Our grandest Antarctic journey!
Our grandest Antarctic journey offers the many splendors of the Antarctic Peninsula plus two big bonuses: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The Falklands are one of the world's great wildlife meccas, home to more than six million macaroni penguins, millions of rockhopper penguins, and countless other sub-Antarctic species (not to mention 2,000 stalwart islanders).
Eight hundred miles southeast of the Falklands lies ice-crowned South Georgia Island, another oceanic oasis and the best place for close-up looks at vast numbers of stately king penguins. Spectacular South Georgia is also full of history. It's where Sir Ernest Shackleton and his party landed in 1916 after completing an 800-mile voyage across the wild Southern Ocean in a 22-foot whaleboat to seek rescue for the stranded men of his ship, the Endurance—probably the single greatest feat in the history of polar exploration.
Our ships feature a small fleet of kayaks for paddling options on most voyages (limited to 16 kayaks, needs to be reserved at time of booking). A perfect way to enhance your adventure!
Easy ship travel, optional walks and Zodiac rides, (optional sea kayaking on select departures)
- Our grandest Antarctica journey: Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula
- South Georgia: spectacular mountains, home to King Penguins, and historical sites of the Shackleton rescue
- Falkland Islands: nesting albatross, other species of penguins, and the cultural aspects of Port Stanley
- Antarctic Peninsula: stunning mountains, glaciers and icebergs, large colonies of Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, lots of seals and whales, research stations
Duration: 19 days Start Location: Ushuaia End Location: UshuaiaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Ushuaia: Board ship and set sail
Situated at the base of a stunning mountain range, jagged mountains tower above Ushuaia’s small harbor. Be sure to arrive the day before boarding the ship, so that this morning, you will have time to explore this charming town. In the mid-afternoon, gather for an orientation briefing. Afterwards, transfer by bus to the dock for embarkation in the late afternoon. Once on board, we’ll get together for introductions to the expedition team, learn a bit about the ship and its layout, talk about our itinerary, and participate in a safety and lifeboat drill. Then, with a glass of champagne in hand, we begin our journey to Antarctica with a scenic sail through the Beagle Channel, then turn northeast toward the Falkland Islands.
Day 2 : At sea
We will spend one day sailing to the Falkland Islands, truly one of the world’s great wildlife meccas. During the voyage, we’ll be entertained by numerous lectures, movies, and slide show presentations on what we’re about to experience.
Days 3 - 4 : Falkland Islands
Once in the Falklands, we’ll visit Westpoint Island, where rockhopper penguins and blackbrowed albatross nest in a natural amphitheater, and Carcass Island, where Magellanic penguins burrow in the tussock grass and flightless steamer ducks and tussock birds are just a few of the birds we’ll encounter. We’ll also disembark in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, where we’ll take time to visit this colorful little town, with its interesting museum, local shops, and quaint cottages and pubs—very reminiscent of an English village.
Days 5 - 7 : At sea
Sail to South Georgia, a spectacular mountainous island some 800 miles southeast of the Falklands. Along the way we will enjoy more lectures, slide shows, and movies in the conference room. We’ll pass over the Antarctic Convergence on this leg of our journey; here the cold waters of the Antarctic meet the warmer seas of the Atlantic, and the surfacing nutrients attract a variety of species of seabirds and whales. Of course, there will be ample time to scan the seascape from the top deck in search of marine mammals and seabirds. We’ll also notice a dramatic drop in temperature as we continue to sail further South.
Days 8 - 10 : South Georgia
We spend the next few days exploring the beautiful island of South Georgia. The towering, snow-covered mountains and glaciers are truly magnificent to behold. We’ll cruise the more protected eastern coast of the island, seeking out suitable landing spots as variable ice and weather conditions permit.
Our stops may include the Salisbury Plain, where colorful king penguins crowd the beaches in numbers that are simply astonishing—hundreds of thousands of adult penguins and their young literally carpet the vast area. We also hope to visit St. Andrews Bay, where another 75,000 pairs of king penguins nest. On Albatross Island we’ll (not surprisingly) find wandering albatrosses on their nests. We’ll also visit Grytviken, the center of whaling operations for the world until 1965. It was founded in 1904 by Carl Anton Larsen, captain of the Antarctic, the sailing vessel used in the ill-fated Nordenskjold Swedish South Pole Expedition. We may explore the abandoned whaling factories, hike the beaches in search of elephant seals, and walk over to the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the greatest Antarctic explorers of all time. Everywhere albatross, skuas, and giant petrels wheel overhead, and fur seals are found in good numbers along the shore or frolicking in the water.
Days 11 - 12 : At sea & South Orkney
Cross the Scotia Sea to the southwest toward the Antarctic Peninsula. Time and weather permitting, we may visit South Orkney en route (the islands arelocated 420 miles southwest of South Georgia). The islands played an active role in sealing and whaling operations until the 1930s, when the decline in whales forced commercial whaling to end.
