Antarctica is like no other place on the planet, and to experience its ethereal splendor is a rare privilege. Our 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. We 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 our voyage, expert naturalists share their in-depth knowledge of this miraculous continent. To offer you the greatest selection of dates, we've selected two superb expedition vessels, each featuring great comfort, expert naturalists, and a fleet of Zodiacs for exploring this enchanting destination up close. For details, see the individual ship descriptions.
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.
— Barbara S., Chicago, IL
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. Overnight in Ushuaia.
You have the morning free to explore Ushuaia on your own. In the late afternoon, the Sea Spirit navigates the historic Beagle Channel, where Captain Fitzroy and Charles Darwin traveled onboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. We join our naturalist guides on deck to identify seabirds gliding alongside the ship and attend wildlife, geography, and historical presentations by our Expedition Team that will prepare us for our upcoming shore landings and Zodiac cruises. A fascinating education program is part of every expedition itinerary...All meals included aboard ship
Crossing the Drake Passage
We enjoy lectures and presentations as we cross the Drake Passage.
Explore the highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula with exciting Zodiac cruises and enjoy options for camping and kayaking, conditions permitting. Over the course of the austral spring and summer, the sun lingers longer and longer, melting snow and ice. Wildlife abounds: chicks hatch and fledge, and pods of whales breach in a deep bay where a calving iceberg has churned up krill, the local delicacy. The natural cycle of life ensures that every expedition is different. And that every expedition is full of surprises! In Antarctica, silence is so complete that interruptions become indelible memories: noisy penguins squabbling over prized pebbles, the boom and crack of a calving glacier near Petermann Island.
During five days in the Antarctic Peninsula, the Expedition Team provides opportunities for exploring and engaging curiosity. Many factors play a role in shaping the expedition’s progress. We explore a range of activity levels at least twice a day. Perhaps, we will feel salt spray on our faces as our Zodiac weaves in and around grounded icebergs in Pleneau Bay or as we scramble to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of an icy chasm near Port Lockroy. We could also could sit quietly on a pebbled beach and wait for a curious penguin chick to approach.
Our landings may include the following:
Paulet Island: Paulet absolutely teems with some 200,000 Adelie penguins that come here to breed; we also find kelp gulls, blue-eyed shags, snowy sheathbills, and Wilson’s storm petrels. In 1903, the Larsen expedition, en route to pick up Swedish explorer Otto Nordenskjold and his party who had overwintered on Snow Hill Island, were forced to overwinter themselves on Paulet after their ship Antarctic was crushed in the ice. Remains of their stone hut still stand.
Deception Island: To enter amazing Deception Island, we navigate through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows and find ourselves in the magnificent ocean-filled crater of a collapsed volcano. 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.
Paradise Bay: Paradise Bay is aptly named, a spectacularly scenic setting of heavily glaciated mountains, ice cliffs, and a bay full of icebergs and “bergy bits” (smaller chunks of ice). Here we’ll set foot on the continent itself and, from the ship, see Argentina’s Almirante Brown Station, one of many Antarctic research stations. On a Zodiac cruise, we may see Weddell and crabeater seals lolling on ice floes or even a humpback whale or two!
Lemaire Channel: Conditions permitting, we may sail through the Lemaire Channel, one of the most photogenic settings on the Peninsula, where sheer 3,000-foot peaks rise on either side of the narrow passage. 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. We may also navigate through the stunning Neumayer Channel.
Devil Island: Named for its two distinct peaks, or “horns,” this rarely visited island is the nesting site of Adelie penguins, and home to a large skua population along with snow petrels and Wilson’s storm petrels. Huge icebergs, often grounded offshore, add to the photogenic element of the island.
Brown Bluff: Located on the Antarctic continent, Brown Bluff rises 2,450 feet above an ash beach littered with bizarrely shaped boulders. Adelie and gentoo penguins can be found here. Skuas and pintado petrels nest near the top of the cliff and kelp gulls fill the air with perpetual sound and motion.
The Drake Passage to Ushuaia
Our second Drake Passage crossing may not be as smooth or as rough as your first. No matter the condition, it is a fitting end to our visit to Antarctica.
After breakfast aboard the ship, travelers are transferred to the airport for the homeward flight.