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Day 1 Santiago de Chile - Dynamic diversity
Your expedition starts with an overnight stay in Santiago, Chile’s energetic cultural epicenter. Its many museums, beautiful architecture, and top-notch restaurants provide all the captivating points of interest you would expect of a large capital city. There are a wide range of sites and attractions, so you’ll only be limited by time, not options.
Ride the historic funicular up to Cerro San Cristóbal for sweeping views of the city and the Andean glaciers that serve as a backdrop. This is the city’s largest park, and hosts the national zoo and botanic gardens. The park is located next to the hip Bella Vista neighborhood, with chilled-out cafés and Latin-inspired bars and clubs by night that make it the perfect spot to visit. Stroll to the 18th-century presidential palace and down to the Plaza de Armas, the historical heart of the city. Don’t worry, you will have plenty of photo opportunities strolling through the region and its many landmarks.. If you have time, head to the Mercado Central fish market to sample classic Chilean seafood stew, caldillo de congrio.
Want more time to explore the capital? That’s understandable and why we recommend coming a few days early. Perhaps even join one of our amazing Pre-Programs, to the amazing Atacama Desert or Chilean Patagonia.
Day 2 Santiago de Chile/Punta Arenas
Estimated time of departure is 7:00 PM
You’ll be leaving Santiago early in the morning to catch your flight in Santiago, so make sure to set your alarm. From the airport, you fly to Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s southernmost region, located on the Brunswick Peninsula, just north of the Strait of Magellan. This once-booming penal colony reached its peak during the gold-rush and sheep-farming periods of the 1880s and early 1900s. Now, it is one of only two low-tax ports in Chile.
MS Fram will be waiting for you, ready to embark on its expedition cruise to Antarctica. After you board the ship, you’ll meet the Expedition Team and some of the crew members. They will conduct a health and safety meeting, which is mandatory for all guests, before setting sail. Head out to the observation deck to wave goodbye to Punta Arenas as we set off on our southward course. Then head to the Explorer Lounge & Bar to enjoy your favorite drink and turn your imagination toward Antarctica—all while taking in the fantastic views from the bar.
Day 3 At sea - Across the Strait of Magellan
After your epic voyage is over, it will dawn on you that it was here, in the Strait of Magellan, where your adventure truly began. It was named after the Portuguese explorer Fernando de Magallanes, who discovered it while leading a Spanish expedition to circumnavigate the globe in 1520. Soak up the mesmerizing views that surround you, and consider Fernando and his crew, who charted these waters in a rickety ship 500 years ago.
With our course set for the Falkland Islands, you’ll now be in the hands of the expert Expedition Team. You will find that they are not just inspirationallecturers and attentive hosts, but bonafide adventurers who all have their fair share of exciting stories and information to share. Their enthusiasm is contagious, whether the lecture deals with marine biology, Arctic survival, oceanography, or photography. Feed off this energy and the anticipation will continue to build! Join them in the lecture hall and in the Science Center to learn about the interesting history and fascinating wildlife of the Falkland Islands. Want to be even more hands-on? Attend art classes and even learn how to tie knots for when you go on landings.
Some of the best times play out in our restaurants, located on the aft of the ship. You’ll be sure to note that every table, no matter where it is placed, has an amazing view of the scenery. The Strait looks particularly good while soaking in the outdoor hot tubs on deck 7.
Day 4-6 The Falkland Islands - Charming island life
The Falkland Islands are probably best known for their checkered past. They were discovered by the British and then settled by the French and Spanish. Later, they were fought over during the Falklands War between Argentina and Great Britain. The allure of these islands is immediately evident. Their natural beauty will delight you throughout the three days we spend exploring them.
The windswept green hills are home to large farms that have been family-owned for generations. And the beaches! If it weren’t for the Arctic wind for here, the white sand and clear, azure waters might be mistaken for the Caribbean. Colonies of penguins waddle alongside grazing sheep, while caracaras patrol overhead and geese forage at the water’s edge.
There are nearly 800 islands here, and the list of possible sites to visit is just as long. Rather than confining ourselves to a fixed itinerary, we prefer to be flexible and keep our exploration spontaneous. After all, this is an adventure! The Expedition Team and the captain will take note of the sea and weather conditions at all times and pick the safest and best sites for that day. Whether we set foot on Saunders Island, West Point, Carcass Island, or one of the many other locations we could visit, you can rest assured that those spots are the safest and best options for your expedition.
One of our most likely places to visit is Stanley, the capital of the archipelago on East Falkland. This little town is a great place explore on foot and an excellent jumping-off point for several optional excursions. In the center of town, don’t miss its nice selection of local shops. Maybe even pop in at an English pub to share a pint with the friendly locals.
Day 7-8 At sea - Cruising the South Atlantic
After the Falkland Islands, we will spend two days cruising toward beautiful South Georgia. Known as the ‘Galápagos of the Poles’, you can look forward to an archipelago of impressive and diverse wildlife.
That’s still a couple of days away, though. In the meantime, learn from the Expedition Team and pay close attention as they prepare you off on what to expect. They will tell you everything they know about South Georgia, including information about the area’s wildlife, polar history, geology, and glaciology, as well as the legendary Norwegian whalers.
One of the most fascinating stories is that of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the ill-fated ship Endurance. These stories are filled with amazing feats of bravery. You’ll also learn how to make your visit as safe and sustainable as possible. You also have the opportunity to join Citizen Science programs to help collect data for current scientific research projects.
Day 9-13 South Georgia - The Serengeti of the Southern Ocean
If you love wildlife, you’re going to love South Georgia. Nicknames such as ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ and ‘Galápagos of the Poles’ are heavy claims, but the islands more than live up to their reputation. You’ll understand why wildlife photographers from around the world flock to South Georgia.
