Antarctic enthusiasts can target two remarkable achievements on this expedition. You'll have the chance to explore regions in Antarctica that remain elusive to most, even among those who have previously visited the continent: venturing beneath the Antarctic Circle and navigating the challenging ice of the Weddell Sea. While journeying south along the western Antarctic Peninsula, passing by magnificent towering cliffs and glistening icebergs, you may encounter Adélie penguins and ice seals like leopard and crabeater seals lounging on ice floes.
In the Weddell Sea, located on the eastern side of the peninsula, and given favorable weather and sea ice conditions, prepare to immerse yourself in a truly unimaginable realm of icy landscapes. It was here that Otto Nordenskjöld and his team were compelled to endure two harsh winters, and it's the same area where Ernest Shackleton had to abandon the Endurance when it got trapped in the ice. This frigid environment is a rare privilege to behold, experienced by only a fortunate few.
Upon your arrival in Ushuaia, you'll be greeted by a representative and transferred to your designated pre-voyage hotel along with your fellow expeditioners. For those already in Ushuaia, please proceed directly to your hotel. Check-in is available from 3.00 pm. In the afternoon, visit the hospitality desk located in the lobby of Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort, Luis Fernando Martial 1650, between 3.00 pm and 7.00 pm. Here, you can collect your luggage tags and confirm your participation in the Beagle Channel and Isla de Los Lobos Cruise (sea lion island) scheduled for the following day. The team will provide you with embarkation details, address any inquiries, and offer information on dining options and last-minute purchases.
For expeditioners arriving after 7.00 pm, a welcome pack will be awaiting 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, with all meals today being at your own expense. Your assigned accommodation is at Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort or Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel.
In the morning, savor breakfast and complete the check-out process. Be sure to attach cabin tags with your name and cabin number to your cabin luggage. You can drop off your cabin luggage at the hotel reception either before or during check-out. Your luggage will then be securely stored and directly transported to the port for clearance, ready to be placed in your cabin before your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
The morning offers free time for you to explore Ushuaia at your own pace. For those interested in joining the afternoon catamaran cruise, gather at the hotel lobby at 12.45 pm and prepare to be transferred to the port at 1.00 pm. Here, you'll board the catamaran and embark on a journey across the Beagle Channel, heading towards the iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. While passing through the Bridges Archipelago, the catamaran will slow down, allowing you to observe colonies of sunbathing sea lions and imperial cormorants on rocky outcrops. Additionally, sightings of gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses, and cauquenes are common. The cruise offers sweeping vistas of the city and the surrounding mountain range, accompanied by captivating stories about the local people and communities.
Alternatively, you can spend the day at your leisure and regroup at your hotel lobby at 3.00 pm for transportation to the pier for embarkation. Once on board, you'll have the opportunity to settle into your cabin before attending important mandatory briefings. As the ship departs from the port, you'll gather on deck to kick off the adventure with breathtaking views of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
In the evening, connect with your fellow expeditioners, the welcoming expedition team, and the crew as you enjoy a welcome dinner to celebrate the beginning of an exhilarating journey to Antarctica.
As we embark on the journey across the Drake Passage, we take the opportunity to acclimate to the sea's movements. The expedition team provides essential wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures to prepare you for the initial landing and commences a lecture program to enrich your knowledge of Antarctica's history, wildlife, and environment.
Wildlife encounters come to life as we observe and capture photographs of numerous seabirds, including the magnificent albatrosses and giant petrels trailing the vessel. On days at sea, you have the option to enjoy the ship's amenities, such as the gym, sauna, and jacuzzis, or unwind in one of the observation lounges.
Approaching the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the fourth day in the afternoon, excitement fills the air as everyone gathers on an observation deck in anticipation of the first iceberg sighting. Once we cross the Antarctic Convergence, the ocean's character undergoes a dramatic transformation as we find ourselves surrounded by the otherworldly presence of drifting ice sculptures. The memory of spotting your first substantial iceberg is likely to stay with you for a lifetime. Depending on time and weather conditions, we may aim to make the inaugural landing in Antarctica by late afternoon or press on toward the Antarctic Circle.
