Treat yourself to this cruise aboard the expedition ship Akademik Ioffe and set sail for three of the world's greatest wildlife and nature destinations: the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. See massive penguin colonies, icebergs the size of city blocks, seals, whales, seabirds and much more!
|Main Deck Triple||Twin Semi Private||Twin Private||Superior Cabin||Shackleton Suite||One Ocean Suite|
|Oct 21, 2016 - Nov 8, 2016||$13,095|
|Nov 20, 2016 - Dec 8, 2016||$13,095|
|Dec 28, 2016 - Jan 15, 2017||$16,395|
Day 1 / Ushuaia, Argentina
Our epic journey to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2 / At Sea towards Falkland Islands
Sailing northeast towards the Falkland Islands we will be joined by hundreds of seabirds, including the wandering albatross, who we come to know well on this journey. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our 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 research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history of the Southern Ocean and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
Days 3 - 4 / Falkland Islands
Having arrived in the Falkland Islands overnight, we launch the zodiacs and are excited to make our first shore excursion this morning. Our plan will be to explore several locations in the West Falkland archipelago. These remote islands are home to a proliferation of seabirds and migratory birds including the stunning blackbrowed albatross. Our first penguin sightings will be on the island of West Point with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island, we observe nesting Magellanic penguins as well as oystercatchers, geese and the striated caracara – a bird of prey.
The following morning we arrive in Stanley, the capital of the Falklands Islands. As we wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses, we learn how this quiet harbour was once a major port in the 19th century for tall ships rounding the fabled Cape Horn. There are several interesting activities to enjoy today. Stanley has an excellent museum that outlines the historic events that took place during the conflict with Argentina in 1982. The waterfront memorial built to commemorate the lives of the British servicemen killed during the war is a sobering reminder of recent history. Stanley’s famed philatelic museum with its impressive collection of historic stamps is another interesting diversion.
Day 5 - 6 / At Sea
We chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia. The seabirds once again join us in the Southern Ocean. Our educational presentations continue and are always popular. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition is central to any trip to South Georgia. Perhaps you will pick up some valuable tips from our onboard photographic guide, learning about image composition, the subtle polar light and all the basics of good camera craft. We will also learn about Polar conservation - a theme particularly close to the hearts of our One Ocean Expeditions’ guides and crew.
Day 7 - 9 / South Georgia
South Georgia has often been called the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ – and, as we approach the deep bays of this rugged, rocky outcrop, you will begin to see why. Launching the zodiacs we begin our exploration of the island, in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay. Large numbers of fur seals and the much larger elephant seal will line the dark sand beaches. Living in the tussock grass, king penguins and their chicks may number up to 100,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross and they fill the skies above, coming and going from the nest.
The scenery is spectacular and the snowy peaks of the island make us pause to consider the incredible feat of mountaineering when Shackleton and his exhausted companions traversed the island from the wild south coast in 1916. They arrived into Stromness whaling station having crossed from King Haakon Bay, to raise the alarm that eventuated in the rescue of his men on Elephant Island, in Antarctica – 100 years ago.
South Georgia is a thrilling location for history buffs and the rusting relics of the early whaling industry are all around us. We hope to observe several of the old stations at locations including Leith, Husvik and Stromness. A highlight is a visit to Grytviken – the largest of the whaling stations, situated at the head of Cumberland Bay. It is here we visit the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton. For many, being in the presence of the great explorer will be a highlight of the trip. There’s an excellent museum at Grytviken, maintained by the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and the restored church, built by the original Norwegian whalers, provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Day 10 - 12 / Towards Antarctica and Elephant Island
Weather and ice will dictate our crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica, leading us perhaps to the South Orkney Islands or Elephant Island. As with all of our itinerary planning, our expedition leader and captain will make a decision based on the conditions at the time.
The South Orkney Islands represent the peaks of a submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, connecting South Georgia to the South Shetland Islands. Often shrouded in fog and surrounded by ice much of the year, a chance to visit these islands doesn’t come often.
As we edge ever closer to the frozen continent, large icebergs announce our arrival in Antarctic waters. If conditions allow, we will hope to see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, having lost HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. From the tiny beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. If conditions allow, we will attempt a landing at Point Wild on Elephant Island.
Day 13 - 16 / South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Mainland
Around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland we find the South Shetland Island chain. Possible landing sites could include King George Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point. Weather conditions permitting we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. There are some outstanding hikes at these locations and the old whaling station and aircraft hangar at Deception Island beg for further exploration.
After so much anticipation, we enter the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. Snow covered mountains soar from the dark waters. Along the shoreline in the bays and harbors of the Peninsula lives an incredible abundance of wildlife. Large rookeries are home to chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins. Seals live on the ice floes, including the powerful leopard seal that we hope to encounter. Gulls, skuas and cormorants are also found nesting and feeding at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula.
We explore by zodiac boat and ashore where a range of wonderful activities await. Locations we hope to visit include Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel. Join the photographic guide and go take close up photos of the penguins, or of the impossibly blue ice. Or enjoy a hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle with one of our adventure guides. If the opportunity presents itself, visit a science base or an old historic hut. The sea kayakers may range up to several miles from the ship, for a truly memorable experience. Each and every day, you have a range of great choices.
Day 17 - 18 / Drake Passage
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, it’s time to return to South America. The educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope 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 to some of the most remote corners of the planet. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 19 / Ushuaia, Argentina
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights 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.
About our Itinerary: Polar exploration can be unpredictable, which regularly causes variations to our itineraries. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a 'guide only' and may change. The ship's Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may block out a planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of expedition cruising, itineraries are subject to change due to weather, ice conditions, natural and cultural events, wildlife viewing opportunities and other logistical considerations. In general, a ship's crew will endeavor to complete the itinerary provided, but the ultimate decision lies with the ship's captain and expedition leaders.