This voyage follows in the wake (and footsteps) of Sir Ernest Shackleton and travels to one of Antarctica's hidden gems, the Weddell Sea.
The itinerary sails into a land of icebergs, whose volcanic islands are a haven for birdlife and a great place to experience wildlife amid stunning scenery.
En route to your destination, there should be good whale watching opportunities in these feeding grounds for humpback whales. You’ll also explore the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands on a series of exciting excursions including Paulet Island, Brown Bluff and even the southerly Snow Hill Island, where you will observe Weddell and elephant seals, seabirds and penguins.
A typical Weddell Sea Explorer itinerary is shown below, however durations vary depending on expedition vessel and date.
Day1: Embark in Ushuaia and set sail
Days2-3: Cross the Drake Passage to the Atlantic Convergence
Cross the infamous Drake Passage to reach the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Frozen South. When you cross the Antarctic Convergence, you arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone - in this area you may see wandering albatrosses, grey headed albatrosses, black- browed albatrosses, light- mantled sooty albatrosses, Cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels and Antarctic petrels.
The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that you have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Captain William Smith of the brig Williams.
Days4-6: Explore the Weddell Sea
The Weddell Sea represents the centre of the Peninsula´s adélie penguin population – you’ll find huge numbers on Devil Island and Paulet Island. Occasionally juvenile emperor penguins have been sighted, riding ice floes in this area.
This region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Four visitor sites have links to this expedition: Hope Bay, Paulet Island, Snow Hill Island, and Cape Well-Met on Vega Island. Nordenskjöld´s expedition was the first to overwinter in the Peninsula. His ship the Antarctic, under the command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen, was trapped in the ice and sank, but the men survived on different locations and even managed to carry out significant scientific research in the area.
Days7-9: Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
You will have plenty of time to explore the Antarctic Peninsula’s amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways, and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from gentoo and chinstrap penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as minke whales and orcas at close range.
Further exploration takes you to the South Shetland Islands; this volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauling out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, as is visiting the crescent shaped island Half Moon, home to chinstrap penguins in breathtaking surroundings.
Days10-11: Sail back across the Drake Passage
You leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage, searching for more seabirds and whales en route.
Day12: Arrive in Ushuaia and disembark
You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.
Duration and price excluding international flights: 12 daysfrom £9,000 pp
Group size: Varies according to vessel
When to go: Nov-Mar
Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
Included in the price/package:
Accommodation in twin-share cabin
All meals on board ship
Guided shore excursions
The remote eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the white continents hidden gems. A deeply incised, 2,000-kilometre wide bay, the upwelling of cold water provides food for any creature hardy enough to withstand the intense cold. It is also famed for its huge ice shelves and flat-topped icebergs.
The Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the great white continent with some of its best wildlife and scenery. Ice-choked waterways, sculpted icebergs, imposing glaciers and rugged mountains provide the back drop to an area with more whales and dolphins than anywhere else on earth.
The South Shetland Islands are situated north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of the land is permanently glaciated, yet, despite the harsh conditions, the islands do support a large variety of seals, penguins – including Adelie and chinstrap - and seabirds – including Antarctic terns and giant petrels.
Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, elephant seal, chinstrap penguin, gentoo penguin, southern right whale
This itinerary is available on the following
Small and manoeuvrable, the Polar Pioneer is an ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and crew.
The Ushuaia is an ice-strengthened vessel specially refurbished for Antarctic expedition voyages. She boasts 46 cabins and suites for a total of 88 passengers, and has a fantastic observation lounge designed to maximise wildlife viewing. A fleet of Zodiac inflatables is used for shore landings.