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Antarctic Circle Voyage

From $10,895

  • Cruise against the backdrop of spectacular ice formations and soaring mountains in the world’s most vast and pristine wilderness
  • Head south, really south, to the Antarctic Circle on our longest and most comprehensive Antartic Peninsula itinerary
  • Observe an incredible parade of wildlife, including seals, whales, seabirds, and thousands of penguins
  • Navigate islands, bays, and channels by kayak and Zodiac boat—or maybe opt for a night of glacier camping!

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 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.

Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia and set sail

Be sure to arrive the day before boarding the ship so you'll have time to explore the charming Argentinian town of Ushuaia. Jagged mountains tower above Ushuaia’s small harbor, which is situated at the base of a stunning mountain range.

In the mid-afternoon, we'll gather for an orientation briefing, then transfer by bus to the dock for embarkation. 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'll begin our journey to Antarctica with a scenic sail through the Beagle Channel and enter the waters of the Drake Passage.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

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 many lectures, movies, and slide-show presentations on what we’re about to experience. As we get closer to the Peninsula, things begin to change. We'll feel a fresh cool air and see huge, tabular icebergs, soaring wandering albatrosses and cape petrels. The first icebergs and the South Shetland Islands will appear on the horizon in the afternoon of Day 4.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Days 4-11: Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and 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. 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.).

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 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° 02′S 58° 21′W)
Admiralty Bay, on King George Island, is a favored feeding ground for humpback whales. If we're lucky, we may see them feeding on krill.

Half Moon Island (62° 36’S, 59° 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 as early as 1821, and sealers were notorious for keeping the location of valuable sites secret). 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 whom 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 (62°58′S 60°39'W)
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 including Whaler's Bay and Baily Head.

Whaler’s Bay (62° 59’S, 60° 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.

Baily Head (62°58'S, 60° 30'W)
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 here.

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). Along the cliffs you can see nesting seabirds, and you might also see whales in the bay. One of the highlights is taking a Zodiac ride around fantastic ice sculptures. These “bergy bits” 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 icebergs—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, 62° 38’W) Errera Channel
We'll visit the peninsula's largest gentoo penguin colony—approximately 5,000 pairs nest here—situated on a rocky beach on the north end of Cuverville Island. Southern Giant Petrels, Kelp Gulls, and Antarctic Terns also breed on the island. We can also cruise by Zodiac or sea kayak among the large bergs, where you can sometimes see curious leopard seals checking you out and humpback whales feeding just offshore. Small coveys of gentoos sometimes swim by, their soft calls producing background music.

Paulet Island (63° 35’S, 55° 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. Here you'll also find the remains of the hut of Captain Carl Anton Larsen of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, constructed in 1903 when the party lost its ship. Twenty men wintered here, surviving on penguins and seals. The island's volcanic cone rises 1,158 feet.

Lemaire Channel (65° 4’S, 63° 54’W)
A cruise through a breathtakingly narrow channel, with mountain walls rising thousands of feet straight out of the water, 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.

South of the Lemaire Channel, we’ll hope to find clear conditions that will allow us to travel right down to the Antarctic Circle. The scenery is extraordinary, and it’s particularly exciting to realize we’ve crossed the line into this remote stretch of southern sea.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Days 12-13: At sea, crossing the Drake Passage

Homeward bound on the Drake Passage. On this final leg of our remarkable journey, we'll 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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Day 14: Return to Ushuaia and fly home

We'll 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, we'll transfer to the airport and fly home.

  • Breakfast

Jan 18 - 31, 2016 This trip is 14-days long. Ship is the Akademik Ioffe.

pricing

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:
$10,895   Triple Cabin with Shared Bath
$13,895 Twin Cabin with Semi-Private Bath
$14,595 Twin Cabin with Private Bath
$15,595 Superior Cabin with Private Bath
$16,195 Shackleton Suite
$17,995 One Ocean Suite
________________________________________________

$795 Sea Kayaking program (Spaces are strictly limited and need to be reserved at time of booking!)
Overnight Camping Option is Free

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).

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Expedition Ship

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.

Amenities

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.

