Join us on our Polar Circle Quest expedition cruise onboard the Ushuaia, exploring the South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and hopefully crossing the Polar Circle. Embarking and disembarking in the port of Ushuaia, our itineraries are expertly planned to take best advantage of the amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery during each part of the Antarctic season
More days in Antarctica and the chance to cross the Antarctic Circle!
Itinerary in Brief
Day 1: Depart from Ushuaia
Day 2-3: Crossing the Drake Passage
Day 4-9: Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
Day 10-11: At Sea crossing the Drake Passage, northbound
Day 12: Arrival at Ushuaia
Day 1: Depart from Ushuaia
Embark the MV Ushuaia in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. After you have settled into your cabins we sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass.
Day 2 and 3: Crossing the Drake Passage
Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Frances Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As we sail across the passage, our lecturers will be out with you on deck to help in the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in our wake. The MV Ushuaia's open bridge policy allows you to join our officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. A full program of lectures will be offered as well.
The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Capt. William Smith of the brig Williams. With favorable conditions in the Drake Passage our lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals on Day 3.
Day 4 to 9: Exploring South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula and endeavour to cross the Polar Circle
Exquisite beauty and pristine landscapes are waiting for you on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Myriads of icebergs with different shades and shapes are floating free in the waterways around the continent. The Antarctic Peninsula´s remarkable history will also provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Adélie, Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater, fur and leopard seals as well as Minke whales and orcas at close range. At this time of year it is also very likely to encounter big cetaceans, such as humpback, Finn and Sei whales in the area.
We hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways the area has to offer, such as: the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel, Neumayer Channel and the extremely narrow Lemaire Channel. Possible landing sites may include: Paradise Bay, which is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post office Port Lockroy.
As further exploration will lead us far South of the Lemaire Channel in quest of the Polar Circle, we might also visit the Ukrainian Station Vernadsky, the former British base Faradey, where the ozone hole was first spotted, the rugged Yalour Islands and south of the Polar Circle Detaille Island.
On our way North we plan to explore the South Shetland Islands. The volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauling out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, so is visiting the crescent shaped island Half Moon, home to Chinstrap Penguins in breathtaking surroundings.
Day 10 and 11: At Sea crossing the Drake Passage, northbound
We leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join our lecturers and naturalists on deck as we search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.
Day 12: Arrival at Ushuaia
We arrive at Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the MV Ushuaia after breakfast.
Departs - Selected dates (listed below)
Ship Cabins: M/V USHUAIA
Standard Plus Triple
2 triple outside cabins
with portholes or windows on deck E, private facilities, three lower
10 Twin outside cabins with portholes on deck E, semi- private facilities, two berths (upper/lower).
Standard Plus Twin
11 twin outside cabins with portholes or windows on
deck E, private facilities, two lower berths
6 Twin outside cabins with windows on the upper
deck G, private facilities, two lower berths; 2 single cabins with
portholes on the upper deck G, private facilities.
2 outside Superior single cabins on upper Deck G featuring a
porthole (view obstructed by lifeboat), private facilities and one
9 Twin outside cabins with windows on the
upper deck G, private facilities, two lower berths.
4 Outside cabins with windows on the upper deck G,
private facilities, two lower berths, lounge, TV, DVD player and fridge.
Suite 201 features two double beds, Suite 202 features one double bed
and a sofa bed. Suites 204 and 207 feature three lower single beds.
SHIP DECK PLAN: MV USHUAIA
SHIP INFORMATION MV USHUAIA
Originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the MV Ushuaia has been refurbished to accommodate a maximum of 84 passengers in 41 comfortable twin cabins and suites.
The ice-strengthened polar vessel MV Ushuaia is very well appointed and provides ample deck space and an open bridge policy. The full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures superb landings and wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible coastline.
All cabins include ample storage space. Public areas feature a large dining room (one sitting), an observation lounge and bar, a conference room with modern multimedia equipment, a well-stocked library, a changing room and a small infirmary.
Its expert captain, officers and crew are highly experienced in Antarctic navigation and have a great love of nature. We provide a specialist team of international expedition leaders and lecturers, all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment. Our chefs prepare excellent cuisine including many local specialties and the bar is well-stocked with carefully selected wines and spirits.
All meals throughout the voyage
All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by zodiac
Program of lectures by noted naturalists
Comprehensive pre-departure material
Detailed post-expedition log
All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program