Antarctica

Ultimate Wildlife Cruise–19 Day South Georgia & Falkland Islands

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SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single travelers staying in a room by themselves will be charged this additional single supplement fee, as all of our regular prices are otherwise based on double occupancy.

SINGLE SHARE OPTIONS (if available)
If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will make every effort to find you a roommate of the same gender, in which case you will not have to pay the single supplement fee. The single supplement will be charged until we are able to confirm a roommate for you. If we are able to match you with a roommate, the single supplement will be refunded. In the event that we cannot find a share for you, you will be required to pay the single supplement fee.

New: Click the Singles Find a Share' icon below or check our "Community" page to connect with other single travelers looking to share.

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Antarctica

Ultimate Wildlife Cruise–19 Day South Georgia & Falkland Islands

Highlights

  • Explore historic and colorful Santiago, ChileLectures on photography, wildlife, and ecology related to the areas we will be visiting
  • 150 glaciers into spectacular fjords and ringed by islands
  • Southern Elephant Seal breeding is in October, and, during this time, the world's largest seals vie to be 'beachmasters', dominating stretches of beach where females come to pup. We will make it a priority to experience this!
  • See nesting Grey headed Albatross up close. A sight that few can hope to see in a lifetime of travel.
  • Nesting Gentoo Penguins
  • Hundreds of thousands of pairs of King Penguins
  • Macaroni Penguins
  • The world's largest seal, the Southern Elephant Seal, by the thousands creating one of the densest concentrations of life on the planet with thousands of females and young pups nursing
  • More Black-browed Albatross than anywhere else on earth, at least a quarter million birds!

Itinerary A at a Glance - October 2017 Ortelius

  • DAY 1 Depart home
  • DAY 2 Arrive in Santiago, Chile for overnight at the Ritz-Carlton, Santiago
  • DAY 3 Fly to Stanley, Falkland Islands. Embark on the Sea Spirit
  • DAY 4-5 Cruise the South Scotia Sea to South Georgia across the rich waters of the “Polar Front”
  • DAY 6-11 South Georgia, about six days in a wildlife extravaganza
  • DAY 12-13 Cruise northwest back to the Falkland Islands
  • DAY 14-16 Landings on the Falkland Islands – Sea Lion Island, Steeple Jason Island, and New Island
  • DAY 17 Cruise southwest to Ushuaia
  • DAY 18 Disembark the Sea Spirit and fly homeward from Usuaia
  • DAY 19 Arrive home

TRIP EXTENSIONS and OPTIONS

Falkland Island Extension: Pre-trip week-long extension including Carcass, West Point and Sea Lion islands along with a day trip to Volunteer Point. See separate itinerary for details.

Patagonia Extension: Pre-trip week-long extension including from Punta Arena to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. See separate itinerary for details.

Day trips in Santiago: Join two pre-voyage day trips. Spend a full day on the Penguins and Chile Endemics tour and a partial day on Santiago City tour. Contact us for more details.

Shackleton Crossing Trek Option during the expedition: Two to three days of trekking across the mountainous spine of South Georgia to follow in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean and Worsley in the final leg of their epic self-rescue. Prior sign-up is required. Cost is not included. Mountaineering experience is required. See separate itinerary for details.

Antarctic Peninsula: Contact us about adding a separate 11-day expedition on to the Antarctic Peninsula immediately after this one. Since it is on the same ship, you can stay aboard while everyone disembarks in Ushuaia. Hugh Rose, our Assistant Expedition Leader, will also join this post-trip expedition as part of their staff. His professional photography, expedition leadership, and geology skills will enhance your experience during this additional voyage.

 

Ultimate Wildlife Cruise–19 Day South Georgia & Falkland Islands

Note about expedition cruising: Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; the following itinerary depends on the conditions at the time of travel. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible, abiding by the Guidelines for Responsible Ecotourism from IAATO.

Detailed Itinerary South Georgia and Falkland Islands

DAY 1-2 International Flights to Santiago, Chile

Plan to arrive in Santiago, Chile by October 21. Nonstop flights are available to Santiago (SCL) from many international airports, most traveling overnight and arriving in the early morning. Transfer to our hotel for a free day to explore historic and colorful Santiago. An evening welcome reception will be held at our hotel.

DAY 3 Flights from Santiago, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands, and Embark

There is only one weekly flight from Santiago to the Falkland Islands. Upon arrival in Stanley early in the afternoon, we will be met at Mount Pleasant Airport and transferred to the Sea Spirit. You will have time to walk through town and explore this small corner of the English empire that appears as if time has forgotten it. Stanley is an attractive town, and the last center of human population we will see before our arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina at the voyage's end. We will enjoy a welcome with our Captain and our fine staff and crew, as well as our first dinner aboard our ship before departing for South Georgia!

