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Journey Below the Antarctic Circle

Itinerary
Dates & Rates

This journey take us further south than at any other time in the season. We witness expansive landscapes, sizable Adelie penguin rookeries and we hope to see the large tabular icebergs that have drifted north from the Bellingshausen Sea. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation on this expedition. With favorable weather and ice conditions we hope to reach our objective - Detaille Island. This is a spectacular location. The snowy peaks which surround us, soar more than 2,000 meters above the ice-strewn waters. We aim to cross 66⁰degrees, 33’ minutes South of latitude, which officially marks the position of the Antarctic Circle on the global map. We then return north, along the heavily glaciated coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, passing through the Argentine, Fish and Yalour Island archipelagos along the way and into the Gerlache Strait region. 

Our program of off-ship excursions is well underway and there is an exciting selection of activities to choose from – including short or long hikes ashore, visits to historic points of interest and wildlife colonies, zodiac cruising looking for whales and seals or simply photographing the incredible icebergs. Such activities are enjoyed in the company of our onboard team of wilderness guides, naturalists, marine biologists, historians and photographers. For those with an adventurous streak why not spend a night ashore camping like the early Antarctic explorers? 

Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina - Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point, transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.  

Days 2 - 3: Drake Passage - At Sea towards Antarctica - Sailing south towards Antarctica we will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross, who we come to know well on this journey. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we aim to visit in the coming days.   

Days 4 - 7: Antarctic Circle and lower Antarctic Peninsula - Seeing the continent for the first time will take your breath away. Given favorable ice conditions, our first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favored landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut. ‘Base W’ was established in the 1950’s and is in a remarkable state of preservation. For the history buffs this is a fascinating place, providing a glimpse into the harsh life of early Antarctic visitors. Further exploration this far south is highly dependent on optimal weather and ice conditions. If conditions allow, we may push even further to the south. 

This vicinity marks our turnaround point and from now on, we cruise in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several locations in the Fish and Argentine Island archipelagos which allow for zodiac cruising and potential shore landings. We hope to visit a working scientific base to learn of the important climate-related research happening here. A hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island allows us to stretch our legs and explore the old British Antarctic Survey hut. 

Petermann Island is home to a sizable Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the Lemaire Channel. Nearby Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, in the shallow waters of the Penola Strait, massive icebergs run aground. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you could ever imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here will be a highlight of the voyage. 

Days 8 - 10: Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula exploration - We aim to transit the Lemaire Channel on our way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage. The good news is, our adventure is not over and we still have several days of exciting exploration ahead. 

Orne Harbour is another celebrated location we hope to visit and the hike up to a rocky knoll provides excellent access to a chinstrap penguin rookery. At Cuverville Island, there is a large Gentoo penguin colony which we observe at close quarters. Leopard seals are often sighted cruising the shallows along the landing site. For the kayakers, a full circumnavigation of the island is a real thrill. It is in this vicinity we hope to spend a night ashore camping for those interested, if weather conditions permit. We have all the gear and an expert team of guides to make this unique experience happen. 

We are now at our most northern point on the Peninsula. Visits to Mikkelson Harbour and nearby Cierva Cove round out what has been a comprehensive exploration of the Gerlache coastline. Tonight, leaving the continent in the soft twilight, we reflect on an incredible week of exploration.

Days 11: South Shetland Islands, Antarctica - Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, we arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if conditions allow, we aim to sail the ship into the sunken volcanic caldera at Deception Island, or visit nearby Half Moon Island, home to a sizeable colony of rowdy chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. The MacFarlane Strait is a good place to spot humpback whales. In the early evening, we push into the Drake Passage and chart a course back to South America.  

Days 12 - 13: Drake Passage – return to South America - As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship. 

Days 14: Ushuaia, Argentina - In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia. 

About our Itinerary: Polar exploration can be unpredictable, which regularly causes variations to our itineraries. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a 'guide only' and may change. The ship's Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may block out a planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship. 

