Join this unique Antarctic expedition to see and study humpback, Minke and killer whales. The Antarctic Peninsula is the main feeding ground for a large number of krill predators, and March represents a critical time as they build energy stores for either the long migration to tropical breeding grounds or to maintain energy in a struggle to survive in ice-choked waters. The 10-day trip will be accompanied by Dr Ari Friedlaender, a Research Scientist at Duke University, whose work focuses on the feeding behaviour and movement patterns of marine mammals around the world. Ari, who is actively studying how climate change and global warming are affecting whales and other krill predators, is currently leading a project to track the long-term movement patterns of humpback whales around the Antarctic Peninsula to understand how they are being affected by changes to their environment. Participants will learn how to document whale numbers, help to conduct photo surveys, determine movement patterns and identify individual animals. They will also be able to locate and document behaviour of whales that have previously been fitted with satellite tracking devices.Els Vermeulen, international marine consultant and founder of the Marybio Foundation, which aims to contribute to the conservation of marine mammals in Argentine Patagonia, will also join the voyage. Els is scientific advisor to the Belgian delegation in the International Whaling Commission, and a perfect companion to have on board during this special interest expedition. Day 1 / Ushuaia Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the vessel in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with 'our home' for the next 11 days we cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel. Days 2 - 3 / Drake Passage Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as we make our way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as our numerous Polar experts prepare us for our adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence where we will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, we will witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and even several whale species, some of which are known on occasion to fully breach from the sea. Days 4 - 8 / Antarctic Peninsula In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, we will hope to make as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature's glory. Planned excursions might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay and even the southerly Petermann Island, where we will observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a shocking abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of the comical Adelie penguin. At Half Moon Island we will observe a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and possibly have an opportunity to observe orcas and Minke whales as we go. We finally arrive on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. Prepare to be dazzled by your first glimpse of the continent. The scenery here is amazing. In particular we will be struck by the oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures, as well as the colossal 'tabular' icebergs that break away from the continent's ice shelf. We hope the weather will be mild enough to allow us all to step foot on the White Continent itself. Some may wish to camp on shore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether it is onboard or onshore expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet. Days 9 - 10 / Drake Passage As we leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, we have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner. Day 11 - Ushuaia In the early morning, we will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. PLEASE NOTE: As with all of such expeditions, safety is the top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require changes to the itinerary and shore excursions as we go but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.
Designed for polar research, the Akademik Ioffe, also known as the One Ocean Navigator is modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, the public spaces onboard the ship are ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge. Enjoy the sumptuous meals prepared for you by the culinary team in our dining room, which can host all clients in a single seating with ample room. Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, sauna and plunge pool.