DAY 4-5 At Sea Southeast to South Georgia Island

By morning we will be far from the Falklands heading southeast with albatrosses at our stern. Familiarization on all aspects of ship life and preparations for what to expect in South Georgia will keep us busy with time in between for viewing from the bridge or stern. If the skies are blue, the weather could be quite balmy, about 15°C, about 50–60°F. Photographers on the stern will have a field day following birds on the wing in their viewfinders. Wandering Albatross should be following us today, plus many Black-browed Albatross and other 'tubenoses', plus we always have a chance of a Southern or Northern Royal albatross on the wing. In these waters we cross the Polar Front (aka the Antarctic Convergence), which is excellent birding habitat. Here, two bodies of water meet and as the salty, cold Antarctic water mixes alongside warmer, fresher water from the north, water temperatures plummet from about 4–6° C down to 0° C in a period of about eight cruising hours. The birds we will see, although not in great numbers, will be outstanding, especially the large albatrosses. Fishing fur seals and pods of whales show the richness of these waters. There is a chance of sighting Fin, Antarctic Minke, and Southern Right Whale and more elusive species as well. Fin Whales are very difficult to approach, as they are the fastest of the rorqual whales and can quickly leave us behind. In these waters we have found almost a dozen species of petrels (including three species of storm-petrels and Common Diving-Petrel), six species of albatross, thousands of Antarctic Prions, Southern Fulmars plus Greater and Sooty shearwaters. Snow Petrels are even possible as we round the northeast end of South Georgia. During this time at sea, crossing about 730 nautical miles from the Falklands, we will have lectures on photography, wildlife, and ecology related to the areas we will be visiting. The prevailing current will be in our direction.

DAY 6-11 South Georgia Island

Arrival time at South Georgia will depend on weather conditions and currents, from as early as pre-dawn October 25 to sometime on October 26. One of the most remote islands in the world, South Georgia is the heart of this expedition, as we spend six to seven days in this wild landscape of penguins, albatrosses, and seals. The mountainous rugged interior, a geologic continuation of the Andes chain, is carved by more than 150 glaciers into spectacular fjords and ringed by islands. South Georgia has incredible possibilities for landings all along the northeastern leeward coastline, the focus of our exploration during these days.

Our timing in this voyage is carefully chosen to experience South Georgia in a seldom seen but extremely vibrant time. We are of course on an expedition cruise where the weather and conditions as we find them will determine our schedule. But we plan to make the most of our time in South Georgia by paying close attention to the changes in breeding seasons particularly of Antarctic Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals. We travel before the peak of fur seal breeding in November and December, when males stake out territories in the northern reaches of the island at densities so high that travel ashore becomes both dangerous and disruptive. Meanwhile the peak of Southern Elephant Seal breeding is in October, and, during this time, the world's largest seals vie to be 'beachmasters', dominating stretches of beach where females come to pup. We will make it a priority to experience this! We will stop in the northeast of the island for an introduction and a chance at some of the special sites unavailable to us once fur seals are in the height of their breeding, then we will travel south to experience the scale and density of breeding colonies in St. Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. From there, we will take our time exploring back northward, absorbing the great richness and variety offered by South Georgia to voyagers so fortunate as ourselves.

Potential Landing Sites in South Georgia

Elsehul: Our first landings in South Georgia will be at beaches that will become prohibitively dense with fur seals later in the season. Elsehul is a perfect example, where the sublimely beautiful Gray-headed Albatross nest on steep tussock grass slopes. Here Gray-headed Albatross are the first to lay eggs, so we are sure to find them sitting on nests looking out over the dramatic cove of Elsehul. They sit above a prime fur seal breeding beach, and, at this date, the Antarctic Fur Seals should not be so territorial as to refuse our passage. The opportunity to see Gray-headed Albatross on their nests up close is one that few can hope for in a lifetime of travel. Black-browed Albatross also nest here, along with Macaroni, Gentoo and King penguins; we can expect to see Gentoos on nests in the saddle between Elsehul and south-facing Undine Harbour. This little sheltered cove sits on the northwestern extremity of South Georgia on the eastern side of the rugged Paryadin Peninsula, blocking southern ocean westerly winds with 400-meter walls built of ancient sedimentary rocks folded and stacked during the formation of the Andes.

Right Whale Bay: Fur seals are beginning to set up territories in Right Whale Bay at this time, a beach that in the height of the breeding season looks to be alive with a constant frenetic movement of seals. At the east end of this dramatic walled cove a colony of King Penguins resides, many loafing in front of a waterfall pouring out of the interior of the island.

