Antarctica Cruise - Emeralds of the Sub-Antarctic

Australia and New ZealandÂ’s sub-Antarctic Islands are unique and irreplaceable. Embark on a 13-day adventure to this isolated, windswept, beautiful and fragile region. Long recognized for their rich biodiversity, the World Heritage-listed sub-Antarctic Islands lie south-east of Tasmania and to the south of New Zealand. Protected by the highest conservation status of both the Australian and New Zealand governments, the islands are tiny havens for some of the most abundant and unique wildlife on the planet, including over half of the worldÂ’s seabirds (some of which exist nowhere else on Earth). Those privileged enough to visit the islands can expect to witness a truly remarkable ecological wonder.

Itinerary

Day 1: Embark Bluff port

You're transferred from your hotel to Bluff port and warmly welcomed aboard Akademik Shokalskiy. After settling in, itÂ’s up to the flying bridge to enjoy the late afternoon departure.

Day 2: Snares Islands

By early morning, the Snares Islands rear up from the sea. From a distance they look inhospitable, but soon, hidden waterways are revealed. Although landing is prohibited, the hope is the sea conditions allow you to launch Zodiacs to search for Snares crested penguins, fur seals, Hooker sea lions, Bullers albatross and sooty shearwaters.

Days 3-4: Enderby Island / Auckland Island

Enderby Island, northernmost of the Auckland group, is a birdwatchers’ paradise, replete with bellbirds, red-crowned parakeets and the endemic flightless teal. You will walk through stunted, red-flowered rata forests – where rare yellow-eyed penguins scurry shyly – across wind-swept tussock grass alive with friendly tomtits and courting albatross, along sandy beaches where sea lion bulls guard their harems. On Auckland Island, anchor in Carnley Harbour for a trek to see white-capped albatross, or a quiet forest amble to the remains of World War II coastwatchers’ huts, remnants of a rich history that includes sealers, shipwrecks and abandoned settlement.

Days 5-6: Campbell Island

You anchor in Campbell IslandÂ’s Perseverance Harbour, a short Zodiac ride to the Meteorological Station and boardwalk, through patches of yellow spires and golden lily, to the wondrous nests of southern royal albatross. These are one of six albatross species found here, including the greyheaded, light-mantled and black-browed. Make the most of prevailing conditions, exploring the interior on foot and the dramatic coast by Zodiac.

Day 7: At Sea

At sea, keep watch for wandering albatross and others. The onboard experts entertain with informative talks and prepare you for landing at Macquarie Island.

Days 8-9: Macquarie Island

Affectionately known as ‘Macca’, or the ‘green sponge’, Macquarie Island lies about halfway between Tasmania and the Antarctic continent. A geological wonder, the island is home to some three-million endemic royal penguins, hundreds and thousands of king penguins, and dozens of nesting albatross. The Zodiacs transport you through breakwaters of giant kelp to a beach of elephant seals and curious penguins. Research station personnel welcome you to their home and a tour of the facilities. Travel by Zodiac to Sandy Bay, where the boardwalk leads to nesting royal penguins. Also, you may cruise in spectacular Lusitania Bay, with memorable views of more than 170,000 breeding pairs of king penguins.

Days 10-12: Voyage north to Hobart

Soaring albatross, shearwaters and petrels accompany you on the 833-nautical-mile voyage north to Hobart. You have time to reflect on all youÂ’ve seen and enjoy the beauty of the mighty Southern Ocean.

Day 13: Bruny Island / Disembark DÂ’Entrecasteaux Channel

Possible early morning landing on Labillarderie Peninsula, Bruny Island, before continuing up DÂ’Entrecasteaux Channel for afternoon disembarkation.

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