The morning is free to explore Ushuaia and the surrounding area, to do some last minute shopping, stroll around the town and down to the port or maybe go for a walk in the nearby national park. The transfer to the ship takes place in the afternoon. Once on board there is a get together for introductions to the expedition team, to learn about the ship and its layout, talk about the itinerary for the next 18 days and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. Departure from Ushuaia is normally around 6:00 p.m, and we set sail through the Beagle Channel in the early evening. The long days mean plenty of evening light in which to experience the beauty of the channel, and to perhaps enjoy your first wildlife sightings.
We sail in a north-easterly direction, enjoying a series of presentations that prepare you for the coming adventure. On deck the first sightings of albatross and petrels add to the sense of excitement.
Day 3 - 4
The rugged and remote Falkland archipelago contains two main islands - East and West, which we will explore by Zodiac excursions and daily landings. One landing that will surely stick out in memory is at Port Stanley. This unique British outpost has a ramshackle charm to it. The largest settlement in the Falklands, we'll spend a day here visiting churches, museums, wandering around town and perhaps mingling with locals at a typical British pub.
In terms of wildlife, the archipelago is home to a variety of penguin species, including Magellanic, Gentoo and Rockhopper. If lucky, we may spot King Penguins here as well! We can also expect to see Black-browed albatross and many other bird species around the islands, including an opportunity to see the two endemic species: Cobb's wren and the Falklands flightless Steamer duck. Our team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna in order to get the most of a memorable time in the Falklands.
Day 5 - 6
Sailing south, we'll enter Antarctic waters by crossing the invisible biological boundary unique to Antarctica - the Antarctic Convergence. Encircling the continent, cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet and mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, creating the abundance of krill and microscopic marine life that attracts whales and other species to this part of the world. Ship staff will be sure to keep you posted when we cross this invisible, yet important line.
Day 7 - 9
Reaching South Georgia you observe towering, snow-covered mountains and glaciers when conditions are clear. South Georgia is the most mountainous of the many islands of the Southern Ocean and is a spectacular sight. We will cruise the more protected eastern coast of the island, seeking out suitable landing spots as conditions permit. We hope to get ashore at Salisbury Plain where colourful King penguins crowd the beaches in numbers that will leave you spellbound. The vast area is covered in a sea of birds: of adults and their young in hundreds of thousands. Another 75,000 pairs of King penguins nest at St Andrews Bay. Everywhere, albatross, skuas and Giant petrels wheel overhead, whilst Fur seals are found in good numbers along the shore or are seen frolicking in the water. At Grytviken, you visit the old whaling station, and the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, undoubtedly one of the greatest of the Antarctic explorers.
Day 10 - 12
En route to the South Shetland Islands there is sometimes the chance to visit Elephant Island, depending on the ship's progress and the weather. It is from this island that Sir Ernest Shackleton set out for South Georgia in a small boat in 1916, undertaking one of the most remarkable sailing journeys of all time and returning 132 days later to rescue his men.
Day 13 - 16
The most common reaction to arriving at the white continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words, as few places are as untouched, unique and enduring as Antarctica. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you'll be overcome with a feeling of complete desolation and silence, at the next moment you'll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into the brilliant blue sea or a penguin comes waddling by to inspect your footwear.
Guided hikes with the Expedition Team will have us trekking up a glacier, visiting a research station, or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie penguins are found here, along with Fur, Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seals. Curious whales, such as Minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs as well, giving us a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain us.
Day 17 - 18
Leaving the Antarctic Peninsula overnight our ship heads back across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage. The crossing is completed with the rounding of Cape Horn, weather permitting.
In the early morning you arrive back in Ushuaia where your voyage ends. You are transferred either to town on to the airport for your onward flight to Buenos Aires.
Please note: The itinerary above is the shortest itinerary offered; the departures with a longer duration spend the extra extra time along the Antarctic Peninsula or South Georgia.