Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- 6 full days exploring Antarctica = 12 planned ‘off ship’ excursions
- Join the exclusive club of Polar Circle visitors
- Travelling on a small ship with only 120 to 132 guests (depending on departure) means faster logistics and everyone landing together
- Explore the polar sea kayaking, diving or snowshoeing (additional cost)
- Complimentary parka jacket & post voyage photo book
Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia
Arrive in Ushuaia, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to your downtown hotel (if you have taken preferred flights only).
Day 2: Half-Day Tour of Ushuaia and Embarkation
This morning after a leisurely breakfast, your luggage will be collected for loading onto the ship and you will set out on a half-day tour of Ushuaia just after midday. Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego, is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests.
On the half day introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the End of the World Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 1600.
Please note that opening hours to the museum can change without no tice, and if the End of the World Museum is closed, we may visit the nearby Old Prison Museum. As the Greg Mortimer pulls away from port, we’ll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before the briefings. Over the first evening, get to know your fellow passengers, crew and expedition team at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
Day 3: Drake Passage Crossing
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Your wildlife experiences begin immediately as you enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in the wake of the ship. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Day 4: Drake Passage & South Shetland Islands
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on day four , the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks, watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Days 5-10: Antarctic Peninsula & Polar Circle
Over the next six days a host of choices are open to us, and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. The experienced expedition team will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. We will generally make landings or Zodiac excursions two, and occasionally three, times a day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface, and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
During this voyage, we’ll attempt to cross the invisible line of the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66°33' South – this is certainly a special highlight for all of us and we plan to celebrate with a toast on the deck. In order to reach the Antarctic Circle, our ship will motor south every night and during meal times or when we are not ashore exploring.
As we reach and cross the circle, we notice subtle changes in the Antarctic land and icescapes, and also in the distribution of wildlife. The waters at this time of year are rich with krill and so we are hopeful of seeing whales, particularly humpbacks and minkes, and enjoy watching as penguin chicks learn to swim. As we head north again, we understand more about the effect of southerly latitudes on Antarctic wildlife.
There are many exciting places we can choose to visit; a sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife follows:
Paradise Harbour – A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and breathtaking glaciers, the rocky cliffs of this unforgettable piece of heaven provide perfect nesting sites for blue-eyed shags, terns and gulls. The serenity of Paradise Harbour envelops us once the sound of the dropping anch or fades from our ears. This is a haven for whales as we keep our eyes open for humpbacks, orcas and minkes, as well as crabeater seals, whilst we explore the bay in Zodiacs.
Hydrurga Rocks – This group of low-lying unprotected granitic rocks protrude from the sea, swept by ocean swells. At first these rocks appear uninteresting, but on closer investigation, calm channels lead to a hidden interior where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms. Hydrurga is the Latin family name for leopard seal (Hydrurga Leonina), and on occasions we see some skulking in the shallows. There are many places to simply sit and watch the rise and fall of clear green water and listen to the magic sounds and calls of the wildlife.
Half Moon Island – This wildlife-rich island is tucked into a neat bay at the eastern end of Livingston Island. On a clear day, the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the vista. There is a large chinstrap penguin rookery tucked in between basaltic turrets coloured by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and there are often fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. At one extremity of the island there is a large colony of nesting blue-eyed shags. At the other end lies a small Argentine station that is sometimes occupied by scientists conducting research on the penguin colony and surrounding waterways.
Lemaire Channel – If ice conditions allow, standing up on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly moving through the narrow Lemaire Channel could be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is also known as “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.
Port Lockroy – Located on Goudier Island, British Port Lockroy is an important site for both scientific research and visitors to the Antarctic continent. Designated a historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996 , it was discovered in 1904 and used by the whaling industry in the first half of the 1900’s, was part of the British Operation Tabarin during World War II, and was later used as a British Research Station. Today, Pork Lockroy is manned by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and operates as a museum, gift shop and Post Office for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. You can even send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world’s most southern Post Office!
