Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- 16 full days in Antarctica = 32 planned ‘off ship’ excursions
- Includes the most popular & some of the least visited sites on the peninsula
- We like this 146 passenger ship for its superior stability, top ice class rating and large expedition staff
- Complimentary camping, hiking and photo workshops. Kayaking (additional cost)
- We like this voyage as it offers the loan of a parka jacket, boots and trousers (the only one to include all three)
Day 1: Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Our epic journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at a central location before transferring to the airport for our scheduled 90-minute flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
Port Stanley is a charming rural town with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. There is time to explore the town before we make our way to the ship for embarkation. After settling into 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, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica - and the adventure of a lifetime.
Days 2-3: At Sea towards Antarctica
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in marine life and showcases an abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering Albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as make our way south. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to 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 on-board experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
Day 4-5: King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula
This morning we are in position at the northern end of King George Island - the largest i the South Shetlands Islands. There are two potential landing sites here and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. This afternoon we continue our journey south making our way ever closer to the Antarctic coastline. Large icebergs will be present from this point onwards and make for striking photographs in the evening light.
By morning, the towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view and we should make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. We navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island - home to a rookery of Gentoo penguins. It's a fantastic location for a zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.
Day 6-8: Towards the Antarctic Circle
We encourage you to spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery as we navigate south. We pass through the ice-strewn waters making our way towards out ultimate objective, the Antarctic Circle. Given favourable ice conditions, our first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favoured landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950's.
This vicinity marks our southern-most point and from now on, we return in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. If the conditions are right, we aim to offer our overnight camping program to all adventurers somewhere in this vicinity. We have all the gear onboard and an experienced team to make this a night to remember!
Petermann Island is home to an 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 nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run around in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than you can possibly imagine. For many, a zodiac cruise here may well be a highlight of the voyage.
Days 9-10: Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
We cruise 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 viewpoints. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage.
By morning, we arrive in the South Shetland Islands. Whalers Bay at Deception Island is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian explorer and pioneer aviator, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike, high up onto the rim of the crater.
Day 11: King George Island
This morning we are anchored off King George Island. You will say farewell to many of your fellow passengers as they disembark, transfer to the airstrip and board their charter flight back to South America. There will be an opportunity to go ashore, or you may wish to relax on board, updating the diary or visit the multi-media room to download and back up your images. New guests are welcomed aboard the ship and we are soon underway - for the second leg of our epic adventure.
Days 12-14: Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
For the next three days, we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. This whole region is one large polar 'playground' with a great variety of landing sites. As always the weather and ice will dictate our route. Planned visits could include Port Charcot, Orne Harbour or Andvord Bay. All three locations offer excellent hiking opportunities, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to and land on Danco Island - a large dome-shaped island affording terrific views of the whole region from its summit. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location we could stop at for a second visit as we frequently encounter pods of humpback whales in this area. If the channel south of Brooklyn Island is ice-free, we may ship cruise through here as we push to the north into the broad expanse of the Gerlache Strait. Cierva Cove and Mikkelsen Harbour are also possible locations we could visit - both providing good zodiac cruising opportunities.
Day 15: South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
We are now on our way towards Antarctic Sound - the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. On our port side, will be the South Shetland Islands. It won't be the first time you have cruised these waters, but there are some terrific sites here, which we may go and explore. Half Moon Island is nearby and is home to a sizeable chinstrap penguin rookery. Across the MacFarlane Strait is Yankee Harbour - with its broad pebble beach - a known location for Weddell seals. If the weather is good, a second visit to Deception Island is also a possibility. It's always a thrill to navigate the ship into 'Neptune's Bellows' - and to explore inside the submerged volcanic caldera by ship and zodiac.
Days 16-17: Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, the Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As we sail into the sound we witness, for the first time the vast sweep of the Antarctic icecap. It is an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea we notice a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation - and stunning photographic opportunities in the soft Antarctic twilight. This is wild and remote Antarctica and has a distinctly different feel from locations visited so far.
