The Antarctic Falklands and South Georgia cruise is arguably the best cruise in the programme. Taking in every corner of this amazing region over 19 to 20 days, this cruise brings together the fascinating history of the Falklands, unique wildlife of South Georgia and the amazing sights on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The journey begins sailing east to the Falklands with its large population of Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins along with Black-browed albatross.
The historic side of the islands is also explored before sailing on to South Georgia. Ernest Shackelton is buried here under the spectacular ice crowned mountains. The ship threads her way through magical fjords to Salisbury Plain and Gold Harbour, places so remote that they have evolved into astonishing wildlife havens boasting a 100,000-plus population of King penguins and chicks on their beaches. The island also supports significant populations of Elephant and Fur seals.
The voyage continues to the South Orkney Islands and then enters an enchanted world of icebergs and ice-covered mountains approaching the bays and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife: penguins of almost all descriptions, Leopard and smaller seals, and three or four species of whales.
Your gateway for this expedition is Ushuaia, Argentina. Nestled within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Ushuaia offers you a small-town feel but has many shops, museums, cafes and restaurants to enjoy before your voyage. If you’re feeling adventurous, the nearby national park and Martial Glacier offer plenty of hiking and outdoor activities.
As we embark, the anticipation and excitement grows. Trade your land legs for sea legs, meet and greet your fellow travellers and get acquainted with your ship. As every Antarctic adventure presents new opportunities and experiences, Embarkation day is just as exciting for your Expedition Team as it is for you. They’re on board to ensure your comfort and safety, as well as help make your wildlife dreams come true.
There are many activities to keep you engaged while we’re at sea. Learn to identify seabirds that glide alongside the ship or attend illustrated presentations by your Expedition Team. You will be prepped on procedures for your Zodiac cruises and shore landings. You’ll also be given instructions for getting the most out of your optional kayaking adventures, a truly intimate way to experience the Antarctic.
Upon arrival in this archipelago your cameras will get their first real workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged feel of the Falklands. The archipelago contains two main islands - East and West, which we will explore by Zodiac excursions and daily landings.
Port Stanley is often a favoured landing site, as the town offers a unique British outpost feel to it, complete with a bit of a ramshackle charm. You’ll be free to explore the town, grab a pint at the local pub, or visit numerous churches and museums.
In terms of wildlife, the archipelago is home to Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper penguins. If lucky, you may even spot king penguins here as well! We can expect to see black-browed albatross and two endemic species; Cobb’s wren and the Falkland’s flightless steamer duck.
Your team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna so that you get the most out of your time in the Falklands.
Sailing south, you’ll officially enter Antarctic waters by crossing the invisible biological boundary called the Antarctic Convergence. Encircling the continent, cold Antarctic waters meet and mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, creating the abundance of krill and marine life that attracts whales and seals to this part of the world. Ship staff will be sure to keep you posted when we cross this invisible, yet important line.
This remote outpost was a popular stop for many historic Antarctic expeditions and was once a haven for hunting whales and elephant and fur seals. Today, South Georgia Island wildlife populations have rebounded, but you’ll still see remnants of those old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts.
One significant and historic site that will be of interest is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, a museum, gift shop, church and a research station of approximately 20 scientists and support personnel.
While South Georgia’s history is an important attraction to the islands, it is the wildlife on South Georgia that you and your shipmates will surely find most captivating. Often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, each landing you make on South Georgia will open your eyes to a new wonder of wildlife.
One day you may see rookeries with a hundred thousand pairs of king penguins waddling on the beach. The next day we may visit another beach with thousands of fur seals or elephant seals with (non-native) reindeer grazing in the background. The grasses, mountains and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different species on the island, this fragile and symbiotic relationship is something that your Expedition Team will share with you during your time here.
Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with seminars from your Expedition Team, who will prepare you for the wildlife that will be greeting you upon your arrival in Antarctica. In between presentations, spend time chatting with your shipmates over a drink at the bar. If conditions allow, we may attempt landfall on the South Orkney Islands, which are officially in Antarctica.
The most common reaction to arriving at the white continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words, as few places are as untouched, unique and enduring as Antarctica. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes. At one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete desolation and silence, at the next moment you’ll be inspired by nature as a calving glacier crashes into the brilliant blue sea or a penguin comes waddling by to inspect your footwear.
Your Expedition Team will take care of you at each landing, whether it is trekking up a glacier, visiting a research station or consorting with penguin colonies. Chinstrap, Adelie and gentoo penguins are found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. Curious whales, such as Minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs as well, giving you a chance to get within reaching distance of these majestic animals. Each day and every landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera shutter busy.
As exciting as the Zodiac excursions and landings are, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an extra special Antarctic experience by partaking in an optional (extra cost) kayaking excursion or going for a swim in the Antarctic!
After more than two weeks of endless wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake Passage is your unofficial rite of passage, completing your Antarctic adventure.
Enjoy some final moments mingling with your fellow travellers. The noisy, busy, populated world awaits your return, so savour the silence of the sea as long as you can.
After breakfast aboard the ship, it is time to part ways and say goodbye to your Expedition Team. We will transfer you to the airport for your homeward flight.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
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.
18 nights on the ship, 1 night hotel
Full board on the ship.
The Antarctic expeditions 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 some of our Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia 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.
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