This voyage features the clean unspoiled scenery, wildlife, and rich history of the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the crown jewels of the Southern Ocean: South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Plus, the rare chance to observe a Solar Eclipse near the ice of the Weddell Sea.
Day 1: Arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina (hotel night)
Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point
of our Antarctic expedition! Upon your arrival at the airport, you
will be greeted by our staff and transferred to a quality hotel, which
has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the itinerary.
For the rest of the day, you are free to explore this vibrant port
city and adventure hub. For an introduction to local history and
wildlife, the interesting Museo del Fin del Mundo is worth a visit. If
you have time to spare, a variety of nature activities can be arranged
to suit all interests and fitness levels, from hiking in nearby Tierra
del Fuego National Park to wildlife viewing in the Beagle Channel. For
dinner, Ushuaia offers a wide range of restaurants featuring
Patagonian lamb and delectable Fuegian seafood.
Day 2: Welcome Aboard!
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia.
Explore the delightful waterfront and savor views of the snowcapped
Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of
shopping for souvenirs or some last-minute necessities such as
cold-weather gear. Just remember, you will soon receive your very own
parka to keep and waterproof boots to borrow on board the ship. For
lunch, the many cafés, parrillas and gelato shops on Avenida San
Martín will be sure to satisfy any appetite. In the afternoon, you
will be transferred to the pier where we will warmly welcome you
aboard the luxury expedition vessel M/V Sea Spirit. Get settled in
your spacious suite and explore the ship that will be your comfortable
home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After getting
underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative
briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After the
first of many delicious dinners on board, step out onto the open decks
to admire the scenery and gorgeous evening light as we pass through
the Beagle Channel.
Day 3: South Atlantic Ocean
After transiting the Beagle Channel and passing the islands of Tierra
del Fuego, we head northeast toward the Falkland Islands. We keep a
lookout for dolphins and whales. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide
comfort in the event of rough seas. Presentations by our experts
prepare you for our arrival in the Falkland Islands.
Day 4-6: Falkland Islands
The remote and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands are a birders’
paradise. We anticipate spending two days in the remote outer islands
where large colonies of penguins and albatross are easily accessible.
The Falklands are also a great place to observe marine mammals. Fur
seals and elephant seals can be found on sandy beaches while the
waters around the archipelago are home to cetaceans such as Peale’s
dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins. Our exact route and exploration
opportunities are dependent on weather among these isolated and
windswept islands. We also intend to visit the port of Stanley, the
charmingly British capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within
pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the
Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, a cathedral with
impressive whalebone arch outside, a war memorial, quality gift shops,
pubs, and views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
Day 7-8: Southern Ocean
From the Falkland Islands we head east toward South Georgia, passing
the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way.
We also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of
the Southern Ocean. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and lectures
from our experts prepare you for our arrival in South Georgia.
Day 9-13: South Georgia Island
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our route and
exploration opportunities in South Georgia are heavily dependent on
the weather conditions we encounter. Our experienced captain and
expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as
conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best
possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to us
by nature in this wild and remote corner of the world. We take every
safe opportunity to go ashore in this amazing place.
South Georgia is a scenic wilderness and an unrivaled paradise for
subantarctic wildlife viewing. The islands are said to host upwards of
100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross,
penguins, prions, petrels and terns. On beaches such as those at
Salisbury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, over 100,000 elephant seals and
three million fur seals jostle for space among innumerable penguins
including stately king penguins and sprightly macaroni penguins. The
recently completed rat eradication program is sure to make this
wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife.
The bountiful waters surrounding South Georgia are also inhabited by
an increasing number of whales. The historical whaling station of
Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum managed by
the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Grytviken is also the final resting
place of Ernest Shackleton, the legendary polar explorer. Our days in
South Georgia are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals,
presentations by our experts, and enough incredible scenery and
wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.
Day 14-15: Total Solar Eclipse in the Scotia Sea
As the time of the eclipse nears, we leave South Georgia and proceed
southwest across the Scotia Sea toward Antarctica. The goal now is to
get into perfect position for observing a total solar eclipse. To
accomplish this remarkable feat, the captain will navigate the ship
precisely onto the narrow path of totality—the relatively small area
from which one can see the sun’s light become totally obscured by the
moon—at the precise time of the predicted eclipse. Essentially, we
will try to meet the center of the moon’s shadow as it moves swiftly
across the Scotia Sea during its rare and brief appearance in
Antarctica. This may well bring us within sight of the Weddell Sea
pack ice, adding a great polar ambiance to this amazing celestial
event. With the advantage of sophisticated ice charts and
meteorological forecasts—and a little luck—we will gather on deck in
the early morning of Friday, December 4th, under clear skies to
observe a total eclipse of the Antarctic sun in the most pristine
wilderness on Earth.
Day 16-17: Southern Ocean
After the mesmerizing spectacle of the solar eclipse, we continue
west toward the Antarctic Peninsula. Pelagic seabirds including the
majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be
viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows
and balconies. We may also encounter enormous tabular icebergs
drifting north from the Weddell Sea.
Day 18-20: South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
The Antarctic Peninsula region contains some of the world’s most
impressive scenery and some of Antarctica’s best wildlife viewing
opportunities. Protected bays and narrow channels are surrounded by
towering mountain peaks covered in permanent snow and immense
glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of
incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to a variety of
whale and seal species. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging
at sea and forming large nesting colonies at special places on land.
The area is also home to Antarctic research stations of various
nationalities, some with a gift shop and post office. The South
Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will
likely be our first sighting of land. This wild and beautiful island
chain contains numerous landing sites with abundant wildlife and
historical significance. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from
Shackleton’s famous Endurance expedition spent the winter.
Farther south, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the gorgeous Gerlache
Strait area contains sheltered bays, accessible wildlife, and stunning
scenery. Places with names like Paradise Bay are the epitome of
everything Antarctic: glaciated mountains, towering icebergs, feeding
whales, seals on ice floes, and bustling penguin colonies. At the
southern end of Gerlache Strait is the famous Lemaire Channel, also
known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the mountainous
sides of the narrow channel are reflected in calm waters strewn with
icebergs. The wilderness of Antarctica is subject to unpredictable
weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which dictate our route and
exploration opportunities. This is a real expedition. We exploit every
opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, amazing scenery
and excursions via Zodiac.
Day 21-22: Drake Passage
It is now time to head north across the Drake Passage toward South
America, though the adventure is not quite over. We are always on the
lookout for marine mammals and seabirds in these wild waters. This is
also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail
and the end-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as we enter the calm Beagle
Channel, we enjoy a night of smooth sailing toward Ushuaia.
Day 23: Disembarkation in Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast we say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, where we
started. We provide a group transfer to the airport or to the town
center if you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your
wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward
to your next incredible adventure to the ice!