As the Antarctic summer draws to a close and the scenery enjoys a gentle play of sunlight, the wildlife residents remain active. Embark on a voyage across the renowned Drake Passage to and from Antarctica, where you can admire remarkable seabirds and approach the icy terrain just as the early explorers did – by sea. Keep one eye on the sky to spot skuas, terns, or cormorant chicks, while the other eye remains fixed on the water's surface. This season marks the peak of humpback whale sightings and offers the chance to observe penguin chicks venturing into the water for their inaugural swim.
Upon your arrival in Punta Arenas, you'll be greeted by a representative who will facilitate your transfer to the designated pre-voyage hotel along with your fellow expeditioners. If you're already in Punta Arenas, please proceed to your assigned hotel. Check-in is available starting at 3:00 pm.
After your arrival, we kindly request you to visit the hospitality desk in the hotel lobby between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. There, you can obtain your luggage cabin tags and confirm your participation in the Punta Arenas tour scheduled for the following day. The team will provide embarkation details, address any inquiries, and offer information about dining options and last-minute purchases.
Expeditioners arriving after 7:00 pm will find a welcome pack at the check-in desk. We ask that you visit the hospitality desk the next day between 8:00 am and 10:00 am.
The rest of your day is free for your leisure, and all meals are at your own expense.
You will be accommodated at Cabo De Hornos.
In the morning, enjoy breakfast and complete the check-out process. Please ensure your cabin luggage is equipped with tags clearly displaying your name and cabin number. Take your cabin luggage to the hotel reception, either before or during check-out. Your luggage will be stored and directly transported to the port for clearance, ready to be placed in your cabin before your arrival on board. It's important to keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
Punta Arenas, founded in the 1500s, serves as the gateway to the Strait of Magellan. Initially established as a penal colony, it later became a significant commercial and supply hub for vessels traveling between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Over time, Punta Arenas has become a central base for exploring Patagonia and Antarctica. While it may not immediately appear as a prominent destination, a stroll around this southern town reveals unique and intriguing sights. Notably, the colonial-style architecture is evident, including the late 1800s Palacio Sara Braun. In the heart of Punta Arenas' old town lies Plaza Muñoz Gamero, a park-like square surrounded by tall trees and lush vegetation. In the center of the plaza stands a statue honoring Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer of the Strait of Magellan and the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. We recommend taking a walk along the waterfront promenade, offering views of Tierra del Fuego and the distant Strait of Magellan. The Maritime Monument can also be observed, representing the area's early settlers, abandoned shipwrecks from historic trading days, and the possibility of sighting cormorants taking flight over the sea.
Around 4:00 pm, you will be transferred to the port for embarkation.
Once on board, you'll have time to settle into your cabin before attending important mandatory briefings. As the ship departs from the port, we'll gather on the deck to bid farewell to Punta Arenas and embark on the thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
This evening, take the opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow expeditioners, the friendly expedition team, and the crew during a welcome dinner, celebrating the start of your exciting journey to Antarctica.
Cruise through the renowned Beagle Channel, taking in the breathtaking views of fjords and channels surrounded by magnificent mountains. Be on the lookout for numerous seabirds and marine creatures like dolphins, sea lions, and whales, as they get ready to journey to Antarctica to feast on abundant krill. As night falls, we leave Nassau Bay behind, pass Cape Horn, and make preparations to enter the Drake Passage.
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of the time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for the first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and start the lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
The wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following the vessel. On sea days, you may can enjoy the facilities on board the vessel including the gym, wellness centre or the relaxing in one of the observation lounges.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the afternoon of day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks watching for the first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, we may attempt the first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Describing the sensation of arriving in Antarctica is a nearly impossible task. Witnessing your first iceberg and taking in the pure, crisp air is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Upon arrival, you'll have the opportunity to explore the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, offering a multitude of choices. Due to the southern location, you'll have approximately 18-24 hours of daylight, allowing your days to be as eventful as you desire.
Your experienced expedition team, with their extensive journeys to this region, will tailor your voyage day by day, considering prevailing weather conditions, ice status, and wildlife opportunities.
Typically, we conduct landings or Zodiac excursions twice daily. It's advisable to dress warmly before embarking on Zodiac cruises, where you can navigate stunning ice cliffs and grounded icebergs while keeping an eye out for whales, seals, and playful penguins. Zodiacs will transport you from the ship to the land, offering opportunities to visit penguin rookeries, explore historic huts, and discover some of the most cherished spots along the peninsula.
While on land, our aim is to stretch our legs, whether strolling along pebbly beaches or ascending snow-covered ridgelines leading to vantage points with towering mountains and ice-speckled oceans in view. If you've opted for optional activities, you'll have the chance to participate whenever conditions permit. For those daring enough, the polar plunge is an exhilarating opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the polar waters when conditions allow. This event can happen at any point during the voyage, so be attentive to announcements from the expedition team.
In addition to Zodiac excursions and shore explorations, we may engage in ship cruises through narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland or linger in picturesque bays to observe whales on their journeys or during feeding. This is an ideal time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (accessible at the captain's discretion) for uninterrupted vistas of Antarctica in all its magnificence. Listen for the creaking and deep rumbling of glaciers as they carve into the sea, and take a quiet moment to marvel at the pristine splendor of the white continent.
Savor a final morning landing in the South Shetland Islands before re-entering the Drake Passage for the homeward journey to South America.
While enjoying lectures and film presentations to enrich your Antarctic adventure, there's ample time to appreciate the enchantment of the Southern Ocean and its remarkable wildlife. This period allows for reflection and discussions about our experiences. We hope you'll become advocates for Antarctica, sharing your journey with family, friends, and colleagues and championing its conservation and preservation, offering them the opportunity to someday visit this extraordinary place.
As we near the tip of South America, weather and timing permitting, the Captain may sail near the iconic Cape Horn.
In the early morning, we'll cruise through the Beagle Channel and then gently dock in Ushuaia, allowing passengers to disembark around 8:00 am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow travelers as we all embark on our respective onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound appreciation of the incredible power of nature.
Upon disembarkation, passengers with flights departing before 14:00 will be directly transferred to Ushuaia Airport. Those continuing their journeys in this remarkable region will be transferred to their post-voyage Ushuaia accommodation. For passengers with flights after 14:00, there will be an opportunity to explore Ushuaia before an afternoon airport transfer, with details provided onboard before disembarkation.
Note: At the end of the voyage, it's advisable not to book flights departing from Ushuaia before 12:00 pm to account for potential delays.