Crossing the Antarctic Circle

Expedition Cruise to the White Continent

Crossing the Antarctic Circle route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $9980  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Ushuaia, Argentina
Depart: Ushuaia, Argentina
Lodging: 10 nights aboard deluxe vessel, 1 hotel night
Meals: All meals aboard ship included
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level: 11-day expedition cruise, nature walks on uneven ground, Zodiac cruising with wet landings, possibility of rough seas and cold weather
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Highlights

  • Cruise in luxury to the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the world’s wildlife paradises
  • Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the South Shetlands, Paradise Bay, Deception Island, Lemaire Channel
  • Explorations by Zodiac with expert naturalists
  • 5 full days to explore the Antarctic Peninsula

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Discount for Single Travelers!

Free single supplement (subject to availability)
Feb 22-Mar 5, 2015 departure

Antarctica is like no other place on the planet, and to experience its ethereal splendor is a rare privilege to savor for a lifetime. This unique expedition cruise first explores the Antarctic Peninsula then ventures south—far south!—to the legendary Antarctic Circle at 66° 33’ S. Few people have visited this extreme latitude, one of the five major parallels of the earth, with its eerie and spectacular light lasting nearly 24 hours in the austral summer. The Antarctic Circle marks the northern limit of the area within which, for one day or more each year, the sun does not set or rise! When we reach this imaginary boundary at the bottom of the world, we’ll toast our achievement with a glass of champagne on deck. As we explore the wonder of Antarctica aboard the deluxe, ice-strengthened expedition vessel Sea Spirit, we also enjoy Zodiac adventures among fantastic icebergs and walks ashore to observe seals, sea lions, colonies of penguins, and seabirds—all against a backdrop of some of the most incredible scenery on earth. Throughout our voyage, expert naturalists share their in-depth knowledge of this amazing continent.

Itinerary

Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina

Arrive in Ushuaia, a small Patagonian town set on the Beagle Channel and ringed by snow-capped peaks. Transfer to the Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa. The rest of the day is at leisure with a welcome dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 2
Embarkation Day

This morning, enjoy a boat trip on the Beagle Channel and disembark in Tierra del Fuego National Park for nature hikes surrounded by dramatic scenery. Or, visit the Martial Glacier, followed by a city tour and lunch in Ushuaia. Board the Sea Spirit this afternoon and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula. We navigate the historic Beagle Channel, where Captain Fitzroy and Charles Darwin traveled onboard the HMS Beagle in 1835.

Day 3-4
Crossing the Drake Passage

Named for the 16th-century English seaman, the Drake Passage is a deep waterway spanning 600 miles from the southern tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands. Join naturalists on deck to watch for wandering and black-browed albatross, pintado, and white-chinned petrels, and attend informative lectures on the history, geology, and wildlife of the Antarctic realm.

Day 5-9
Antarctic Peninsula

As you cruise the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula and its adjacent islands, landings are dependent upon weather and ice conditions. Our leaders have been to Antarctica numerous times, and their experience in the region enables them to adapt quickly to change, making sure every option is considered, and every opportunity seized. If the weather is in our favor, landings may be offered before breakfast or even after dinner. There is also a possibility that you may visit a research station to witness the scientific activities conducted by the multi-national community of scientists working there. Though the expeditionary nature of our voyage precludes guaranteeing specific stops, we plan to visit the following islands, bays, and coves where outstanding birdlife, dramatic scenery, and unique marine life can be seen close at hand. This list serves only as a guideline of the places you may experience.

Crystal Sound / Antarctic Circle – Dependent on ice conditions, we will attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle in Crystal Sound, so named for research conducted here on the structure of ice crystals. Board Zodiacs for a cruise among element-sculpted icebergs as you search for leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals hauled out on ice floes. Minke and humpback whales are also frequently sighted during this time of year.

Detaille Island – Conditions permitting, step ashore on Detaille Island and explore the remains of the British Antarctic Survey Base that was abandoned in 1959.

Vernandsky Research Base – Permission pending, visit the Ukrainian-operated Vernandsky Research Station. Take a tour of the station and meet with a group of scientists to learn about their research and life in the Antarctic.

