ANTARCTIC PENINSULA –
POLAR CIRCLE & WHALE WATCHING CRUISE
|1||Ushuaia||Embarkation as your adventure to the deep south begins|
|2-3||At Sea||Cross the Drake Passage as you journey towards Antarctica|
|4-9||Antarctica||Enjoy the Antarctic Peninsula and push further south as you attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle|
|10-11||At Sea||Re-cross the Drake Passage as you head back towards South America|
|12||Ushuaia||Disembark and farewell your new friends|
*Note: All itineraries and maps are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. The on-board expedition leader determines the final itinerary. Itineraries may mention places that require permission to land, which must be granted by the relevant national authorities. Such permission is not granted prior to the publishing of these itineraries. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
The Plancius accommodates up to 108 passengers in 53 passenger cabins all with private ammenitiies. Built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy she sailed for the Navy until 2004 when she was used as an expedition vessel. Completely rebuilt in 2009 and later upgrades in 2019, the complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations. Offering a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3, a spacious observation lounge with large windows and a bar on deck 5 and a library on deck 5there is no shortage of places to relax. There are large open deck spaces on the Plancius, especially on Deck 4 with full walk-around possibilities for optimal wildlife spotting and enjoying the scenery. The Plancius carries 10 Mark V zodiacs, with 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation. Whilst the Plancius is comfortable and well equipped, she is in no way a luxury vessel. The focus is in spending as much time on shore as possible with an exploratory educational travel programme with 8 highly knowledgeable expedition staff.
Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. Wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds you might see.
Options for Antarctic Peninsula activities are many, and no less great during the late summer. Humpback whales are prolific in this region, gorging themselves on krill before their migration north. The penguin chicks are also fledging, stirring up activity on the beaches while sleek leopard seals lie in wait, poised to attack the less fortunate ones.
Sites for your Antarctic adventures may include:
Livingston Island – Here you find a wide variety of gentoo and chinstrap penguins on Hannah Point, as well as southern giant petrels and elephant seals hauling out onto the beach.
Deception Island – Actually a subducted crater, this island opens into the sea and creates a natural harbor for the ship. Hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and multiple bird species – cape petrels, kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns – can be seen here. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
Cuverville Island – A small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island, Cuverville houses a large colony of gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of brown skuas.
Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks. You might also be able to set foot on the continent here.
Paradise Bay – You could take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales.
Pléneau & Petermann Islands – If the ice allows it, you may sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales as well as leopard seals.
Crystal Sound – Your journey takes you south along the Argentine Islands to this ice-packed body of water, and from here across the Polar Circle in the morning.
Detaille Island – You may make a landing at an abandoned British research station here, taking in the island’s lofty mountains and imposing glaciers.
Fish Islands – Further north you encounter one of the southernmost Adélie penguin and blue-eyed shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Melchior Islands – These islands offer a beautiful landscape rich with icebergs. Leopard seals, crabeater seals, and whales are found here, and there are excellent opportunities for kayaking and diving.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
While crossing the Drake, you will again be greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. Spend some time attending the educational program offered by the expedition team and sharing photos and stories with your fellow travellers.
Disembark following breakfast and join the group transfer to the airport. Alternatively you may wish to stay in Patagonia for a bit longer and explore.
To make the most of your time in South America we can tailor a holiday to Patagonia to suit your voyage dates. If you have a bit more time we can create a tailor-made itinerary to some of the highlights of South America. Take a look at the Patagonia sample itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.