DAY 1: Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia is the most southerly city in the world and the capital of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). It has a dramatic setting, surrounded by mountains to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south, making it a spectacular departure point for your Antarctic adventure. On arrival at Ushuaia Airport, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. Should you not be able to contact them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office. Your cruise itinerary begins with an overnight stay in Ushuaia. If you arrive into Ushuaia early enough, the day is yours to explore. Avenida San Martin and the surrounding streets are where most hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes and tourist services are located. The Museo Marítimo y del Presidio de Ushuaia (Maritime & the Prison of Ushuaia Museum) is well worth a visit. Located in the former prison of Ushuaia, the prison buildings now house four museums - the Maritime Museum, the Prison Museum, the Antarctic Museum and the Marine Museum of Art. The buildings date back to 1906 when convicts were transferred from Isla de los Estados to Ushuaia to build this national prison. Construction was completed in 1920 and the cells that were designed for 380 inmates, held up to 800 prisoners before closing in 1947. Tierra del Fuego National Park is a short bus ride from Ushuaia and was the first shoreline national park established in Argentina. It is a rugged, mountainous park with great views of Lapataia Bay and dramatic scenery of waterfalls, mountains, glaciers and lakes. There are many hiking trails within the park including the Coastal Path (Senda Costera) that connects Ensenada Bay to Lapataia Bay on Lago Roca. The park is home to many species of animal including the guanaco, Andean fox, North American beaver, European rabbit and muskrat. There are also many species of birds including the torrent duck, kelp goose, austral parakeet, Andean condor and the Magellanic oystercatcher. The Fin del Mundo Train (End of the World Train) is a steam train that runs from Ushuaia to Tierra del Fuego National Park, providing an alternative way to get to the park.
DAY 2: Embarkation in Ushuaia
This morning is free for you to explore Ushuaia, giving you time to wander the streets of this quaint port town, or discover Tierra del Fuego National Park. Transfer to the pier of Ushuaia for embarkation in the late afternoon. You will be welcomed on board the Ocean Endeavour by the Expedition Team and the Ship’s Officers. This evening we set sail through the Beagle Channel that was named after the British ship the HMS Beagle. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America, and is rich in wildlife. Keep a look out for Magellanic penguins, rock cormorants, petrels and black-browed albatross from the deck as well as sea lion colonies. Enjoy your first taste of life at sea and a welcome dinner. The air is likely to be filled with anticipation, as your next view of land will be of Antarctica - the White Continent.
DAY 3-4: At Sea
As we leave the Beagle Channel, prepare yourself for potentially rough seas as we enter the legendary Drake Passage. This infamous and unpredictable channel of water separates the southernmost tip of South America from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was named after the English explorer, Sir Frances Drake. As we head southwards, there is time to get to know your shipmates and get an insight into the excitement ahead with presentations from the Expedition Team on everything Antarctic - from the history and geology to the incredible wildlife. We will notice a drop in temperature as we cross the Antarctic Convergence and enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. At the Antarctic Convergence, the colder polar waters flowing north meet the warmer equatorial waters flowing south. This mixing pushes nutrient rich waters to the surface, attracting a variety of seabirds, whales and other species. Look out through the panoramic observation windows or brave the elements outside on deck as you keep your eyes peeled for albatrosses flying overhead, icebergs and maybe even breaching whales. Leaving the Antarctic Convergence in our wake, we continue south towards Antarctica, maybe making landfall by early evening on Day 4, if conditions are favourable. The first sighting of land always brings great excitement, and is often embraced as the true beginning of any Antarctic expedition.
DAY 5-8: South Shetlands & Antarctica
For the next four days we explore the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula that is famed for its majestic mountains, glaciers, imposing icebergs, ice-strewn waters and abundance of wildlife. The scenery, wildlife and serene silence of Antarctica will enchant and enthral and you will soon realise why this region has captivated the attention of explorers and travellers for centuries. Your days on the Antarctic Peninsula will form the core of your adventure. Every day will be different as we cruise by Zodiac amongst the beautifully sculpted icebergs and take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore local bays, channels and landing sites. Unpredictable weather and ice conditions mean that the itinerary will be flexible, but will make the most of wildlife sightings, as we aim to explore penguin rookeries, seal and bird colonies, whale feeding areas as well as visiting sites of historic and scientific interest and climbing to vantage points for panoramic views. There is always something new or unexpected to see, with opportunities for kayaking, snowshoeing and photography with an expert, which means that your expedition will be a unique and personal experience and unlike any other. Enjoy the antics of thousands of curious penguins as you sit on a pebbled beach, scout for whales and seals as you cruise by Zodiac, visit a research base, listen out for the mighty crack of a calving glacier and maybe brave a polar plunge in the icy waters! As we cruise through the Peninsula, the lecture programme continues and sightseeing is at its most spectacular off the ship’s outer decks. Enjoy the Ocean Endeavour’s newly designed health and fitness features, with facilities that include a spa, His and Hers saunas, saltwater pool and gym plus yoga sessions.
DAY 9-10: Antarctic Circle
If weather conditions are favourable, we will continue to push south, past vast icebergs, in the hope of reaching latitude 66°33' S to cross the fabled Antarctic Circle. This is a point that only a few intrepid travellers have reached, an impressive achievement and one worthy of a celebration! We will toast ourselves and toast the first explorers who ventured this far south. The area is home to Weddell seals and beautifully sculptured ice formations and we may see humpback whales and minke whales that feed on the krill-rich waters.
DAY 11: South Shetlands & Antarctica
Heading north once more, we will continue to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands, keeping a close watch for wildlife and scanning the waters for whale activity. Make the most of the on board facilities, and enjoy your final Zodiac excursions and shore landings.
DAY 12-13: At Sea
Leaving the Antarctic Peninsula behind, we head back across the Drake Passage. This is another great opportunity to look out for wildlife from the deck of the ship, as you identify seabirds and maybe whales with the help of your Expedition Team. Gain more insight into the region by attending final lectures and presentations by the polar experts and take time to relax and reminisce about your Antarctic experiences. By the evening we hope to be back in the tranquil waters of the Beagle Channel, ensuring a restful nights sleep on board.
DAY 14: Disembarkation in Ushuaia
We are scheduled to arrive into Ushuaia early this morning, disembarking after a final breakfast aboard the Ocean Endeavour. Transfer to the airport for your onward flight, or maybe spend a few days in Ushuaia, giving you time to explore further, maybe hiking in Tierra del Fuego National park.
Please Note: You are advised not to book a flight out of Ushuaia before midday on disembarkation day, in case of delays caused by unfavourable weather conditions. Cruise itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions, ice conditions and other factors