EXPLORERS CRUISE: ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND THE EXTREME WEDDELL SEA

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Next Departure
Dec. 16, 2022
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Duration
11 days
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Activities
, Kayaking, Lectures, Photography, Zodiac

Join us for a once in a lifetime expedition voyage to the Weddell Sea and the seventh continent. Experience the incredible wildlife in icy waters, stunning mountain scenery and gigantic icebergs during 11 action-packed days.

Departing Ushuaia in Argentina, we cross the mighty Drake Passage on our way to the South Shetland Islands, where we plan to make our first Zodiac landing. From here we navigate the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. We plan to make landings at penguin rookeries, research stations and fascinating sights that allow us to enjoy the spectacular views. Continuing eastward, we will explore the Antarctic Sound with its mighty tabular icebergs and enter the Weddell Sea in search for wildlife. On our way back, we plan to follow in Ernest Shackleton and rest of the Endurance crews wake as we navigate close to Elephant Island. On no other journey can you experience so much pristine nature and varied wildlife in so few days!

 

Expedition cruises that plan to traverse into the Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea allow their guests for real adventure as the giant ice shelves often changes the routes. The rewards are great though, as the pristine waters and krill rich environment invite many penguins and whales.

When Ocean Victory returns to Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia, depending on weather conditions, we might pass close to the mythical Cape Horn - the southernmost point on South America; a celebrated maritime landmark.

 

Any voyage to Antarctica is an adventure, but with a maximum capacity of 186 guests aboard Ocean Victory, this cruise offers a unique experience for the few. Shore landings, excursions, lectures and Zodiac safaris are easily accommodated to help you enjoy a matchless expedition experience.

 

Onboard our brand new strong ice-strengthened expedition vessel, Ocean Victory, we are sure to get close to the dramatic coastlines. Zodiac cruising and shore landings are an important and considerable part of the planned itinerary, hopefully enabling all expedition guests to set foot on the Antarctic continent, as well as the many surrounding islands.

 

Make sure you reserve your place, on this fantastic journey in good time, as we only cruise this route once during the season.

Day 1

ARRIVAL USHUAIA

Arrive and embark in Ushuaia, Argentina - the world’s southernmost town. Explore the quaint city or local countryside. Alternatively, consider a day trip off the beaten path to the raw, natural archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. It's a hiker's paradise with rugged snow-capped mountains, glaciers, flower-filled meadows and boggy quagmires. In the afternoon we embark the ship Ocean Victory, our home for the coming days.

Our journey begins as we navigate through the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago.

Day 2-3

AT SEA. DRAKE PASSAGE, SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS

Sailing onward, we cross the famed Drake Passage - a body of water that marks the intersection of the cold Antarctic with the warmer Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Drake Passage is known for strong westerly winds, heavy sea, and its nickname ‘The Roaring Fifties’. While this passage may be challenging, you can rest confidently aboard our expedition vessel, which is purpose-built with stabilizers, powerful engines and a highly qualified crew. The most spirited sailors consider Drake Passage a lifetime achievement – and soon you can tick it off on the list yourself!

 

In the Drake, the excitement builds as Antarctic wildlife comes into view with our first sight of seals, penguins and albatrosses.

 

Having crossed the Drake, we will start exploring the Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and be marveled by the captivating landscapes we will encounter along the way.

 

With the patented X-BOW design, the Ocean Victory will offer you a smoother sailing across the Drake passage, and due to the speed of the vessel, we might be able to do a first landing or activity in the South Shetland Islands on the afternoon of day 3, weather permitting.

Day 4-5

ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS

The next couple of days, we will explore the Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain.

 

Landfalls could include: Deception Island, an extinct volcano with waters warm enough for a polar swim; and Half Moon Island with nesting Wilson's storm petrels and chinstrap penguins.

 

The itinerary and activities over the next few days depend on weather and ice conditions. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings.

Day 6-8

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: Devil Island, where we would experience a large colony of Adélie penguins; Brown bluff; with abundances of wildlife living on the beaches under the basalt cliffsides and Esperanza Base with its year-round Argentinian research station.

 

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'll 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 parts of 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 Elephant island party waited for rescue boat to reach them at Point Wild. A famous part of expedition history, that seems adequate to end our Antarctic explorations this time around.

Day 9-10

DEPART ANTARCTICA - AT SEA

We depart Antarctica and spend two days at sea on our way back to the calms of Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, Argentina. En-route, we will cross Drake Passage and cruise past Cape Horn, a legendary maritime landmark and the southern tip of South America.

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 team on board, visit our shop, unwind in the spa or enjoy the ship’s facilities designed to provide a comfortable relaxing time.

Day 11

BACK TO USHUAIA AND DISEMBARKATION

This morning, we arrive back in Ushuaia for the conclusion of our expedition cruise, where you can continue your adventures or begin your return home. 

Map of Weddell Sea exploration tour

Inclusions

 

• 11-day cruise with accommodation in a shared outside double stateroom 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

• Taxes

Exclusions

• Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary

• Single room supplement and stateroom 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’

Adventure options

Kayaking

Glide through the waters and take in the royal grace of the icebergs, see the varied birds and seals, and maybe even the whales in their natural habitat under the supervision of experienced kayak guides, who will...

Lectures

Our primary focus is knowledge, and we apply this to every aspect of a journey. From the staff that forms our expedition team, to the routes our ship follows, and of course, the program onboard.

Photography

We always have a dedicated expedition photographer onboard to document the voyage and share their passion for photography through lectures and during landings and zodiac cruises.

Zodiac

Essential for expedition cruises, Zodiacs are robust boats that can go up on a beach, a rocky outcrop, a river bank or even an ice floe push through bergy bits of ice floating in the water. This is definitely one...

Departure dates

Date
Info
Ship
Dec. 16, 2022