Christmas in Antarctica and the Weddell Sea
» Dec 16 2019 – Dec 28 2019 (13 DAYS)
» EMBARKATION: Ushuaia
» DISEMBARKATION: Ushuaia
EXPEDITION IN BRIEF
- Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, zodiac cruising and from the ship
- In-depth exploration of the Gerlache coastline and Antarctic Peninsula
- Visits to historic sites and science stations
- Learn about the environment, wildlife and ecology of Antarctica from polar experts
- Day 1 – Ushuaia, Argentina
- Days 2 to 3 – Drake Passage, at sea towards Antarctica
- Days 4 to 6 – South Shetland Islands and Western Antarctica Peninsula
- Days 7 to 10 – Antarctic sound and the Weddell Sea
- Days 11 to 12 – Drake Passage, return to South America
- Day 13 – Ushuaia, Argentina
EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND THE REMOTE WEDDELL SEA
After many years of careful planning, we are excited to feature this unique journey for the very first time. This expedition combines many of the classic and well-known locations along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Yet it also adds a genuine sense of exploration as we
enter the icy realms of the Weddell Sea, situated on the less-visited eastern side of the peninsula. It is here the big icebergs roam. The flat-topped tabular bergs, some the size of whole city blocks – break off the vast ice tongues far to the south before drifting north on the ocean currents.
The Weddell Sea is home to astonishing wildlife colonies that dwarf those found in other regions. At Brown Bluff, on Paulet Island, and in the Danger Islands, it is possible to visit colonies with more than 100,000 nesting Adelie penguins. This is one of nature’s most amazing sights. A known emperor penguin rookery at Snow Hill Island means that we have our best possible chance of encountering the largest of Antarctica’s penguins while exploring in this region. Rich history is found at every turn adding to the experience.
This voyage provides our most in depth exploration of the Weddell Sea, at the optimal time of the season for weather and ice navigation. If you are seeking a voyage which provides a sense of the ‘wild and unknown’ and of ‘true exploration’ – this may well be the trip you’ve been looking for. It’s not a bad place to celebrate the ultimate white Christmas either!
ITINERARY DAY BY DAY
DAY 1 / USHUAIA (ARGENTINA) (MONDAY, 16 DECEMBER, 2019)
Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
DAYS 2-3 / AT SEA – TOWARDS ANTARCTICA
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of
the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases
an abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we make our way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history of the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. As we approach the coastline of Antarctica, we anticipate an increase in whale sightings.
DAYS 4-6 / WESTERN ANTARCTICA PENINSULA AND SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
We awaken today, and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Arriving into Antarctic waters via the Bismark Strait, we aim for some of our favourite landing sites today. Anvers Island is one of the largest of the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several outstanding sites here and neighbouring Wiencke Island, such as Damoy Point, or Port Lockroy. These locations provide us with our first opportunity to venture on shore, and cruise in the Zodiacs. A short transit across the Gerlache Strait brings us along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A shore landing at Paradise Harbour will be a highlight for many – as you step foot on the continent proper, for the first time.
An Argentine refuge is located here and the nearby hike up
a snow-covered hill provides staggering views. Iceberg filled waters, surrounded by the towering peaks of the continent
will leave even the most jaded traveller lost for words. If the
ice conditions allow, Zodiac cruising or sea-kayaking into the nearby ice ‘cathedral’ of Skontorp Cove is another memorable experience. On a still day, the dark water reflects the gigantic glaciers throwing a magical light over this ethereal scene.
We navigate in a northerly direction along the Gerlache Strait overnight. This is an important whale migration corridor and with the long hours of twilight at this time of the season, we encourage you to be on the bridge looking for the tell-tale blows of the migrating pods of humbacks and minkes. We may even catch a glimpse of the resident orca pod that inhabit this stretch of water.
By morning we have reached several other favoured locations in the northern Gerlache. Places such as Cierva Cove or Mikkelson Harbour allow for some great excursions on shore and in the Zodiacs. There are substantial penguin rookeries located here and it’s a good place to look for leopard seals on the icefloes. The remote Spert Islands provide a fascinating lesson in geology. The island group is criss-crossed by narrow channels and coves and cruising in the Zodiacs or sea kayaking here is a real thrill. Seabirds nest on the cliffs above, while seals can be found resting along the shoreline. We usually encounter whales in this vicinity. We continue our journey and by morning, will have arrived in the South Shetland Islands.
