THE ULTIMATE ANTARCTICA EXPERIENCE
Next DepartureFeb. 18, 2024
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, Kayaking, Lectures, Photography, Zodiac
On this 12-day ultimate Antarctica cruise, we explore the Great White Continent's magnificent landscapes, glacial mountains, and incredible wildlife. This adventure is unique since we have NO SET ITINERARY, which makes this a true exploration voyage.
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 wide eyes, we will weave through the South Shetland Islands, a shimmering 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. From here there is no set plan, our captain and expedition leader will look at ice charts and weather reports and explore our options. This could be the mighty tabular icebergs of the Weddell Sea, the seldomly visited lands south of the Antarctic circle or manned research stations in the most isolated places on earth. One thing is for sure we will see fantastic wildlife and real adventure.
Dense pack ice forbids many ordinary vessels from reach the far south, but with a high ice-class rating, Ocean Victory/Albatros moves swiftly carrying us on an adventure for life.
ARRIVAL USHUAIA, EMBARKATION
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.
Our journey begins as we navigate through the calms of Beagle Channel, a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago.
AT SEA - CROSS 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, Ocean Victory/Albatros, 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 explore the sub-Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and be marveled by the captivating landscapes we will encounter along the way. Weather permitting, we hope to make our first landfall on King George Island before continuing further south to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
With the unique X-BOW design, the Ocean Albatros will offer you a smoother sailing across the Drake passage than conventional expedition vessels – and with far less carbon emission. 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.
THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND ADVENTURE AWAITS
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. Maybe we will explore as far south as 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.
Maybe we will make our way to the Antarctic Sound, named in 1902 by the Swedish vessel Antarctic, the captain and the expedition team would then keep a watchful eye on the mighty tabular icebergs, born from the floating Larsen Ice Shelf further south. We would 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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe as our journey draws to a close we end it 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.
There is no set itinerary on this trip, which allows our staff onboard to maximize the experience for all onboard. Whilst our suggestions above are just possible routes and landings, we can be sure that this will be the ultimate Antarctic experience.
DEPARTING 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.
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.
• 12-day/11-night cruise with accommodation in a shared outside double stateroom with private facilities
• Shuttle transfers to ship from city centre/from the ship to city centre or airport (Ushuaia)
• 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
Please keep in mind, the itinerary and outdoor activities during each voyage are solely dependent on weather and operational conditions to ensure the safety and quality of experience of our guests. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings. Albatros Expeditions reserves the right to modify the landings and locations visited during a voyage based on weather and local conditions and climate to ensure a safe and delightful experience for all our guests and staff. Our trips are expeditionary in nature, and thus changes to timings are common place due to the environment we operate in as well as wildlife opportunities and locations.