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Antarctic Peninsula – Whale Science Voyage

Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : As the Antarctic summer comes to a close in March, migratory whale species like the humpback are very active, socializing and feeding in preparation for the long journey ahead. Resident whale species like the minke and orca are abundant, plus there's a good chance of encountering southern right whales and some of the larger pelagic species. Leopard seals are also very busy in March, hunting naive penguin chicks as they mature, develop their waterproof feathers, and make their first journeys to the sea. This very special voyage hosts marine biologist Annette Bombosch, Ph.D. and a team of scientists conducting cutting-edge marine mammal studies. Budding Citizen Scientists will have ample opportunity to participate in research, while photographers and videographers have ample opportunity to capture stunning images. Along the way, aim to visit active scientific or historic bases, scout for Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, discover breathtaking landscapes, and learn from a dedicated photography coach. Optional camping and kayaking excursions enrich the experience.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina

The anxiety of missed connections and flight delays is eliminated with a two-night hotel stay at the beautiful Arakur Resort & Spa. Most flights arrive in Ushuaia in the late afternoon or early evening. Bring your bathing suit, lounge in the spa, enjoy a bath, or get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow you’ll have a full day to relax at the resort or explore town before embarkation on day three.

Day 2
Ushuaia, Argentina

Today is all yours: explore some of the sights that Ushuaia has to offer, from museums to Argentinean leather markets, or continue relaxing at the Arakur. An optional evening briefing is a great opportunity for you to ask questions and meet some of your fellow travelers.

NOTE: All guests need to arrive at the hotel no later than the evening of Day 2.

Day 3
Ushuaia, Argentina / Embarkation

This morning you’re free to explore Ushuaia or unwind at the resort until your mid-afternoon transfer to the ship. Once on board, you’ll be greeted by your expedition team and the ship’s officers. A concise safety and orientation briefing will be followed by the captain’s welcome dinner. After dinner, relax and take in the scenery on an early evening sail through the Beagle Channel, past Magellanic penguin, rock cormorant, and sea lion colonies.

Day 4 – 5
Drake Passage

As you make your way ever closer to the White Continent, the expedition team and marine mammal experts will be out on deck and on the bridge, looking for whales and dolphins as the ship travels south. They will prepare you with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history, including helpful briefings on environmental regulations and expedition safety. Eventually, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence where you’ll notice a distinct drop in temperature as the ship enters the waters of the Antarctic Ocean.

Those interested in Citizen Science can take part in sea bird sighting surveys, or help collect salinity samples and weather data along the way. The length of your journey depends on sea conditions, but you should approach the South Shetland Islands in the evening of day four. Keep a keen watch for pelagic whales as you approach the nutrient-rich upwelling areas of the Continental Shelf.

Day 6 – 8
South Shetland Islands

Exploring the South Shetland Islands, you may visit Half Moon Island with its stunning backdrop of mountainous and glaciated Livingston Island. Or perhaps you'll visit an active volcano and take a dip in the relatively balmy waters that surround Deception Island. Bransfield Strait, once the site of an abandoned whaling station, offers an excellent chance to see whales, who often return to its rich waters.

In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, your expedition leader, captain, and marine mammal experts will create a flexible itinerary based on weather, ice, and previous sightings to maximize your whale watching opportunities, while also exploring some of the lesser traveled areas of the Peninsula. They'll aim for the most scenic bays and channels, with stops at penguin rookeries, seal wallows, bird colonies, and whale feeding areas, as well as sites of historic and scientific interest.

Day 9 – 12
Antarctica

Heading further south, you will explore the Gerlache Strait and its surrounding channels and islands. This may include trips to picturesque Neko Harbor, sheltered Paradise Harbor, humpback whale-favored Wilhelmina Bay, the striking Lemaire Channel, the wildlife-filled Penola Channel, or the majestic Neumayer Channel. You may stop at an active scientific base such as Poland’s Arctowksi or Ukraine’s Vernadskiy as well as a historic base such as U.K.’s Port Lockroy or Wordie House.

