Fly the Drake
Next DepartureFeb. 24, 2023
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, Lectures, Zodiac
Encounter the 7th continent in comfort! Substituting the 2-day Drake passing, with a 2 hour flight, we can experience the incredible wildlife, stunning mountain scenery and gigantic icebergs in record time and comfort.
Departing from Punta Arenas in Chile, we fly across the mighty Drake Passage and land at King George Island. From here we embark our wonderful ship and navigate around the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic peninsula. Throughout the following days we will be making Zodiac landings at penguin rookeries and fascinating lookouts. Continuing southward, deep into the inlets of Antarctica, we pass the famous Gerlache Strait, where 3000-ft ice cliffs rise straight out of the still water. Experiencing so much of the remote continent in comfort, and in so few days, is only possible in “Fly the Drake”.
Any voyage to Antarctica is an adventure, but this cruise offers a unique experience for the few. Shore landings, excursions, lectures and Zodiac safaris are easily accommodated to help you enjoy an unrivalled expedition experience. Onboard our brand new strong, ice-classed expedition vessel, Ocean Albatros, 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.
ARRIVAL PUNTA ARENAS AND GETTING READY FOR OUR EXPEDITION CRUISE
Arrive and check in at our hotel in Punta Arenas, Chile – the capital of southern Patagonia. 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’s 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, KING GEORGE ISLAND, EMBARKATION AND POSSIBLE FIRST ZODIAC LANDING
EXPLORING THE SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS AND THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA
DEPART ANTARCTICA – BACK TO PUNTA ARENAS
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).
Returning from the Antarctic (return flights)
We have no events planned on day 6 (the day we are scheduled to fly from King George Island to Punta Arenas). This is due to the uncertainty of flight schedule. Any guests planning to book a flight ticket with a late departure on this day, we advise to book a type of ticket that can be rebooked in case of schedule changes. Our recommendation is that guests book a flexible return ticket in the late afternoon or later on day 7.
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’s hard to forecast uncertain occurrences, but below you’ll 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’ll arrive earlier in Antarctica than planned, no other changes will be made. The guests already in the Antarctic would return one night earlier and proceed to have 2 nights in Punta Arenas (i.e. one more night than the planned itinerary).
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’s 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. The guests that in this case would be in the Antarctica, would also wait for the weather to clear, and if the weather is forecasted to persist over a longer period, the captain could decide to return by sea to Punta Arenas, so the voyage can end. In this case all meals and accommodation onboard are included. Please refer to the terms and conditions applying to fly-cruises for a closer description of our contingency plan.