ANTARCTICA & SOUTH GEORGIA - in just 13 days
Next DepartureMar. 4, 2024
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, Lectures, Wildlife observations, Zodiac
South Georgia Island, remotely located in the far south of the Atlantic Ocean, is the dream destination of any wildlife enthusiast. Usually it takes a 3-weeks voyage to visit Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands. But on this unique Ocean Albatros expedition, your adventure commences with a comfortable 2-hour flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island in Antarctica. This way you can visit all three destinations in less than 2 weeks!
After arriving by air to the Chilean Frey Station we will make Zodiac landings on the Antarctic continent before following in the wild wakes of Ernest Shackleton from Elephant Island and onwards to South Georgia. We will make several Zodiac landings at penguin rookeries and elephant seals’ haul-outs below spectacular mountain landscapes.
This lifetime expedition voyage “in a nutshell” comes to an end in Port Stanley of Falkland Islands after just 12 action-packed days.
Any voyage to Antarctica is an adventure, but with a maximum capacity of 186 guests aboard Ocean Albatros, this cruise offers a unique experience for the few. Shore landings, excursions, lectures, and whale safaris are easily accommodated to help you enjoy a matchless expedition experience. The vessel’s unique and compact construction ensures unmatched stability in rough sea, as well as the lowest carbon emission of any expedition cruise vessel.
ARRIVAL PUNTA ARENAS AND GETTING READY FOR OUR EXPEDITION CRUISE
Arrive and check in at our hotel in Punta Arenas, Chile – the capital of Chile’s southernmost region. The historic city with rolling hills surrounding it and the Strait of Magellan in front. Its past is rich in exciting events, from being a penal colony to becoming a sheep and gold rush colony with many European settlers. The present-day city remains home to a major port; and with the Andes mountains and a multitude of national parks close by, it is a favored staging point for many wonderful adventures. Even our own adventure is beginning!
Our 4-star hotel is centrally located, which allows you to make full use of your time outside of the scheduled events.
If you plan to arrive early, you can even take your time to explore the historical city.
Our “journey” begins at 15:00 with all the necessary safety briefings, the latest weather forecasts and embarkation information needed to enjoy our upcoming expedition cruise and trans-Drake flight. All mandatory activities are held at the hotel and you will receive information about all these as you arrive to the hotel. We finish our daily schedule with a welcome dinner, where you can enjoy a typical Chilean meal.
FLYING THE DRAKE. FLIGHT TO KING GEORGE ISLAND, EMBARKATION
We are packed-up, excited and ready-to-go from the very early morning, as we await information on the landing conditions on King George Island. Normally the flights take off early, but we are ready to wait in case the flights are postponed.
We keep ourselves close to the hotel and the Punta Arenas land team, and drive to the airport as soon as our chartered airline gives us the green light. The expectation of exploring the 7th Continent builds, as we have donned our parkas, warm clothes and boots.
Once the fasten your seatbelts sign lights up, it is time to fly across the famed Drake Passage - a body of water that marks the intersection of the cold Antarctic with the warmer Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. We substitute 2 days of sailing with 2 hours of flying.
Our landing is smooth as the planes are built for these types of landings and runways. Our luggage is transported to the ship and we enjoy a 2 kilometre walk along the Chilean Eduardo Frei base and the neighbouring Bellingshausen Russian research station. King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands and home to no less than 10 research stations, 2 churches and of course the continent’s only airstrip in use for commercially chartered flights. The expedition team is awaiting us with Zodiacs on the Fildes Bay beach and will ferry us to our ship.
Once onboard, the exciting Antarctic wildlife comes into view with our first sight of seals, penguins and albatrosses. In other words, it is time to explore the Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and be marvelled by the captivating landscapes we will encounter along the way.
ANTARCTIC SOUND, WEDDELL SEA AND ELEPHANT ISLAND
Over the coming days, we will begin the exciting Antarctic experience at the very tip of the Continent. During these days in the Antarctic Sound, named in 1902 after the Swedish vessel Antarctic, the Captain and the Expedition Team will keep a watchful eye on the mighty tabular icebergs, born from the floating Larsen Ice Shelf further south. We aim to have both continental and island landings on the shores of Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea, always on the lookout for some of the unusually large penguin colonies, which have recently been observed.