At this time of year, most areas have amazing marine mammal viewing opportunities with Weddell, crabeater, and elephant seals often found hauled out to rest along with predatory leopard seals and the assertive Antarctic fur seal. Minke and humpback whales are frequent visitors during this season and orca sightings are also common.

Day 13 – 14
Drake Passage

Leave this magical place and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage. Continue to enjoy onboard presentations and wildlife spotting. As you sail back to Ushuaia through the Beagle Channel, you will celebrate the conclusion of the expedition with a special slideshow.

Day 15
Ushuaia, Argentina / Disembarkation

Morning disembarkation lets you catch a flight to Buenos Aires or stay in Ushuaia for additional sights and adventure.

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 are required to carry a valid travel insurance plan. This plan must cover personal injury, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, evacuation expenses, and pre-existing medical conditions. Additionally, passengers are strongly advised to carry a comprehensive travel insurance plan which should also include coverage for cancellation, curtailment, trip interruption, and all other expenses which might arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience occurring to or otherwise involving a passenger. Pre-departure forms will require travel insurance carrier, policy number, and a 24-hour contact number. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends coverage of at least $200,000 in the polar regions and can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Camping:
Limited to 40 guests per voyage; advanced booking is highly recommended. Get a taste of Antarctica as it was experienced by the early explorers. After dinner on board, head ashore via Zodiac for a night of camping! Help to set up camp, then enjoy the sounds of waves lapping, glaciers creaking, and perhaps even the blow of a passing whale. Anyone 12 and older can participate. Equipment is provided. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Citizen Science:
The Citizen Science program is complimentary and open to all guests who want to help with real-world scientific research. Participate in a variety of hands-on activities that support important, current research projects in four major disciplines: Oceanography, Glaciology, Ornithology and Marine Biology. Collected data contributes to a better understanding of how climate change is affecting the Antarctic Continent. Projects and availability vary. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Kayaking:

Limited to 20 guests per voyage; advanced booking is highly recommended. If you savor the peaceful feeling of floating through nature that can only be found in a kayak, you’re going to love kayaking in Antarctica. Take advantage of good weather and calm, protected waters in what are indisputably some of the most beautiful settings on earth. Participants should be capable of getting in and out of a kayak, performing a wet exit, and forward and back strokes. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Photography:
Get the most out of your photography and bring home memories that will last a lifetime. On every voyage, a dedicated photography coach will be at your disposal with invaluable tips and advice on how to capture the natural beauty of this unique landscape and all that inhabit it—in the unique light and weather conditions that make Antarctica both special and challenging to photography lovers of all skill sets. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:

Two nights hotel accommodation in embarkation city; transfer from airport in embarkation city to group hotel (if arriving on Day 1 of itinerary and with confirmed air itinerary at least 90 days prior to departure); transfer from group hotel to ship for embarkation; group transfer upon disembarkation from the ship to airport, hotel in Ushuaia, or central location; shipboard accommodations; scheduled landings and excursions; Citizen Science program; dedicated photography guide; 200MB Wi-Fi card (for use on personal devices); Wi-Fi from the public computers in the library; digital voyage log; daily international news service; gear to keep (waterproof expedition jacket); gear on loan (insulated rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; complimentary house wine, beer, and soft drinks with dinner; coffee, tea, and cocoa 24 hours daily; all port fees; all landing fees. Additional Inclusions for Veranda Suites and Above: En suite champagne and chocolates on arrival, complimentary minibar (beer, wine, and soft drinks), and an en suite Nespresso machine. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included: 

Any airfare or travel expenses associated with arrival in Ushuaia; transfer from airport to group hotel, unless arriving on day 1 of the itinerary; pre- or post-voyage expenses in Ushuaia; camping; kayaking; laundry and personal expenses incurred on board; alcohol and soft drinks (except as listed in the inclusions); onboard communication charges such as phone calls; Wi-Fi from personal devices in excess of the 200MB provided; staff gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.


PHOTOS: © Polar Latitudes

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