Setting foot on the Antarctic Peninsula is a bucket list item for many but no one can really prepare themselves for this incredible experience. Enormous tabular icebergs that dwarf the ship will take your breath away. Close encounters with inquisitive penguins, playful seals and breaching whales, create a wildlife experience like no other. Pristine landscapes with crystal clear water and glacier rimmed peaks create a stunning backdrop for any photographer.
One of your toughest decisions will be which voyage to choose? Our advice is to seriously consider if your time and budget will stretch to a longer voyage that includes Antarctica as well as South Georgia. This beautiful island is often described as the most incredible wildlife show on earth as it is the breeding ground for King Penguins, seals and sea lions and home to the wandering albatross.
Making the choice as to which voyage, when, which ship or operator is where we help; unlike ship owners/operators we’re not obliged to sell the ships we own/operate – we offer independent expert advice and can match the best experience for you.
Glaciers, icebergs and bergy bits – the variety of colours, shapes and sizes are impossible to adequately describe. Each voyage will spend time Zodiac cruising among icebergs that are thousands of years old, some black, some blue, all amazing and a photographer’s dream.
The island is the flooded caldera of an active volcano and a narrow gap, known as Neptune’s Bellows, affords access into this natural harbour. The volcano, an abandoned whaling station, and an old airstrip are three of the interesting features of Deception Island. For those inclined there are some great hikes and, on a clear day, some stunning views.
Note: All sites in Antarctica allow a maximum 100 passengers ashore at one time (an IAATO regulation to minimise site impact). Ships with more than 100 guests will have some guests waiting whilst the others go ashore, once the first visitors return the other guests can go ashore.
Ice can sometimes block the entrance, particularly on early season voyages, please take a flexible attitude as the weather is something the captains don’t control.
Just 1600m wide at its narrowest point and hemmed by steep cliffs, this is an 11km-long strait between the Antarctic continent (Graham Land) and Booth Island with its 1000m-high peaks. The channel’s protected waters are often as still as a lake, a relatively rare occurrence in the Southern Ocean, and provide incredible photographic opportunities of nature at its best. The principal difficulty encountered is that icebergs may fill the channel, especially early in the season.
Penguins and seals are found in abundance on the Antarctic Peninsula. You will have the opportunity to view wildlife up close on shore landings. Inquisitive penguins often come over take a closer look at you. For some incredible photographs we recommend just finding a nice place to sit or lie down and capture images of penguins (Gentoo, Chinstrap & Adelie) and seals as they wonder past.
Note; it is unlikely that you will see King or Emperor penguins on Peninsula only voyages. There are small colonies of King penguins on the Falklands Islands and hundreds of thousands on South Georgia. Emperor penguins (like those see in March of the Penguins) are rarely seen, this species nests on sea ice – once that breaks up (mid November) they are difficult to find/see. Please call if you have particular wildlife interests.
Whales are present throughout the season – minke, humpback, sei, fin, orca and for the very lucky few, blue whales. Earlier in the season (November and December) they are more intent on feeding and often you will see dorsal fins, ‘blows’, or the tail flukes as they dive to feed. Later in the season, in late February and March, having ‘filled up’, they tend to be more inquisitive, perhaps ‘spy-hopping’ right beside your Zodiac. The Expedition vessel Akademik Ioffe offers a dedicated whale watching voyage ‘Marine Mammals of Antarctica’ in March each year.
Some sites don’t lend themselves to a physical landing or may be best seen from water level. Zodiacs (rubber inflatable boats) offer a safe way to explore and are an integral part of any day on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Note: Please ensure you are adequately dressed as it can get cold; waterproof pants are essential
Most ships offer kayaking (for an additional cost) for up to 20 guests. It’s an incredible way to gain a very different perspective, with expert guides and a Zodiac close enough to offer assistance, yet far enough away not to disrupt the tranquillity. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, whales will come to investigate but don’t worry as the guides will form the kayaks into a ‘raft’ and you will enjoy a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Due to limited numbers please request your kayaking at time of booking your voyage.
These luxurious ships combine more traditional-style ‘cruising’ with an Antarctic adventure. They offer large, very comfortable cabins with en-suite facilities and many have private balconies. The experienced expedition team enable you to explore the Antarctic Peninsula with Zodiac dinghies and come home to an exquisite ship with superior comfort and excellent cuisine options.
Expedition ships have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck. The expedition team works closely with the ship’s captain and crew to get you out exploring on the Zodiac dinghies and on shore as much as possible. Most voyages also offer kayaking and sometimes camping. Cabins are simple and comfortable, the food excellent. The ships are stable, fast and manoeuvrable.
These voyages utilise a flight from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island (the largest of the South Shetland Islands, close to the Antarctic Peninsula) or to Mount Pleasant airport on the Falkland Islands where you board the vessel allows guests to avoid lengthy sea crossings. These flights also allow for more time in destination and a visit to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia in a shorter period of time.