Summary : Experience the wonders of the Antarctic while in the company of experienced expedition leaders specializing in fields such as marine biology, history, geology, ornithology, and photography. Marvel at the frosted wilderness of glistening white as far as the eye can see. Natural ice sculptures appear like enormous works of avant-garde art. This is the modern explorer’s final frontier. Hear the calls of penguins multiplied by the thousands, watch leopard seals perfectly at ease in the company of visitors, feel the unspeakable magnificence of a whale breaching from beneath cold ocean waters. Experience astounding animal encounters – opportunities found nowhere else on Earth on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the vessel and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’. Settle in, explore the ship and meet the Expedition Team.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward. When they meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds such as albatross and petrels that glide in the air currents of the ship’s wake. Have your cameras ready to capture the magical color of a midnight sunset.
Attend wildlife, geography and historical discussions hosted by expert naturalists and guest lecturers that will prepare for the exciting adventures that lie ahead. Visit the Bridge to learn about the instruments and techniques of Antarctic navigation.
Past the furthest reaches of Tierra del Fuego and beyond your wildest imagination lies the last great frontier – Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Landscapes formed by the harshest wrath of Mother Nature, yet blessed by an isolated independence and tranquility await. Marvel at remarkable natural beauty and abundant wildlife that thrive here despite the harsh climate. Witness the dramatic splendor of spectacular iceberg sculptures, calving glaciers and experience up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for Humpback, Minke, and Orca whales breaching from below the frigid waters. Each day partake in Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, visit a variety of penguin rookeries and scientific research stations. Perhaps a Zodiac cruise amidst colorful icebergs or a special excursion with an expert guest naturalist will be the highlight of the day.
A flexible itinerary allows us 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 our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife you may encounter. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Aitcho Islands & South Shetland Islands:
Just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait, it’s very likely the local penguins will greet you as you explore these islands by Zodiac. Penguin species here include Gentoos and Chinstraps. Other annual seabirds include Southern Giant Petrels. While heading back to the ship, you may discover a leopard or southern elephant seal following alongside your group’s Zodiac.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula:
A 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent, Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls, and Pintado 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, a Weddell Seal may be seen basking in the sunlight. Wait long enough and you might just see the Adelie Penguins standing along the shore, make their way into the surf.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel:
Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins. Snow Petrels and Pintado Petrels also may be seen whilst Wilson’s Storm-petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. During Zodiac tours, hauled-out Weddell and Antarctic fur seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay, Antarctic Peninsula:
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 will actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac with one of our experienced Expedition Team members. 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 pod of Minke whales.
As you arrive, the sight of Adelie Penguins covering the entire island may well amaze you. The island is home to 80,000-90,000 Adelies that come here to breed. On a nearby hill, view a massive colony of blue-eyed shags. Kelp Gulls and Snowy Sheathbills are amongst the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s Storm-petrels are regularly seen. Listen as a member of your Expedition Team tells of Otto Nordenskjold and his party that over-wintered on the island in 1912. Remnants of their hut still remain. If time permits, hike to Crater Lake or take a Zodiac-cruise to view impossibly blue icebergs and the Adelie Penguins making themselves at home on the ice floes.
Deception Island is home to a collapsed volcano and an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Sail inside this breached wall through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. The resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while the historian will introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago:
The island is named for German geographer August Petermann and was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74. Our on-board geologist will take the opportunity to point out various geological features such as the many basaltic dikes along the shoreline and the more granite composition of the small summit, where rock surfaces show glacial polish and some glacial grooving. During your landing, observe rookeries of Adelie Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago:
Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel, and was first explored during Charcot’s 1903–05 French Antarctic Expedition. The island was named for the expedition’s photographer, Paul Pleneau. Amongst the common breeding birds are Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas. See the Gentoo Penguins during a landing and southern elephant seals that are often hauled-out in wallows. Enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island:
The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s and since 1996 as a museum and gift shop. Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam outside the museum. Perhaps sight a whale or two on your Zodiac cruise.
On return through the Drake Passage, again watch for seabirds and wildlife. Take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the onboard lecturers or swap photos with new found friends as the journey continues towards Ushuaia.
Disembark the vessel.
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.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Ship accommodation; onboard meals; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); parka and backpack; all onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suite. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Richard Sidey (two penguins, passenger walking), © Ray Stranagan (landscape, penguins and zodiac)