Salisbury Plain: 60,000 pairs of King Penguins call this glacial plain home, making it a beloved site for any who explore South Georgia. Salisbury is located in the Bay of Isles, looking out on the Wandering Albatross breeding islands of Prion and Albatross. If you sit down quietly, you may find yourself the subject of King Penguin curiosity as one brave individual might try to see if your shoelaces will detach with a tug. King Penguins have a staggered breeding season, where each adult's activities are dependent upon what they did the season before. Those that had no chick or an early fledging chick the previous season will be courting and mating, whereas those that did have a chick in the previous year may delay breeding. These early breeders have the best chances of successfully fledging a chick this year. Molting penguins can be found lining the fresh water streams that run from the glaciers to the sea. Hopefully snow will still be on the ground around the colony, a canvas of white upon which the penguins walk. The Kings share the beach with fur seals and elephant seals, and many a giant-petrel will be patrolling the shores for the penguins that did not make it through the winter.

Prion Island: An unforgettable experience will be on Prion Island in the Bay of Isles. Each pair of Wandering Albatross has a private estate with at least 30 square meters of open space around the nest site for courtship and takeoffs and landings, a real contrast with the King Penguin's territory of less than one square meter. Here also nest the Southern Giant-Petrels, quietly incubating as long as you keep your distance. Tragically, the Wandering Albatross are declining rapidly in numbers, disappearing at sea due to illegal pirate fishing vessels mining 'white gold', as the Chilean Seabass or Patagonia Toothfish is sometimes called. We will stay on the boardwalk and tread very lightly during our visit to Prion Island in respect for the albatross and petrels and for the sake of the burrow-nesting birds that make their homes on this rat-free island. The charming South Georgia Pipit, the world's southernmost passerine (perching bird), will look upon us curiously, singing a rare songbird's tune. Our visit to Prion comes just before the young overwintering albatross fledge, to start years of seafaring life before finally returning here as young adults with hopes of breeding.

Fortuna Bay: At this beautiful site in the lee of the central rib of South Georgia's impressive mountains, we have good chances for clear skies and calm conditions. Fortuna Bay ends in an extended glacial alluvial plain covered with a fine grass upon which a beautifully photogenic King Penguin colony resides. King Penguins spread across what appears to be a lawn is a remarkable sight! We will search for nesting Light-mantled Albatross on the protected steep tussock slopes.

Shackleton Walk to Stromness: Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley were very near the end of their dramatic and perilous self-rescue when they stumbled down into Fortuna Bay from the interior of the island. They had just one short hike remaining, a westward walk of about three miles over to Stromness Harbour to reunite with civilization after over 17 months in the Antarctic. This very enjoyable historic walk will take us over a 300-meter ridge with a stunning view across the König Glacier and down to the now rusting inactive whaling station at Stromness to reunite with our ship.

Hercules Bay: Macaroni Penguins are the most numerous of any penguin on South Georgia yet the most difficult to visit. They have the habit of nesting on steep tussock slopes and are especially fond of inhospitably exposed beaches. We hope to be able to slip into Hercules Bay for a visit to see the striking Macaronis just as they are returning from eight months at sea. A waterfall drops down the back of Hercules Bay adding to the dramatic scene.

Grytviken and King Edward Point: Grytviken was one of the most active whaling stations in the history of whaling. But the flensing plan is now empty and the boilers silent. Over 60 years of whaling history is now well told in the excellent exhibits of the South Georgia Museum. Tim and Pauline Carr are largely responsible for what we see in the museum, the product of 14 years of a labor of love for them. The natural history exhibits are enriching, and after browsing and perhaps doing a little museum store shopping, take a short walk around the bay to visit the whaler's graveyard where Shackleton and his right-hand man, Frank Wild, lie. The history of Antarctic exploration comes alive as we listen to tales of the adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This famous explorer crossed the rugged backbone of South Georgia from the west to arrive at Stromness seeking help for his men stranded on Elephant Island. The crew of the Endurance, hand picked by Sir Ernest Shackleton in England for his 1914–1917 expedition, survived on the nutritious, though unappetizing, meat of penguins and seals while waiting for rescue on Elephant Island. Their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea. Shackleton and his men had set off in small boats and landed at Elephant Island with hardly any landing room below the steep cliffs along the shore. From here, Shackleton and a handful of men continued in a small boat to South Georgia, returning to Elephant Island 105 days later to rescue the men. In the graveyard where Shackleton is buried, many young Southern Elephant Seals now snooze atop the whalers who no longer threaten them.