Lemaire Channel and Pleneau Island – Cruising the beautiful Lemaire Channel, keep watch for the humpback and minke whales frequently spotted here. This narrow channel is one of the most visually impressive areas of the Antarctic Peninsula and is often referred to as the “Canon Channel” or “Nikon Niche” due to the wonderful photo opportunities it offers. Steep mountain peaks jut out of the sea on both sides, and the surrounding waters are often choked with icebergs and frequented by crabeater seals. A stunning labyrinth of grounded icebergs lies in the shallow waters west of Pleneau Island, presenting a superb Zodiac cruising experience. Crabeater and leopard seals haul out on the ice, and elephant seals and gentoo penguins may be found the island itself.

Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay – Weddell seals can occasionally be found hauled out on the beach here, and a gentoo penguin colony overlooks a spectacular glacier that is sometimes quite active in calving icebergs. In Zodiacs, cruise among these fantastic shapes sculpted by wind and water. Later, the Sea Spirit navigates the scenic waters of Paradise Bay, where Chile and Argentina both maintain bases.

Deception Island – As you approach Deception through Neptune’s Bellows, a channel just wide enough for the ship to navigate, southern fulmars and pintado petrels soar overhead. Weigh anchor inside a volcano whose collapsed cone was filled by rushing seawater. Brave souls may want to take a “polar plunge” into the thermal waters near Pendulum Cove to experience swimming in the Antarctic!

Day 10-11
The Drake Passage to Ushuaia

Enjoy two days at sea to relax, sort through your photos, and attend lectures recapping your Antarctic adventures. On deck, keep watch for seabirds and the whales that are frequently seen in these waters.

Day 12
Ushuaia

After breakfast aboard the ship, disembark and transfer to the airport for homeward-bound flight.

Note: This cruise is not an exclusive Wilderness Travel departure. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1+, Easy. You will be travelling to a very remote destination. You must be able to complete on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures without the assistance of others. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet, especially when walking on slippery decks or up and down steep gangways. Shore excursions often require hiking over uneven terrain without the benefit of a developed trail. Some agility is required for getting in and out of the Zodiac landing crafts. While several Zodiac landings are dry, many will require that you step in the water to get ashore. Zodiac and shore excursions are weather permitting.

Passport

A valid passport is required for your trip. Be sure to check the expiration date. Your passport must be valid for six months after your date of exit from Argentina. In addition, we recommend your passport has at least two completely blank visa pages for every country you will be visiting. It is very important that the blank pages say “Visas” at the top. The last few pages of your passport, which say “Amendments and Endorsements,” and the final page of your passport, which may not have a page number, are not considered to be legitimate visa pages. You can request a new passport or have extra pages inserted in your current passport through a visa service agency or the US Passport Services Office. Be sure to allow sufficient time to acquire this before your trip.

It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of the photo page and the entry stamp page of your passport as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.

Visas

US citizens do not need a visa for Argentina but there is a Reciprocity Fee for US and Canadian citizens that must be purchased online prior to departure. The fee amount fluctuates so please double check prior to departure. You can pay the fee with a credit card. The fee is valid  for 10 years or the duration of the passport’s validity. 

If you are a citizen of any country other than the US, check with a local consulate for entry requirements.

Travel Insurance

We recommend that all travelers purchase coverage for medical expenses, baggage loss, and trip cancellation. Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you for non-refundable payments should you need to cancel your trip due to a covered sickness or injury to yourself, a traveling companion, or family member, or for certain other unforeseen circumstances. You can take advantage of a Travel Protection Plan designed for Wilderness Travel by Aon Affinity Berkely Travel, or purchase other insurance on your own. A Description of Coverage Brochure and Enrollment Form are included with your confirmation materials, and also available on our website. Travel insurance must be paid for before final payment for the trip. Questions regarding the plan should be made directly to Berkely at 1-877-718-4649.

A Note About Fuel Costs & Rates of Exchange

Given the uncertain, often volatile oil market and the dollar’s decline relative to other currencies, it is extremely difficult to predict fuel costs over the long term, and, more specifically, at the time of these voyages. Our prices are based upon the prevailing fuel rates and rates of exchange at the time of brochure printing, which is well in advance of departure. While we will do everything possible to maintain our prices, it may be necessary to institute a surcharge. Thank you for your understanding.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures

2015
Feb 22-Mar 5, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Category 1 $9,980
Category 2 $10,780
Category 3 $11,880
Category 4 $12,680
Category 5 $13,380
Owner's Suite $14,480
Free Single Supplement!
Argentina Reciprocity fee: $160 (US, Australian and New Zealand citizens). Must be obtained online in advance; valid for 10 years.

