Summary : Marvel at spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers and set foot on the continent and mainland of Antarctica. Encounter Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins and spot elephant seals, Weddell seals, leopard seals and crabeater seals. Watch for whales – humpback, Minke, orca, pilot, and beaked whales. Identify Snowy Sheathbill, Antarctic Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Antarctic Tern, Cape Petrels, Wandering Albatrosses, Southern Fulmars, Blue-eyed Shags, Southern Giant Petrels, skuas, Black-browed Albatrosses, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, and other seabirds.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud, settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. During the afternoon you will be introduced to some of the important crew members and your Expedition Team. At sail-away bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the westerly winds and the funneling effect of the passage’s seafloor. While crossing the Drake Passage encounter the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary between cold polar water flowing northward and warmer water moving southward. The Antarctic Convergence is not a fixed line but moving, depending on the season. Where these two currents meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels gliding in the air currents of Silver Cloud’s wake.
As we set sail on our initial transit, familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Cloud and the 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.
While sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, every turn can reveal a new and breath-taking adventure. The pack ice becomes thicker the closer the ship gets to Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of close encounters with marine mammals. As late spring is the beginning of the Antarctic season, Silver Cloud will take you to seemingly untouched and never before visited sites.
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, attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, cruise amidst colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by your team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows you 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 the best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encountered. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Named after Nordenskjöld’s ship, this 30 mile long stretch of water at the north end of the Antarctic Peninsula offers some of the best tabular iceberg observations.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula:
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 Cape 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, Weddell seals may be seen basking in the sunlight. If conditions permit, a hike onto a nearby glacier might be possible.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel:
The island was discovered during de Gerlache’s Belgica expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice-admiral in the French navy. The large, bare rock areas near the shore provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins, but the penguins also look for exposed rocks on the slopes. Snow Petrels and Pintado Petrels may be seen, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. Depending on conditions a hike towards the top of the island for stunning panoramic views might be offered. During Zodiac tours, you may see hauled-out Weddell seals.
The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs. From the ship, observe Argentina’s “Base Almirante Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations. Here, you can actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. Close to the station Gentoo Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, Antarctic Terns, Kelp Gulls and skuas have all been seen nesting. Depending on the conditions, view the wildlife from sea level while cruising in Zodiacs or cruise the bay with Silver Cloud. 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 Minke whale.
The site is named after a whale factory ship, which often used this bay –and Neko Harbor still today offers good chances to see whales. A landing will provide an opportunity to see Gentoo Penguin rookeries and quite possibly Weddell seals and crabeater seals hauled out on the cobble beach. A hike to a lookout point will be a good exercise and will be rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier, Andvord Bay and the Gerlache Strait.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island:
The British built a listening station on Goudier Island during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s. Bransfield House was restored in 1996 and since then has acted as a museum and gift shop. The Antarctic Heritage Trust operates a post-office at the station, which is open during summer. Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam outside the museum and leopard seals often patrol the sea.
Deception Island is an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed when one section sank far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail into the caldera through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows and anchor in sight of the former whaling station and the former British Antarctic Survey station. The resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area and their importance for science, while the historian will discuss the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s. Conditions permitting, hike to Neptune’s Window for spectacular panoramic views.
On the return through the Drake Passage, watch for seabirds and wildlife. Take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers and to edit photos.
The Captain will invite you and your new friends to the Farewell Cocktail, as you travel towards Ushuaia.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Ship accommodation; onboard meals (Le Champagne/Madame Restaurant excluded); butler service; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; parka; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included internet access per guest/per day; Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in Le Champagne/Madame (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage segment. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at Le Champagne/Madame Restaurant; boot rental; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Richard Sidney and Ray Stranahan