Godthul: Gentoo penguins are now the principal resident of this site where whaling once dominated. Beginning in 1908, whaling vessels anchored here leaving remains now of wooden platform boats called jolles and a beach thick with whalebones. Two waterfall fed small lakes sit on the gentle shoreline before jagged peaks rising into the island's interior. We can expect the sky to ring with the reedy beautiful Light-mantled Albatross courtship calls as they sail in synchronized flight overhead. These subtly beautiful torpedo shaped birds favor nests in the steep tussock slopes above the inlet.

St. Andrews Bay: There are places in the world so far beyond description that any attempt rings hollow. St. Andrews Bay is such, with upwards of 150,000 pairs of King Penguins forming not a colony, but a landscape. You will be mesmerized as you view the many penguins walking along the beach and the gentle sloping landscape as you stroll from the landing site, the air filled with calls and life all around you. But as you walk over the glacial moraine bordering the north end of the colony, the mass of penguin calls hit you, all blended together into one vast wave. Here you will see the bounty of the rich, vast southern ocean. It must be seen, heard, and experienced to be believed.

At this time of year, King Penguins will be far from the only attraction at St. Andrews. The world's largest seal, the Southern Elephant Seal, gathers here by the thousands creating one of the densest concentrations of life on the planet. We can expect to see thousands of females with young pups nursing. Many large male 'beachmasters' seek to own a stretch of beach and are willing to fight in great tonnages of seal jousting, because here lie their best hopes for breeding. The male elephant seal puts so much into his territorial defense that his life expectancy is less than half that of the female. But, if he is a successful beachmaster, this short life is one of great glory! We are very fortunate to be able to experience the elephant seal breeding season, usually long past when most travelers to South Georgia have the chance to visit. St. Andrews Bay also has a reputation for volatile weather as it lies at the foot of three glaciers. Cold air can pour off these glaciers turning a calm quiet morning into a howling harrowing landscape of katabatic winds in an astonishingly short time. So while here, do pay attention to our expedition leaders!

Gold Harbour: Simply, Gold Harbour is a glorious place, with something, indeed many things, for everybody who enjoys nature. This is one of the most protected sites in South Georgia, with great chances for clear blue skies. Fair or foul, under these skies we will find a beach at least as densely packed with Southern Elephant Seals as St. Andrews Bay (though a smaller beach, so fewer numbers overall), about 25,000 pairs of King Penguins, many of whom line a glacial meltwater river winding behind the beach, a Gentoo Penguin colony, steep but hikeable slopes with Light-mantled Albatross nesting on their flanks, and a tumbling icefall bordering the back of the Harbour making for stunning landscapes and the occasional explosion of glacial blocks tumbling down to the coast. More than a few will likely elect to skip lunch, unable to leave this wildlife rich scene.

Royal Bay: Several landing sites attract us to Royal Bay, though the exposed bay is very weather dependent. A growing King Penguin colony has topped 30,000 pairs at Brisbane Point in recent counts, with constant activity bouncing in upon the cobblestone beach boulders through what can be heavy surf. A fjord-like glacially carved valley empties into Moltke Harbour, a backdrop to as many as 1,000 elephant seals. If calm conditions prevail, we will enjoy landings here, but Royal Bay has a reputation for strong winds so we may find ourselves retreating for a return to Gold Harbour, a mighty fine compensation during rough conditions!

Cooper Bay: At Cooper Bay we will strive to get close to the marvelous Macaroni Penguins, the more southerly equivalent of the Rockhoppers, which nest at this accessible landing. A hike up through tussock slopes will reward us with Macaronis in a frenzy of early breeding season activity. Cooper Bay is also home to South Georgia's only colony of Chinstrap Penguins. We are sure to see them traveling through the surf and will likely meet some on the beach or loafing on an iceberg. However, the Government of South Georgia has restricted access to the colony due to a 2004 outbreak of avian cholera, and the colony will probably still be closed to landings. Cooper Bay sits just inside from Cooper Island, a rat-free island that is extremely important breeding habitat for burrow-nesting seabirds and South Georgia Pipits.

Drygalski Fjord and Larsen Harbour: Southern South Georgia differs strikingly in geology from the remainder of the island, and in the sheer walled Drygalski Fjord we can really see this difference. As we cruise up the fjord we can see granite, gabbro, and metamorphic rocks to starboard (ship's right), remnant of the Gondwana continental margin. To port (ship's left), the mountains are built of the 'Larsen Harbour Complex', uplifted ocean floor basalt and granite that rose in the formation of the Andes then was ripped and rafted east to its present location over the last 40 million years. The Risting Glacier calves frequently into the waters of the fjord, stirring up marine life that is quickly snapped up by Antarctic Terns and maybe a few pure white Snow Petrels. We may take a short zodiac trip up Larsen Harbour to check in on a small colony of Weddell Seals who are likely to have pups ashore with them.

