Summary : Spend Christmas Eve in Stanley on the Falkland Islands and New Year at Elephant Island. Follow in the footsteps of the great Antarctic explorers and visit sites that Shackleton, and Weddell explored. See snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers and spectacular icebergs. Encounter Rockhopper, Gentoo, Macaroni, King, Adelie, Magellanic and Chinstrap Penguins. Watch for seals, dolphins, and whales. Identify seabirds, including different species of albatross, shearwaters and petrels.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board.
A mandatory safety drill will take place before you set sail. During the afternoon you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and important members of the crew.
At sail-away enjoy the mountain-lined shoreline of the Beagle Channel while you leave Ushuaia and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’.
Taking advantage of the day at sea, the Expedition Team will present talks about the Falkland Islands (Malvinas -as the Spanish-speaking world calls them) that will prepare you for the exciting adventures ahead. Birders out on deck want to keep an eye out for Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels and Cape Petrels.
Tonight, you are invited to attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party hosted by the Captain, who will introduce his senior officers and various members of the Silver Cloud crew.
Today you have two opportunities to enjoy the remarkable beauty of the remote Falkland Islands.
During the morning, visit New Island, a wildlife and nature reserve. The New Island Conservation Trust, a private environmental conservation group, protects its many birds and animals. Zodiacs take you ashore near the island’s small settlement at Coffin Harbour. From there, hike past the Barnard Memorial Museum crossing the island from east to west to reach the rocky cliffs and a rookery where Rockhopper Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags share the same nesting area. Observe Black-browed Albatross going about their daily routines and may even spot Upland Geese on your hike.
Your on-board historian might tell you about ‘Barnard’s barn’ — a stone structure once belonging to an early settler and now a museum, as well as the wreck of Protector III — an old minesweeper used for seal hunting, now grounded just off the shore not too far from the landing site.
During lunch Silver Cloud will sail in a northeasterly direction to West Point Island. Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins with their distinctive black and white markings can often be spotted on the approach to West Point Island.
Zodiacs will take you to a jetty; from there enjoy a 2 mile walk to Devil’s Nose. Walking across rolling moorland and past gorse, you may observe Grass Wrens, Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Falkland Thrushes, Striated Caracaras and Turkey Vultures. The goal is to reach colonies of Black-browed Albatross that nest side-by-side with Rockhopper Penguins. The winds at Devil’s Nose are usually so strong that the albatross only have to spread their wings to take off, while the penguins (as their name implies) have to hop from rock to rock to reach either the shore or their nests.
Once back at the farm, the hospitable island owners will invite you to have tea, coffee and home-made cakes and cookies and are always happy to answer your questions and share their stories.
Stanley is the capital of the remote Falkland Islands, and although Argentine authorities have repeatedly claimed the islands as part of their country, it has a distinct British ambience. A reminder of the 1982 Falkland War between Britain and Argentina can be found at the War Memorial.
Opt to take a ‘city tour’ by bus with a local guide or stroll through the charming streets of this colorful little town, lined with quaint cottages and a variety of traditional pubs. Visit the 19th-century Anglican cathedral (the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world) and wander through the Falkland Islands Dockyard Museum. For stamp collectors a visit to the Philatelic Bureau is a must.
Depending on local conditions, there might be a chance to see Gentoo, Magellanic or King Penguins at Bluff Cove or Volunteer Point.
Cruising the South Atlantic Ocean for two days will give the Expedition Team a chance to offer talks about the geology, history and the wildlife that make South Georgia such an interesting and unique place. As part of the preparation to visit South Georgia and Antarctica, briefings regarding correct procedures when going ashore and a thorough inspection of clothing and outdoor gear will take place.
On your approach to South Georgia, pass Shag Rocks, aptly named because of the large numbers of South Georgia Shags that frequent these rocks. Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrels, and prions can also be seen.
On-board diversions may include photography workshops, spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Enjoy three full days to explore this seldom visited and breath-taking destination of towering snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers, and low-lying grasslands. The island attracts an astounding concentration of wildlife: Southern fur seals, Southern elephant seals and a variety of albatross species including Black-browed, Light-mantled Sooty, Grey-headed and the spectacular Wandering Albatross, plus thousands of King and Macaroni Penguins can all be found here.
South Georgia is also linked to the early Antarctic explorers. Captain James Cook stepped ashore in 1775, but perhaps more famous is Sir Ernest Shackleton’s arrival in 1916 following the sinking of his ship Endurance. Visit the graves of Shackleton and Frank Wild, as well as the whaling museum at Grytviken.
Some of the places you may visit include:
Enjoy a Zodiac cruise to see Macaroni and Chinstrap Penguins on the rocks and in the water.
A large King Penguin colony can be found near Bertrab Glacier. Seals can be seen sunning on the beaches.
