Our journey begins in Ushuaia where we will overnight in a hotel.
Morning is free to explore Ushuaia and the surrounding area, to do some last minute shopping, stroll around Ushuaia 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 10 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.
Day 3 - 4
Sea conditions in the Drake Passage can vary from dead calm (known as 'Drake Lake'), to rough and stormy (known as 'Drake Shake'). As you cross the Drake Passage our team of experts is out on deck to help you spot whales and identify seabirds. There is also a program of talks, covering the wildlife, the ice, and polar history. This prepares you for your adventure to the 'White Continent'. The excitement intensifies as you cross the Antarctic Convergence, where the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean meet the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You feel the change as the air gets cooler. Huge icebergs loom up against the horizon in increasing numbers, and Wandering albatrosses, petrels and other birds which thrive in this cold, remote ocean are frequently seen.
Day 5 - 8
After a couple of days at sea, we'll finally arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula. Expect icebergs to become a more common occurrence as we approach land and make our way along the western coast of the Peninsula. Possible landing sites include Melchiors, Wilhelmina Bay, Cuverville Island and Orne Harbour. Glaciers, penguin colonies and breaching Humpback whales will highlight our days, while friendly seals are plentiful in these waters. We can also expect to encounter what is arguably the most formidable Antarctic predator - the Leopard seal.
Day 9 - 11
Having sailed northwards along the Peninsula we will begin our passage through the Antarctic Sound. This stretch of water separates the western side of the Peninsula from the Weddell Sea and is known to be riddled with huge pieces of ice emanating from the Filchner- Ronne Ice Shelf. The on board team will educate in all things ice, as this sea is home to the world's most impressive floes and tabular icebergs - exponentially bigger and more visually impressive than on the other side of the Peninsula. Antarctic Sound itself offers great places for us to get ashore and stretch our legs at landing sites that are home to nesting Adélie and Gentoo penguins. Snow and Pintado petrels as well as Kelp gulls also call this area home. If we're able to visit Hope Bay, then we'll have the opportunity to visit the Argentine Research Station, Esperanza.
Once the ship passes through the Sound we'll find ourselves in Erebus and Terror Gulf. Here lies ice too large to enter the relative shelter of the sound. Dwarfed by the ice, we'll venture out by Zodiacs to cruise amongst the sea of ice giants. We will push southwards even further, with the goal of getting to Snow Hill Island. The wooden hut on Snow Hill Island was built in February 1902 by the main party of the Swedish South Polar Expedition led by Otto Nordenskjöld. This historic hut contains original objects from the expedition and functions as a living museum.
Our journey then turns northwards, with Paulet Island being one of our possible landings. The island is a 350 metre high volcanic cone that juts dramatically out of the sea and is a bird and seal paradise. Over 100,000 pairs of Adélie penguins breed here, along with Blue-eyed shags, Snowy sheathbills and Kelp gulls. Fur seals and Weddell seals haul out onshore, while Leopard seals often hunt offshore.
The South Shetlands will be sure to add variety to our voyage as our time spent in Antarctica comes to a close. Just north of the Peninsula, the South Shetlands offer landings where we can see the vegetation of Antarctica - tiny mosses, lichens and algae. This will be our last day to photograph the seals and penguins of Antarctica.
Day 13 - 14
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.