|Day 1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Embark in Ushuaia|
|Day 2-3||At Sea||Sea birds, onboard lectures|
|Day 4-9||Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula||Penguin Island, Turret Point, adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls, Antarctic turns|
|Day 10||South Shetland Islands||Deception Island, Half Moon Island|
|Day 11||King George Island||Disembark at King George Island. Short flight to Punta Arenas, Chile|
|Day 12||Punta Arenas, Chile||After breakfast the itinerary ends|
Akademik Sergey Vavilov was built in Rauma, Finland in 1988 and was designed for polar research. With extensive upgrades and expansions, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov is safe and ice-strengthened, and is now a modern, comfortable and very spacious Expedition style cruise ship. With a maximum of 92 guests (with room for more) everyone can go ashore at one time.
Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark on your expedition ship. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Sailing south towards Antarctica you will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations you may visit in the coming days.
Awaken today to the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. Even the experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica. The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. You will encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
The activity program will be in full swing and you get to choose how your adventure unfolds. Every day an exciting range of activities are planned; including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides, as well as Zodiac cruising. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice, searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity.
Meanwhile, the sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. The resident photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, watching the penguins come and go from the water. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.
Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula may include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands and Fournier Bay – or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity.
It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that you may spend a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. The ship has all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and is never guaranteed it on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, rest assured, the team will always go for it. Camping is included, and you can decide to participate while onboard. There is no need to pre-book.
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around as you explore the old whaling station and airport hangar. There are several superb hikes and an opportunity for a swim – the ‘Polar Plunge!’ Head north-east, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is always a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in this vicinity including Half Moon Island and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour where you may encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship’s Captain, cruising towards King George Island.
This morning you are anchored off King George Island. It is time to say farewell to your crew and transfer ashore by Zodiac and, time permitting, you can explore the surrounding area. There are several important scientific bases here including Chile’s Frei Station and Bellingshausen Station. You are transferred to the airstrip for the 2-hour flight to Punta Arenas airport in southern Chile (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is an interesting city – and also the gateway to the magnificent region of Patagonia. There are many cozy restaurants, cafe’s and bars for you to try.
After a leisurely breakfast check out of your hotel. This is where your trip ends. Either make your way to the airport or extend your stay in Punta Arenas.