This expedition is ideal for active travelers who want to hike, clamber, slide and explore by kayak. You fire up your spirit of adventure and take a few extra days to work your way far south to cross the Antarctic Circle and explore some of AntarcticaÂ’s most pristine and rarely visited areas. Enjoy plenty of time to explore the incredible wildlife colonies along the Antarctic Peninsula and in the South Shetland Islands, and you may stop at a few scientific research stations as well. Aboard your nimble, ice-strengthened Russian research vessel, navigate through some of the worldÂ’s most scenic waterwaysÂ–many littered with colossal icebergs. Weather permitting, you will actually attempt to land on the Antarctic continent south of the Circle!
Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina
Arrive early in Ushuaia to enjoy the southern city's frontier feel. Overnight at your hotel.
Day 2: Ushuaia / Embarkation
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is the goal of this cruise itinerary, so the ship will push south immediately. You will meet your Expedition Team as the ship heads through the scenic Beagle Channel.
Days 3-5: Drake Passage & South Shetland Islands
Journey across the famous Drake Passage, named after the 16th-century English navigator Sir Francis Drake. As the ship sails, your naturalists and historians offer presentations on the marvels ahead. If weather allows, you can spend time on the deck spotting for albatrosses -- including the magnificent Wandering Albatross -- and other seabirds.
Days 6-12: Antarctic Peninsula
Your exploration of the Antarctic continent may begin with a visit to the aptly named Paradise Bay, or to nearby Neko Harbor. Glaciers fill the calm waters with an amazing vista of icebergs as you set foot on the Antarctic continent itself. During the voyage, expect to see enormous rookeries of Gentoo, Chinstrap and AdÃ©lie Penguins. You may also encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals, as well as orcas, humpback, and Minke whales. If pack ice and icebergs allow, the ship navigates some of the most beautiful waterways in the world. Two in particular, the Neumayer and Lemaire channels, are impressive narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers. Sailing south of the Lemaire Channel you may visit Petermann Island, where AdÃ©lie and Gentoo Penguins, skuas and Blue-eyed Shags nest close to the landing site. The quest for the Antarctic Circle continues as the expedition pushes farther south. You will be in the vicinity of historic Stonington Island, which served briefly as a base for the Byrd's Little America Expedition in 1940. The site also served as the base for Finn Ronne's 1947-48 Antarctic Research Expedition that mapped a great portion of the continent by air. You will mark your arrival at the southernmost location with a celebration on board.
Days 13-14: Drake Passage
You bid farewell to Antarctica as you sail north across the Drake Passage. The adventure is not over, as there are more opportunities to watch birds and whales cavorting in the open ocean.
Day 15: Ushuaia
Disembark after breakfast and transfer by bus to the Antarctic Unit office located at the entrance to the pier. If you are departing on the morning flight, the transfer continues to the airport. Please note: Read this itinerary as a guide only. Flexibility is the key to the enjoyment of this expedition. Every effort will be made to push for the Antarctic Circle. Since ice and weather conditions can change quickly, we cannot guarantee that the vessel will reach the Antarctic Circle. Visits to research stations depend on final permission.