Antarctica Expedition Cruises | Itineraries
Antarctic Peninsula Adventure - 12 Days
Ushuaia to Ushuaia
05 Nov 2018 - 16 Nov 2018 aboard RCGS Resolute
18 Nov 2018 - 29 Nov 2018 aboard Akademik Ioffe
09 Dec 2018 - 20 Dec 2018 aboard RCGS Resolute
28 Feb 2019 - 11 Mar 2019 aboard RCGS Resolute
03 Mar 2019 - 14 Mar 2019 aboard Akademik Ioffe
10 Mar 2019 - 21 Mar 2019 aboard RCGS Resolute
20 Mar 2019 - 31 Mar 2019 aboard RCGS Resolute
23 Mar 2019 - 02 Apr 2019 aboard Akademik Ioffe
Our 12-day Antarctic Peninsula voyage offers an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities as well as possible stops at active scientific or historic bases.
Today you will fly to Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city at the tip of Argentina and transfer to your hotel. The balance of the day is free to relax or explore the town of Ushuaia.
Hotel: Hotel Albatross
This morning following breakfast, there will be a group briefing and transfer to your ship.
As you board the vessel and start to become familiar with your home for the next 11 days you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of you. In the early evening, you'll set sail and begin your voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
Ship: RCGS Resolute, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, or Akademik Ioffe, D
Crossing the Drake Passage
We cruise down the coast of the Falklands and, as we approach Sea Lion Island, we first note the very barren and windswept landscape, exposed to the sometimes wild weather that originates in the Drake Passage. We launch our zodiacs and go ashore to view the remarkable wildlife colonies found here. Three species of penguin including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper exist in the vicinity. Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are found hauled out on the beaches. Once ashore we also look for king cormorants and striated caracaras. Weather permitting we may have time to visit neighboring Bleaker Island, another settlement on the exposed southeastern coast of the Falklands. In the evening, we push out into the Scotia Sea, charting a course for the frozen continent.
Ship: RCGS Resolute, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, or Akademik Ioffe, BLD
Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature's glory. Planned excursions may include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay and even the southerly Petermann Island, where you can observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a shocking abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of the comical Adelie penguin. At Half Moon Island you will observe a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. There may also be a chance to see humpback whales dining on krill in its feeding grounds and an opportunity to observe orcas and Minke whales.
Arriving on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour, be prepared to be dazzled by your first glimpse of the continent. The scenery here is amazing. In particular you will be struck by the oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures, as well as the colossal 'tabular' icebergs that break away from the continent's ice shelf. Weather permitting, you will set foot on the White Continent itself. Some may wish to camp on shore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether it is onboard or onshore expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet.
Ship: RCGS Resolute, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, or Akademik Ioffe, BLD
Crossing the Drake Passage
As you leave the magic of Antarctica behind and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, a special dinner will celebrate the conclusion of your Polar expedition.
Ship: RCGS Resolute, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, or Akademik Ioffe, BLD
Return to Ushuaia
In the early morning, your ship will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.
Quest for the Antarctic Circle - 13 Days
Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, where you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel. The balance of the afternoon is free for you to relax and unwind. Feel free to wander around the quaint town of Punta Arenas.
Hotel: Cabo de Hornos, D
Fly to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Your Antarctic adventure begins with a 90 minute flight from Punta Arenas to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands. Port Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal Britain.
There is time to explore the town, before you make your way to the ship for embarkation. After settling in to your cabins and exploring the ship, you'll meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner as you depart bound for Antarctica – and the adventure of a lifetime.
At sea, towards Antarctica
Following a southerly course for Antarctica, you'll be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you continue south. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about
the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
Depending on sea conditions, there may be an opportunity to visit Elephant Island, from where Shackleton and four of his companions set off on their epic ocean crossing to South Georgia 100 years ago. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swell onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless, this a thrilling place to visit. Each voyage is unique and each is crafted to provide the best possible overview of the varied Antarctic environment.
King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula
The largest in the South Shetlands group, King George Island offers two landing sites and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. This afternoon we continue our journey south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Straight – making our way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife and we keep a lookout for whales in the waters surrounding the ship. Large icebergs will be present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs in the evening light. By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and we should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. This is truly an ‘A-list’ location and a place we often encounter sizeable pods of humpback whales. We navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island – home to a rookery of
Gentoo penguins. It’s a fantastic location for a Zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.
Towards the Antarctic Circle and Gerlache Coastline
Navigating south, you'll pass through the ice strewn waters towards the Antarctic Circle. The goal will be to first sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950’s. Returning along the
dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, the next goal will be a visit to a working scientific base to learn something of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows you to stretch your legs and explore a historic British Antarctic Survey hut.
Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. Adelie penguins nest here along with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, constant wind and wave action sculpt massive icebergs into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you can possibly imagine. For many, a Zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.
Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Transiting the Lemaire Channel on our way north towards Paradise Harbor may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless.
By morning you'll arrive in the South Shetland Islands. Weather conditions permitting, you'll glimpse the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. Explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928.
Charting a course for King George Island in early evening light, you'll enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Return to Punta Arenas
This morning your ship will be anchored off King George Island. You say goodbye to your crew and transfer ashore by Zodiac and time permitting, explore the surrounding area. There are several important science bases
here including Chile’s Frei Station and Bellingshausen Station. You'll transfer to the airstrip for the two hour flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. On arrival, you'll be transferred to the hotel. Punta Arenas is an interesting city – and also the gateway to the magnificent region of Patagonia (Note: Meals in Punta Arenas are at your leisure and not included in the program.)
Hotel: Cabo de Hornos, BLD
Return home or continue your adventures
After breakfast, transfer to the Punta Arenas airport for your onward flight home, or transfer to Torres del Paine National Park for a luxury lodge experience in Chilean Patagonia.
Emperors and Kings - 13 Days
Arrive Punta Arenas
Your journey commences in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. You'll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore the charming port city.
Hotel: Cabo de Hornos
To King George Island, Antarctica
This morning you'll transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). Upon arrival at the Chilean Antarctic base on King George Island, you'll embark aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, via zodiac. After settling in to your cabins and exploring your new surroundings, you'll meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner. Everyone on board will be looking forward to the incredible adventure ahead.
South Shetland Islands
Having flown directly into the South Shetland Islands, you'll chart a southwesterly course along this dramatic island chain planning to visit a number of well established chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries as well as southern elephant seal haul-outs. Weather permitting, we aim to visit Deception Island with its sizeable chinstrap penguin rookery at Baily Head. Here, inside the sunken volcanic caldera, is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history, with its old buildings and rusting remnants from the whaling era. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge. In the evening we cross the Bransfield Strait and approach the majestic white continent for the first time.
Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
Today we enter the steely blue waters of Antarctica’s Gerlache Strait. Protected by two large offshore islands, the waterways are home to deep bays, pristine coves and numerous small islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. We enjoy several days of exploration here. Breaking into small groups of just 10-12 guests, we enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and zodiac cruising among the ice. Planned visits could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales.
Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
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 we sail into the sound we witness, for the first time the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea we 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.
This region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size. We maximize our time onshore as well as in our zodiac boats, absorbing as much of the wilderness as possible. Weather permitting, excursions may include Paulet Island, Brown Bluff and even the southerly Snow Hill Island, where we observe Weddell and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a staggering abundance of penguins.
We plan to set foot on the continent in this vicinity and, if the weather allows, some may choose to camp ashore overnight. Sailing among the islands of the Weddell Sea, we are in the realm of the emperor penguin, the largest of the penguins, and everyone will be on deck keeping a lookout. Juvenile emperors are sometimes sighted riding the ice floes.
The region features a rich exploration history. We hope to visit Nordenskjöld’s winter hut on Snow Hill Island. It was built in 1902 and remains intact. The Shackleton story also features strongly and 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 we head north and out of the Weddell Sea leaving Antarctica behind, the lavender pink sunset off the port quarter of the ship will make some of us pause to consider the bravery and/or foolhardiness of those early explorers who traveled these waters a hundred years before us.
We approach Elephant Island from the south. Point Lookout, on the southern tip of the island, is home to an impressive macaroni penguin colony. Gentoo penguins are also known to nest here and there are often sizeable numbers of Antarctic fur seals hauled out on the beaches. Shore landings at the fabled Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, are notoriously difficult due to the surging ocean currents and pounding surf on the rocky beach. If conditions are right, we will attempt a landing. This is a thrilling location and a major highlight for history buffs.
While sailing across to the Falkland Islands our onboard polar experts will recap our Weddell Sea adventures and prepare us for the days ahead. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. Our onboard educational program continues and our experts entertain us with interactive presentations.
West Point & Saunders
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falklands archipelago. West Point is known for its sizeable rookeries of rockhopper penguins and nesting black browed albatross. While nearby Saunders Island, with its white sand beaches, features no less than four penguin species including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper - and our ultimate goal for the Falkland Island visit, the impressive king penguin.
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
In the early morning, we navigate through the narrows and into the harbor of Port Stanley. A transfer will take us to the airport for our return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. Otherwise enjoy a night in this delightful city, or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.