Days 13 - 16 : South Shetland Islands & the Antarctic Peninsula
En route to the South Shetland Islands, we may stop at Elephant Island, ship’s progress and weather conditions permitting. It’s from this island that Shackleton set out for South Georgia on his quest to seek rescue for the men of his stranded ship. Continue on to the South Shetland Islands and into the bays and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula. Zodiac shore landings are part of the experience whenever possible.
Many factors play a role in shaping the expedition’s progress. Our goal is to give you the best possible active experience based on prevailing wind, weather, and ice conditions. We attempt to leave the ship to explore at least twice a day. Perhaps you’ll feelsalt spray on your face as the Zodiac weaves in and around grounded icebergs, or you could scramble to the top of a craggy hill for an unforgettable view of an icy chasm. Over the course of the austral spring and summer, the sun lingers longer and longer, melting snow and ice. Wildlife grows in abundance: chicks hatch and fledge, and pods of whales breach in a deep bay where a calving iceberg has churned up krill, the local delicacy. The natural cycle of life ensures that every expedition is different. And that every expedition is full of surprises!
Landing sites vary, of course, depending on the weather and other conditions, but our favorite places include the following:
Half Moon Island (62° 36’S, 059° 55’W) East side of Livingston Island
Right in the heart of the South Shetland Islands, the crescent-shaped Half Moon Island is located in a protected passage between Greenwich and Roberts Islands. The island was known to sealers, if no one else, as early as 1821 (sealers were notorious for keeping secret the location of valuable sites). Spectacular mountains tower all around the island, and many Antarctic birds breed here—including a colony of Chinstrap Penguins, in addition to blue eyed shags, Wilson’s Stormpetrels, Kelp Gulls, Snowy Sheathbills, Antarctic Terns and Skua—all who share their territory with fur seals.
Deception Island is one of the few flooded volcanic calderas in the world that large ships may sail into and anchor. There are numerous anchorages within the caldera:
Whaler’s Bay(62° 59’S, 060° 34’W)
To reach Whaler’s Bay it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931. We can explore rusting remains of abandoned whaling operations along on the beach, hike up volcanic slopes to view volcanic lakes, and even bathe in steaming thermal waters along the shore if the conditions are right.
On the outside of Deception Island is Baily Head, where more than 100,000 chinstrap penguins pairs make their home, sometimes nesting nearly to the top of the crater rim itself. Because of the steep black sand beach, sea conditions must be just right for safe landings at Baily Head.
Elephant Island (61° 03’S, 54°50’W)v En route to the South Shetland Islands, we may stop at Elephant Island, ship’s progress and weather conditions permitting. It is from this island that Sir Ernest Shackleton set out for South Georgia in April of 1916, on his quest to seek rescue for the men of his stranded ship, the “Endurance.” A bust of Luis Pardo Villalon, commander of the Chilean Navy cutter “Yelcho,” resides on the shore, commemorating his rescue of Shackleton’s 22 crew members 4 months later, in the depth of the austral winter.
Paradise Bay (64° 53’S, 62° 52’W)
Its name is appropriate, as it is one of the Antarctic Peninsula’s best known scenic locations! Here we can make a landing on the continent itself, and enjoy panoramic views from the top of a hill (and have fun sliding back down!). There is also great Zodiac cruising along the cliffs to see nesting seabirds, and whales are often seen in the bay. One of the highlights is taking a Zodiac ride around fantastic ice sculptures—“bergy bits” that have broken off of icebergs and been sculpted by wind and water into amazing shapes, with deep blue inner cores and turquoise bases. It is a spectacular place for viewing and photographing the surrounding glaciers and ice bergs—from the shore, ship, and Zodiac!
Neko Harbor (64° 50’S, 062° 33’W)
Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae used by the resident Gentoo Penguins as shelter from the wind. There is an unmanned refuge hut erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier rimmed harbor.
Orne Harbor (64° 37’S, 62° 32’W)
A steep climb to the summit of Orne Island, located on the east side of the Gerlache Strait, provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the strait and the surrounding islands and mountains. Some chinstrap penguins nest at the very top! These are the “mountain climbers” of the penguin world, preferring a “room with a view” from the top of the cliffs.
Cuverville Island (64° 41’S, 062° 38’W) Errera Channel
We visit the largest gentoo penguin colony on the peninsula at Cuverville (approximately 20,000 nest here!), situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach that extends to a steep cliff that absorbs the summer sun. A Scott Polar Institute research group monitored the impact of tourism on the penguins for three years; the study ended in February 1995. Southern Giant Petrels, Kelp Gulls, and Antarctic Terns also breed on the island. We can also cruise by Zodiac (and sea kayak) among the large bergs; we sometimes see humpback whales feeding just offshore, and curious leopard seals check us out in the Zodiacs. Small coveys of gentoos sometimes swim by, their soft calls producing background music to the setting.
Lemaire Channel (65° 03’ 364”S, 063° 55’ 140”W)
A cruise through a breathtaking narrow channel—often choked with ice—with mountain walls rising thousands of feet straight out of the water (it’s nicknamed “Kodak Alley”) is one of the highlights of a trip to Antarctica. Minkes, humpbacks, and orcas are occasionally spotted, and leopard and crabeater seals sometimes frequent the ice floes.This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the most scenic locations on the western coast of Antarctica. However, the 6.8 miles may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway.