Cape Disappointment: Captain Cook was the first to lay eyes on South Georgia, and his great hope was that he had found the tip of a great southern continent. The name Cape Disappointment reflects his feelings when he found that South Georgia was no continent at all. He was none too impressed with South Georgia without apparent exploitable resources, but the Black-browed Albatross that breed in large numbers on the sheer slopes here never did mind his departure. They are less numerous now due to the impact of long-line fishing, but still impressive in number. If weather is favorable we may ship cruise to this southern extreme for a good look and a thorough exploration of this crown jewel of the great Southern Ocean.

DAY 12-13 Cruise northwest back to Falkland Islands

DAY 14-16 Landings on Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands, approximately 300 miles east of South America and 700 miles north of Antarctica, have a temperate, but sometimes foggy climate. At this time of year, we hope to enjoy some of their rare Austral summer sunshine. Out of the 300 or more islands in the Falklands, we plan to land on three of the best for wildlife viewing and photography. On Sea Lion Island, Steeple Jason Island and New Island, highlights will be three species of penguins: Rockhoppers, Magellanics, and Gentoos. We may walk inland to seek out the Magellanics as well as land birds of the Falklands, species that are not to be found on South Georgia. We must pay close attention to staying out of the areas that contain fragile prion burrows and Southern Giant Petrels nests (especially abundant at New Island and Steeple Jason). All of these islands are privately owned and open to ecotourism on a very limited basis, putting wildlife conservation interests ahead of development.

Potential Landing Sites in Falkland Islands

Sea Lion Island: Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago (just five miles long and just over one mile wide at its widest point), and the most southerly-inhabited island. The sheer abundance of wildlife in such a small area makes it a must on any Falklands itinerary. Sea Lion Island hosts over 47 species of bird, including Rockhopper, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins; we will be graced by some of the 2,800 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins returning to breed at the beginning of the season, and scatterings of Southern Giant-Petrels on their nests. Please give giant-petrels a wide berth, they can be very nervous and abandon their nests with minimal disturbance. Other birds we may encounter are South American Snipe, Rufous-chested Dotterel, the endemic Cobb's and Sedge wrens, small birds that have recently been afforded protection from the tall grass that has been allowed to grow after the removal of sheep from the island. However perhaps by far the biggest attraction is the large number of Southern Elephant Seals that breed here, principally on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. Also not to be missed are the South American (or Southern) Sea Lions at East Loafers. Pods of Orcas are also often seen circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers) attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals. The proximity of much of this wildlife to the lodge and the easy walking terrain makes it a great destination for families or those less agile.

Award-winning, world renowned photographers have adorned books and magazines with their prize-winning shots of the wildlife on Sea Lion Island, but even with the most basic equipment you can take away images to treasure.

Steeple Jason: This Island is the outermost northwest island, now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society. Albatross are the main attraction, their nests thickly wrapping around the base of the striking island. More Black-browed Albatross nest here than anywhere else on earth, at least a quarter million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores of Steeple looks like freshly fallen snow. As we approach, we'll see thousands of birds circling in the air and rafting on the water like tiny icebergs. Once ashore, the vast albatross colony is found after maneuvering through the tall, wispy tussock grass. Steeple Jason is one of our planet's rare hidden gems, seldom visited because it is remote and landing is difficult, yet we have successfully landed on every expedition in our two decades of excursions.

New Island: We will find New Island rich with wildlife immediately upon landing, greeted by fascinating Flightless Steamer-Ducks, Ruddy-headed Goose, caracaras, shorebirds, and passerines such as Blackish Cincloides, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Long-tailed Meadowlark, and White-bridled Finch. We will have amazing views of Black-browed Albatross courting atop their conical mud nests along the cliffs. South American Fur Seal may be seen, although their numbers have been declining rapidly. Other highlights include both Peale's and Commerson's dolphins that occasionally bow ride with the ship or even alongside the Zodiacs going from ship to shore and back.

DAY 17 Sail southbound to Ushuaia, Argentina

One last, short ocean crossing remains where avid seafarers will be on the bridge and stern to spot whales, dolphins, and seabirds, especially Southern and Northern Royal albatross. Sheltered from the circumpolar current by the bulk of South America, this passage is usually fairly calm. We will celebrate a farewell captain's dinner during our last evening and recap the magnificent experiences of the voyage with a group show of images.

