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This is an astonishing Antarctic expedition into the heart of the Peninsula. It is a heady and inspiring cocktail of towering blue icebergs which refract searing blues and greens, whether against piercing clear skies or slate grey ones.
It is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife: penguins of almost all descriptions, Leopard and smaller seals and whales, seen from the shore, the Zodiacs and from on board.
This is a journey that appeals to many: photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, ornithologists or those who simply want to marvel at the peaks of Deception Island or the striking colours of Iceberg Alley in the most immaculate wilderness anywhere.
Morning is free to explore Ushuaia and the surrounding area, to do some last minute shopping, stroll around Ushuaia and down to the port or maybe go for a walk in the nearby National Park. The transfer to the ship takes place in the afternoon.
Once on board there is a get together for introductions to the expedition team, to learn about the ship and its layout, talk about the itinerary for the next 10 days and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill.
Departure from Ushuaia is normally around 6:00 pm, and we set sail through the Beagle Channel in the early evening. The long days mean plenty of evening light in which to experience the beauty of the channel, and to perhaps enjoy your first wildlife sightings.
Sea conditions in the Drake Passage can vary from dead calm (known as 'Drake Lake'), to rough and stormy (known as 'Drake Shake'). As you cross the Drake Passage the on board team of experts are out on deck to help you spot whales and identify seabirds. There is also a program of talks, covering the wildlife, the ice, and polar history. This prepares you for your adventure to the 'White Continent'.
The excitement intensifies as you cross the Antarctic Convergence, where the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean meet the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You feel the change as the air gets cooler. Huge icebergs loom up against the horizon in increasing numbers, and Wandering albatrosses, petrels and other birds which thrive in this cold, remote ocean are frequently seen.
When the Antarctic Convergence is left you will truly begin your Antarctic adventure. It is perhaps the first sight of land itself that is embraced as the true beginning of any Antarctic expedition. You will finally begin to appreciate why this region has long captivated the attention of explorers and travellers alike.
Every visit to Antarctica you may witness something new or unexpected, meaning your expedition will be unlike any other - creating a unique, personal experience. You will take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore bays, channels and landing sites each day.
With wildlife always at the forefront of our minds you will visit penguin rookeries, scout for Humpback and Minke whales and search for a number of the southern seal species, including the cunning Leopard Seal. The majesty of the Peninsula's mountains will enchant as we scramble up snowy pathways to vantage points offering 360° views of our surroundings. One of these in particular, in Orne Harbor, gives the opportunity to visit a chinstrap penguin colony high up on a ridge.
Amidst the peaceful silence of Antarctica, noisy interruptions become indelible memories such as penguins squabbling over prized pebbles or the boom and crack of a calving glacier in Neko Harbour. As we sail from island to shore to bay during our four days in the Peninsula, the Expedition Team will educate and entertain. We’ll provide opportunities for quiet contemplation, activities for testing endurance and more than enough wildlife interactions to satisfy our curiosity.
Leaving the Antarctic Peninsula overnight the ship heads back across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage. The crossing is completed with the rounding of Cape Horn, weather permitting.
In the early morning you arrive back in Ushuaia where your voyage ends. You are transferred either to town on to the airport for your onward flight to Buenos Aires.
Cruises of 10 days have 1 less day at the Antarctic Peninsula!
Ocean Endeavour is a comfortable, well-appointed expedition ship carrying a maximum of just 199 passengers. The ship has an ice-strengthened hull, Zodiacs for exploration and remote landings, generous deck space and advanced navigation equipment. The ship offers a superb guest experience with a nautical lounge, two restaurants, sundeck, and plenty of deck space for observation of polar landscapes, and lounges for learning and reflection. The ship’s interiors have a contemporary aesthetic that provides a bright and spacious feel to the cabins and common spaces.
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Sail aboard the Ocean Diamond a modern, stable super-yacht and experience Antarctica. Carrying a maximum of 189 passengers this outstanding vessel, features onboard amenities such as a massage and wellness program and a well-stocked polar library. The Ocean Diamond is staffed with Quark’s legendary captains, officers, expedition leaders, and guides.
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Originally built in 1975, the Sea Adventurer underwent a USD13 million conversion in 1998 and has a proud reputation as a well-appointed and elegant expedition ship. Carrying just 117 passengers the Sea Adventurer has all the necessary equipment for exploration, including Zodiacs for shore landings and kayaks on selected cruises. On-board she also offers fine dining and comfortable cabins, all with exterior views and en-suite facilities.
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Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions.
9 nights on the ship.
Full board while on the ship.
The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers' wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.
On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are 'wet' which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.
Sea kayaking option
On many of our Antarctic voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship, and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are expertly guided, and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available. Basic kayak competence is required; please ask for the Kayaking Information Sheet for more detail.
Camping on Ice option
Spending a night camping on ice is a unique experience we offer on some of our Antarctic departures. No previous experience is needed to participate in our camping option. We provide the equipment: you contribute a desire for a personal and intimate connection with the continent.
Mountaineering option On some of our Antarctic voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to participate in a mountaineering option. This is an awe-inspiring experience from the first step to the final glissade - the last slide on your descent. You can expect to summit 2 or 3 small Antarctic peaks. All equipment is provided, and although no previous experience is required, you will be using crampons, harness, and an ice axe; some technical climbing is involved.
Cross-country skiing option
On some of our Antarctic voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to participate in a cross-country skiing option. It is impossible to imagine a continent better suited to cross-country skiing, the earliest method of transport used by Antarctic explorers.
Diving in Antarctica does not only offer ice, but also an interesting marine life, such as kelp walls, sea-snails, crabs, sea butterflies, various Antarctic fish, shrubby horse-tails, jelly-fishes, sea-hedgehogs, starfishes, krill and giant isopods. You may have the possibility to snorkel or dive with Fur seals, Leopard seals and Penguins.The dive sites will vary from shallow ice diving, diving along a wall, from a beach or from the zodiac. The maximum depth is around 20 metres / 60 feet.
Especially on early departures at the beginning of the season there are still snow covered hills and mountains further inland. During voyages to the Antarctic we are planning on offering hiking excursions with snowshoes. Snowshoe walking is easy and does not require any technical skills. With the use of snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snow surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board. Those will fit all boot sizes and can be used in combination with the provided rubber boots.
Normal group size and age
Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff. Minimum age 18.
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