Head South… Really South!
Here's a trip for those with the heart and soul of a true explorer! Far south beyond the imaginary line of the Antarctic Circle (latitude 66° 33') is a great frozen zone of blue icebergs, gossamer pink light, shifting pack ice, and snowy mountains as far as the eye can see. This extreme southern latitude is truly one of the planet's last frontiers, a place few humans have traveled, and when you cross the Circle, you'll enter the ranks of an elite few—an occasion to be marked by a celebration!
Along the way to and from the circle, you'll travel along the breathtaking Antarctic Peninsula, taking time to explore and photograph many of its finest sights. Peninsula visits usually include places like the wildlife colonies at Paradise Bay, King George Island, and the enormously scenic Lemaire Channel, a narrow passage between sheer mountains.
Our ships feature a small fleet of kayaks for paddling options (weather and ice conditions permitting). We also feature an optional night of camping on the ice (weather permitting) on most departures. Great ways to enhance your adventure to Antarctica!
Easy ship travel, optional walks and Zodiac rides. (Optional sea kayaking and camping on select departures.)
- Head South - really south - to the Antarctic Circle! (an itinerary few companies offer)
- Our longest, most comprehensive trip on the Antarctic Peninsula
- An incredible wildlife experience—thousands of penguins (Adélie, chinstrap, gentoo), 5 kinds of seals, whales, and seabirds (including wandering albatross)
Duration: 14 days Start Location: Ushuaia, Argentina 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 enter the waters of the Drake Passage.
Days 2 - 3 : At sea, crossing the Drake Passage
Sail across the 620 miles of the Drake Passage, passing over the Antarctic Convergence. 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. The Drake Passage is noted as being some of the most treacherous water on the planet. Crossings can be rough, but are usually tolerable (seasickness medication helps!).
During the voyage, we’ll be entertained by numerous lectures, movies, and slide show presentations on what we’re about to experience. As we get closer to the Peninsula we will feel and see the change: the cool, fresh air; the huge, tabular icebergs; and the wandering albatross, cape petrels, and other birds that thrive in this cold, remote ocean. The first icebergs and the South Shetland Islands will appear on the horizon in the afternoon of Day 4.
Days 4 - 11 : Antarctic Peninsula & the Circle
Our itinerary for the next few days must necessarily be flexible. We usually head straight south to the Antarctic Circle, then work our way back up the Antarctic Peninsula, cruising among the islands and into the bays and channels, with Zodiac shore landings as part of the experience whenever possible. Anticipation builds as we sight our first iceberg. And when we cross the Circle, we celebrate with champagne! For the hardy, there’s a chance to take a polar plunge in the icy waters below the Circle.
Many factors play a role in shaping the expedition’s progress. After crossing the circle, 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 feel salt 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!
Without a doubt, this cruise offers some of Antarctica’s most dramatic scenery. Landing sites vary, of course, depending on the weather and other conditions, but our favorite places include the following:
King George Island (62° 10’S, 58° 30’W)
Admiralty Bay, on King George Island, is a favored feeding ground for humpback whales and, with luck, we may see them feeding on krill.
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 Storm Petrels, Kelp Gulls, Snowy Sheathbills, Antarctic Terns and Skua—all who share their territory with fur seals.
Livingston Island (62° 40’S, 61° 00’W)
Wildlife flourishes on Livingston Island—Weddell and elephant seals, skuas, giant petrels, Antarctic terns and rookeries of chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguins.
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 Bailey 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 Bailey Head.
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!
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.
Paulet Island (63° 35’S, 055° 47’W) South of Dundee Island
Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large rookery with hundreds of thousands of Adélie penguin pairs and their chicks. The island has a volcanic cone 1,158 feet high. The remains of the hut ofCaptain Carl Anton Larsen of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04 (Nordenskjöld) can be found here, constructed in 1903 when the party lost its ship, the “Antarctic,” 25 miles from the island. Twenty men wintered here, surviving on penguins and seals. A member of the expedition, Ole Wennersgaard, died on the island and was buried there. A cross marks the grave site.
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 westerncoast of Antarctica. However, the 6.8 miles may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway. South of the Lemaire Channel, we’ll hope to find clear conditions that will allow us to travel right down to theAntarctic Circle. Here too the scenery is extraordinary, and it’s particularly exciting to realize we’ve crossed the line into this remote stretch of southern sea. It’s a great feeling.
We also usually visit one or more research stations, possibly Frei (Chilean) and adjoining Bellingshausen (Russian), Arctowski (Polish), Vernadsky (Ukrainian), or Palmer Station (U.S.).
- Whaler’s Bay (62° 59’S, 060° 34’W)
Days 12 - 13 : At sea, crossing the Drake Passage
Homeward bound on the Drake Passage. 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 around Cape Horn on our way to Ushuaia (weather permitting), from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, and then celebrate with the Captain’s Dinner our last night in the calm waters of the Beagle Channel.
Day 14 : Ushuaia – fly home
We plan to arrive back in Ushuaia in the early morning. Our arrival is dramatic as dawn breaks over the town. The setting is spectacular, with sparkling mountains directly behind the city, and if it’s clear, we’ll see the higher peaks of Chile to the west. After breakfast on board the ship, transfer to the airport and fly home.
DATES: Best time to go: January - February Departures: Jan 9 - 22, 2015 IMPORTANT: This trip is 13-days long and actually ends on Jan 21!! Ship is the Akademik Ioffe. Jan 15 - 28, 2015 IMPORTANT: This trip is 13-days long and actually ends on Jan 27!! Ship is the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Feb 18, 2015 - Mar 3, 2015 This trip is 14-days long. Ship is the Akademik Ioffe. Jan 18 - 31, 2016 This trip is 14-days long. Ship is the Akademik Ioffe.
Winter 2014-2015 Prices (All prices are US$ per person)
Jan 9 & Jan 15 Voyages (13 days):
Feb 18 Voyage (14 days):
Winter 2015-2016 Prices (All prices are US$ per person)
EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT of $750 per person for Winter 2015/16 departures!
Jan 18, 2016 Voyage (14 days):
$795 Sea Kayaking program (Spaces are strictly limited and need to be reserved at time of booking!)
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).
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:
Andrew is the Managing Director of One Ocean Expeditions Inc. (our partner in the Polar Regions) and brings his passion for polar regions and their conservation into any discussion he can. An adventurer in his own right, Andrew is an accomplished ocean racing sailor. He led a team that won a race across the Atlantic Ocean in a 30-foot sailboat; he has sailed around Cape Horn in a Southern Ocean gale and competitively raced yachts and high performance dinghies all over the world. Andrew is also a published photographer and an avid snowboarder, spending his quiet time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Andrew grew up on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada and has brought his East Coast sense of humor with him all along the way. After earning a degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, he played a strategic planning role for a major Canadian player in the transportation industry. With around five years in the corporate world under his belt but searching for a life of meaning, Andrew decided to "run away to sea". What started as a three-month commitment to manage a ship transformed itself into a very successful entrepreneurial career in expedition cruising where he could apply his experience and his passion. With a reputation for innovation and attention to detail, Andrew has become well known in the expedition cruise industry for the high quality expedition cruise programs he develops. He is also noted for his attention to vital areas of safety and his commitment to environmental protection.