DAY 1-2: U.S./Buenos Aires, Argentina
Depart on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires. Settle into the Alvear Icon Hotel (or similar) before seeing the city’s Beaux-Arts palaces and the famous balcony associated with Eva Peron. (Day 2: L)
DAY 3: Fly to Ushuaia/Embark
Fly by private charter to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise of the Beagle Channel. Embark National Geographic Endurance. (B,L,D)
DAY 4: At Sea/Drake Passage
Settle into shipboard life, listening to informal discussions from our naturalist staff to prepare for the wildness ahead. While crossing the legendary Drake Passage, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship. (B,L,D)
DAY 5-9: Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
With 24 hours of daylight, we have ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, the schedule throughout is flexible so that we can take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales at play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion.
While exploring the Antarctic peninsula, we anticipate offering opportunities each day to walk or kayak among the ice floes and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching our powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins. You’ll learn how climate change affects the penguin populations, and how best to capture images of penguins. Back aboard, our undersea specialist may present video from that day’s dive or show rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see, and experience more. (B,L,D)
DAY 10-17: Exploring West Antarctica
This part of the planet is big and bold and full of adventure and magnificent scenery. The new National Geographic Endurance will be in full expedition mode, granting thrilling opportunities to crunch through thick ice and explore places few have seen. Rely on the planet’s best ice team as you probe the ice’s edge for wildlife, including numerous seabirds and whales. Activities throughout our journey are always weather and ice dependent. Your Captain and Expedition Leader will look for spots to “park” the ship in the pack ice, allowing you the unique thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and snow-shoe walks. There will be time, too, to relax in the library, head up to the Bridge to scan for marine life, unwind in the sauna or Yoga Room, and of course, hear presentations from our staff. Along the way, our undersea specialist captures images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice. Always interesting, it can also be pioneering in this distant part of the world. (B,L,D)
DAY 18-25: Exploring the Ross Sea
On these days we navigate some of the most remote regions of the planet, as we explore the Ross Sea, just like Scott, Shackleton, and Ross (the 19th-century explorer for whom this sea is named). Here, we will see the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest, and the Transantarctic Mountain Chain. Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is enormous, covering 182,000 square miles –the size of France—and the edge of the ice shelf is a wall of ice towering over the water by as much as 200 feet, with the majority of the ice below the waterline. The Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface.
Your journey to this unique part of the Antarctic waters will likely include stops at several small islands at the bottom of the world for opportunities to go ashore and explore via Zodiac and kayak. We’ll spot colonies of Adelie penguins, lazy seals, and majestic whales. We plan to visit Coulman Island, where we can see and photograph Emperor penguins, the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches tall. This species has been the subject of the beloved film, March of the Penguins. (B,L,D)
DAY 26-27: At Sea
During our days at sea, we learn about the fascinating history of Antarctic exploration, as well as the flora, fauna, and geology of the region. Our naturalists help identify the seabirds that follow us. (B,L,D)
DAY 28-29: Macquarie Island, Australia
Located south of the New Zealand mainland in the remote Southern Ocean, the wild and beautiful sub-Antarctic islands are home to abundant and unique wildlife, with many species of birds, plants and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. On these days we plan to visit Macquarie Island, a World Heritage site and home to a large variety of wildlife, including thousands of seals and millions of penguins. Four species of penguin breed here. The endemic royal penguin has a population estimated at 850,000. Gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins also breed here. And imagine landing on a single beach with 100,000 pairs of king penguins, the third largest such colony in the world! (B,L,D)
DAY 30: At Sea
With whales beneath and birds above, head up to the bridge to spot marine life and watch the calm business of navigation. Or spend these days enjoying the ship’s spa, yoga room, and fitness center. Take some time to browse the library or play a board game in the glass-enclosed observation lounge. And listen to a variety of engaging talks from our staff, including photo talks. (B,L,D)
DAY 31-33: Exploring New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands
Spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s subantarctic islands and their surrounding waters—the entire marine landscape designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and considered “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world.
Keeping a flexible weather-dependent schedule, we plan to explore several intriguing islands. Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds: the 99 recorded species include albatross, Antarctic terns and Snares crested penguins. The Auckland Islands are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with the richest flora, prolific birdlife, and an interesting human history. Conditions permitting, we cruise in Zodiacs to Enderby Island to view a large New Zealand sea lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If we are fortunate, we may see rare yellow-eyed penguins as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach. The World Heritage status also includes the marine environment extending twelve nautical miles from each island group. On our final days aboard, enjoy one last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. And gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 34-35: Dunedin, N.Z./Disembark/Fly to Auckland/U.S.
Today we disembark on New Zealand’s South Island in Dunedin, known for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Fly to Auckland, where we overnight at the Sky City Grand Hotel (or similar). Transfer to the airport the next day for flights home. (Day 34: B,L,D; Day 35 B)