Antarctica is like no other place on the planet, and to experience its ethereal splendor is a rare privilege. This expedition cruise explores the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the most spectacular parts of the continent and one of the most wildlife-rich regions in the world. Cruise glacier-lined fjords, head out for Zodiac adventures among icebergs of fantastic form, walk through colonies of seals, sea lions, and nesting penguins—all in nearly 20-hour daylight! Throughout the voyage, expert naturalists share their in-depth knowledge of this miraculous continent.
This was a wonderful experience. The ship was terrific, and coming back to warm rooms and gourmet meals after a day of excursions in the Antarctic was special. I would highly recommend this trip.
— Phil H., Lowell, MA
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Antarctica is everything south of the Antarctic convergence, a biological boundary that fluctuates between 50° and 60° South. Upon arrival an airport transfer is provided to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore the city on your own. Overnight in Ushuaia.
You have the morning free to explore Ushuaia on your own. In the afternoon, you will be transfered to the pier to board the Sea Spirit - your home away from home for this extraordinary adventure. The Sea Spirit navigates the historic Beagle Channel, where Captain Fitzroy and Charles Darwin traveled onboard the HMS Beagle in 1835.
Crossing the Drake Passage
While crossing Drake's Passage, join the naturalist guides on deck to identify seabirds gliding alongside the ship and attend wildlife, geography, and historical presentations by the Expedition Team that will prepare you for upcoming shore landings and Zodiac cruises. A fascinating education program is part of every expedition itinerary.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. The route and exploration opportunities in Antarctica are heavily dependent on weather and ice conditions. The experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You will explore the highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula with exciting Zodiac cruises and walks on land for wildlife spotting. Over the course of the austral spring and summer, the sun lingers longer and longer, melting snow and ice.
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 stations have a gift shop and post office.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be your first sighting of land. This wild and beautiful island chain contains numerous landing sites with abundant wildlife and historical significance. Among them is Deception Island, where the flooded caldera of an active volcano harbors an abandoned whaling station. This sea-filled volcanic crater, which last erupted in 1970 (with minor eruptions as late as 1992), has a thermally heated spring near Pendulum Cove—bring your bathing suit for a hot soak in Antarctica! Deception was a major whaling station in the early 20th century (rusty boilers used to make whale oil remain, as well as whale bones) and it was from here that explorer Nathaniel Palmer allegedly became the first American to sight the Antarctic continent in 1820 from a high point called Neptune’s Window.
Farther south, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the vast 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. At the south end of the channel lies Pleneau Island, first explored during Charcot’s 1903-05 French Antarctic Expedition. Pleneau boasts dazzling ice formations and teeming gentoo penguin rookeries, as well as southern elephant seals that often haul out in the wallows. Conditions permitting, you may also navigate through the stunning Neumayer Channel.
Camping and kayaking programs are offered at additional cost. Space is limited so be sure to inquire about these programs when you secure your cabin.
The Drake Passage to Ushuaia
After an amazing time in Antarctica you cross back north through the bountiful waters of the Drake Passage. Preseantions and workshops by the expert staff, as well as a range of onboard recreation facilities, ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. This is also the time for the End of Voyage ceremonies including slideshow and farewell dinner.
After breakfast aboard the ship, a group transfer is provided to the airport for homeward flight or town center if you wish to spend more time there.