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Antarctic Peninsula – Off the Beaten Track

Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : Celebrate RCGS Resolute's inaugural voyage and experience the Antarctic Peninsula in a unique way. Early season is a time of intense activity in Antarctica. The wildlife migrations have commenced, and the sea ice is quickly receding, allowing access to locations which have been ice-choked since winter. You can anticipate exciting ice navigation on the ship and will be among the first to visit many well-known sites this season. For all these reasons, it's one of the best times of the year to visit Antarctica. What makes this journey so special is the enhanced program of off-ship activities offered on this departure. Taking advantage of optimal snow and ice conditions in November, you can experience a range of additional activities which complement regular programming. Only on this departure in Antarctica, extended hikes, snowshoeing, enhanced photography excursions, overnight sea kayaking, and ski touring are possible and combined on one voyage. You’ll benefit from the expedition ship being used as a mobile basecamp wilderness lodge to discover the White Continent at your own pace! Traveling on a true small expedition ship with a high ice rating unlocks great wildlife sightings as chinstrap, gentoo and Adélie penguin colonies, whales, seals, and sea birds return to the plentiful feeding grounds of the Antarctic Peninsula. All this is complemented with a fascinating series of onboard presentations, led by adventurers, marine biologists, naturalists, glaciologists, historians, and an onboard photographer. This voyage has been designed for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers, yet it has great appeal to those who wish to experience Antarctica at a magical time of season.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Punta Arenas, Chile

Your journey commences in the southern Chilean port city of Punta Arenas. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the wharf where you will embark your expedition ship. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, you will meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner. Chart a course through the Strait of Magellan and you are on your way—bound for Antarctica and what promises to be an incredible adventure.

Day 2 – 3
Drake Passage

Your captain charts a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of
wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill. A photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of your modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day, your onboard expedition team will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, history, and locations you hope to visit in the coming days. As you approach the coastline of Antarctica, you'll encounter more icebergs and anticipate your first whale sightings.

Day 4 – 5
South Shetland Islands / Antarctic Peninsula

Awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of the South Shetland Islands laid out before you. Depending on ice and weather conditions, plan on entering the McFarlane Strait, which separates Greenwich and Livingstone Islands. Half Moon Island or nearby Yankee Harbor are possible landing sites. A short way to the southwest lies Deception Island – a flooded volcanic caldera. Navigating the ship into the narrow passage takes great skill. The old whaling station here begs exploration and there are some fantastic hikes available along the black sand beach to investigate the old aircraft hangar and other relics. A hike of several kilometers up to a highpoint known as Neptune’s Window is another option.

You'll cross the Bransfield Strait overnight, navigating along the coastline of continental Antarctica. Over the following days, the itinerary is deliberately flexible to account for early season ice conditions, and to take advantage of optimal snow conditions at several of the captain and crew's favorite landing sites. Your planned exploration starts in vicinity of Mikkelson Harbor and neighboring Cierva Cove—both beautiful locations and the perfect introduction to Antarctica.

Day 6 – 9
Gerlache Strait / Antarctic Peninsula

Heading south along the coastline of the continent, your busy program of activities will now be in full swing. Days are spent exploring on and off the ship. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is always a memorable activity.

Based on site characteristics, the ski touring group may set off to explore the pristine terrain and range several miles inland with experienced mountaineering guides. What a unique thrill it is to carve "fresh tracks" in the virgin snow of Antarctica. The expedition snowshoe group may follow in the tracks of the skiers, climbing to high points which afford breathtaking views. If you are not up to the more strenuous snow shoeing program, you will be able to try this unique activity at other landing sites.

Expedition sea kayakers will head out on excursions which may last all day. An overnight kayak/camping excursion is available to the more adventurous in the group. Everyone aboard will have an opportunity to camp onshore for the night in Antarctica if the weather conditions cooperate. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the chance to spend an entire day with the expedition photographer on a day-long field workshop.

