Antarctica Cruise - Crossing the Circle

Chart a course through the Drake Passage heading directly south to the Antarctic Circle. The farther south you go, the more sea ice you will find and the goal is to cross the circle before being stopped by this ice. Throughout your adventure, your highly experienced expedition staff will provide excellent customer care in a casual and active environment--daily hikes, kayaking excursions for those who sign up and daily Zodiac rides. Discover an unimaginable profusion of penguins, whales cresting the waves in close proximity, and sweeping ice sheets that span an entire continent. Explore Petermann Island or Wilhelmina Bay where you 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.

ExpeditionTrips’ Amelia Tockston has sailed aboard the Akademik Ioffe.

Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia

Today is the first day of your adventure. As you board the Akademik Ioffe in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with ‘your home’ for the next 13 days you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of you. In the early evening, set sail and begin your voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.

Days 2-3: Drake Passage

Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as you make your way ever closer to the white continent. Soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as your numerous Polar experts prepare you for your adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, you will cross the Antarctic Convergence where you will notice a distinct drop in temperature as you enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, you 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.

Days 4-10: Antarctic Peninsula

In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, your guides will hope to make as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature’s glory. Your first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Matha Strait or Marguerite Bay. Given favorable ice conditions, you will push your exploration even further southward, looking for wildlife and historic sites. From your most southerly point (south of the Antarctic Circle) you will make your 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 your itinerary. Landing sites might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay, Petermann Island and the Yalours, where you 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 Adélie penguin. At Half Moon Island you will visit a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. You can 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 you go. Walk 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 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.

Days 11-12: Drake Passage

As you leave this magical place and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, there is no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, celebrate the conclusion of your Polar expedition at a special dinner.

Day 13: Ushuaia

In the early morning, you will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.

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