The Antarctic Explorer Express is the younger sibling of the full Antarctic Explorer voyage, offering a more condensed itinerary. While it might seem like a luxury to take a swift journey to Antarctica, it's an ideal option for travelers with limited time. By taking a flight across the Drake Passage in at least one direction and spending a shorter duration on the Antarctic Peninsula, these expeditions are designed for those in search of a speedy adventure to the icy continent. You can experience Zodiac excursions to discover the rugged coastlines, where the chance of encountering inquisitive whales is a delightful surprise.
Upon your arrival in Ushuaia, a representative will be there to greet you and arrange transportation to your designated pre-voyage hotel, along with your fellow expeditioners. If you're already in Ushuaia, please make your way to your hotel. Check-in is available from 3:00 pm. Later in the day, between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, stop by the hospitality desk located in the lobby at Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort, Luis Fernando Martial 1650, to pick up your luggage tags and confirm your interest in participating in the Beagle Channel and Isla de Los Lobos Cruise (sea lion island) scheduled for the following day. The team at the desk will provide you with embarkation details, answer any inquiries you may have, and offer information on dining options or where to purchase any last-minute items.
For expeditioners arriving after 7:00 pm, a welcome pack will be waiting for you at check-in. We kindly request that you visit the hospitality desk between 8:00 am and 10:00 am the following day.
The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure, and all meals today are at your own expense.
Your assigned accommodations include either Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort or Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel.
In the morning, savor your breakfast and complete the check-out process. It's essential to attach cabin tags with your name and cabin number to your cabin luggage. Please bring your cabin luggage to the hotel reception either before or at check-out. Your luggage will be securely stored and then directly transferred to the port for clearance, ensuring it's placed in your cabin before you board the vessel. Keep any valuable items and personal belongings with you throughout the day.
The morning is yours to explore Ushuaia at your own pace.
For those interested in joining the afternoon catamaran cruise, please reconvene in the hotel lobby at 12.45 pm, prepared for a transfer to the port at 1.00 pm. During this cruise, we'll set sail on the Beagle Channel, heading towards the iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. As we navigate through the Bridges Archipelago, we'll slow down to observe colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants basking on the rocky formations, with frequent sightings of gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses, and cauquenes. The cruise offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountain range, along with informative stories about the local people and communities.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a leisurely day and meet in your hotel lobby at 3.00 pm for transfer to the pier to begin the embarkation process.
Once you're on board, you'll have some time to settle into your cabin before attending important mandatory briefings. As the ship departs from the port, we'll gather on deck to kick off this thrilling adventure with stunning views of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to get to know your fellow expeditioners, as well as the friendly expedition team and crew, during a welcome dinner that marks the commencement of this exciting journey to Antarctica.
As we embark on our journey across the Drake Passage, we take advantage of this time to acclimate ourselves to the movements of the sea. The expedition team will equip you with essential wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures in preparation for the initial landing. Additionally, they will kickstart a series of informative lectures to enhance your knowledge about Antarctica's history, wildlife, and environment.
Our wildlife encounters commence as we delight in observing and capturing images of numerous seabirds, including the majestic albatrosses and enormous petrels, which gracefully trail the vessel. On days when we're at sea, you can make use of the ship's amenities, such as the gym, sauna, and jacuzzis, or simply relax in one of the observation lounges.
As we approach the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the afternoon of the fourth day, there's a palpable sense of excitement among everyone. All eyes are fixed on one of the observation decks, eagerly awaiting the first sighting of an iceberg.
The ocean undergoes a profound transformation as we cross the Antarctic Convergence and find ourselves surrounded by the surreal presence of drifting ice sculptures. The memory of your first encounter with a substantial iceberg is likely to leave an indelible impression on your memory. Depending on time and weather conditions, we may even attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
It's nearly impossible to put into words the sensation of arriving in Antarctica. Witnessing your first iceberg and inhaling some of the purest, crispest air on the planet is an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your memory.
Once we reach our destination, we have the opportunity to explore the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, offering a plethora of options. Because we are so far south, you'll encounter roughly 18-24 hours of daylight, and your days can be as action-packed as you desire.
Your seasoned expedition team, with their extensive experience in this region, will meticulously plan your daily voyage, selecting the best choices based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions, and wildlife prospects.
Typically, we embark on landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. Before joining Zodiac cruises along breathtaking ice cliffs or amidst grounded icebergs, ensure you are properly dressed and be on the lookout for whales, seals, and agile porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to the land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, explore historic huts, and venture to some of the most beloved spots along the peninsula.
While on land, our aim is to stretch our legs, strolling along pebbly beaches or perhaps ascending snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points where towering mountains and ice-dappled oceans await. If you've opted for an extra activity, you can partake whenever conditions allow. And, for those daring enough, there's the opportunity for a polar plunge into the frigid waters – weather permitting! The polar plunge can happen at any time during the voyage, so be sure to listen for announcements from the expedition team and brace yourself for an exhilarating dip.
In addition to Zodiac cruises and onshore excursions, we might sail through some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to observe traveling or feeding whales. This is an ideal moment to relish the observation lounge or, when available at the captain's discretion, make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted vistas of Antarctica in all its grandeur. Keep an ear out for the resonant creaks and deep rumbles of glaciers as they calve. Take a serene moment to marvel at the pristine beauty of this magnificent white continent.
As we approach King George Island's Frei Base, it's time to bid farewell to Antarctica and the incredible adventure we've had, just before we board our flight to Punta Arenas, Chile, which lasts approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. This is a moment for contemplation and conversation about all that we've witnessed and experienced. Our hope is that you become ambassadors for Antarctica, sharing your journey with your family, friends, and colleagues, and advocating for its conservation and preservation, so that they too may one day have the opportunity to visit this remarkable place and have the same experiences as you.
Upon your arrival at Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to the group hotel for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Hotel Dreams del Estrecho (or a similar one).
Note: King George Island is situated at the northern extremity of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands, and it ranks among the most remote locations on Earth. Please be aware that safe take-off and landing require clear skies and perfect visibility. We apologize in advance for any potential delays.
Following breakfast, say your heartfelt goodbyes to your fellow travelers as we all set off on our separate journeys, hopefully with a fresh appreciation for the incredible force of nature (breakfast is part of the package). The voyage fare includes transportation to the airport.
Note: In the event that your flight is unable to depart due to local conditions, you will remain on the ship until it is determined to be safe to return to Punta Arenas. Additional details can be found in the terms and conditions.