Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Lodging:||10 nights aboard a 132-guest expedition vessel|
|Meals:||All meals included aboard ship, including complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes and spirits)|
|Activity:||Wildlife & Natural History, Small Ship Cruising|
11-day expedition cruise, nature walks on uneven ground, Zodiac cruising with wet landings, often rough seas and cold weather
- Marvel at spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers
- Set foot on the continent of Antarctica
- Encounter gentoo, chinstrap, and Adelie penguins
- Spot elephant, Antarctic fur, Weddell, leopard, and crabeater seals
- Watch for humpback, Minke, orca, pilot, and beaked whales
- Fantastic birdwatching: wandering albatrosses, kelp gulls, Cape petrels, blue-eyed shags, and more
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.
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.
Choose from a Variety of Ships
We offer several exciting voyages to Antarctica aboard a variety of ships. This is the detailed information for Antarctica: Silver Explorer. To see all departures on all ships, please click here.
Antarctica is like no other place on the planet, an otherworldly vision of enormous icebergs, snow-capped mountains, and spectacular wildlife. Our thrilling cruise aboard a small expedition ship brings you into the heart of the wildlife-rich realm of the Antarctic Peninsula, where you’ll head out on Zodiac adventures among iceberg-filled bays and walk through colonies of sea lions and nesting penguins. Throughout your voyage, an expert team of naturalists enhances your experience as they share their in-depth knowledge of this miraculous continent.
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.
Departing from Buenos Aires, fly to Ushuaia, and transfer to the port. Embark Silver Explorer and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the "Land at the End of the World." This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward. When they meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that glide in the air currents of our ship’s wake, such as the black-browed albatross, sooty shearwaters, and white-chinned petrels. Have your camera ready to capture the magical color of a midnight sunset.
As we set sail on our initial transit, familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Explorer and the friendly Expedition Team members. Attend wildlife, geography, and history discussions hosted by our expert naturalists and guest lecturers that will prepare you for the exciting adventures that lie ahead. When available, visit the Bridge and meet our Captain and officers; information will be posted in the daily onboard newsletter.
While sailing to Antarctica, every turn can reveal a new and breathtaking adventure. As the pack ice becomes thicker, it’s apparent to everyone that we are moving closer into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day we will attempt Zodiac excursions, and, if conditions permit, we will cruise amid colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by our team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows us to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions, and wildlife we may encounter. Here are some of the places we may visit:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands (just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait)
- As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island, it’s very likely you’ll be greeted by the locals—penguins! Penguin species here include gentoos and chinstraps. Other annual seabirds include the Southern giant petrels.
- While heading back to the ship, you may have company as a leopard seal or southern elephant seal follows alongside your group’s Zodiac.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent)
- Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-meter-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock.
- Adelie and gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and pintado petrels use this as a breeding area.
- Birds such as the all-white snow petrel and skuas may be seen from a distance.
- As you explore the area, a Weddell seal may be seen basking in the sunl.
- Wait long enough and you might see the Adelie penguins standing along the rocks, finally making their way into the surf.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel
- The island was discovered by Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice admiral in the French navy.
- Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for gentoo penguins.
- Snow petrels and pintado petrels also may be seen while Wilson’s storm petrels nest in the higher scree of the island.
- During Zodiac tours, hauled-out Weddell and Antarctic fur seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay (on the Antarctic peninsula)
- The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers, and icebergs.
- From the ship, observe Argentina’s Base Brown, one of many Antarctic research stations.
- Here, you will actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica.
- View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac with one of our experienced Expedition Team members. There’s a good chance you’ll come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, or if you’re very lucky, your Zodiac driver may locate a pod of Minke whales.
- As you arrive, the sight of Adelie penguins covering the entire island may well amaze you. The island is home to 80-90 thousand Adelies that come here to breed.
- On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of blue-eyed shags.
- Kelp gulls and snowy sheathbills are among the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s storm petrels are regularly seen.
- Listen as your Expedition Team guide tells of Otto Nordenskjold and his party that over-wintered on the island in 1912. Remnants of their hut still remain.
- If time permits, take a Zodiac cruise to view impossibly blue icebergs, Crater Lake, and the Adelie penguins making themselves at home on the ice floes.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago
- The island is named for German geographer August Petermann and was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74.