We also usually visit one or more research stations, possibly Frei (Chilean) and adjoining Bellingshausen (Russian), Arctowski (Polish), or Vernadsky (Ukrainian).
- Whaler’s Bay(62° 59’S, 060° 34’W)
Days 17 - 18 : At sea, crossing the Drake Passage
Sail across the 620 miles of the Drake Passage, passing back over the Antarctic Convergence. The Drake Passage is noted as being some of the most treacherous stretch of water on the planet. Crossings can be rough, but are usually tolerable (Dramamine helps!). On this final leg of our remarkable journey, we relax and review our adventures, as well as keep a watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Near the end of our journey, we’ll sail past Cape Horn on our way to Ushuaia, weather permitting.
Day 19 : Ushuaia – fly home
We plan to arrive back in Ushuaia in the early morning. After breakfast on board the ship, transfer to the airport and fly home.
DATES: Best time to go: January - February, November - December Departures: Nov 3 - 21, 2014 On board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Only very limited availability left. Please call for details! Nov 20, 2014 - Dec 8, 2014 Photography Symposium. On board the Akademik Ioffe. Only very limited availability left. Please call for details! Dec 28, 2014 - Jan 15, 2015 SOLD OUT Jan 31, 2015 - Feb 18, 2015 On board the Akademik Ioffe. Only very limited availability left. Please call for details! Feb 6 - 24, 2015 On board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Only very limited availability left. Please call for details! Oct 23, 2015 - Nov 10, 2015 On board the Akademik Ioffe. Nov 22, 2015 - Dec 10, 2015 Photography Symposium. On board the Akademik Ioffe. Dec 30, 2015 - Jan 17, 2016 IMPORTANT: This trip is 20-days long and actually ends on Jan 18!! On board the Akademik Ioffe.
Winter 2014-2015 Prices (all prices are US$ per person)
Nov 3 & Nov 20 departures (19 days):
$11,995 Triple Cabin with Shared Bath
Dec 28, Jan 31, Feb 6 departures (19 days):
Winter 2015-2016 Prices (all prices are US$ per person)
EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT of $750 per person for Winter 2015/16 departures!
Oct 23 & Nov 22 departures (19 days):
$12,695 Triple Cabin with Shared Bath
Dec 30 departure (20 days):
Single Supplement is 1.5 times the Twin cabin price or 2 times the Suite price (singles cannot take over a Triple Cabin). If you are willing to share with a roommate of the same gender, we will waive the single supplement fee (even if no roommate is found).
$795 Sea Kayaking program (Spaces are strictly limited and need to be reserved at time of booking!)
The sister ships Akademik Sergey Vavilov (92 passengers) and Akademik Ioffe (96 passengers) are modern and comfortable. Scandinavian-built for the Russian Academy of Science, these sister ships were designed to travel quietly during hydro-acoustic research. The ships are maneuverable and yet exceptionally stable, due to external stabilizers and a built-in trimming system. They feature an ice-strengthened hull and a cruising speed in open water of 14.5 knots. These expedition ships are designed for polar adventure trips in Antarctica and the Arctic.
From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, the public spaces are ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge, as well as a library, provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.
The ship’s bridge is open to passengers virtually 24-hours a day. The chart room is a fascinating place to visit and expedition staff or ship’s crew are often available to answer questions about the equipment and instruments found on the bridge. In addition, the bridge is an excellent place to view wildlife from. Binoculars and wildlife identification guidebooks are available.
One dining room with unreserved seating.
Theatre-style presentation room.
Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits.
Library with a collection of polar-themed books.
Ship-to-shore communications via satellite.
Clinic with licensed doctor.
Gym, sauna and swimming pool.
Elevator between passenger deck levels and to the Bridge level.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way. These trips may be led by:
Aaron Lawton developed the Polar program for One Ocean Expeditions (our partner in the Polar Regions), bringing a strong commitment to conservation in the Polar Regions to his work in operations development. An avid paddler, Aaron has been paddling or rowing some form of human-powered boat for most of his life. His experience encompasses wilderness guiding and instruction by canoe and sea kayak, varsity rowing and most recently a passion for Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe racing. Thousands of miles on the water have given him an appreciation and awareness for the subtle changes in the ocean due to local weather and global climate patterns. Aaron is truly Canadian having lived in the mountains of the Yukon Territory, among the wheat fields of Manitoba, in the orchards of Southern Ontario and along the briny coast of Nova Scotia, all by the ripe old age of twelve. Continuing this passion for new places, Aaron has worked in the outdoor industry on six of the seven continents. Over the last decade, Aaron has been expedition leader or kayak guide on about a hundred trips to the Canadian Arctic, the Antarctic Peninsula and Svalbard. In 2001, Aaron and his wife Cathy embarked on a 10-night unassisted sea kayak expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula. Aaron holds a degree in forestry from the University of British Columbia. This has led to a real appreciation for and understanding of ecology and the connectivity of ecosystems.