Embark on the trip of a lifetime on board Swan Hellenic's boutique ice-class expedition ship, the SH Minerva. This once-in-a-lifetime trip provides you with the best of an Antarctica cruise combined with exploring the the unique flora and fauna of The South Shetland Islands. Test your mettle as you cross the notorious Drake Passage to reach the world’s most beautiful ice-filled waters where magnificent icebergs creak and breaching minke and humpback whales swim gracefully. Breathe in the icy air on this life-changing voyage across the southern seas and capture memories in your mind that will last a lifetime.
Day 1: Ushuaia
Days 2 & 3: Drake Passage
Day 4: Antarctic Sound
Days 5 - 7: Antarctic Peninsula
Day 8: South Shetland Islands
Days 9 - 10: At sea
Day 11: Ushuaia
Ushuaia is the gateway to the White Continent. Found at the southernmost tip of South America in Argentinian Patagonia, the city is often described as “the End of the World”. The city’s mountain backdrop rises above the harbour and entrance to the Beagle Channel. The town itself is walkable and has a few small museums as well as pubs, restaurants and cafes - a good place to try Patagonian lamb cooked over open fire pits.
Sea days are rarely dull. Take the time to sit back and let the world go by as you traverse the Drake Passage. The ship’s observation decks provide stunning views of the passing ocean. A day at sea gives you the opportunity to mingle with other passengers and share your experiences of this incredible trip or head to the ship's library which is stocked full of reference books. Get an expert’s view in one of the onboard lectures or perhaps perfect your photography skills with invaluable advice from a team of onboard professional photographers.
As your ship sails quietly past house-sized, free-floating tabular icebergs and pancake ice, you may be able to hear the sounds of creaking and popping as huge chunks break off and crash into the sea. While Gerlache Strait is filled with ice, the Antarctic Sound takes it up a notch with even more impressive bergs and ice cliffs. Possible landing points where you will meet thousands of breeding Adélie penguins include Brown Bluff and Paulet Island.
Among captivating glaciers, majestic icebergs and snowy islands, the Antarctic Peninsula is where most visitors to the White Continent will live out their Antarctica dream. The Antarctic Peninsula, the most accessible area of the continent, hosts several scientific bases and some of the most interesting wildlife scenery, such as the extremely photogenic Lemaire Channel. Shore excursions might include Petermann Island, where among Adelie penguins, blue-eyed shags and skuas, huge, lumbering elephant seals haul out.
While the South Shetlands’ proximity to Antarctica makes the ice-bound sea impassable during winter (April to October), these are the first islands to see snowmelt in spring (November) and the slightly warmer temperature means that the fauna is also different from what you see in Antarctica proper. As you go ashore by Zodiac, notice ferns, grasses, lichens and native flora that have more in common with Patagonia than they do with Antarctica.
Make the most of the amenities onboard SH Minerva, as your ship heads back across the Drake Passage
Your ship arrives back in Argentina, where you will disembark for your onward journey
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