Grytviken is a historic whaling station that began its life in 1904. One can still see the remains of the activity: rusted hulls of long abandoned whaling and sealing ships, equipment left behind and some of the working-areas. The former whaling station’s managers house is now a museum. Guests can learn about past whaling techniques and view various exhibits on exploration and discovery. At the burial site of the famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, toast the great explorer and his many accomplishments. The remains of his faithful companion Frank Wild have been brought here, too.
A favorite breeding ground for hundreds of thousands of King Penguins, it is amazing to see how they completely cover the beaches and hills. Apart from King Penguins, fur seals and Southern elephant seals have taken over the tussock grass areas.
Leaving South Georgia behind, Silver Cloud will head for the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica. On the way south you might encounter one of the massive tabular icebergs that tend to break off from the Larsen Ice Shelf.
The days at sea will be used to present further lectures. As you're heading for Elephant Island, the on-board Historian might talk about Shackleton’s crew members awaiting their rescue at Point Wild, while our Marine Biologist and Ornithologist will cover the wildlife to be seen.
Participate in other on-board activities, relax in one of the lounges, or peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library. Take a stroll on deck and enjoy the solitude and splendor of the vast sea and sky.
Awesome glaciers and steep cliffs appear as you approach Elephant Island — so named for its abundance of elephant seals. The island is home to several Chinstrap Penguin rookeries, as well as old moss colonies. Weddell seals and Macaroni Penguins can also be found here.
When Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea in late 1915, the crew was eventually stranded on the island for 135 days. A solitary bronze bust can be seen, honoring the Chilean pilot Luis Pardo, who took the cutter Yelcho across the Drake Passage to rescue Shackleton’s men.
While sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, every turn can reveal a new and breath-taking adventure. The pack ice becomes thicker the closer the ship gets to Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of close encounters with marine mammals. As late spring is the beginning of the Antarctic season, Silver Cloud will take you to seemingly untouched and never before visited sites.
Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day, attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, cruise amidst colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by your team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows you 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 the best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encountered. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Named after Nordenskjöld’s ship, this 30 mile long stretch of water at the north end of the Antarctic Peninsula offers some of the best tabular iceberg observations.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula:
Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-meter-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls, and Cape 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, Weddell seals may be seen basking in the sunlight. If conditions permit, a hike onto a nearby glacier might be possible.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel:
The island was discovered during de Gerlache’s Belgica expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice-admiral in the French navy. The large, bare rock areas near the shore provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins, but the penguins also look for exposed rocks on the slopes. Snow Petrels and Pintado Petrels may be seen, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. Depending on conditions a hike towards the top of the island for stunning panoramic views might be offered. During Zodiac tours, you may see hauled-out Weddell seals.
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 can actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. Close to the station Gentoo Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, Antarctic Terns, Kelp Gulls and skuas have all been seen nesting. Depending on the conditions, view the wildlife from sea level while cruising in Zodiacs or cruise the bay with Silver Cloud. 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 Minke whale.
The site is named after a whale factory ship, which often used this bay –and Neko Harbor still today offers good chances to see whales. A landing will provide an opportunity to see Gentoo Penguin rookeries and quite possibly Weddell seals and crabeater seals hauled out on the cobble beach. A hike to a lookout point will be a good exercise and will be rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier, Andvord Bay and the Gerlache Strait.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island:
The British built a listening station on Goudier Island during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s. Bransfield House was restored in 1996 and since then has acted as a museum and gift shop. The Antarctic Heritage Trust operates a post-office at the station, which is open during summer. Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam outside the museum and leopard seals often patrol the sea.
Deception Island is an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed when one section sank far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail into the caldera through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows and anchor in sight of the former whaling station and the former British Antarctic Survey station. The resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area and their importance for science, while the historian will discuss the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s. Conditions permitting, hike to Neptune’s Window for spectacular panoramic views.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the funneling effect of the mountain ridges and seafloor pushing winds and water eastwards. When Silver Cloud reaches the Antarctic Convergence, a fluid and fluctuating natural boundary where cold polar waters from the south meet warmer water moving southward, there is another good chance to see whales and seabirds as nutrients are pushed to the surface by the different currents.
Spend some time on deck watching Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmars, Cape Petrels and other seabirds gliding in the air currents of Silver Cloud’s wake.
There will be opportunities to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers, to edit the countless photos taken and to socialize with new friends as you travel north towards Ushuaia.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
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.
Photo Studio: Unique to Silver Cloud, the Photo Studio offers a vibrant, creatively inspiring space where you can not only master the art of digital photography with Masterclasses, but also offers an editing suite where you can print images using state-of-the-art equipment plus a dedicated photo manager.
Ship accommodation; most onboard meals (La Dame Restaurant excluded); butler service; kayaking; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; parka; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included Internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited Internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in La Dame (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at La Dame Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services of Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini (king penguins, hike), © Richard Sidey (waterfall, albatross, ice, seal)