Deck Plan

Cabin Descriptions

All cabins feature ocean views and have two twin beds that can bereconfigured into one queen, a sitting area with sofa bed, en suite bathroom, large wardrobes, vanity table, small refrigerator, television, personal safe, hair dryer, assorted toiletries, individually controlled air-conditioning and heating, and American-style outlets (two flat prongs) at 110 volts.

  • Category 1 suites are an average of 215 square feet with a minimum of two portholes.
  • Category 2 suites are an average of 250 square feet featuring a picture window.
  • Category 3 suites are an average of 235 square feet featuring a large picture window and walk-in closet.
  • Category 4 suites are an average of 277 square feet featuring a sliding glass door leading to a private balcony.
  • Category 5 suites are an average of 353 square feet featuring a sliding glass door leading to a private balcony.
  • Owner’s Suite is approximately 550 square feet and features large sliding glass doors leading to a private balcony.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • All gratuities
  • Accommodations in our hotel and on board the Sea Spirit as outlined in the itinerary
  • All meals aboard ship included
  • Soft drinks, wine, and beer with lunch and dinner
  • All group meals on land
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
  • All group activities and excursions
  • Kayaking (not guaranteed, limited availability)
  • Landing and port fees
  • $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages except as listed, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 25% of trip cost
130 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

More than 120 days prior to departure: $750 per person
60-119 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
1-59 days prior to departure: 100% of trip cost

Passengers are subject to any cancellation fees assessed by the purveyors of services, including airlines or hotels used in the itinerary. Requests for cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be made for any part of this program in which you choose not to participate.

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Arrival & Departure Information

Please review the following information before confirming your flight arrangements to Buenos Aires/Ushuaia.  Many Antarctica travelers like to begin their journey by spending a few days in Buenos Aires to get over jet lag and also to allow for any possible weather delays en route.  Note that cruises are not like other trips—if you arrive late, you miss the sailing and you can’t catch up.

It is always an overnight flight to reach Buenos Aires from the US, so you will have to book your flights to depart the US a day prior to the start of the trip. Buenos Aires has two airports; please book your flights to EZE, Buenos Aires’ international airport.

Arrival & Meeting Place
Ushuaia/Argentina
Hotel Name: To Be Announced
Date Day 1
Time: Any time

Suggested Arrival Airport
Ushuaia (USH) via Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE/AEP)

If you are connecting in Buenos Aires to a flight to Ushuaia the same day, you need to allow at least three hours connecting time because you must transfer from the international airport to the domestic airport, which takes 30 to 45 minutes. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, transfers will be provided to the group hotel for an overnight. On Day 2, you will be transferred to the boat for boarding in the late afternoon.

Departure
Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 12

Suggested Departure Airport
Ushuaia (USH) to Buenos Aires (AEP/EZE)
Suggested departure time: Noon   

You will disembark in Ushuaia at about 9:00 a.m. A transfer will be provided from the boat to the Ushuaia airport. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires Domestic Airport (AEP), transfer on your own to Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE) to connect to your international flights to the U.S. You need to allow at least three hours connection time (four hours to be safe) for customs and security check in.  The international airport can be congested and the lines very long, especially in the early evening, as most flights to the US depart between 10:00 and 12:00 p.m.

International Air Travel
You are responsible for making your own arrangements for flights to and from Argentina. Airlines with the most convenient schedules for this trip include:

American Airlines (via Miami or Dallas)     
Phone: 800-433-7300       
www.aa.com 
   
Delta Airlines (via Atlanta)
Phone: 800-241-4141
www.delta.com
 
Airport codes: Miami (MIA); Buenos Aires, Argentina International Airport (EZE); Buenos Aires Domestic Airport (AEP) Ushuaia(USH)

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule so we can reserve your airport transfers. It is your responsibility to ensure your flight times coordinate with the arrival and departure logistics for this trip.

Additional Cruise Information

Further information about the cruise will be sent approximately four months prior to departure. This packet will include a packing list and other important details. Final meeting and departure instructions, including contact information, will be sent about three weeks prior to departure.

Sea Spirit

One of the most spacious and luxurious expedition vessels in operation, the Sea Spirit carries a maximum of 98 guests in all outside-facing suites with private bath facilities, two twin beds that can be reconfigured into one queen, sitting area with sofa bed, picture window or portholes, walk-in closet or wardrobe, personal safe, and small refrigerator. All cabins have TV/VCR and individually controlled thermostats. This outstanding expedition vessel offers two large lounges, fine dining, a hot tub, library, gym, and elevator access to all passenger levels. A fleet of sturdy inflatable landing crafts is used for shore excursions.