Your ship will range as far south as ice conditions permit in hopes of navigating as far as Neko Harbor and into the Errera Channel. Witnessing the migration of the penguins early in the season as they busily reestablish their rookeries and prepare nests is a fascinating experience.

Day 10
South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Your adventure is not over—an additional day of exploration is planned in the South Shetlands. Prevailing weather conditions will dictate landing locations. Aitcho Island is a possibility and is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetlands including Half Moon Island or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor, where you might encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is another wonderful spot for a hike. Hannah Point, with it's elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels, is another possible visit. In the evening, the ship will navigate north and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.

Day 11 – 12
Drake Passage

Making your way back to South America, the educational presentations continue. Enjoy a memorable voyage recap by your expedition leader. Join photography experts in the multimedia room, and download and back-up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, the ship will round Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It is a fitting place to reflect on a fantastic expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, you'll enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship.

Day 13
Ushuaia

In the early morning, arrive back in Ushuaia, and say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. You will be transported to your hotel or to the airport for your return flight home.

Notes

The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.  ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Insurance: 
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance which must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter) and personal liability. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Medical Documentation:
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar Regions, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed, and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.

Backcountry Ski Touring:
 $750 per person
Pre-booked option for up to 12 guests. Backcountry ski experience is essential and participation in this option is dependent upon guide approval onboard. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a required gear list prior to departure.

Camping:
No additional supplement (highly weather dependent activity)
No pre-booking required but please notify ExpeditionTrips of your interest at time of booking. If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent, all the required gear such as bivy sacs and sleeping bags (no tents), will be provided. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. Please Note: Camping is unlikely to happen in March due to lower average night time temperatures on shore and available hours of light. If weather and ice conditions permit and you are near a suitable location, your expedition leaders will make their best effort to facilitate this activity. Please inquire.

Photography:
No additional supplement
Pre-booked option for up to 18 people. An onboard photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage to help you improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in a different way in order to capture them digitally. Also available is an onboard multimedia download studio with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.

Expedition Snowshoeing: 
No additional supplement
No pre-booking required. Snowshoes and trekking poles provided. Ten pairs of snowshoes will be available.

Expedition Sea Kayaking:
 $795 per person 
Limited to 30 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their prior paddling experience and also attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Overnight Sea Kayaking:
 $300 per person
Pre-booked option for up to 6 guests (4 guest minimum required). The overnight sea kayaking adventure with camping is available for those already enrolled in the standard sea kayak program. Participation is dependent upon guide approval onboard.

Hiking:
 No additional supplement
No pre-booking required. Trekking poles are available onboard for passenger use and instep crampons will be provided if necessary to improve traction on slick surfaces. Sturdy hiking boots and warm hiking socks are needed to join this activity. Hikes will be 2-3 hours in duration and will involve negotiating challenging terrain without the assistance of trails. Antarctica hiking rewards with images of snow, ice, mountains, and glaciers.

Included:
Transfer from central meeting point in Ushuaia to ship on Day 1; transfer from port to the airport or downtown hotels on Day 13; shipboard accommodations; camping (gear provided); experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides; adventure concierge staff; assistance of resident photographer; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat; guided hikes and walks onshore; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and science stations; educational presentations and talks; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician on every voyage; use of onboard library, Finnish sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; end of voyage video, photos and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Subject to change without notice.

Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Exclusive check-in service on day of embarkation; deluxe welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); single brew coffee machine; mini-stereo; private in-room One Ocean Adventure Concierge service; in-room dining menu; early morning in-room café service; evening après dinner drink service; premium in-room mini bar replenished daily (including spirits); complimentary 1-hour massage/spa experience. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specific in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities; personal laundry charges; personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, laundry expenses or spa services such as massages; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew. Fuel surcharge may apply. Subject to change without notice.

PHOTOS: © Amanda Zeisset; © Boomer Jerritt; © Ira Meyer; © Paul Zizka

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