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Cruises

Quest for the Antarctic Circle

Antarctica

11 days

Summary

This creative voyage will allow you to reach the Antarctic Circle in just 11 days. On the way south, enjoy eight days of off-ship exploration visiting a large number of landing sites and cruising among the ice floes in our Zodiac boats, before reaching the Antarctic Circle in the vicinity of Detaille Island. Explore the coastline visiting several classic locations such as Petermann Island and the iceberg ‘graveyard’ at Pleneau Island. Transit the Lemaire Channel if ice conditions permit and make continental landings at Paradise Harbour or nearby Neko Harbour. Both locations offer outstanding hiking opportunities. Each day you will be able to explore on shore by foot, observing wildlife colonies, visiting historic huts and science bases, photographing icebergs and soaking up the incredible landscapes that surround us. The journey concludes with visits to a number of locations in the South Shetland Islands. From King George Island in Antarctica you will fly back to Punta Arenas in just two hours, saving more than two days crossing back to South America. For a relatively short voyage, this trip packs a serious punch and offers fantastic scenery, wildlife, historic and scientific interest.

Highlights

  • Explore the coastline visiting several classic locations such as Petermann Island and the iceberg ‘graveyard’ at Pleneau Island.
  • Transit the Lemaire Channel and make continental landings at Paradise Harbour or nearby Neko Harbour.
  • Explore on shore by foot, observing wildlife colonies, visiting historic huts and science bases, photographing icebergs and soaking up the incredible landscapes that surround you.
  • Visit the snowy landscape of King George Island, the largest in the South Shetlands group.
  • Keep a lookout for whales.
  • Large icebergs will be present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Punta Arenas/Cruise

Your journey commences this morning in Punta Arenas. Here you will board a 90-minute flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. On arrival you will be transferred to the pier. Stanley is home to 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a charming rural town in coastal Britain, with brightly coloured houses, flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral, and several local pubs. There will be time to explore the town before embarkation. Excitement is in the air as we cast off, bound for Antarctica, and the adventure of a lifetime.

Day 2 Cruise

Southern Ocean
This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day your onboard experts will give a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.

Day 3 Cruise

Southern Ocean
If you have good sailing conditions crossing to Antarctica, you may visit the very historic location of Elephant Island, a place central to the Shackleton story.
The explorers gave the island its name in commemoration of the elephant seals that lived on the shores of the island. You will be able to get advice from your photographer guide so you can take incredible pictures of these massive animals. You can interact with these elephant seals and explore the mountainous an ice-covered landscape. The island is uninhabited by humans but there are two shelters in the island designed as refuge and headquarters for the researchers working on the island.

Day 4 Cruise

King George Island
This morning, wake up to the snowy landscape of King George Island, the largest in the South Shetlands group. In the afternoon, continue your journey south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Strait. This is an important migration corridor for wildlife, keep a lookout for whales.

Day 5 Cruise

King George Island
Large icebergs will be present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs. By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view. Make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. This is a truly remarkable location, where you will often encounter large pods of humpback whales as you cruise in the Zodiacs.

Day 6 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Circle
This morning, spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery as you navigate south. You will pass through the ice strewn waters making your way towards the ultimate objective, the Antarctic Circle. Given favourable ice conditions, your first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound.

Day 7 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Circle
One of the most important sites in this area is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950’s. This region marks your turnaround point. Return in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. If the weather permits, visit a working scientific base to learn something of the important climate-related research happening here, and if the conditions allow, you will be able to camp overnight onshore, a truly memorable experience.

Day 8 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Circle
Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. The smallest of the Antarctic penguins, Adelies nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Massive icebergs run aground in the shallows and constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastical shapes. For many, a Zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.

Day 9 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula and Deception Island
Today, you will cruise to get to the Lemaire Channel on your way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing.

Day 10 Cruise

Antarctic Peninsula and Deception Island
Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. By morning you will arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, you will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is where Australian aviation pioneer, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour. This is another great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition.

Day 11 Cruise/Punta Arenas

King George Island and Punta Arenas.
This morning you will be transferred to the airstrip for the two-hour flight to Punta Arenas.

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