Sunrise over Livingston Island is a sight to behold as the mountains are a blaze of colour as we arrive into the South Shetlands. We enter the McFarlane Strait with an objective
of Half Moon Island, or nearby Yankee Harbour. Arriving on shore, a sizeable rookery of chinstrap penguins act as a very noisy welcoming committee and we hope to observe our first substantial elephant seal colony here. Additional locations we may visit include Fort Point on nearby Greenwich Island with its pebble covered isthmus – a popular location for resting fur seals. After a busy day in the South Shetlands, excitement is in the air as we set sail for Antarctic Sound – the gateway to the Weddell Sea.
DAYS 7-10 – ANTARCTIC SOUND AND THE WEDDELL SEA
Arriving into the Weddell Sea is a humbling experience. We notice an increase in the huge, flat-topped tabular icebergs
in this vicinity. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation in
the Weddell Sea and watching the Captain and Officers at
work is a lesson in skilled seamanship. The Weddell Sea is
rich in history. The early Swedish explorer – Otto Nordenskjold and companions spent several years here in a remarkable yet little-known tale of survival. Just over a decade later, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the survival of his crew from the Imperial Trans- Antarctic Expedition (HMS Endurance), in 1914-17, grabbed the imagination of the entire world. To this day, Shackleton’s journey remains one of the great tales of polar exploration and survival.
The region is home to immense colonies of the smallest of Antarctica’s penguin species – the Adelie. In locations such
as Paulet Island, Brown Bluff, Gourdin Island and the Danger Islands, these rookeries are home to as many as 100,000 nesting penguins. If ice conditions permit, we push south towards the fabled location of Snow Hill Island. A known emperor penguin rookery can be found here. While the largest of Antarctica’s penguins nest far from the shoreline, all eyes are peeled on the waters and icefloes as we hope to view these superb penguins coming and going from their rookery.
Our adventure is far from over and we have an exciting day planned with possible shore landings on Vega Island, which is home to some of the most fascinating palaeontology found in all of Antarctica. Fossils here tell the story of Gondwanaland, of giant penguins and other dinosaur species and early plant life on Earth. Brown Bluff and d’Urville Monument are other landing possibilities in the area. We celebrate our exploration of the Weddell Sea this evening, enjoying a fine Christmas celebration on board the ship commencing our journey home.
DAYS 11-12 / DRAKE PASSAGE – RETURN TO SOUTH AMERICA
As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
DAY 13 / ARRIVE USHUAIA (ARGENTINA) – VOYAGE CONCLUDES – (SATURDAY, 28 DECEMBER, 2019)
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will
be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.
CABINS & PRICES
|Triple Share||USD 10,895|
|Twin Private||USD 14,795|
|Shackleton Suite||USD 17,495|
|One Ocean Suite||USD 19,895|
All rates per person in USD
- Extensive pre-departure information package
- Educational presentations from experienced guides such as ornithologists, glaciologists, historians, geologists, naturalists and marine mammals experts
- Photography advice and instructions from the resident photographer. Extended photography workshops available on select departures
- Onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre including massage options (charge applies for massage and treatments)
- All zodiac and landing excursions
- All meals during the voyage prepared by One Ocean Expeditions chefs
- One Ocean Expeditions Farewell dinner hosted by the Captain
- Daily afternoon tea with fresh snacks
- Coffee, tea and hot chocolate available anytime
- Windproof/waterproof jacket and bib pants on loan
- Insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and backpack on loan
- Services of English speaking medical officer
- Transfers from/to designated meeting points to/from the ship
- Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
- End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
- International and national airfares
- Visa and passport fees, airport taxes
- Pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodation in arrival/departure cities
- Meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities
- Personal expenses
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Massages from registered therapist
- Personal laundry charges
- Postage, telephone calls and email set up
- Medical expenses such as fees, prescriptions or medications
- Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)
- Trip interruption/cancellation insurance
- Gratuities to staff and crew