Christmas in Antarctica: Dec 20-30, 2018

Experience the ultimate ‘White Christmas’ on a memorable voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Towering glaciers, amazing wildlife encounters, snow-covered landscapes, massive icebergs and the option to choose your favorite activities each day make this voyage the perfect way to spend the holiday season.

Planned stops could include:

Your travel expert:

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Day 1

Note: This trip commences in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We recommend arriving in Ushuaia at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure. This gives you a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and voyage embarkation. 

Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon. Gather at the central meeting point and transfer to the pier to embark the expedition ship. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as everyone enjoys a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.

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Day 2 – 3

The captain will chart a southerly course for Antarctica. The Drake Passage is rich in bio-diversity and showcases a great abundance of wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the 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 expedition vessel. Throughout the day, on-board experts educate with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history and the locations hoped to visit in the coming days. As you approach the coastline of Antarctica, you will encounter more icebergs and anticipate your first whale sightings.

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Day 4

Awaken today with the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica laid out before you. Even the experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
 

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Day 5 – 7

The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow.

Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. Seals are frequently encountered, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.

The activity program is in full swing and all guests are encouraged to choose how their adventure unfolds. Every day an exciting range of activities are planned, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity. Meanwhile, sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. The resident photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, simply watching the penguins come and go from the water? Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.

Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula could include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands and Fournier Bay – or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favorite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline that a night on shore is planned, camping in Antarctica. You will have all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen – all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and can never be guaranteed on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, rest assured, the crew will always go for it. Camping is included and you can decide to participate on the day. There is no need to pre-book.

After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor – expect sightings of humpbacks, or the resident pod of Orca that inhabit this stretch of water.

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Day 8

By morning you’ll arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, the ship will into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, 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. After leaving Deception Island, cruise along the coast of Livingston Island which in a sunny day is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the South Shetland’s including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where Weddell seals sunning themselves are sometimes encountered. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise. Hannah Point, with it’s elephant seal colony and nesting Antarctic petrels – is another possibility. In the evening, navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage.

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Day 9 – 10

Make your way back to South America, while the educational presentations continue and you enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by the Expedition Leader. Join the photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, the crew hopes 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, enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

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Day 11

In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. You will be transported to your hotels or to the airport for your return flight 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.

Included

– The use of an expedition gear package containing around $900 worth of essential equipment such as a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants, insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking, binoculars, a trekking pole and waterproof backpack. This kit saves you from buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only  use once and eliminates the need to carry such cumbersome gear to and from the ship.

– Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip

– Transfers from a central meeting point in Ushuaia on Day 1 and from the port to the airport (or a downtown hotel) at the conclusion of your voyage on Day 11

– Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes

– All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea

– 24 hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar/lounge plus in cabin tea and coffee making facilities

– Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists,
historians, adventure guides and photographers

– Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings

– Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities

– Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits

– Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists,
historians etc). On-board or on shore

– Resident photography guide available to assist all guests plus access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management

– An emergency trained physician on board every voyage

– Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff

– On-board sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness center including massage options (charge applies for massage and treatments)

– Access to well stocked library full of polar reference books

– End of voyage video, photos and take home USB

– Port fees and all permits to access visited areas

– Overnight Camping is complimentary, although always dependent on favorable weather and ice conditions on shore.

Excluded

– Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary

– Visa and passport expenses

– Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)

– Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)

– Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses

– Sea kayaking is available for an additional $795 per person and must be reserved at the time of booking. Some experience required.

– Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)

– Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all
voyages)

– Any new government taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control

– A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount is US$12-15 per day)