Antarctic whale safari

After spending 10 nights on board our vessel exploring this wonderful part of the world, we are certain our guests will leave Antarctica with a completely different perspective than when they arrived. After all, it would be impossible to feel quite the same after gazing upon an unimaginable profusion of penguins tobogganing and waddling their way across the snow – or watching yet another species of whale crest the waves in close proximity. And then there is the awe you will feel when you first glimpse the sweeping ice sheet that spans an entire continent. Antarctica gets under your skin unlike any other place on earth.

Sailing in comfort aboard the Akademik Ioffe, we begin this 10 night expedition at the tip of South America. We chart a course through the Drake Passage and make visits along the way through the South Shetland Islands. When we arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula, be prepared to be dazzled. Even our experienced crew members many of whom have visited the southern region a hundred times or more are still astonished by its pristine beauty. The abundance of wildlife here is truly extraordinary including five seal species, massive penguin rookeries of gentoo, Adelies and chinstraps as well as a profusion of seabirds from albatross to skuas. It is nature you will experience up close and personal on frequent excursions inland.

Our journey will take us to Petermann Island or Wilhelmina Bay where we encounter colossal icebergs and, of course, the ice landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Hardy adventurers or those with a yen for history have the chance to camp out on the ice overnight and feel the thrill and audacity of early explorers who attempted to conquer this continent.

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 but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.

Day 1 / Ushuaia
Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the vessel in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with ‘our home’ for the next 11 days we cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.

Days 2 – 3 / Drake Passage
Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as we make our way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as our numerous Polar experts prepare us for our adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence where we will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, we will witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and even several whale species some of which are known on occasion to fully breach from the sea.

Days 4 – 8 / Antarctic Peninsula
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, we will hope to make as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature’s glory. Planned excursions might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay and even the southerly Petermann Island, where we will observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a shocking abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of the comical Adelie penguin. At Half Moon Island we will observe a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and possibly have an opportunity to observe orcas and Minke whales as we go.

We finally arrive on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. Prepare to be dazzled by your first glimpse of the continent. The scenery here is amazing. In particular we will be struck by the oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures, as well as the colossal ‘tabular’ icebergs that break away from the continent’s ice shelf. We hope the weather will be mild enough to allow us all to step foot on the White Continent itself. Some may wish to camp on shore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether it is onboard or onshore expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet.

Days 9 – 10 / Drake Passage
As we leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, we have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner.

Day 11 / Ushuaia
In the early morning, we will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.

INSURANCE:
Travel insurance is mandatory for all expedition cruises, including a medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. The repatriation/evacuation must be insured at cost, not a maximum amount. In case of a medical problem arising during the voyage, either on board or on shore, which results in costs for medical treatment, evacuation, use of aircraft or repatriation etc. the responsibility for payment of these costs belongs solely to the passenger. It is mandatory for the passenger to ensure that such eventualities are covered by travel insurance (incl. medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance). In any case, if not covered by appropriate travel insurance the responsibility still remains with the passenger and PolarXL and its partners specifically decline any responsibility whatsoever.

Although not mandatory, we strongly recommend taking out a cancellation insurance for your cruise. During the booking on the PolarXL website you can indicate if you want to take out a cancellation insurance through PolarXL. Alternatively, you can decide to take out the insurance yourself at your insurance agency.
The itinerary for all expedition cruises is for guidance only and this also applies to this particular cruise. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board who will keep you informed on possibilities during the cruise. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

Regarding cruises in the Spitsbergen waters: since 2015 ships cruising in the waters around Spitsbergen must have either a local pilot or a two licensed officers on board. In case of a pilot coming on board this will mean the pilot will take control of the ship and the route. In some instances it is necessary for one of the ship’s officers to take the pilot exemption test during a cruise. This will also mean the pilot has control of the ship and the route. In case a pilot takes control of the ship it could mean that the route can partly not be done as described on our website.
This is a local law and neither PolarXL nor its partners can accept any responsibility for changes in the route should this happen.

The species mentioned on our website all regularly occur in the area mentioned. PolarXL can not guarantee you will see a certain number of species or animals, nor can we guarantee which animals you will see. In certain cases you will see fewer animals than indicated, in certain cases you will see more and different animals than indicated.

PLEASE NOTE:
The itinerary for all expedition cruises is for guidance only and this also applies to this particular cruise. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board who will keep you informed on possibilities during the cruise. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

Regarding cruises in the Spitsbergen waters: since 2015 ships cruising in the waters around Spitsbergen must have either a local pilot or a two licensed officers on board. In case of a pilot coming on board this will mean the pilot will take control of the ship and the route. In some instances it is necessary for one of the ship’s officers to take the pilot exemption test during a cruise. This will also mean the pilot has control of the ship and the route. In case a pilot takes control of the ship it could mean that the route can partly not be done as described on our website.
This is a local law and neither PolarXL nor its partners can accept any responsibility for changes in the route should this happen.

The species mentioned on our website all regularly occur in the area mentioned. PolarXL can not guarantee you will see a certain number of species or animals, nor can we guarantee which animals you will see. In certain cases you will see fewer animals than indicated, in certain cases you will see more and different animals than indicated.

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