Experience Antarctica in the company of Kings and Emperors!
Antarctica is the last wild, unspoiled place on earth, the largest, purest wilderness we know, the only continent that has been almost free of human contact since the beginning of time. It is a realm whose beauty is so spectacular and otherworldly that it often leaves visitors speechless.
Sailing in comfort aboard the comfortable and well-appointed Akademik Ioffe, we begin this 12-night expedition at the tip of South America. We chart a course across the Drake Passage and make our first landfall in the South Shetland Islands on our way to the Weddell Sea – the ice-choked sea made famous by the epic saga of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men from the Imperial Trans- Antarctic Expedition. The area is part of the realm of the Emperor penguin and we wil spend a few days among the islands of the Weddell Sea's western shores in search of them. Images of massive tabular icebergs and ice-choked waters also come to mind when contemplating the Weddell Sea - all sights that we hope to see and experience over the course of our expedition cruise.
We will push for Paulet Island, home to one of the Peninsula’s largest penguin rookeries, before heading south to Snow Hill Island, the base for the Heroic Age’s Nordenskjold expedition and Seymour Island, where scientists are still searching for fossils of giant penguins.
Aboard a small, maneuverable ice-class expedition ship and in the company of a team of expert naturalist guides, you'll journey south to the "last continent" for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that may change your life forever.
Easy ship travel, optional walks and Zodiac excursions. (Optional sea kayaking and camping)
- On this unique voyage, you cruise in search of two of the most eye-catching of all penguin species – emperors and kings
- Visit the Weddell Sea, home to adelie and emperor penguins, plus spectacular tabular icebergs
- Get up close with penguins and other wildlife on daily zodiac excursions and shore landings
- Trace the fascinating history of early polar exploration as we explore areas visited during Shackleton's legendary Endurance expedition
- Explore the Falkland Islands, home to a wealth of wildlife experiences, including rockhopper, gentoo, Magellanic and king penguins.
Duration: 13 days Start Location: Ushuaia, Argentina End Location: Ushuaia, ArgentinaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Ushuaia. Board ship and set sail
Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the Akademik Ioffe in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with ‘our home’ for the next 12- days we cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
Days 2 - 3 : Drake Passage
Crossing the Drake Passage, there is excitement in the air as we make our way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as our numerous Polar experts prepare us for our adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife and exploration history to glaciers and ice. Eventually, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence where we will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, we will witness many spectacular sights, from icebergs to an array of seabirds and maybe even whale and dolphin sightings.
Day 4 : South Shetland Islands
We make our first landfall in the South Shetland Islands, a chain of islands known for their more maritime climate and abundance of wildlife. We will cruise these volcanic islands in search of chinstrap penguin rookeries, perhaps the wafting ‘steam’ of a southern elephant seal wallow or the signs of exploration left on the beaches in the form of tri-pots and abandoned whaling stations. Weather permitting we hope to visit Deception Island with a goal of visiting the chinstrap penguin rookery at Bailey Head. If weather precludes this we will attempt a landing inside this active volcanic caldera. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge.
Days 5 - 7 : Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, the Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As we sail into the sound, we will look to our starboard and the vastness of the Antarctic icecap, imagining the sweeping Katabatic (gravity-driven) winds that this region is famous for.
As we sail through the sound and into the Weddell Sea, the only difference discernable will be an increase in the number of large tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. Our goal will be to explore the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands. In particular this region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of astonishing size. We will maximize our time onshore as well as in our inflatable landing craft, absorbing as much of the wilderness and beauty as possible. Planned excursions may include Paulet Island, Brown Bluff and even the southerly Snow Hill Island, where we will observe Weddell and elephant seals and other seabirds as well as a shocking abundance of penguins.
One of our excursions will be planned with the aim of landing on the physical continent of Antarctica itself and not just on an offshore island. There are a few landing spots that will fall into this category and, as we visit them, some of us may pause to consider the bravery and/or foolhardiness of those who traveled a hundred years before us. To gain a better appreciation of those explorers, some of us may choose to camp ashore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether onboard or from shore, expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet
Day 8 : Elephant Island
As we approach Elephant Island by ship, we will marvel at the incredible hardiness of the men of the Endurance expedition who sailed small boats to Elephant Island from the ice edge.Here, we will learn more about the famous Antarctic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea close to 100 years ago. Following the loss of their ship the 28 exhausted men reached Elephant Island after a harrowing ordeal on drifting ice floes. They established a camp at a place they called Point Wild, named after Frank Wild, Shackleton’s second in command and the boss of the camp at Elephant Island.
We will attempt a landing at this notoriously challenging landing site before continuing North to the Falkland Islands.
Days 9 - 10 : At sea
While sailing across to the Falkland Islands our onboard polar experts will recap on our Weddell Sea adventures and prepare us for the day ahead. These days at sea are never dull. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals as well as seabirds. Our friendly onboard experts continue to fill minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica.
Day 11 : West Point & Saunders
We will explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falklands Archipelago. West Point is known for its bustling rookeries of rockhopper penguins while Saunders Island has four species of breeding penguin including gentoo, Magellanic, rockhopper and our goal for the Falkland Island visit, the King penguin.
Day 12 : At sea
As we leave this magical place and make our way back towards Ushuaia we have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing up the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner.
Day 13 : Ushuaia
In the early morning, we will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.
DATES: Best time to go: December Departures: Dec 28, 2014 - Jan 9, 2015
(All prices are per person and in US$)
$9,295 Triple Cabin with Shared Bath
$795 for Optional Sea Kayaking (space is limited, needs 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 Triple Cabins). If you are willing to share a cabin, we will match you up with a roommate and waive the single supplement fee.
Designed for polar research, the Akademik Ioffe is modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, we have public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.
Enjoy the sumptuous meals prepared for you by our culinary team in our dining room, which can host all clients in a single seating with ample room.
Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, sauna and plunge pool.
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.