Itinerary details

Voyage:
Journey Below the Antarctic Circle
Duration:
13 nights / 14 days
Start:
Ushuaia, Argentina
Finish:
Ushuaia, Argentina
Vessel:
Akademik Ioffe

Dates & Rates

Dates & Rates Cabins (all Prices in US$ Dollar)
Date Triple Share Twin Semi
Private
Twin Private Superior Shackleton
Suite
One Ocean
Suite
Start Jan 15, 2017
End Jan 28, 2017
(K H C P E Y W)
11,195 14,295 15,095 16,095 16,995 18,995

P = Photography.
C = Camping.
E = Enhanced Photography.
H = Hiking.
Y = Yoga.
K = Kayaking.
S = Snowshoeing.
ST = Ski Touring.
W = Whale watching.
LC = Represents a lower probability for camping.

DETAILS FOR SPECIAL ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES ON THIS VOYAGE:

Sea Kayaking – pre-booked option, fee of US$795. Maximum number of clients is 16.

Overnight Sea Kayaking – pre-booked option for those already enrolled in the standard sea kayak program. Additional fee of US$300. Sea kayak & camping experience is necessary and participation in option is dependent upon our Sea Kayak Guide approval onboard. Max number of clients is 6, min 4.

Ski Touring – pre-booked option, fee of US$750. Back country experience essential and participation in this option is dependent upon our Ski Touring Guide approval onboard. Gear is not provided by our. Please review our required gear list prior to departure. Max number of clients is 12, min 6.

Expedition Snowshoeing – pre-booked option, fee of US$45, gear is provided. Maximum 12 people.

Expedition Field Photography- pre-booked option, fee of US$45. Maximum of 18 people.

Overnight Camping - no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee, gear is provided. No maximum.

Hiking- no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee,No maximum.

Traditional Snowshoeing - no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee, gear is provided. 10 pairs of snowshoes will be available.

As with all of our expeditions, safety is our top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go, however that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.

Included

  • -  Itinerary/pre-departure information

  • -  Extensive program of relevant educational presentations

  • -  Advice from experienced team of naturalists

  • -  Advice and encouragement from resident photographer

  • -  All Zodiac excursions

  • -  On board welcome reception

  • -  On board welcome dinner

  • -  One Ocean Farewell Dinner (hosted by our Captain)

  • -  All meals during the voyage prepared by onboard professional chefs

  • -  Afternoon tea with fresh snacks each afternoon

  • -  Coffee, tea, hot chocolate throughout the day

  • -  Onboard medical officer

  • -  Access to our special programs on board (such as hiking, photography)

  • -  Overnight camping- please note that this activity is free of charge, we provide all

    the necessary equipment and gear and you can decide once on board if you wish to participate – no pre booking required. Camping is only available on some departures.

  • -  Use of multimedia station. We have a multimedia room where you can download your photos at the end of the day if you wish,

  • -  Please note that the kayaking activity is an extra cost at US$795 per person (if you wish to participate please let us know at time of booking as we have limited space).

  • -  Foul weather gear set – rain jacket, bib pants and Lacrosse gumboots (wellington boots) Or SeaLine water proof backpack, Bushnell waterproof binoculars and Lacrosse gumboots (wellington boots) (Carrying Wellington boots in your luggage can add to weight limit imposed by the airlines .

  • -  Transfers from the meeting point in Ushuaia to the pier to board the ship on day 1 of the cruise and transfers from the pier to the meeting point or airport on the last day of the cruise

Not included

  • -  All airfares

  • -  Visa and passport fees, airport departure taxes

  • -  Pre-cruise or post-cruise hotel accommodation

  • -  Personal laundry charges

  • -  Personal expenses

  • -  Postage, telephone calls, drinks, medical expenses

  • -  Meals / accommodation / transfers in welcome/departure cities

  • -  Trip interruption / cancellation insurance

  • -  Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)

  • -  Gratuities to staff and crew