Sailing in comfort aboard the comfortable and well-appointed Ioffe or Vavilov, we begin this 12-night expedition at the tip of South America. We chart a course through the Drake Passage with a goal of heading directly south to the Antarctic Circle at 66°33'S. The farther south we go, the more sea ice we will find and our aim is to cross the circle before getting stopped by this ice. Few ships go this far south and we will take full advantage of being on a modern, ice-strengthened vessel of this caliber.
Marguerite Bay and Detaille Island are two places that we might visit while traveling south of the circle. Who knows, we may even try to camp ashore south of the circle. We will slowly make our way back up the peninsula, visiting penguin rookeries as we go When we arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula, be prepared to be dazzled. Even our experienced crewmembers many of which have visited the southern region a hundred times or more are still astonished by its pristine beauty. The abundance of wildlife here is truly extraordinary including five seal species, massive penguin rookeries of gentoo, Adelies and chinstraps as well as a profusion of seabirds from albatross to skuas. It is nature you will experience up close and personal on frequent excursions inland.
Our journey will take us to Petermann Island or Wilhelmina Bay where we encounter colossal icebergs and, of course, the ice landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Hardy adventurers or those with a yen for history have the chance to camp out on the ice overnight and feel the thrill and audacity of early explorers who attempted to conquer this continent.
As with all our expeditions, safety is our top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.
Day 1 - Ushuaia
Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the vessel in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with 'our home' for the next 13 days. We cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
Day 2-3 - Drake Passage
Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as we make our way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as our numerous Polar experts prepare us for our adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence where we will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, we will witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and even several whale species some of which are known on occasion to fully breach from the sea.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 4-10 - Antarctic Peninsula
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, we will hope to make as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature's glory. Our first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Matha Strait or Marguerite Bay. Given favorable ice conditions, we will push our exploration even further southward, looking for historic and wildlife sites. From our most southerly point (south of the Antarctic Circle), we will make our way north along the Antarctic Peninsula, cruising through the narrow waterways and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula. Spectacular waterways such as Crystal Sound, the Lemaire Channel, the Neumeyer Channel and the Gerlache Strait will all feature in our itinerary. Landing sites might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay, Petermann Island and the Yalours, where we will observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as an abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of the comical Adelie penguin. At Half Moon Island we will visit a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and possibly have an opportunity to spot orcas and Minke whales as we go. We will plan on walking ashore on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. Although it will not be your first glimpse of the Antarctic, a walk ashore on the Continent will evoke emotions to carry with you for the rest of your life. The scenery here is amazing. In particular the oddly shaped icebergs looking like sculptures, as well as the colossal 'tabular' icebergs that break away from the continent's ice shelf. 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.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 11-12 - Drake Passage
As we leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, we have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 13 - Drake Passage
In the early morning, we 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.