ANTARCTICA – POLAR CIRCLE, DEEP SOUTH DISCOVERY
|1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Set Sail, meet the expedition team|
|2 - 3||At Sea||Crossing the Drake Passage towards Antarctica|
|4 - 5||Antarctic Peninsula||Iceberg sculptures, carving glaciers, marine mammals|
|6 - 8||Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Circle||Sail the picturesque channel full of icebergs, spot whales|
|9 - 11||Crystal Sound, Antarctic Circle||Stunning Scenery, abundance of birdlife, leopard and crab-eater seals and whales|
|12 - 13||At Sea||Crossing the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia|
|14||Ushuaia, Argentina||After breakfast disembark for your onward journey|
The Ortelius was originally the Marina Svetaeva. Built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, it served as a special-purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. Later it was re-flagged and renamed after the Dutch/Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, who in 1570 published the first modern world atlas: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World. The Ortelius can accommodate 108 guests and has an abundance of open-deck spaces for watching wildlife and the impressive scenery as you sail past. She also has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) making her perfect for polar expeditions.
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 the Ortelius 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 will 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 Antarctic circumpolar current upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the bird 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.
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands.
The intended route for your Antarctic adventure includes:
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.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.
After a comfortable night of sailing, you wake among the many islands south of Lemaire Channel. You are now near the Antarctic Circle. At this point, a voyage through the aptly named Gullet – a narrow but picturesque channel between Adelaide Island and the Antarctic Continent is possible if the ice isn’t too dense. You can explore this area from the prow of the ship getting the closest possible contact with the polar terrain as you venture southward.
Along the way, possible visits may include:
Pourquoi Pas Island – You might circumnavigate this island, named after the ship of the famous French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot. This location is known for its tight fjords and lofty, glacier-crowded mountains.
Horseshoe Island – This is the location of the former British Base Y, a remnant of the 1950s that is now unmanned though still equipped with almost all the technology it had while in service.
Stonington Island – Home to the former US East Base and British Base E, which was occupied until 1975, this island marks the southernmost landing site of the trip – 68° south. If a landing here is possible, your road turns north again afterward, through the Gunnel Channel.
Hanusse Bay – Enjoy the scattered icebergs of this scenic bay, which offers a good chance of spotting whales.
You are near the Antarctic Circle again, cutting north through the countless ice floes of Crystal Sound. Humpback whale sightings are likely, and your approach to the Fish Islands offers the possibility of a Zodiac cruise or even a landing. Whatever the case, the views are beyond comparison in this area. There may also be more Adélie penguins congregating among the icebergs nearby. Petermann & Pléneau Islands provide a great variety of birdlife, along with possibilities for Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are highly popular among leopard and crab-eater seals. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins can also be found here.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.
Following breakfast you will disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
Please note: All itineraries 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.