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King Penguins at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

Antarctica & The Falkland Islands: Sea Birds and Penguins

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov
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Explore the historic White Continent on this 12-day small ship Antarctica cruise. Begin your journey in Ushuaia as you embark Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Set sail for the Drake Passage, Falkland Islands, Elephant Island, and legendary Antarctica itself. As you cruise, keep your eyes on the horizon for whales and marine mammals, and attend lectures presented by the ship's staff.
Old whaling boat in GrytvikenColony of penguins at Gold HarborPenguins on the coast of the Antarctic PeninsulaAlbatross cruising the Drake Passage to AntarcticaKing Penguins at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia
  • Watch for diverse seabirds from the bridge of the ship
  • Encounter gentoo, Adelie, and emperor penguins at several rookeries
  • Learn about past Antarctic explorers and the history of this remote region
  • Embark on an optional kayaking adventure at Cuverville Island
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.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark

Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. Gather at a central meeting point, transfer to the pier and embark your expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.

Day 2-3: Drake Passage | At Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sailing south towards Antarctica you are joined by hundreds of seabirds, including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and a photography expert shows you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of the modern research vessel. Keen birdwatchers love the viewing opportunities on the bridge and expansive outer decks. Spend time with your naturalist guides and learn the subtle variations between the different species as they soar on the winds of the Drake Passage. One of the most anticipated sightings are the stunning light-mantled albatross, often seen flying in pairs in elaborate aerial displays. Throughout the day the on-board experts give a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history of the locations you can visit in the coming days.

Day 4-5: Antarctic Peninsula | South Shetlands

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. It’s a staggering site and much anticipated moment of the expedition. Dallman Bay is home to the Melchior Islands and a fitting introduction to Antarctica. The waters separate the large offshore islands of Anvers and Brabant and provide a natural entrance into the celebrated Gerlache Strait region of the Antarctic Peninsula. Cross the Gerlache and if ice conditions permit, the ship navigates into the Errera Channel aiming for a shore landing at Cuverville Island. The site is a hive of activity in mid December, with thousands of gentoo penguins nesting on eggs and eagerly awaiting the emergence of their newborn chicks into the world. It’s an incredible sight to witness in close proximity. The waters surrounding Cuverville provide great sea kayaking possibilities as well. Meanwhile, onshore there are walks in several directions along the beach to view the penguin colonies. If the snow conditions are good, you may even climb to the summit of the island.

Set sail north towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way potentially make a stop at Deception Island. If weather conditions permit, the ship sails right into the middle of a volcanic caldera. This is a very dramatic place and history surrounds you as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted relics and dilapidated wooden huts. Fur seals gather among the old structures seeking protection from the elements. Kelp gulls are known to nest here and skuas are also present. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. There is also an outstanding hike to a location known as ‘Neptune’s Window’ - high up onto the rim of the crater.

Day 6-7: Antarctic Sound | Weddell Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, the Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As the ship sails into the sound, witness, for the first time, the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea, notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation – and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited thus far.

The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size – some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the rookeries visited to date. Weather permitting, excursions may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island, and Brown Bluff. All eyes are trained on the ice floes through which the ship navigates. There have been successful sightings of emperor penguins in this area in recent years. Based on the size and plumage, naturalists believe them to be juveniles out exploring and fishing – and possible residents of the known emperor colony on the southern side of Snow Hill Island.

The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjöld’s Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century-old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after their ship had been lost in the ice months earlier. As the ship sails north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset off the port quarter of the ship makes you pause to consider the bravery of those early explorers who traveled these waters a hundred years ago.

Day 8: Elephant Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sail to Elephant Island from the south. Point Lookout, on the southern tip of the island, is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species that have yet to be encountered. Both southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals are often found hauled out on the beaches here. If conditions permit, visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat.

Day 9-10: At Sea towards the Falkland Islands

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
While sailing north to the Falkland Islands, the on-board polar experts recap Weddell Sea adventures and prepare you for the days ahead. Much of your time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular seabirds are constant companions as you transit to open waters. This is a good opportunity to visit the multimedia room and download your precious photos with the assistance of your resident photographer. The on-board educational program continues as experts entertain the group with interactive presentations and lively discussions.

Day 11: West Point | Saunders Islands, Falkland Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its rockhopper penguin rookeries and large nesting black-browed albatross colony. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easily forgotten. One final highlight awaits – a visit to the wildlife-rich Saunders Island. Along the white-sand beaches and in the tussock grass-covered dunes, hopefully encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters. They include the gentoo, Magellanic and rockhopper - and the ultimate goal during the Falkland Islands visit, the impressive king penguin. Saunders is a fitting end to an epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening light, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of life’s great travel experiences.

Day 12: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands | Punta Arenas, Chile

  • 1 Breakfast
In the early morning, the ship navigates through the narrows and into port. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is charming with brightly-colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. There is time to explore the town, before making your way to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas.


Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Shared Lounge on the Vavilov
Vavilov lounge
Enjoy delicious wines with your meal.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

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Triple Share
Twin Semi Private Cabins
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Twin Semi-Private
Deck 4. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage. Facilities are semi-private (one bathroom between two cabins) and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Twin Private Cabins
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Twin Private
Deck 3, 4 and 5. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and tall wardrobes with internal shelving storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Shackleton Suites
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Shackleton Suite
Deck 4 & 5. One double bed, one sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, IPod alarm clock, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, mini bar. Private facilities. Large window that can be opened.


- Single Supplement: 1.5x for twin and superior cabins and 2x for suites. Single supplement is not available in the triple cabin category.

- Child and Youth Prices: 25% discount for young people aged up to 17 years, and 20% off for those aged from 18-21 years who can prove they are in full-time education.
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners


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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney

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