Deception Island – Visiting Deception Island is like making a journey to the moon. We sail through the narrow opening of Neptune's Bellows to enter the flooded volcanic crater. The inside of the crater is an unworldly scene, virtually devoid of life. Glaciers flow down from the edge of the crater, littered by black volcanic ash. We can explore the lifeless remains of a derelict whaling station and a vacant British base, or climb to the rim of the crater. Steam rises from the shore indicating that the water is actually warm enough for swim ming , for those who dare. Outside the crater, if conditions allow, we might land at Bailey Head to explore the enormous chinstrap penguin rookery that featured in David Attenborough's Life in the Freezer series.
Neko Harbour – Located in Andvord Bay, Neko Harbour is an inlet home to gentoo penguins, and regularly welcomes Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic – towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbour. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve is sure to stop you in your tracks.
Days 11-12: Drake Passage Crossing
Today, our landings come to an end as we enter the Drake Passage for our return journey to South America. With lectures and videos to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced, and the impact this voyage has had on our attitude to life.
As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
Day 13: Disembark in Ushuaia
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we will be free to disembark around 0800. Say farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to downtown Ushuaia before continuing to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.
At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing Ushuaia prior to 1200 on the day of disembarkation in case there are any delays.
The 14-Feb-2020 departure ends with a flight back to Punta Arenas, instead of sailing back to Ushuaia.
NOTE: This itinerary is for guidance only as each voyage will vary depending on ice and weather conditions, and opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is key and all part of the adventure of an expeditionary cruise. Furthermore, it's important to understand that the charter flight(s) to/from Antarctica are particularly prone to weather, which requires a flexible flight schedule.
What our customers think
I am very glad I booked with a polar specialist. I would have chosen a different itinerary if I had gone with a local travel agent, and I probably would not have enjoyed it. I also felt I was prepared for the trip.
Shawn Faessler United States Of America November 2017
Everything was perfectly organized by Swoop. Fast, precise and very much in details. I can also say I had perfect advice which ship took for my Antarctica adventure. Great communication at all times. Would highly recommend.
Rafal Wilk Ireland November 2018
About The Ship
- With its sexy and sleek X-bow lines and ground breaking design, few new Polar ships have created such excitement.
- Zodiac platforms specially designed for quick boardings and more time exploring
- Rolls Royce stabiliser system and polar code 6 ice rating
- Large comfortable cabins
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
Prices quoted below are per person based on 2 people sharing. Cabin availability changes all the time so please contact us for up-to-date details and information on specific cabin availability.
* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $11600
The 14-Feb-2020 departure ends with a flight back to Punta Arenas, instead of sailing back to Ushuaia.
Single Supplement And Child Policy
For those travelling solo who would like their own cabin, the single supplement is 1.5 times the cost of a single berth, please contact us for details. However, there is no single supplement for passengers willing to share a cabin.
Children aged 8 years old or over are welcome. There isn't any concession on pricing. Please contact us for details.
Optional Adventure Activities
Enhance your trip with the following add ons. Limited places per activity.
Get in contact to check availability.
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- An experienced team of destination specialists and activity leaders
- Captain's Welcome and Farewell drinks including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- Pre-dinner drinks including canapes and bar snacks
- Complimentary use of fitness centre
- Voyage aboard the vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- Accommodation during the voyage on full board basis
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- All shore excursions and zodiac activities
- Educational lectures by expert onboard polar guides
- Access to an onboard doctor and basic medical services
- Loan of rubber boots for the voyage's duration
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port taxes and any entry fees to historic landing sites
- A printed photo book produced with photos from your voyage
- Flights to and from points of embarkation/disembarkation
- Any additional services before and after your voyage
- Transfers not specific to the itinerary
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Optional adventure activities
- Optional activity surcharges
- Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Items of a personal nature: laundry, beverages, etc
- Customary staff gratuity at the end of the voyage
- Additional onboard purchases (i.e. gift shop)