The Weddell Sea takes its name from the early British explorer James Weddell, who by hunting seals through a break in the ice in 1823 got to the southernmost point at his time. As we enter the Weddell Sea of today, we grow accustomed to giant floating icebergs and witness the sheer quantity of sea ice in these waters. Apart from penguins, the wildlife here includes Weddell and elephant seals and seabirds. Humpbacks feed in the nutrient-rich waters (caused by the upwell of cold water from the ocean depths), so there are opportunities to see whales, as well as the Antarctic’s largest predator, the solitary leopard seal.
Landfalls could include: Brown Bluff; with abundances of wildlife living on the beaches under the basalt cliffsides and Esperanza Base with its year-round Argentinian research station; Danger and Paulet Islands, where we would experience a large colony of Adélie penguins.
Because of the considerable sea ice and enormous bergs in the Weddell Sea, navigation through this remote nature is at the edge of what is possible; your captain and expedition leader are well aware that shifting ice means that no individual part of this area can be guaranteed as accessible at any time, so they will work together to find the most magnificent opportunities. This is part of the wonder of this part of the world, and you will be visiting an area few humans have ever seen.
We plan to finalize our Weddell Sea/Antarctic Sound adventure by navigating to Elephant Island, home to elephant seals, maybe even along the same route as Shackleton’s daring lifeboat escape (this route is only possible if conditions allow it!). While a landing is unlikely, we hope to see where the Shackleton and his five commenced their historic voyage across 1,000 kilometres of open sea to call for help. A route which we are about to follow for the next days.
AT SEA BETWEEN ANTARCTICA AND SOUTH GEORGIA
En-route for South Georgia, we will make a diagonal crossing of Drake Passage and the ‘Roaring Fifties’. But Ocean Albatros’ unique design, reclined bow, and automatic stabilizers, ensures a more stable ride as well as far less fuel consumption than other expedition vessels.
During our time at sea, a variety of activities will be arranged on board which will provide the perfect opportunity to socialize with fellow travelers equally passionate for discovering the world, enjoy the lectures by our expedition on board, visit our shop or relax at leisure on our ship’s facilities, designed to provide a comfortable, relaxing time.
WILDLIFE WONDER OF SOUTH GEORGIA
South Georgia offers stunning wildlife experiences with a wealth of breeding penguins, sea birds, sea lions and elephant seals, all seeking shelter in this oasis amidst the roaring Southern Ocean. Previous whaling history pops up in most of fjords we will explorer – not least in Grytviken the only inhabited settlement on this mountainous island. Grytviken is also the last resting place for Ernest Shackleton, after he died on yet another Antarctica voyage in 1922.
We will explorer the fjords of the north coast for three to four days and take as many shore landings as time and the swelling sea will allow us.
AT SEA TOWARDS FALKLAND ISLANDS
While we make our way towards the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) you can participate in the many activities offered on board, for example about wildlife and the history of the Falkland Islands, or you can join our wildlife experts on top deck looking for sea birds and mammals.
PORT STANLEY, DISEMBARKATION. CITY TOUR AND TRANSFER TO AIRPORT FOR HOME FLIGHT
During the morning we approach Falkland Islands and Ocean Albatros go alongside in the sheltered natural harbour of Port Stanley. Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), a remote South Atlantic archipelago.
After breakfast on board, it is time to bid farewell to vessel and crew. Busses are ready for a city tour of Port Stanley. The capital of the islands is a charming little town with wooden houses, small well-kept gardens, pubs, a real English cathedral, and an excellent little museum. The tour stops at quaint restaurant for some lunch refreshments before the busses take us to the airport at Mount Pleasant, some 50 km west of Stanley. (Return flight back to the South American continent is not included in the price of this voyage).
