Summary : Embark on an award-winning Luxury Expedition Cruise for the centerpiece of the Southern Hemisphere - extraordinary Antarctica - discovering towering icebergs, impressive glaciers and wildlife in abundance. Travel with a renowned Expedition Team, featuring passionate scientists that include an ornithologist, marine biologist and geologist, all deeply familiar with Antarctica. Discover some of the world's rarest wildlife and terrain on exciting excursions led by the region's best guides. Learn about Antarctica's environment - and efforts to conserve it.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$14,495 to $36,995
Arrive this morning in Argentina’s capital and transfer to your hotel, where immediate check-in has been arranged. As complex as it is energetic, this port city has been the gateway to Argentina for centuries, bringing many porteños (locals) into its boundaries. Although reminiscent of a European city, the spirit of Buenos Aires is evident in its diverse local neighborhoods. Experience it firsthand during an afternoon tour of the city that includes the Plaza de Mayo, the Cabildo and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Tonight, meet your fellow adventurers for a welcome cocktail reception.
Fly to the charming seaside town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world (flight not included). On arrival, enjoy lunch at the Arakur resort and — time and weather permitting — the opportunity to take a guided trek in the Cerro Alarken Nature Reserve or simply relax with a latte and enjoy the scenic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. This afternoon, arrive at your ship and settle in for your first night on board. Wander the decks to become acquainted with the ship, relax in the lounge and mingle with fellow guests in anticipation of your voyage. On departure, enjoy cruising through the beautiful Beagle Channel before heading out to sea.
Meals: B, L, D
The southward journey toward Antarctica is an exciting one. An important trade route in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Drake Passage is a 600-mile-wide swath of water where the Southern Ocean currents are squeezed between South America’s southern tip and Antarctica’s northernmost reaches. Its stormy waters and icy conditions often made the journey a difficult one, though the stabilizer-equipped ‘Le Lyrial’ handles it with ease. As you travel in the comfort of your luxury cruiser, enjoy enriching lectures from members of the Expedition Team on topics ranging from birdlife and geology, to photography and history. After lunch, join your naturalists on the deck to look for various species of whales and abundant seabirds, which join other mammals in feasting on the krill-rich waters of the Drake Passage; it’s all just a taste of the wildlife you will encounter in the days to come. Later in the evening, chat with experts about the wildlife spotted today and discuss the next day’s itinerary.
Meals: B, L, D
As the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands appear on the horizon, a sense of excitement begins to build. While day-to-day itineraries depend on weather, water and wildlife conditions, two excursions are carefully planned for each day by the captain and expedition leader. These sites may include:
At the northernmost tip of the Antarctic mainland, this body of water features some of the best sightseeing on the peninsula and a proliferation of giant icebergs. Noted for its vast numbers of bird species, the sound is home to the largest breeding colonies of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Landings here may include Paulet, Vortex or Terror islands. You may also make your first continental landing at sites such as Brown Bluff or Esperanza Station at Hope Bay.
South Shetland Islands:
Antarctic research stations, remarkable history, amazing geological features and abundant wildlife define these islands off shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Island visits may include Penguin, Half-Moon and Deception, where you may cruise into this flooded caldera to explore geothermal black sand beaches and abandoned whaling stations.
Separating the South Shetland Islands from the Antarctic continent, the Danco Coast is famed for its scenic, jaw-dropping waterways. From the comfort of ‘Le Lyrial,’ you may sail through the Gerlache strait, Paradise Bay and photogenic Lemaire Channel. Landings may include Neko Harbor, Cuverville Island and Wilhelmina Bay.
Each cruise day begins with an early breakfast followed by a morning excursion on swift Zodiacs (sturdy inflatable boats). Guided by expert drivers, each Zodiac excursion is accompanied by lecturers and joined by groups of no more than 10 guests. After mornings discovering native species and striking terrain, return to ‘Le Lyrial’ for lunch, and time to relax and observe the wildlife-rich waters that surround you, searching for everything from fin whales, humpback whales and orcas, to imperial shags and the Southern giant petrel. By afternoon, set out for the day’s second excursion, which may include visiting a working scientific research station, hiking on a sheltered beach packed with basking Southern elephant seals, or circumnavigating colossal icebergs that serve as floating homes to seals and penguins. After full days of adventure, evenings aboard your luxury cruiser invite you to unwind over cocktails in the cozy lounge before a beautiful dinner in the elegant dining room. At night, choose to recap the day’s discoveries with your naturalist guides, chat on deck with fellow guests or seize the opportunity to capture photos in the stunning low light characteristic of Antarctica’s long, ethereal twilight.
Meals: B, L, D
Bid farewell to wondrous Antarctica and begin your cruise back to Ushuaia at the southernmost tip of Argentina. The ship’s return through the Drake Passage is an interlude for recap and reflection, with time to compare notes with your expert lecturers on the wildlife, history and geology of the White Continent. Spend time on board with newfound friends in the comfortable common spaces of ‘Le Lyrial,’ enjoy quiet relaxation on your own private balcony or absorb more fascinating lectures by your captivating Expedition Team. While cruising through this historic passage, you may spot various species of whales and seabirds, including the elusive albatross and the giant petrel, an opportunistic predator and scavenger nicknamed the “stinker.” The immense albatross is an especially stunning sight to behold. These wandering birds boast a wingspan of 11.5 feet on average and use their powerful wings to glide through the air for hours at a time in search of food.
Meals: B, L, D
Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport to board your flight to Buenos Aires (flight not included).
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $50,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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 U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Family New Year Departure: 12/27/2017
Features a Young Explorers Guide with special pricing available for children 7-18. See rates section. Young Explorers attend hands-on workshops including wildlife identification on deck, special bridge visits with the captain, and nautical knot-making. There's also time for art and entertainment—from making Japanese fish prints to photography lessons to snowball fights in Antarctica!
Understanding Climate Change: 1/6/2018
Join special onboard guest and noted Antarctica researcher Dr. James McClintock to witness the impact of climate change and the power of environmental conservation. Special lectures reveal how climate change is influencing marine life on the Antarctic Peninsula. Guests also enjoy an exclusive, behind-the-scenes visit to the U.S. Palmer Research Station (weather permitting).
One-night pre-cruise hotel in Buenos Aires; accommodation and meals on the ship; arrival transfer to the starting hotel; transfer to the airport on the day of debarkation; on loan: boots, walking poles and pants; complimentary standard bar drinks, beer, house wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, juices and bottled water (excluding premium wines, spirits, liquors and Champagnes) while on board; hotel taxes; cabin categories 5-9 include butler service; parka and backpack to keep; and onboard gratuities for the ship’s crew and Expedition Staff. Subject to change without notice.
International airfare; round-trip charter flight between Buenos Aires/Ushuaia; passport and visa expenses; laundry; meals not mentioned as included; premium wines, spirits, liquors and champagnes; communication charges and internet access; all items of a personal nature; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © A&K Image Library