|1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Transfer from airport, overnight hotel|
|2||Embarkation Ushuaia||Beagle Channel|
|3||At Sea||Towards the Falkland Islands|
|4 - 6||Falkland Islands||Five species of penguins, black-browed albatross, numerous bird species and dramatic Falklands scenery|
|7 & 8||At Sea||Southern Ocean|
|9 - 13||South Georgia||Millions of penguins, hundreds of thousands seals|
|14 & 15||Scotia Sea||Total Solar Eclipse|
|16 & 17||Southern Ocean||Albatross, prions, shearwaters and whales|
|18 - 20||Antarctic Peninsula||Gentoo, Adelie & chinstrap penguins, seals and dramatic scenery|
|21 & 22||Drake Passage||Sea Birds, onboard lectures|
|23||Disembark Ushuaia||Farewell your fellow expeditioners|
The Sea Spirit was built in Italy in 1991. She’s a very comfortable ice-strengthened, small (114 guests), all-suite expedition ship. The vessel was updated in late 2010 and had additional refurbishment in April 2017. All suites have private facilities and exterior views. Some of the suites feature private balconies for enjoying fantastic landscapes of Antarctica.
She has a fleet of ten rubber inflatable zodiac boats for landings, an experienced crew, and a set of retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing. This ship features an open bridge, 2 rear outdoor viewing areas, an outdoor viewing area at the front of the vessel, a bar, lounge, presentation room and dining area all lined with windows. There is also a gym on-board as well as a library and media centre.
Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of our expedition. Upon your arrival you are transfered to your hotel, which is included in the price of the voyage. For the rest of the day you are free to explore the city.
If you arrive early there is plenty to see and do in this fascinating city. Take a look at some of the hiking excursions available in Ushuaia here. Contact us to book additional accommodation and activities in Ushuaia to your itinerary.
In the afternoon take the group transfer to the pier. The expedition team will welcome you onboard your ship the M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Antarctic dreams coming true as the ship sets sail toward a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. Enjoy the scenery of the Beagle Channel and your first dinner onboard.
After transiting the Beagle Channel and passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, head northeast toward the Falkland Islands. Seabirds including the majestic wandering albatross are common in these waters and are a pleasure to watch as the glide past.
The remote and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. Here you will visit large colonies of penguins and albatross. The Falklands are also a great place to observe marine mammals. Fur seals and elephant seals can be found on sandy beaches while the waters around the archipelago are home to cetaceans such as Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins. The exact route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather among these isolated and windswept islands.
Visit the port of Stanley, the charmingly British capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, a cathedral with impressive whalebone arch outside, a war memorial, quality gift shops, pubs, and views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
The ship will head east toward South Georgia. On the way pass the Shag Rocks, remote seabird-covered pinnacles. You will cross the Antarctic Convergence which is a biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and lectures from the expedition team prepare you for our arrival in South Georgia.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. The route and exploration opportunities in South Georgia are heavily dependent on the weather conditions. Your experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant.The expedition team will take every safe opportunity to take you ashore in this amazing place.
South Georgia is a scenic wilderness and an unrivaled paradise for subantarctic wildlife viewing. The islands are said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels and terns. On beaches such as those at Salisbury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, over 100,000 elephant seals and three million fur seals jostle for space among innumerable penguins including stately king penguins and sprightly macaroni penguins. The recently completed rat eradication program is sure to make this wilderness even more pristine and rich with bird life.
The bountiful waters surrounding South Georgia are also inhabited by an increasing number of whales. The historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum managed by the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Grytviken is also the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton, the legendary polar explorer.
As the time of the eclipse nears, leave South Georgia and proceed southwest across the Scotia Sea toward Antarctica. The goal now is to get into perfect position for observing a total solar eclipse. To accomplish this remarkable feat, the captain will navigate the ship precisely onto the narrow path of totality—the relatively small area from which one can see the Sun’s light become totally obscured by the moon—at the precise time of the predicted eclipse.
Essentially, the ship will try to be positioned to meet the center of the moon’s shadow as it moves swiftly across the Scotia Sea during its rare and brief appearance in Antarctica. This may well bring you within sight of the Weddell Sea pack ice, adding a great polar ambiance to this amazing celestial event. With the advantage of sophisticated ice charts and meteorological forecasts, and a little luck, gather on deck in the early morning of Friday, December 4th, under clear skies to observe a total eclipse of the Antarctic sun in the most pristine wilderness on Earth.
After the mesmerizing spectacle of the solar eclipse, you will continue west toward the Antarctic Peninsula. Pelagic seabirds including the majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows and balconies. You may also encounter enormous tabular icebergs drifting north from the Weddell Sea.
The Antarctic Peninsula region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and some of Antarctica’s best wildlife viewing opportunities. Protected bays and narrow channels are surrounded by towering mountain peaks covered in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to a variety of whale and seal species. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large nesting colonies at special places on land. The area is also home to Antarctic research stations of various nationalities, some with a gift shop and post office.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first sighting of land. This wild and beautiful island chain contains numerous landing sites with abundant wildlife and historical significance. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from Shackleton’s famous Endurance expedition spent the winter.
Farther south, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the gorgeous Gerlache Strait area contains sheltered bays, accessible wildlife, and stunning scenery. Places with names like Paradise Bay are the epitome of everything Antarctic: glaciated mountains, towering icebergs, feeding whales, seals on ice floes, and bustling penguin colonies. At the southern end of Gerlache Strait is the famous Lemaire Channel, also known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the mountainous sides of the narrow channel are reflected in calm waters strewn with icebergs.
The wilderness of Antarctica is subject to unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which dictate your route and exploration opportunities. This is a real expedition. The expedition team will exploit every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, amazing scenery and excursions via Zodiac.
From Antarctica the ship will head north through the Drake Passage toward South America. Presentations and workshops by the expedition staff, as well as the range of onboard recreation facilities, ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. Enjoy the End of Voyage ceremonies including slideshow and farewell dinner.
After breakfast we say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, where the trip started. A group transfer to the airport or to the town center is provided. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!
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.