Arriving in Antarctica is an indescribable experience, marked by your first iceberg sighting and a breath of the world's freshest, crispest air that will linger in your memory. With guidance from our experienced expedition team, who have extensive Antarctic knowledge, your daily voyage is thoughtfully planned, considering weather, ice conditions, and wildlife prospects.
During this season, the Antarctic waters are teeming with krill, offering a chance to witness a plethora of wildlife, from humpback and minke whales to penguins tending to their hungry chicks. Venturing beneath the Antarctic Circle, approximately 66° 33’ south, brings a shift in the landscape and wildlife distribution, presenting a more remote, frigid environment with vast pack ice and enchanting icebergs. Traversing through the pack ice and narrow passages unveils scenes of ice-draped mountains, whales feasting on krill, leopard seals patrolling for unsuspecting penguins, and graceful snow petrels overhead. This unique journey below the Antarctic Circle is a toast to your exclusive membership in an elite group of adventurers.
After exploring the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, our path leads northward to the Weddell Sea, on the eastern side of the peninsula. Along the way, we visit favorite locations, conducting Zodiac shore excursions, landing on beaches inhabited by frolicking fur seals and fledgling penguins. As we approach the Antarctic Sound, the prospects of favorable weather and ice conditions determine our entry to this frozen realm. The Weddell Sea, renowned for its association with Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Endurance, often presents challenges due to colossal icebergs that escape into the Antarctic Sound, creating navigation complexities.
This region is abundant with colossal icebergs, some towering like skyscrapers and dwarfing our Zodiacs as we navigate through seemingly impenetrable sea ice to reach remote beaches adorned with ancient fossils. The Weddell Sea's wildlife population makes these endeavors highly rewarding. Sea ice attracts a variety of ice seals, including crabeater, leopard, and Weddell seals, all of which breed and give birth on the sea ice. An extensive Adélie penguin colony resides just outside Antarctic Sound, some choosing to breed on a small volcanic island's rocky slopes, where they share space with nesting Antarctic blue-eyed shags and Wilson's storm petrels.
Our routine includes landing or taking Zodiac excursions twice daily, ensuring opportunities to explore favorite spots along the peninsula and in the Weddell Sea region. These outings provide exceptional chances to observe chinstrap and gentoo penguins, humpback, minke, and orca whales, as well as discover fossils, such as gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites. Your camera will be in constant use during this Weddell Sea expedition.
While ashore, our aim is to explore diverse terrains, from pebbly beaches to snow-covered ridgelines with towering mountains above and ice-speckled oceans below. Participants in optional activities will have the chance to partake whenever conditions permit. Furthermore, polar enthusiasts may immerse themselves in the frigid polar waters, weather permitting.
After a final morning landing in the South Shetland Islands, we set our course back to South America, crossing the Drake Passage.
During this return journey, you'll have opportunities for enriching lectures and captivating film presentations to further enhance your Antarctic experience. As we sail through the Southern Ocean, there's ample time to immerse yourself in the unique life of this remarkable region, fostering moments of reflection and discussions about the unforgettable sights and experiences. We encourage you to become dedicated advocates for Antarctica by sharing your journey with family, friends, and colleagues, promoting its conservation and preservation, with the hope that they, too, may one day have the privilege of visiting and witnessing the wonders you've been fortunate to explore.
Approaching the tip of South America, weather and timing permitting, the Captain may guide us near the iconic Cape Horn, a legendary maritime landmark.
In the early morning hours, we navigate through the Beagle Channel before gently docking in Ushuaia, where you are free to disembark around 8.00 am. It's time to bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our respective journeys, hopefully with a newfound appreciation for the incredible power of nature.
Upon disembarkation, passengers with flights departing before 2.00 pm will be directly transferred to Ushuaia Airport, while those fortunate enough to extend their travels in this spectacular region will be transferred to their post-voyage Ushuaia accommodations. For passengers with flights after 2.00 pm, there's an opportunity to explore Ushuaia before an afternoon transfer to the airport, with specific details provided on board before disembarkation.
Please note that at the end of the voyage, it's advisable not to book flights departing from Ushuaia before 12.00 pm in case of any unexpected delays.