The Weddell Sea region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size - some contain more than 100,000 nesting birds. Such colonies dwarf the rookeries we have visited so far. Weather permitting, excursions may include Hope Bay, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff. All eyes will be trained on the ice floes through which we navigate the ship. We have enjoyed successful sightings of emperor penguins in this area in recent years. Based on the size and plumage, our naturalists believe them to be juveniles out exploring and fishing - and possible residents of the known emperor colony on the southern side of Snow Hill Island.
The history of exploration in this region is incredibly rich. Remnants of Nordenskjoeld's Swedish expedition of 1901-1904 are found in several locations in this area. The epic century-old story of Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition has strong links to the region. It was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after their ship had been lost in the ice months earlier. As we head north and out of the Weddell Sea, the lavender pink sunset off the port quarter of the ship will make some of us pause to consider the bravery (or foolhardiness) of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before us.
Day 18: Elephant Island, Antarctica
We approach Elephant Island from the south. Point Lookout, on the southern tip of the island, is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. Both southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals are hauled out on the beaches in large numbers. If conditions permit, we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat.
Days 19-20: At Sea towards Falkland Islands
While sailing north to the Falkland Islands our onboard polar experts will recap on our Weddell Sea adventures and prepare us for the final days ahead. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species once again join us and are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. Our onboard educational program continues and our experts entertain us with presentations and lead lively discussions.
Day 21: West Point & Saunders Islands
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falkland archipelago. West Point is known for its Rockhopper penguin rookeries and large nesting black-browed Albatross colony. The opportunity to observe these spectacular birds in close proximity on the nest is an immense privilege and an experience not easy forgotten. One final highlight awaits - a visit to the wildlife- rich Saunders Island. Along the white sand beaches and in the tussock grass we hope to encounter no less than four penguin species living in close quarters including Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper - and our ultimate goal during the Falkland Island visit, observing the impressive king penguin. Saunders is a fitting end to an epic Antarctic adventure. Charting a course for the port of Stanley in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one of the life's great travel experiences.
Day 22: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
In the early morning, we navigate through the narrows and into our port. There is time to explore the town before we make our way to the airport for our return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. If you are staying in Punta Arenas, a transfer will be provided to several downtown locations.
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.
What our customers think
The Epic Antarctica concept is per se excellent if you have the time, giving both the experience of crossing the Antarctic Circle and pushing as far as possible into the Weddell Sea. As it is a combination of 2 cruises it involves some double-takes regarding landings/cruises, but that's not negative.
Per & Maria Sweden January 2018
About The Ship
Built in Finland in 1993, few expedition ships are capable of delivering such a well-appointed, comfortable Antarctic experience on board such a safe and ice strengthened vessel. Spacious cabins, modern stabilising and an outstanding expedition staff all help to enhance the adventure.
What really attracts me to this outstanding ship is her large cabins, fast speed and high ice class rating. Few expedition ships can touch her.
Alex Mudd Polar Specialist
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.
This trip can run as a group trip, with prices starting from $14,995 per person for a complete group. If you are looking to join a group or you are a solo traveller we will help to form likeminded groups of travellers. Please let us know your travel plans.
The trip can also run on a private basis to fit around your plans. Departures may be tailored and can be set up on a date of your choice. Please note that there is a higher price for smaller groups. Please enquire for further details.
Single Supplement And Child Policy
For those travelling solo and want their own cabin, the single supplement is 1.5 to 2 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 are welcome. 25% discount young traveller discount up to 17 years and 20% off for those aged 18 - 21. 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.
- Return flights P. Arenas/Falklands
- Voyage aboard the vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- Accommodation & meals during the voyage on full board
- All shore excursions and zodiac activities
- Activities including camping, photo workshops & yoga
- Educational lectures by expert onboard polar guides
- Loan of rubber boots, waterproof pants & parka jacket
- Loan of rucksack and binoculars
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port taxes and any entry fees to landing sites
- Free access to multimedia room & download stations
- Any flights to/ from voyage start & end points
- Any additional pre/post land services, including meals
- Transfers not specified in the itinerary
- Optional adventure activities (e.g. kayaking)
- Visa, passport and any vaccination expenses
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Personal Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature - laundry, beverages, etc
- Customary staff gratuity at the end of the voyage
- Additional onboard purchases (i.e. gift shop)