- Our onboard geologist will take the opportunity to point out various geological features such as the many basaltic dikes along the shoreline, and the more granite composition of the small summit, where rock surfaces show glacial polish and some glacial grooving.
- During our landing, we will be able to observe rookeries of Adelie penguins, gentoo penguins, and blue-eyed shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago
- Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel, and was first explored during Charcot’s 1903–05 French Antarctic Expedition. The island was named for the expedition’s photographer, Paul Pleneau.
- Among the common breeding birds are gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and south polar skuas.
- See the gentoo penguins during a landing and southern elephant seals that are often hauled-out in wallows.
- Enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island)
- Deception Island is home to a collapsed volcano and an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. We plan to sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows.
- Our resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while our historian will introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island.
- Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island
- The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s, and since 1962 as a museum and gift shop.
- Snowy sheathbills and gentoo penguins roam outside the museum.
- Perhaps sight a whale or two on your Zodiac cruise.
Drake Passage Return
Navigating our return through the Drake Passage, we watch for seabirds and wildlife we may have missed the first time around. We'll take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers and swap photos with new friends as we travel toward Ushuaia.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer and transfer to Ushuaia International Airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
What the Trip is Like
The trip is rated Level 1+, Easy. You will be traveling 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.
Dec 2-12, 2016
Dec 12-22, 2016
Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy
Prices valid through Spring 2017
Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy
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*
Minimum fee: $200 per person
91-120 days prior to departure: 15% of trip cost
46-90 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
31-45 days prior to departure: 75% of trip cost
30 days or less: 100% of trip cost
*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.
Adventurer Class Suite
Deck 3, with sitting area and two portholes. Suites 302-307. 175-184 sq. ft.
Explorer Class Suite
Deck 4, with sitting area and view window. Suites 402-407, 409, 411. 185-275 sq. ft.
Deck 3, with sitting area and view window. Suites 310-321. 230 sq. ft.
Deck 4, with sitting area and large picture window. Suites 410, 412, 414-421, 423, 425. 194-230 sq. ft.
Deck 5, with sitting area and French balcony with floor to ceiling glass doors. Suites 500, 501, 506-509, 512, 513. 230 sq. ft. Queen bed only for suites 512 and 513.
Decks 3 and 4, with living room and sitting area, two French balconies with floor to ceiling glass doors (two view windows in Suites 308, 309, 322, 323). Suites 308, 309, 322, 323, 408, 413, 422, 427. 460 sq. ft.
Deck 7, with sitting area and large veranda with floor to ceiling glass doors. Suites 702, 703. 351 sq. ft.
Deck 5, with living room and sitting area, two French balconies with floor to ceiling glass doors. Suites 502-505, 510, 511. 460 sq. ft.
Deck 7, with living room and sitting area, large veranda with floor to ceiling glass doors. 675 sq. ft. Suites 700, 701.
Deck 7, with living room and sitting area, large veranda with floor to ceiling glass doors. 626 sq. ft. Suites 704, 705.
Trip Cost Includes:
- Ocean-view accommodations aboard the Silver Explorer
- Butler service
- Shore excursions as noted
- Services of an expert Expedition Team
- All meals included aboard ship, including complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes and spirits)
- Gratuities aboard ship
- 24-hour room service
- Complimentary parka, daypack, and water bottle
Trip Cost Does Not Include:Airfare, pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations, luggage handling, arrival and departure transfers (unless purchasing airfare package), fuel surcharges, laundry or valet services, purchases from the ship boutiques or any item or service of a personal nature such as WiFi and mobile phone service, medical care, massages, spa treatments, hair styling, and manicures.
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.
US citizens do not need a visa for Chile and 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. A Tourist Card is issued to visitors in Chile.
If you are a citizen of any country other than the US, check with a local consulate for entry requirements.
The Silver Explorer, a purpose-built expedition ship with the intimate onboard ambience of a private yacht, has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions. With a fleet of Zodiac boats, her 132 guests can visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations while an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding. Amenities include ocean-view staterooms with private bath, a spacious library with an Internet café, a full-service spa, beauty salon, fitness center, live evening entertainment, and two top-deck whirlpools. A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables Silver Explorer to push through ice floes with ease.