  • Cruise against the backdrop of spectacular ice formations and soaring mountains in the world’s most vast and pristine wilderness
  • Head south, really south, to the Antarctic Circle on our longest and most comprehensive Antartic Peninsula itinerary
  • Observe an incredible parade of wildlife, including seals, whales, seabirds, and thousands of penguins
  • Navigate islands, bays, and channels by kayak and Zodiac boat—or maybe opt for a night of glacier camping!

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 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.

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia and set sail

Be sure to arrive the day before boarding the ship so you'll have time to explore the charming Argentinian town of Ushuaia. Jagged mountains tower above Ushuaia’s small harbor, which is situated at the base of a stunning mountain range.

In the mid-afternoon, we'll gather for an orientation briefing, then transfer by bus to the dock for embarkation. 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'll begin our journey to Antarctica with a scenic sail through the Beagle Channel and enter the waters of the Drake Passage.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

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 many lectures, movies, and slide-show presentations on what we’re about to experience. As we get closer to the Peninsula, things begin to change. We'll feel a fresh cool air and see huge, tabular icebergs, soaring wandering albatrosses and cape petrels. The first icebergs and the South Shetland Islands will appear on the horizon in the afternoon of Day 4.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Days 4-11: Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and 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. 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.).

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 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° 02′S 58° 21′W)
Admiralty Bay, on King George Island, is a favored feeding ground for humpback whales. If we're lucky, we may see them feeding on krill.

Half Moon Island (62° 36’S, 59° 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 as early as 1821, and sealers were notorious for keeping the location of valuable sites secret). 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 whom 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 (62°58′S 60°39'W)
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 including Whaler's Bay and Baily Head.

Whaler’s Bay (62° 59’S, 60° 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.

Baily Head (62°58'S, 60° 30'W)
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 here.

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). Along the cliffs you can see nesting seabirds, and you might also see whales in the bay. One of the highlights is taking a Zodiac ride around fantastic ice sculptures. These “bergy bits” 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 icebergs—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, 62° 38’W) Errera Channel
We'll visit the peninsula's largest gentoo penguin colony—approximately 5,000 pairs nest here—situated on a rocky beach on the north end of Cuverville Island. Southern Giant Petrels, Kelp Gulls, and Antarctic Terns also breed on the island. We can also cruise by Zodiac or sea kayak among the large bergs, where you can sometimes see curious leopard seals checking you out and humpback whales feeding just offshore. Small coveys of gentoos sometimes swim by, their soft calls producing background music.

Paulet Island (63° 35’S, 55° 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. Here you'll also find the remains of the hut of Captain Carl Anton Larsen of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, constructed in 1903 when the party lost its ship. Twenty men wintered here, surviving on penguins and seals. The island's volcanic cone rises 1,158 feet.

Lemaire Channel (65° 4’S, 63° 54’W)
A cruise through a breathtakingly narrow channel, with mountain walls rising thousands of feet straight out of the water, 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.

South of the Lemaire Channel, we’ll hope to find clear conditions that will allow us to travel right down to the Antarctic Circle. The scenery is extraordinary, and it’s particularly exciting to realize we’ve crossed the line into this remote stretch of southern sea.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Days 12-13: At sea, crossing the Drake Passage

Homeward bound on the Drake Passage. On this final leg of our remarkable journey, we'll 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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Expedition Ship

Day 14: Return to Ushuaia and fly home

We'll 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, we'll transfer to the airport and fly home.

  • Breakfast

Expedition Ship

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.

Amenities

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.

Dates and Pricing

Jan 18 - 31, 2016 This trip is 14-days long. Ship is the Akademik Ioffe.

pricing

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:
$10,895   Triple Cabin with Shared Bath
$13,895 Twin Cabin with Semi-Private Bath
$14,595 Twin Cabin with Private Bath
$15,595 Superior Cabin with Private Bath
$16,195 Shackleton Suite
$17,995 One Ocean Suite
________________________________________________

$795 Sea Kayaking program (Spaces are strictly limited and need to be reserved at time of booking!)
Overnight Camping Option is Free

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).

Select Trip Type Before Requesting Reservation

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