maximum benefit of US$500,000 per person is included. Travelers should have a minimum US$50,000 (or equivalent) of emergency medical coverage prior to embarkation. It is recommended that you and all members of your party have comprehensive travel insurance covering trip cancellation, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage, and repatriation. Contact us for details.
Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Coffee, Tea and Cocoa Available Around the Clock
  • Leadership throughout the expedition by our experienced Expedition Leader
  • Loan of Waterproof Boots for Landings
  • Official Expedition Parka to Keep
  • Select Beer and Wine During Dinner
  • Photographic Journal Documenting the Expedition
  • All Miscellaneous Service Taxes and Port Charges Throughout the Program
  • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
  • Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person
  • All shore landings as per the daily program
  • Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
  • All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board throughout your voyage
  • All luggage handling aboard the ship
  • A Briefing Dinner on Day 1 in Punta Arenas
  • Group Transfer in Punta Arenas from the Airport to the Pre-expedition Hotel on Day 1
  • A Pre-expedition Group Transfer in Punta Arenas from the Hotel to the Airport
  • Free beer, standard wines, spirits, and cocktails during bar service hours and dinner
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi service on one device permitting basic Internet browsing, email, posting on social media and voice applications. (Premium packages are available for more data intensive applications.)
  • One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas with breakfast. (Note: The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available.)
  • Flights to and from King George Island
  • A post-expedition group transfer in Punta Arenas from the airport to the hotel
  • One night's post-expedition hotel accommodation (with breakfast) in Punta Arenas, as well as luggage storage
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
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Internet & Phone Charges
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Mandatory Waterproof Pants for Zodiac Cruising & Any Other Gear Not Specifically Mentioned
  • Arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated
  • Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities
  • Additional overnight accommodation
  • Basic complimentary Wi-Fi service does not include Premium packages, which enable more data-intensive applications

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