DAY 18 Disembark in Ushuaia and flights homeward

In the early morning, we will dock in Ushuaia where we will be reluctant to say good-by to our spirited shipmates! After an early breakfast and clearing customs, we'll disembark the ship about 8:00 am and connect with our flights home or to other points. Our local agents in Ushuaia will collect luggage and put it in the luggage van to be held until check-in time at the Ushuaia Airport. For homeward flights, fly by early afternoon from Ushuaia, arriving at the international airport in Buenos Aires or Santiago to connect to evening flights homeward. Arrive home on November 7, depending on your flight schedule. If you wish to stay on for a time in South America, we can help you with arrangements.

DAY 19 Arrive home

Arrive home today, depending on your flight schedule. If you wish to stay on for a time in South America, we can help you with arrangements.

TRIP EXTENSIONS and OPTIONS

Falkland Island Extension: Pre-trip week-long extension including Carcass, West Point and Sea Lion islands along with a day trip to Volunteer Point. See separate itinerary for details.

Patagonia Extension: Pre-trip week-long extension including from Punta Arena to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. See separate itinerary for details.

Day trips in Santiago: Join two pre-voyage day trips. Spend a full day on the Penguins and Chile Endemics tour and a partial day on Santiago City tour. Contact us for more details.

Shackleton Crossing Trek Option during the expedition: Two to three days of trekking across the mountainous spine of South Georgia to follow in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean and Worsley in the final leg of their epic self-rescue. Prior sign-up is required. Cost is not included. Mountaineering experience is required. See separate itinerary for details.

Antarctic Peninsula: Contact us about adding a separate 11-day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula immediately after this one. Since it is on the same ship, you can stay aboard while everyone disembarks in Ushuaia. Hugh Rose, our Assistant Expedition Leader, will also join this post-trip expedition as part of their staff. His professional photography, expedition leadership, and geology skills will enhance your experience during this additional voyage.

 

Antarctica Lodging

The Sea Spirit is an “all suite” luxury vessel built for sailing in ice. It was originally built in 1991, last modified in 2010, and is equipped with an ice-strengthened hull and retractable fin stabilizers. All the cabins have a private, en-suite bathroom, a lounge area, ample storage, and a television with DVD player. The cabins have unobstructed exterior views via portholes, picture windows, or a private balcony. The ship is outfitted with a presentation room for on-board lectures, internet access, a gym, library, game room, lounge, bar with bartender, and dining lounge with chef-prepared meals. The Sea Spirit provides warm and comfortable accommodation for 100 passengers, our Expedition Staff, and the Crewmembers.

The Sea Spirit carries a fleet of ten Zodiacs for our excursions, driven by our own experienced leaders. Located at the rear of the ship, the Zodiac loading area provides a safe and relatively sheltered place from which to embark on our adventures.

ANTARCTICA SHIPS

The Sea Spirit

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • All-suite ship
  • 114 Passengers
  • Smallest suite is a spacious 215 square feet (20 sq. m)
  • Every suite has an exterior view
  • 15 suites have balconies
  • Satellite phone access in every suite
  • Flat-screen TVs and DVD player in every suite
  • Internet access
  • 10 Zodiacs
  • 24-hour tea and coffee station
  • Restaurant - Offers chef-prepared meals and exquisite service that one doesn't expect to experience in wild places like Antarctica.
  • Bar - After a day of activities and explorations passengers are always welcome at a bar staffed by a professional bartender.
  • Library - A large collection of polar books and DVDs in a quiet cozy place for reading and relaxation.
  • Lounge - Offers great opportunities for socializing and observing fantastic landscapes.
  • Elevator
  • Presentation room - Multi-purpose presentation room with state-of-the-art equipment for lectures and presentations of our notable guest lecturers.
  • Gym - A well-equipped gym allows travelers not to break away from regular sports for the time of a trip.
  • Onboard Polar Boutique
  • Life-saving equipment - Overhauled lifeboat engine, serviced and renewed other equipment.
  • Doctor and small infirmary
  • Internet access for a fee

 

CABIN OPTIONS

Owner's 40 square meters (about 437 square feet); separate living room; King Size bed and sofa bed (can accommodate a teenager); private deck; jetted bathtub.
Premium 33 square meters (about 353 square feet); two twin or a King Size bed; private balcony; private facilities.
Deluxe 26 square meters (about 277 square feet); two twin or a King Size bed; private balcony; private facilities.
Superior 22 square meters (about 235 square feet); two twin or a King Size bed; picture window overlooks on outside walkway; private facilities.
Classic 23 square meters (about 250 square feet); two twin or a King Size bed; picture window; private facilities.
Main Deck 20 square meters (about 215 square feet); two twin or a King Size bed; minimum two portholes; private facilities.
Triple 23 square meters (about 250 square feet); 2 twins (convert to a King) and a sofa bed; picture window; private facilities.

