Get up close to incredible numbers of penguins, seals and whales, stunning mountain scenery and gigantic icebergs on a trip of a lifetime to the Great White Continent.
Aboard our strong, ice-class expedition vessel, the four-star MV Ocean Atlantic, we’ll get as close as possible to the dramatic coastline, full of rocky mountain peaks and immense glaciers breaking off into iceberg-filled bays and fjords. Our shore landings and cruises in sturdy Zodiac dinghies are a highlight and an integral part of the itinerary, enabling all our expedition guests to set foot several times on the Antarctic continent, as well as the many fascinating subantarctic islands. We travel at the peak of the Antarctic summer, when temperatures edge up above freezing and the days are long. It is the perfect time to enjoy the vast, almost other-worldly landscapes and outstanding wildlife.
Embarking in Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, we cross the mighty Drake Passage en-route for the South Shetland Islands and the 1,300-milelong Antarctic Peninsula. Here, we’ll follow in the wake of the great pioneering explorers such as Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, sailing deep into the ice-filled channels, inlets and bays of Antarctica. We’ll make Zodiac landings at vast penguin rookeries, historic research stations and fascinating lookouts along the way. Continuing southward, we’ll pass the famous Gerlache Strait, where 3,000-foot ice cliffs rise straight out of the still water. On no other journey can you experience so much pristine nature and varied wildlife in so few days. When the Ocean Atlantic returns to Ushuaia, we pass close to the mythical Cape Horn – the southernmost point in South America and a celebrated maritime landmark.
Any voyage to Antarctica is one of life’s great adventures, but with a maximum capacity of just 103 cabins aboard the Ocean Atlantic, this cruise offers the perfect balance of extraordinary polar experiences and a comfortable first-class vessel. All shore landings, excursions, lectures and meals on board, plus your flights and pre- and post-cruise stays in Ushuaia and Buenos Aires are included, leaving you free to enjoy a magnificent expedition experience.
You should arrive at London Heathrow for your British Airways overnight flight direct to Buenos Aires.
Arrive in Buenos Aires and after a short city tour by coach we transfer to Jorge Newbery airport, the city’s second airport, for our domestic flight to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. We stay for one night at the four-star Los Acebos Hotel, with breakfast.
Wake early and enjoy some magical views over Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel from our hotel, located in a peaceful position on a forested hill above the town. After breakfast, we set off to explore the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Covered in beech forests, lakes and mountains, this is the southernmost National Park in the world and the terminus of the famed Pan-American Highway. In the afternoon, we board our ship, the MV Ocean Atlantic and settle into our cabins. Our journey begins this evening as we navigate through the calm waters of the famous Beagle Channel, with the coastline and mountains of Argentina on one side and Chile on the other.
Sailing ever southwards, we cross the famed Drake Passage - a 500-mile long body of water that marks the intersection of the cold Antarctic with the warmer Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Drake Passage is known for rollicking conditions and its strong westerly winds, known as the Furious Fifties. While this passage may sometimes be challenging, you can rest confidently aboard our expedition vessel, which is purpose-built with stabilizers, powerful engines and a highly-qualified crew.
You’ll feel the excitement begin to build as Antarctic wildlife starts to come into view. The area is well-known for its abundance of seabirds which follow the ship, sweeping low, their wing feathers almost touching the wave tops. So, take up your position on the aft deck and look out for storm petrels, shearwaters, arctic terns and perhaps even a few albatrosses! As the white shimmer of Antarctica looms on our horizon, you may also spot humpback whales, dolphins and your first iceberg!
Over the next four days, we’ll explore the sub-Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and the Antarctic Peninsula itself. As we sail into these calmer, protected waters, the ship will be a hive of activity as the Expedition team come into their own, organising multiple daily Zodiac excursions and landings.
Most days will start early to take advantage of the Antarctic’s long summer days. After breakfast, you’ll head downstairs to the ship’s mud room to don your boots, waterproof trousers and parka before walking down the short steps to your waiting Zodiac dinghy. With just 10 people per dinghy, you are assured of a highly personal experience each time. You’ll then cruise around the area, gazing in awe at the amazing blue hues of icebergs and glaciers and getting up close to seals and penguins in the water, followed by a shore landing to explore penguin rookeries or historic research stations. During lunch the ship will navigate to the next landfall and you’ll have another Zodiac excursion and shore landing in the afternoon.
Projected landfalls include: Greenwich Island; Deception Island, an extinct volcano with waters warm enough for a polar swim; and the old British research base at Port Lockroy. Wildlife abounds along our projected route along the Antarctic Peninsula: the leopard, fur and crab-eater seals resting on ice-floes around Cuverville Island; the humpback whales of Gerlache Strait; the dramatic Lemaire Channel's orcas.
If conditions allow, the ship may be able, for a short time, to fill and heat the open-air pool on the aft deck and may also be able to organise a ‘Polar plunge’ for anyone brave enough to jump into the icy Southern Ocean!
The itinerary and all activities over these days depend on the notoriously changeable Antarctic weather and ice conditions. The route and shore landings will be determined by the Captain and Expedition Leader and communicated to guests through regular briefings.
We set sail northwards and spend two days at sea on our way back to the calm of the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia. En-route, we’ll cross Drake Passage and cruise past Cape Horn, the legendary maritime landmark at the southern tip of South America.
During our time at sea, a variety of activities will be arranged on board and it provides the perfect opportunity to compare experiences and photos with your fellow travellers.
This morning we disembark and catch our flight back to Buenos Aires where we stay for one night at the centrally-located four-star 725 Continental Hotel, with breakfast. This evening you may wish to round off your trip with a visit to one of the city’s famed tango shows.
Today we board our afternoon British Airways overnight flight direct back to London.
Today we land back at London Heathrow after a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room/cabin and includes: return scheduled flights to Buenos Aires, return domestic flights to Ushuaia, one nights’ stay at a four-star hotel in Ushuaia and one nights’ stay at a four-star hotel in Buenos Aires, both with breakfast, nine nights’ cruise on the MV Ocean Atlantic, with daily breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, all shore excursions by Zodiac dinghies, lectures by the onboard expedition team, port charges, all transfers, porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager. Cruise itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions. Onboard currency is the US dollar.
Not Included: US$13.50 per person daily for cruise staff gratuities, all drinks onboard, including speciality coffees, wifi/phone charges & laundry.
Raised in Yorkshire, George’s photography and tour leading career began in South America 30 years ago.
George says: "I’ve always loved the natural world and other cultures and it’s my absolute passion to photograph them. I’m proud to say I’ve won a few awards for my work! I have led many photography tours and there’s nothing I love more than getting out into the wilds with my camera in hand."
Visa: UK and Irish passport holders do not currently require a visa to enter Argentina; however, your passport should have at least six months’ validity after your return date.
Health: Please consult your GP regarding any inoculations required at least a month before departure.
Whilst the travelling schedule should not pose problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we should point out that shore excursions are always over uneven, sometimes snow-covered ground and involve sitting on the side of an inflatable Zodiac dinghy.
Also, the top three decks on the ship are not served by lifts. For these reasons, this holiday is not suitable for clients of impaired mobility.
Please note the expedition leader reserves the right to deny participation in shore excursions to anyone deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others.
As you will be travelling in remote areas without easy access to medical facilities, we recommend that you do not join this cruise if you have any life-threatening conditions or require regular medical treatment or supervision.