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Day 1 Buenos Aires - Starting on the right foot
Your adventure begins with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, the lovely capital of Argentina. Stroll past the well-preserved Italian and French architecture, order a delicious cut of beef in one of Buenos Aires’s many great steakhouses, or maybe even practice your dance moves in this city famous for the tango. Embrace the heat in this passionate city, because the temperature is about to drop precipitously.
We recommend arriving a few days early so you’ll have more time to explore the city. Or you could extend your stay with a Pre-Program to explore wild Patagonia?
Day 2 Buenos Aires/Ushuaia - Southernmost city in the world
Estimated time of departure is 7:00 PM
It’s early to rise for our flight to Ushuaia, where our hybrid electric–powered expedition ship MS Fridtjof Nansen awaits you. This port city competes with the Chilean town of Puerto Williams for the title that they both seem to covet: the southernmost city in the world. Overlooking the city is the Martial Glacier, creating an impressive mountain backdrop for the ‘end of the world’.
After the mandatory health and safety meeting on the ship, the Expedition Team will kick off your journey by hosting a welcome dinner. Then you can then spend some time getting to know the ship that will be your home for the next several days.
Day 3-4 Drake Passage
In order to arrive in Antarctica, we must first cross the infamous Drake Passage. It was named after the English sea captain and privateer Sir Francis Drake, who discovered it by chance in 1578 when heavy winds forced his ship south. Since there is no landmass at this latitude, wind and water flow freely, making it hard for ships to sail. But don’t worry, even the ‘Drake Shake’ isn’t a big deal for our modern expedition ship.
It takes two days to cross the Drake Passage, which is roughly 620 miles wide. That means you’ll have some time on your hands, which is definitely a good thing—there is plenty to do to prepare yourself for the Antarctic adventure. The Expedition Team will draw on decades of experience for the lecture program in the Science Center. There, you will learn how to make your visit as safe as possible, and how to leave the smallest environmental footprints on this pristine environment so that our visits are as sustainable as possible. For example, in accordance with IAATO guidelines, everyone wears sterilized rubber boats when ashore and we must vacuum our clothing before we land on shore to remove all possible foreign contaminants. You will also learn how to participate in hands-on Citizen Science projects, all of which contribute to current science research projects.
MS Fridtjof Nansen is worthy of your exploration. Work out in the indoor or outdoor gym or indulge in a spa treatment in our Wellness Area. There are also three superb restaurants on board serving delicious meals that are a treat for both your eyes and taste buds. But even among these amenities, don’t forget to venture onto the deck from time to time to keep an eye out for your first iceberg and to spot wildlife such as whales, and different types of petrels and albatross.
Day 5-9 Antarctica
Welcome to Antarctica. Here, surrounded by icy waters, glaciers, and icebergs as big as cathedrals, you may feel like you’ve arrived in a new world. Antarctica is magnificent, mesmerizing, and massive. Stop for a moment and take it all in. The awe-inspired silence doesn’t last forever, though—it is inevitably broken when enthusiastic cheers spontaneously erupt throughout the ship at the sight of wildlife such as penguins, whales or seals.
Just as the Antarctic icescapes change throughout its seasons, so does the wildlife. In late austral spring, from October to November, there is much more snow, making the landscapes seem even more pristine. This is the backdrop for penguin courting and nest building. Whales are still few and far in between during this time. Most are on their way and begin to arrive in greater numbers by December and January. The arrival of more whales marks the height of austral summer, which is also when the penguin chicks hatch. Seeing those clumsy clumps of feathers running around is always a charming sight. February and March are peak whale-watching months, when huge amounts of krill lure the whales into the area.
The Expedition Team will seize every opportunity to take you ice-cruising and on landings to get closer to the impressive scenery and wildlife. Penguin spotting from the ship was pretty exciting, but nothing compares to the wonderous experience of seeing them on shore. Imagine the feeling when a seal or whale suddenly appears next to you when cruising in our small boats (RIBs) or when kayaking (an optional activity). Needless to say, keep your camera at the ready. For a heightened feeling of discovery, the expert Expedition Team members will give talks on fascinating subjects like the frozen continent’s history, the biology of the local wildlife, and Antarctica’s glaciology.
Day 10-11 Drake Passage
After exploring remote and wild Antarctica over five days, the time has come to sail back home. By this point, lifelong memories will fill your head and your heart. Hopefully, you will have captured many of these special moments with your camera. But you know these will be experiences you’ll never forget. Maybe you’ll spend the next few days, during our return crossing of the Drake Passage, going through your pictures to try and stay connected to Antarctica—and the whole experience—just a little bit longer. The Expedition Team will be doing the same thing in the Science Center, as they recap the journey’s many experiences. Enjoy time at your leisure working out in one of many of the ships’ facilities, or discuss your Antarctic journey over a drink with a new friend in the Explorer Lounge and Bar.
Day 12 Ushuaia/Buenos Aires
Estimated time of arrival is 7:00 AM
Back at Ushuaia, your expedition cruise is at its end. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires, where you’ll have a second chance to explore the Argentine capital. Since you’re already here, why not extend your stay and keep your adventure going even longer by joining our Post-Program to the magnificent Iguazú Falls?
You have traveled to the bottom of the world and back. You’ve seen the fabled seventh continent with your own eyes and have enchanting stories (and penguin photos) to prove it. Antarctica will likely hold a place in your heart unlike anywhere else on the planet. As one the special few who have had the opportunity to visit the Great White Continent, we must consider all that needs to be done, and all that we can do, to help preserve the most fragile of ecosystems and its unique beauty.