- One-way flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island, in standard seats
- 12-day cruise from King George Island to Port Stanley on Falkland. Accommodation in a shared outside double cabin with private facilities
- All Zodiac landings and excursions as per itinerary
- Expedition parka
- Rubber boot rentals
- Guiding and lectures by our expedition leader and team
- Special Photo Workshop
- English-speaking expedition team
- Visual Journal link after voyage including voyage log, gallery, maps, species list and more!
- Full board on the ship - breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snacks
- Free tea and coffee 24 hours’ daily
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Return flight from Falkland Islands to South America
- Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
- Meals not on board the ship
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea)
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 13.5 per person per day)
- Personal expenses
- Transfer to/from the ship
- Anything not mentioned under ’Inclusions’
To enjoy a fly-cruise like this, you have to be flexible around the flight schedule, since there can be narrow windows of time, where weather conditions allow us to go. This means that from the evening on day 1 and the following day we employ a 30-minute ready rule. Which practically means we expect all guests to be able to get to the lobby with all their luggage and gear within 30 minutes. Of course, our Punta Arenas team will keep us informed and might even be able to give us a more precise departure estimate.
Getting to Punta Arenas
We strongly advise you to book a flight that is scheduled to land in Punta Arenas no later than 13.00 on day 1, so you can be sure to join the planned activities that is set to begin 15.00. There are many morning flights to Punta Arenas international airport (PUQ) from the international airport of Santiago de Chile (SCL).
Please plan to have a buffer in your international flights, so that you are sure to make it. With flexible flight tickets, you can also manage any schedule changes. Since we are operating with flights to one of the world’s most remote areas, it’s important to have this flexibility.
All guests on members of IAATO’s expedition vessels needs to undergo safety and guideline briefings, as well as biosecurity procedures, before they join cruises that navigate the Antarctic waters and make landfalls. Albatros Expeditions’ Punta Arenas land team perform these from 15.00 on day 1. It’s mandatory to be a part of these briefings. Not participating in these means that you’ll be unable to join the cruise. During these briefings, we’ll also perform an expedition boot fitting as well as going through a lot of practicalities of life onboard. Briefings are held at our hotel, and information is available about the specifics before your cruise as well as at the hotel. We wrap up the events with a welcome dinner at the hotel.
It’s safe to say that we’ll do everything within the realm of possibility to help any guests who are delayed due to unforeseen events or other reasons that are clearly beyond the guests’ control. We still vigorously recommend all guests to plan to avoid these, by planning a time buffer.
Any participants that do not show up for the mandatory briefings are considered absentees and are not able to join the expedition and will receive no refunds. Albatros Expeditions take no responsibility for any events that end up in guests unable to join the cruise, which is why we strongly recommend that guests sign cancellation/interruption insurance at a third party (insurance company).
We stay in the centrally located 4-star hotel Cabo de Hornos or something similar. The planned briefings and activities are held at the hotel.
What do we do if we are delayed/moved forward (Contingency Plan)
Our chartered airline company have been running these flights for many years, and the statistics tell us that more than 80% of the flight departures are run on the proposed schedule. 10% within 1 day, and finally 6% within 2 days. Our cruise itinerary will be able to be fulfilled with minor adjustments should there be changes in the flight schedule.
In the event of adverse weather conditions that are forecasted to last for multiple days, Albatros Expeditions have a contingency plan in place to deal with this in the best manner possible. It is hard to forecast uncertain occurrences, but below you will find our plan if some of them happen.
For the guests in Punta Arenas this could mean flying already on day 1. This would mean that we would push for a flight departure already in the first evening, meaning you will arrive earlier in Antarctica than planned, no other changes will be made.
If the flights are delayed a full day, the guests in Punta Arenas would receive an extra night in Punta Arenas, ready to fly when the forecast changes. It is possible that excursions will be arranged if the weather is deemed sure to not change within 5-8 hours. If the weather conditions persist for more days and we unlikely reach day 4, still unable to land, the rest of the voyage will be cancelled, and a cruise fare refund will be made.
Please refer to the terms and conditions applying to fly-cruises for a closer description of our contingency plan.