Join Polar Quest on a magnificent Antarctica cruise with the opportunity to discover seven different penguin species. Sail off to Antarctica onboard the small polar expedition ship, Ocean Nova, which carries a maximum of only 78 passengers. You will depart from Ushuaia in Argentina to the Falkland Islands, home to charming rockhopper penguins and graceful albatrosses. The next stop on the voyage is the remote island of South Georgia, a wildlife haven said to have more wildlife per square metre than any other place on the planet. Watch the huge elephant seals fight for their harems and be greeted by hundreds of thousands of breeding king penguins is a truly unbelievable experience. Your ship will then continue to the most remote and isolated continent - Antarctica. Here you'll explore the dramatic landscapes with gigantic icebergs, scenic channels and bustling penguin colonies.
Your great Antarctic adventure starts in Ushuaia, beautifully surrounded by snow-covered mountains, where you will stay one night at a centrally located hotel. This little town is also referred to as the “End of the World”.
Today you will visit the southernmost National Park in the world – Tierra del Fuego. Explore this thriving park, filled with dramatic sceneries of forests and mountains. The National Park is home to guanacos, Patagonian foxes and beavers, but also to many bird species such as Magellanic woodpeckers, condors and austral parakeets. In the afternoon, you will embark your expedition ship and sail along the Beagle Channel. Your expedition cruise has started and you may see penguins straight away! Keep a lookout for Magellanic penguins swimming in the Beagle Channel.
We spend a day at sea followed by a range of sea birds such as petrels, fulmars and albatrosses that gracefully follow our ship. Whales and dolphins may also be seen in the surrounding waters and our polar experts start their exciting lecture program.
Explore the western islands of the Falkland archipelago, which are isolated and windswept but home to many seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. Weather permitting, you'll land on Carcass Island, to encounter nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers and the flightless steamer duck who is a permanent resident. You'll also go ashore and explore Saunders Island a penguin hotspot that is one of the only places on earth where four penguin species nest side by side. Here you can find gentoo, rockhopper, king and Magellanic penguin rookeries as well as nesting black-browed albatross. You can sit on the white sand beach watching the penguins come and go while the striated caracaras patrol overhead.
Today you'll visit Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Wander through the charming streets with small houses and learn how this quiet harbour was once a major port in the 19th century for ships attempting to round the waters of Cape Horn. You'll also make a stop in Stanley’s famed philatelic museum with its impressive collection of historic stamps.
Your ship now sails southeast, South Georgia bound. The anticipation grows especially when you cross the Antarctic Convergence and notice a dramatic drop in temperature. Shipboard presentations will continue, featuring the exciting history and abundant wildlife of South Georgia. Wildlife will guide you into the island; keep a lookout in the ocean for whales, seals and penguins swimming and diving.
Majestic mountains, mighty glaciers and beaches full of king penguins greet you on the island of South Georgia. You'll arrive in the beginning of summer when there are few ships in the vicinity and the peaks of the dramatic mountain ranges are still snow-covered. If you are interested in wildlife, South Georgia is a true oasis. Hundreds of thousands of penguins greet you at places like St. Andrew’s Bay and Salisbury Plain. Huge elephant seals lounge on sandy beaches and this time of the year you may see dramatic fights for a position as the king of a harem. The island is also home to several other species of penguin such as macaroni, Gentoo and chinstrap penguin, along with the playful and feisty fur seals. South Georgia played a significant role in Shackleton’s epic adventure. After his ship Endurance sank, he crossed the treacherous ocean in an open lifeboat to reach the islands. Visit Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken, once an active whaling station, which now houses a charming small museum.
Your ship now sets sail towards the world’s most remote continent – Antarctica, faithfully accompanied by many seabirds. Your onboard polar experts continue to fill your mind with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. Also, keep your eyes open for the first iceberg, which may appear on the horizon at any time now!
This is a true Antarctic expedition cruise and the exact route the following days is subject to weather and ice conditions. Below are examples of places you may visit.
Go ashore at Elephant Island, where you will learn more about the famous Antarctic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea more than 100 years ago. Following the loss of their ship the men reached Elephant Island after a harrowing ordeal on drifting ice floes. They established a camp at a place they called Point Wild, named after Shackleton’s commander Frank Wild and now the home of nesting chinstrap penguins.
You will spend some time cruising among the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Dazzling wildlife sightings await on your excursions to some of the islands including King George, Half Moon, Barrientos or Livingston. Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins thrive here, as do several species of seal. Hopefully, you will also have the chance to visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. Along the coastline of the South Shetlands, keep your eyes open for humpback whales foraging for krill.
You'll continue south along the Antarctic Peninsula, where pack ice still covers large parts of the bays, and watch the experienced officers navigate your ice-strengthened ship. Cruising through labyrinths of icebergs some of which may have resting penguins looking curiously back at you. In good ice conditions, hopefully, you will set foot on the Antarctic continent in Hope Bay or Paradise Harbour. The scenery here, from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet, is truly breath-taking.
As you leave this magical place, heading across the Drake Passage, time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. As you approach the South American continent its possible to see whales, dolphins and seals. Celebrate the conclusion of your Antarctic expedition with a farewell dinner on board.
In the early morning, disembark in Ushuaia and explore this quaint little town on your own.
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