 

SHIP SPECS

Crew: 94

Guests: 114

Length: 90.6 m (297 ft)

Beam: 15.3 m (50 ft)

Draft: 4.16 m (14 ft)

Propulsion: Diesel - 4,720 horsepower

Ice Class: 1D

Cruising Speed: 14.5 knots in open water

Lifeboats: 4 partially enclosed

 

Antarctica Activities

At a Glance

We emphasize spending the maximum amount of time possible in the field, both on land and cruising in zodiacs. Our unique flexible wildlife format means that we have enough leaders so that instead of keeping participants in large, tight guided groups, we are able to intersperse guides in the area visited so that travelers are able to roam freely.

 

Antarctica Wildlife

Prolific & Likely Sightings

Mammals: European Hare, Antarctic Fur Seal, South American Fur Seal, Southern (Australasian) Fur Seal, South American Sea Lion, Leopard Seal, Weddell Seal, Southern Elephant Seal, Reindeer (Caribou), Southern Right Whale, (Common) Minke Whale, Fin Whale, Humpback Whale, Hourglass Dolphin, Orca (Killer Whale), Sperm Whale, Southern Bottlenose Whale

Birds: Upland Goose, Kelp Goose, Ruddy-headed Goose, Falkland (Flightless) Steamer-Duck, Crested Duck, Chiloe Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, South Georgia Pintail, Silver Teal, Yellow-billed Teal, Silvery Grebe, King Penguin , Adelie Penguin, Gentoo Penguin, Chinstrap Penguin, Magellanic Penguin, Macaroni Penguin, Rockhopper Penguin, Gray-headed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Light-mantled Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Southern Giant-Petrel, Northern Giant-Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Cape (Pintado) Petrel, Snow Petrel, Kerguelen Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Atlantic Petrel, Blue Petrel

OCCASIONAL
Birds: Broad-billed Prion, Antarctic Prion, Slender-billed Prion, White-chinned Petrel, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Gray-backed Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, South Georgia Diving-Petrel, Magellanic (Rock) Cormorant, South Georgia Shag, Imperial Cormorant (King), Black-crowned Night-Heron, Variable Hawk, Snowy Sheathbill, Blackish Oystercatcher, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel, Least Seedsnipe, White-rumped Sandpiper, South American Snipe, South Polar Skua, Brown (Antarctic) Skua, Brown (Subantarctic) Skua, Parasitic (Arctic) Jaeger, Brown-hooded Gull, Dolphin Gull, Franklin's Gull, Kelp Gull, Arctic Tern, South American Tern, Antarctic Tern, Short-eared Owl, Striated Caracara, Southern Caracara, Peregrine Falcon (ssp. Cassin's), Blackish (Tussock Bird) Cincloides, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Black-crowned Monjita, Cobb's Wren, Sedge Wren, Austral Thrush, Correndera Pipit, South Georgia Pipit, White-bridled (Black-throated) Finch, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-chinned Siskin

Rare or Endangered Possible Sightings

Mammals: Commerson's Dolphin, Peale's Dolphin

 

Antarctica Guides

Hugh Rose

Hugh Rose - Expedition Leader, Naturalist, Geologist, Photographer, Lecturer, and Zodiac Driver

Hugh Rose brings over 20 years of professional guiding experience in Antarctica and Alaska and has been a key member of our Antarctica staff since 1998. After a decade as a field geologist, Hugh changed course finding his calling as a naturalist, tour leader, and freelance photographer. The vast landscapes and incredible wildlife of the polar regions are his subject and passion, evident in his inspired expedition leadership and stunning photos as exhibited on www.hughrosephotography.com. Hugh also leads our three Alaskan tours and receives unending praise for his amazing knowledge, delightful and accommodating personality, and attention to every trip detail.

Gail and Ted Cheeseman

Gail and Doug Cheeseman - Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Started Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris in 1980 and have been leading wildlife safaris ever since to the best hotspots throughout the world. They find leading safaris to be a fresh way of blending a desire to observe nature with a wish to inspire travelers towards the values of conservation and education. Doug founded the Biology Department at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, and during his long career there, taught zoology and ecology to biology majors. Gail is also a naturalist, plus a meticulous coordinator of trip logistics. Gail and Doug have led many tours to the Antarctic region.

