South Shetlands Islands, Antarctica and crossing the Circle

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Next Departure
Feb. 27, 2023
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Duration
11 days
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Activities
, Kayaking, Lectures, Photography, Zodiac

On this 11-day inspiring cruise, we explore the Great White Continent's magnificent landscapes, glacial mountains, and incredible wildlife before reaching 66°33′ – the Antarctic Circle.

As our voyage begins, we pilot through the calm, gunmetal grey waters and sloping glaciers of Beagle Channel. Turning southward, our journey begins in earnest, and we enter 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 rollicking conditions and strong westerly winds, called the Roaring Fifties. While this passage may be challenging, you can rest confidently aboard our expedition vessel, Ocean Victory/Albatros, which is purpose-built with stabilizers, powerful engines, and the patented reclining bow, which ensures stability and comfort in rough sea as well as having very low fuel consumption. The most spirited sailors consider Drake Passage a lifetime achievement, and you will complete the crossing twice! 

In the Drake, the excitement builds as Antarctic wildlife comes into view. These nutrient rich waters lure a wealth of seabirds, albatrosses, and several species of whales. Weather permitting, we catch our first sight of seals and penguins!

With widen eyes, we will weave through the South Shetland Islands, a pearly necklace of glistering, ice-covered islands and dormant volcanoes. Numerous Zodiac excursions are landfalls are likely. We are constantly on the lookout for whales, sea lions, elephant seals and an unbelievable amount of sea birds and penguins. 

Continuing onward, we enjoy the calming silence and alluring beauty of the Antarctic mainland during hikes and Zodiac excursions. Spread in isolation along the coast, we also see a number of manned and unmanned research stations, which we aim to visit before accomplishing our goal – crossing the Antarctic Circle at 66°33′ south. Here, the sun is up for 24-hours a day during the austral summer. Our expedition may include visits to sites such as Pleneau and Petermann Islands, Crystal Sound and Fish Island.

Dense pack ice forbids many ordinary vessels from reach this far south, but with a high ice-class rating, Ocean Victory/Albatros moves swiftly carrying us on an adventure for life. 

Day 1

ARRIVAL USHUAIA

Arrive 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 board our ship, Ocean Victory.

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

Day 2-3

AT SEA - CROSS DRAKE PASSAGE

In the Drake, the excitement builds as Antarctic wildlife comes into view with our first sight of seals, penguins, and albatrosses. As well as the first icebergs as we approach the South Shetland chain of islands.

With the unique X-BOW design, the Ocean Victory will offer you a smoother sailing across the Drake passage than conventional expedition vessels – and with a far less carbon emission.

Day 4-5

SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS

Over the next two days, we will explore to the sub-Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain.

Projected landfalls could include: King George Island; Deception Island, an extinct volcano; 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 PENINSULA

As the white shimmer of Antarctica looms on our horizon, the presence of wildlife multiples by tens of thousands with many species of lively penguins, inquisitive seals, nesting birds and the spray of marine mammals. 

Wildlife abounds on the Antarctic Peninsula: leopard, fur and Weddell seals of Cuverville Island; humpback whales of Gerlache Strait; Paradise Bay; the dramatic Lemaire Channel's orcas. Explore as far south as possible towards the Antarctic Circle at c. 66 deg 33 minutes south of the Equator. Possible landfall in this wild and seldom visited area could be Pleneau and Petermann Islands, Crystal Sound and Detaille Island. We will also visit research stations if ice conditions allow us.

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

Day 9-10

DEPART ANTARCTICA - AT SEA

Today, 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, and it provides the perfect opportunity to socialize with fellow travelers.

Day 11

BACK TO USHUAIA AND DISEMBARKATION

This morning, we arrive back in Ushuaia where our tour ends. 

Inclusions

11-days/10 nights cruise with accommodation in a shared double cabin featuring ensuite 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

Port and authority fees and taxes

Exclusions

Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary

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 14 per person per day)

Personal expenses

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
Feb. 27, 2023
 
Jan. 10, 2024
 
Feb. 18, 2024