ANTARCTIC EXPLORER EXPRESS (FLY NORTH)
|Day at leisure
|Board the ship and cross the Beagle Channel
|3 & 4
|Cross the Drake and arrive at the South Shetland Islands
|5 - 7
|Experience the raw and unimaginable beauty of the white continent
|King George Island
|Flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas
|Itinerary ends in Punta Arenas
This purpose built expedition vessel, honours the highly accomplished marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer, Sylvia Earle and is the sister ship to the revolutionary Greg Mortimer. Accommodating on average 126 guests for each voyage, those lucky enough to experience an Antarctic journey on her can be assured of comfort and luxury coinciding with exploration and adventure. Besides the same revolutionary Ulstein X BOW hull design like her sister ship the Greg Mortimer, the Sylvia Earle features a distinctive Glass Atrium Lounge at the bow of the ship with a stunning panoramic view on both port and starboard side, Lecture theatre and lounge, a swimming pool and jacuzzi where you can admire impressive scenery while watching the world go by.
Arrive in Ushuaia, the Southernmost city in the world, where you’ll be met by an expedition representative and transferred to your downtown hotel. Enjoy rugged mountain scenery, lively cafes, restaurants and bars. You have the day at leisure to explore this interesting place.
This morning, prepare your luggage with your bag tags before checking out of your hotel. You will have free time before meeting back in the hotel lobby to commence a tour of Ushuaia. Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests.
On this half day introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the Old Prison Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4:00pm. After embarkation, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before your important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, gather on the deck to commence your adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
As you cross the infamous Drake Passage keep an eye out for seabirds and whales. Your expedition team will run an educational program to prepare you for your experience ahead. Eventually you will spot your first icebergs and you may be able to make your first landing on the South Shetland Islands. Enjoy the scenery of the Gerlache straight as you sail through.
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever. Once you arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are yours to explore, and you have a host of choices available to you. Because you are so far south, you will experience approximately 18 – 24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. You will generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of your favourite spots along the peninsula. While ashore, aim to stretch your legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow – covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice – speckled oceans below.
If you have chosen an optional activity, you’ll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting! In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea, and take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
As you approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to farewell Antarctica and your amazing adventure before boarding your flight (approximately one-and-a half-hours) to Punta Arenas, Chile. On arrival at the Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to the group hotel.
NOTE: King George Island is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote place on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required in order to take off and land safely. We apologise in advance if you experience any delays.
After breakfast, check out of your hotel. You may wish to extend your time in Patagonia or head to the airport for your homeward flight.