Rob Dunbar

Professor Rob Dunbar - Scientific Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Rob is a professor of Earth Sciences and the Director of the Earth Systems Program at Stanford University. Rob received a BS in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975 and a PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1981. He was a Professor at Rice University in Houston, TX, before moving to Stanford to set up a new teaching and research program in the marine sciences. His research focuses on oceanography as well as global climate change and impacts, and environmental policy and communications. He and his students have traveled to Antarctica over 30 times to study the impacts of climate change on both modern Antarctica and the past Southern Ocean. Rob has an active exploration program in the deep sea and regularly dives to the seafloor throughout the Pacific in three-man submersibles, wherein he studies the world's oldest known organisms. He has authored or co-authored over 170 peer-reviewed scientific papers and strongly believes in teaching in the field, both at sea and "on-the-ice." He is also an avid polar and mountain explorer and photographer.

Ron Niebrugge

Ron Niebrugge - Professional Photographer, Lecturer, and Zodiac Driver

Ron finds the ordinary and mixes it with beautiful natural light to create the extraordinary in his inspiring photography. He contributes greatly to the success of this expedition through his wonderful friendliness and the expert advice he gives to both beginning and seasoned photographers throughout the trip both on the bridge and leading photo workshops on shore during landings. His images have caught the attention of many including impressive clients such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, National Park Service, and lots more advertising agencies. When not shooting stock photos, Ron keeps busy leading many photo tours and traveling on assignment in Alaska. He will be assisting in the photo critique sessions during crossings that members of our Antarctica staff do so well. He has lived in and explored all aspects of nature in Alaska since the age of twelve and has now settled in Seward, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. See his work at Niebrugge Images.

 

Antarctica FAQ

Antarctica Facts for Visitors

Climate

October to November is considered early summer and the temperatures in South Georgia can range from 32° to 50°F (0 to 10°C). Wet, penetrating cold is not usually a problem, but you will need to protect against wind and splash, especially when riding in the Zodiacs. Mittens, warm cap, layers of light, loose, warm clothing, a parka and waterproof outer garments are necessary.

Fitness Level

You must be in fit enough condition to get up and down the gangway hanging on the side of the ship and in and out of the Zodiacs that may be in some sea surf. If conditions are too difficult for you, you may be required to stay aboard the ship. Expedition staff and crew will assist on the ship's gangway and at each landing. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within the specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing.

Flights

Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight ticketing agent is included in the Trip Materials we will send after you sign up; if you need help, she can help you arrange your flights. Additional information including details of flight routes to Stanley, Falkland Islands and returns from Ushuaia, Argentina, group fare possibilities, and trip extensions will be sent after registration. If you prefer to extend your trip at either end, we can assist with extra hotel nights in Santiago or Ushuaia and arrange or suggest trip extensions.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL) by October 21. Continue to Stanley, Falkland Islands (MPN) via Punta Arenas, Chile on October 22 on a once-weekly LAN flight. You may depart from Ushuaia (USH), Argentina any time after 10:00 am on November 6.

Travel Insurance

Emergency Medical and Evacuation Insurance is required for this tour. 

Seasickness

Don't let a fear of seasickness scare you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but of all those who have joined, we know of only one passenger who said that seasickness really affected the enjoyment of the trip. Still, that same passenger talked about repeating the trip, because the rest of the experiences more than made up for it. For most travelers, motion sickness is only a problem during the open ocean passage between the Falklands and South Georgia. This is a total of eight days round trip. Days and nights when we are landing or cruising between landings are quite calm because we are very close to land. The Southern Ocean has a reputation for the worst seas in the world, not because they are always rough (on the average day, the seas are actually quite calm!) but because their extremes are large. If we are hit by a storm during a crossing, the experience will be memorable. The Hans Hansson will move more at sea than a larger vessel, but the experience once in South Georgia will more than compensate for any unpleasantness! For this reason, unless you know you are immovable by the heavy seas, bring a good supply of medication. Many of our frequent travelers are quite susceptible to seasickness, yet they come back year after year because they love the Antarctic! 

Expedition Log

After the completion of our voyage, you can look forward to a full color log of the expedition. This descriptive and detailed record includes daily descriptions, species lists, and excellent photographs taken by participants throughout our incredible journey.

Trip Materials

Detailed information about your specific tour will be sent to you after you make your reservation with us. These trip materials include information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc. Please take a moment to read this important informtation upon receipt.

Conditions

Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.

Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.

Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, wildlife sightings, or road conditions.

Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).

Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.

Choose Your Antarctica Travel Style! Any of our wildlife adventures are also available as fully customizable private trips, honeymoons or family wildlife adventures.
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We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • Twice to 4x the landings: Up to 14 landings in 8 landing days of this 18 day cruise, conditions permitting
  • Minimum of 14 expedition leaders, ranging from world-renowned naturalists, wildlife photographers, historians, ecologists, lecturers and wildlife guides
  • More landings and more destinations = more wildlife encounters!
  • Unique flexible wildlife format
  • The Most in-depth wildlife experience possible
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