The spectacular Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the continent. Only 40 hours or so south of Cape Horn by ship, this is a rugged spine of mountains flanked by huge glaciers. The western coast is etched with fjords; dozens of islands lie offshore. The result is a glorious maze of sheltered channels and inlets, where modern scientific stations and reminders of early explorers and the whaling industry are scattered among penguin rookeries and seal colonies.
Day 1: Embarkation
Board your ship Polar Pioneer in the afternoon. Sail down the Beagle Channel in the evening.
Day 2: Crossing the Drake Passage
Overnight, you enter the Drake Passage. Lectures on the continent's natural history and briefings about landing in Antarctica are scheduled through the day, allowing plenty of time to watch graceful albatrosses and other seabirds from the outer decks.
Day 3: Antarctic Convergence / South Shetland Islands
You cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of Antarctica, and may see your first icebergs. In the evening, you approach the South Shetland Islands, a possible location for your first landing.
Days 4-8: Exploring the Antarctica Peninsula
For five days, you will explore the deep bays and fjords of the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula in your extremely manoeuvrable ship. Using the Zodiacs, you make close contact with whales, penguins and seals in the vicinity of Deception Island, Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay, Andvoord Bay and the Lemaire Channel. There is time to visit scientific stations and historic sites but our emphasis is on the natural wonders.
Day 9: Sailing toward the Drake Passage
Cruising out beyond the South Shetland Islands, you head north into the Drake Passage.
Day 10: At Sea
Your last day of lectures and a final opportunity for revelling in the rich seabird life of the Southern Ocean. If the weather permits, you will cruise past Cape Horn before enjoying a farewell dinner.
Day 11: Beagle Channel / Disembarkation
You travel up the Beagle Channel in the early morning to disembark in Ushuaia where you farewell new-found friends.