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Antarctic Islands – Express Air-Cruise

Antarctica Air Cruise Information

Summary : Sail the Beagle Channel, explore Cape Horn, and cross the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands on a condensed journey of discovery. Scout for albatross and petrels; keep a close watch for humpback and minke whales; or cruise in a Zodiac to a penguin colony and enjoy some of the best wildlife sites in this region of Antarctica. Along the way, your naturalist team will give informative lectures introducing you to this spectacular continent. Conclude your adventure by disembarking at King George Island and flying to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins, Antarctica Air-Cruise

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina / Embark

Your journey begins at the pier in Ushuaia, Argentina. Embark your ship in the afternoon and sail along the Beagle Channel towards Puerto Williams, Chile, the southernmost town in the world. Explore the surroundings before setting sail to Cape Horn.

Day 2
Cape Horn / Drake Passage

After an overnight crossing of Nassau Bay, you awake in full view of legendary Cape Horn! Weather permitting, board a Zodiac and be one of the few privileged adventurers to step foot on this famous and rarely visited island. Back on board, set sail towards Antarctica and cross the famous passage named in honor of Sir Francis Drake, the great 16th-century British explorer.

Day 3
Drake Passage

Crossing the Drake is a rite of passage that signifies your journey to the White Continent has begun! As you sail from the southern tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula, enjoy time on deck in the cool salt breeze as you spot sea birds gracefully soaring in the wind. Attend engaging presentations, enjoy the ship’s amenities, and get to know your fellow traveling companions as excitement builds in anticipation of your first excursion. The first iceberg will flash into sight as you near the South Shetlands Islands, and you may even see penguins swimming!

Day 4
Drake Passage / South Shetland Islands

After crossing the Antarctic Convergence, the environment changes noticeably. Keep your camera ready, as this is the time to watch for the first icebergs and the first sight of Antarctic land. Reaching the South Shetland Islands, sail in ice-filled bays, while enjoying the company of seabirds, penguins, seals, and whales. Board a Zodiac for your first memorable shore visit to a penguin colony. Taking advantage of the endless Antarctic daylight, exploration will continue well into the evening.

Day 5
King George Island / Disembark /
Scheduled flight to Punta Arenas, Chile

Upon reaching King George Island, disembark at Fildes Bay and explore the area, such as Chile's Frei Station and Russia's Bellingshausen Station. Bid farewell to Antarctica before boarding the flight to Punta Arenas, Chile. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for the night. (Note: Meals in Punta Arenas are at your leisure and not included in the program).

Day 6
Punta Arenas, Chile / Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the Punta Arenas airport for your onward flight.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance that includes medical evacuation and repatriation in remote areas, including Antarctica. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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 U.S. residents with travel protection options.

The Aircraft:
Three similar aircraft are used for flight operations: the BAE 146-200, the AVRO RJ 85, and the AVRO RJ 100. These aircraft were manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace (which later became part of BAE Systems). They are high-wing aircraft with short runway requirements, which make them particularly suited for this kind of destination. They are operated by Aerovias DAP, which has more than 25 years of experience flying in Patagonia and Antarctica.

Luggage Weight Restriction:
Due to the limited carrying capacity of the aircraft, passengers can only carry 20-kg / 44-lbs of personal luggage, including carry-on. This weight restriction is strictly enforced—it is not possible to purchase extra allowance. Note that ALL luggage will be weighed. Soft-sided luggage is recommended.

Contingency Plan:
Some departures in the past have experienced delays. Based on past experience, the estimated chance of delay is very low. Still, it is important that prospective participants understand that flights to and from Antarctica operate based on weather conditions. Travelers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of airline tickets or onward travel plans. In the unlikely event that the flight to Punta Arenas cannot operate due to unfavorable conditions the following contingency plan applies.

Return Flight: (King George Island to Punta Arenas)
In those cases when the forecast suggests the likelihood of unfavourable weather conditions in Antarctica persisting for several days, the flight back to Punta Arenas may be moved forward to the previous evening as a way to avoid a protracted delay in Antarctica. Accommodation at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar is included upon arrival. All other inclusions will remain per the original itinerary. In case the return flight to Punta Arenas is delayed, the group will remain in Antarctica and wait for the opportunity to fly to Punta Arenas. In the extremely unlikely event that the delay exceeds 2 days and the weather forecast indicates the impossibility to fly over several more days, for safety reasons the captain of the vessel may decide to sail back to South America. Included are meals and accommodation on the ship, and local excursions. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, the trip will end at the airport. Travelers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of their airline tickets or onward travel plans. Please refer to the Contingency Plan section of Antarctica21's Terms and Conditions for further details.

Single Hotel Accommodation:
Single travelers who book a shared twin cabin will be accommodated in single rooms at the hotel and must pay a single hotel room supplement. Note: Passengers who use CPAP machines or other assistive devices, as well as those with conditions that could disturb their traveling companion, cannot book on a twin-share basis. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.

Antarctic Flight Preferred Seating:
Travelers can purchase preferred seats on their Antarctic flight. This option offers travelers an extra level of comfort and a guaranteed aisle or window seat at the front of the aircraft, as well as a guaranteed empty middle seat. Capacity is limited to a maximum of 8 aisle seats and 8 window seats (aisle 2, 3, 4, and 5). Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.

Additional Hotel & Transfer Package:

Travelers can purchase a hotel and transfer package that includes: one night hotel accommodation at the Cabo de Hornos (or similar) in Punta Arenas, shared airport-to-hotel transfer, breakfast, and a drink voucher. Available as a pre- or post-expedition package.

Citizen Science:
From whale sightings and identification to seabird surveys, each trip offers the opportunity to assist in data collection to benefit a variety of research studies. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.

Included:
One-way flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile; one post-cruise hotel night with breakfast in Punta Arenas at Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer airport/hotel on day of scheduled return flight from Antarctica; group transfer hotel/airport on last day of air-cruise; shipboard accommodations; guided shore excursions; onboard lectures and entertainment; gear on loan (waterproof boots); all meals onboard the ship; wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner aboard ship; complimentary coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccinos, water, and snacks aboard ship throughout expedition; contingency plan; IAATO passenger fee. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare, accommodation, meals, excursions and transfers other than those included in the itinerary and the Contingency Plan; preferred seating on Antarctic flights; dinner in Punta Arenas upon return from Antarctica; mandatory evacuation insurance; personal travel insurance; recommended travel protection policy; personal expenses (beverages purchased at the ship’s bar, communication, laundry, souvenirs, etc.); gratuities; visas for Chile and/or Argentina; passport expenses; any arrival and/or departure tax, if applicable; fuel surcharge may apply.


PHOTOS: © Ben O (penguins on ice, whale tail), Ruslan Eliseev (nesting penguin), Nicolas Gildemeister (seal)

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