Uniquely positioned inside the Antarctic ecosystem yet outside the reach of sea ice, South Georgia is the ideal home for thousands of breeding penguins and seals. There are notable populations of king penguins, who prefer the warmer weather here than their emperor penguin cousins in Antarctica. Both South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have been identified an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), supporting many seabirds, including albatross, penguins, petrels, shags, skuas, and terns.
We will spend five days in South Georgia. Our plan is to head ashore at several possible places and take you close to the wilderness and wildlife. One such place is the settlement of Grytviken, home to a Norwegian seaman’s church built in 1913 and the final resting place of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
However, like our time in the Falklands, our itinerary is not set in stone. We know all the interesting sites and penguin colonies where we may take you, but we always adjust our plans according to the weather conditions. That’s what makes our expedition cruises so memorable.
Day 14 At sea - Antarctica bound
After lengthy stays in both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, you will have fully immersed yourself in these amazing destinations and their wildlife. Our Expedition Team will now focus your attention on the main event of your expedition: Antarctica. They will offer comprehensive lectures and presentations covering polar explorer history, the environment and, of course, the wildlife of the region.
Throughout our journey, the Expedition Team will take water samples for you to study under the microscopes in the Science Center, allowing you to even see wildlife at the cellular level.
As we approach Antarctica, the Expedition Team will talk about the strict environmental guidelines and the IAATO sustainability rules that we follow. This continent is dedicated to peace, science, and tourism. No human activity is permitted that might interfere with Antarctica’s delicate natural balance. Our motto is to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures! Although even then, we sometimes wipe away our footprints to prevent penguins from getting stuck in them!
As always, the ship’s amenities are available for you to enjoy. Now is your chance to work up a sweat in the gym or the sauna, if you haven’t already. Don’t forget to stroll out on the deck from time to time on your way to Antarctica. Spotting your first huge iceberg is always a highlight.
Day 15-19 Antarctica - A world of ice and wonder
Forget all your past experiences. Antarctica is in a league of its own. No matter how high your expectations, Antarctica never disappoints. Holding 90% of the world’s ice, the Great White Continent gives meaning to the word ‘massive’. The only country in the world with more surface area is Russia. Land lays underneath the ice, but in certain places you would have to dig through two and a half miles of snow and ice to reach it.
You will probably see your first seals and penguins from the ship, and that in itself is a fantastic experience. Nothing compares, however, to standing on the same shore as a colony of thousands of penguins. Same goes for the seals that might pop up beside you as you enjoy an optional kayaking activity among the icebergs. In the thrill of the moment, you might not even remember to reach for your camera to take a picture!
Just as the Antarctic icescapes change throughout its seasons, so does the wildlife. In early austral spring, there is much more snow, making the landscapes even more pristine. This is when the penguins are meeting up. We rarely see whales at this time of year, in October and November. In December, however, whales are more frequently seen in these waters. That’s also when the first penguin chicks hatch, which is always a delightful sight. February and March is peak whale-watching season, as the massive amounts of krill in the Antarctic waters attract a wide variety of whale species who come for a veritable feeding frenzy.
In February and March, there will be less snow, and you will be able to see the extremely cute, clumsy penguin chicks running around. For the bird aficionados, there are 46 species of birds to find here, including petrels, albatross, and terns.
Our Expedition Team will take excellent care of you while you enjoy Antarctica’s marvels over the next five days. Join them in ice-cruising in small boats (RIBs) and on landings to really explore the icescapes of this frozen continent. If you visit early in the season when snow conditions are good, you might even be able to go snowshoeing. Like usual, there are no set sites we will definitely visit. We are at the whims of the elements and will allow the wind and sea ice to guide us in picking the best landing sites.
Day 20-22 - Drake Passage & Beagle Channel
After five unforgettable days in Antarctica, it’s time for the MS Fram to reverse course and carry you back north over the Drake Passage. Known for its potentially high winds and strong currents, the passage can also be silent and still. Luck will dictate whether youwill experience the so-called ‘Drake Shake’ or the ‘Drake Lake’. Don’t worry, even if we experience rough seas, you can rest easy on our safe and purpose-built expedition ship.
During the crossing, the Expedition Team will recap our experiences in Antarctica. That way, you can keep your head in glorious Antarctica for just a little bit longer! Now that your cruise is coming to a close, this is the perfect time to spend time with your fellow explorers and go through the photos you took during the voyage. You still have time to revisit some of your favorite activities and amenities on the ship, enjoy!
After the Drake Passage is behind us, we will enter the scenic Beagle Channel, where majestic mountains make a striking contrast with the icy seas. Watch for the rare endemic Peale’s dolphin and other wildlife as we sail through this amazing wilderness, a remote area seemingly untouched by humans.
Day 23 Punta Arenas/Santiago de Chile
Estimated time of arrival is 8:00 AM
In the morning we pull into Punta Arenas and back to civilization. You’ll transfer to the airport for your flight back to Santiago, where you’ll have a second chance to explore the capital of Chile. If you’re not ready to go home, consider extending your vacation with a Post-Program adventure to Easter Island, famous for its mysterious statues of giant heads. Prolong your adventures! Before disembarkatio, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to your fellow passengers, to the crew, and to the Expedition Team members.
After a 23-day experience at sea, surrounded by some of the most remote, awe-inspiring scenery known to man, how do you call it quits? You just don’t. The experience continues, both in your memory and the knowledge you now carry with you. It lives in the stories and photos you will bring back to your friends and family. We hope your sustainable expedition cruise experience has been inspiring and has renewed your awe of nature and reignited a passion to protect it.