Christmas in Antarctica - Cruise/Fly

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

Celebrate Christmas in traditional Antarctic style when the near-midnight sun powers an explosion of life along the shore and brightens the thought of camping out, or extended kayaking trips. Penguin highways are busy with traffic as parents hurry to fatten chicks and waterways are alive with whales and seals. We visit historic sites and step onto the most spectacular continent on Earth!

Voyage Highlights
• Explore the most accessible and wildlife-rich region of Antarctica
• Daily shore visits and Zodiac cruises offer close encounters with penguins, whales, seals and sea birds
• Visit historic research huts and working scientific stations
• Be surrounded by massive icebergs and cruise past ancient glaciers
• Enjoy the pristine beauty and vast landscapes
• Witness the endless sunlight of the midnight sun
• Celebrate a white Christmas in Antarctica!
• Learn about Antarctica’s unique geology, history and wildlife from our expert team
• Sleep like an Antarctica explorer and camp on the ice! (weather permitting)
• Kayakers will glide through narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, paddle amongst ice floes and drift quietly alongside wildlife

This voyage terminates with an included flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas and one night accommodation in Punta Arenas post-voyage.

Brief Itinerary

 Day 1  Ushuaia
 Days 2 & 3  Drake Passage
 Days 4 to 9  Antarctic Peninsula
 Day 10  King George Island
 Day 11  Punta Arenas

Day 1 — Ushuaia

Please note: We recommend Expeditioners arrive into Ushuaia the day prior to voyage departure.

Expeditioners will gather in Ushuaia, and have time to explore the bustling community that lays claim to being the world’s most southerly town. It sits beneath the spectacular mountains of Tierra del Fuego on the edge of the Beagle Channel. There are plenty of things to keep you occupied while waiting to board Polar Pioneer at 4:00pm. You could take a trip to the Lapataia National Park by train or bus, or visit the small museum, which has informative displays about the original inhabitants and the current population of Tierra del Fuego.

Our competent Russian crew will welcome us aboard Polar Pioneer in the afternoon. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we will settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.

Days 2 & 3 — Drake Passage

Cape Horn, the most southerly point of the American continent, has stimulated the imagination of mankind since Sir Francis Drake inadvertently rounded it back in 1580.

Some of us will approach this historic crossing with more than a little trepidation. But despite its reputation, there are many times when the Drake Passage resembles a lake, with lazy Southern Ocean swells rolling under the keel. On the other hand, we sometimes encounter rough crossings with large waves. The size of the waves and the force of the gale will take on gigantic proportions when related around the fire back home.

Polar Pioneer is not a luxury ship, she is homely and strong, built to be a research vessel and refitted to comfortable passenger standard in 2001. The mood on board is definitely casual. At sea we are totally self-sufficient. The days flow by as we travel snugly in our cocoon. A favorite pastime on board is to stand at the stern watching the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skillfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.

Nearing the tip of the Peninsula towards the end of day three, excitement reaches fever pitch with everyone on the bridge watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you forever.

Days 4 to 9 — Antarctic Peninsula

Depending on the weather, we will first approach Antarctica near the South Shetland Islands, entering Bransfield Strait either at the eastern end of King George Island or the western extremity of Livingston Island. We may pass by historic Smith Island, which is the outer limit of the South Shetlands.

A host of choices are now open to us and depending on the ice and weather conditions the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. Our experienced leaders, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days will be as busy as you wish. There is plenty of time for sleep when you get home!

We are always keen to explore new territory, so if the opportunity arises, we will! Who knows where we will go?

During this voyage, there might be an opportunity for the more intrepid to camp for a night on land. This will give you the chance to sample the style of adventure that Scott, Shackleton and other legendary Antarctic explorers experienced. Be comforted - our warm and comfortable ship with its hot showers will be only a short distance away!

Once we arrive in the calmer waters of Bransfield and Gerlache Straits, we hope to make landings and/or go kayaking two to three times a day. To get ashore we will use Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats). You will have been briefed on the workings of these sturdy craft and their use, during our Drake Passage crossing. Sometimes we will cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, or make contact with whales, penguins and seals. In these situations we will appreciate the distinct advantage of being on a small vessel, which gives everyone the opportunity to experience these very special close encounters with wildlife.

Our Western chefs serve hearty meals in our cosy dining rooms. Accompanied by good conversation, they will become a focal point of our shipboard life.

A sample of the many exciting places that we would like to visit follows:
Livingston Island
A unique landing place on the Peninsula – tiny toes of land that are literally alive with wildlife. Here we will find two species of penguins breeding; chinstraps and gentoos.

It is not uncommon to find wallows of elephant seals that are 60 beasts strong. Giant petrels nest on the ridgeline. The vegetation consists of mosses, lichens and the only grass species that grows in Antarctica. All this is set against a stunning backdrop, underneath long, black scree slopes at the foot of the mountains and glaciers of Livingston Island.

Half Moon Island
A wildlife rich island tucked into a neat bay at the eastern end of Livingston Island. On a clear day the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the scene. There is a large chinstrap penguin rookery tucked in between basaltic turrets colored by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and there are often fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. At one extremity of the island there is a large colony of nesting blue-eyed shags. At the other end lies a small Argentine station that is sometimes occupied by scientists conducting research on the penguin colony and surrounding waterways.

Deception Island
Visiting Deception Island is like making a journey to the moon. We sail through the narrow opening of Neptune's Bellows to enter the flooded volcanic crater. Inside is an unworldly scene, virtually devoid of life. Glaciers flow down from the edge of the crater, littered by black volcanic ash.

We can explore the lifeless remains of a derelict whaling station and a vacant British base, or climb to the rim of the crater. Steam often rises from the shore indicating that the water is actually warm enough for a swim, for those who dare. Outside the crater, if conditions allow, we might land at Bailey Head to explore the enormous chinstrap penguin rookery that featured in David Attenborough's Life in the Freezer series.

Paradise Harbor
A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, the rocky cliffs of this unforgettable piece of haven provide perfect nesting sites for blue-eyed shags, terns and gulls. The serenity of Paradise Harbor envelops us once the sound of the dropping anchor fades from our ears. This is a heaven for whales and we keep our eyes open for humpbacks, orcas and minkes, as well as crabeater seals, as we explore the bay in Zodiacs. Imagine being so close to a whale that when he surfaces to blow, the fishy spray of his exhalation momentarily blurs your vision. Words cannot describe this experience.

Lemaire Channel
If the ice conditions allow, standing on the bow of Polar Pioneer and quietly moving through the narrow Lemaire Channel could be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 2,000 ft (700 m) directly above the ship. The water can be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface. Gigantic icebergs clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.

Hydrurga Rocks
This group of low-lying unprotected granitic rocks protrude from the sea, swept by ocean swells. At first these rocks appear uninteresting, but on closer investigation, calm channels lead to a hidden interior where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstraps raise their families on rocky platforms. Hydrurga is Latin for leopard seal, and on occasions we see some skulking in the shallows. There are many places to simply sit and watch the rise and fall of clear green water and listen to the magic sounds and calls of the wildlife.

Other places we may visit around the Antarctic Peninsula are: Petermann Island; Penola Strait; Neko Harbor; Antarctic Sound; Scientific Bases of Ferraz (Brazilian) and Vernadsky (Ukrainian); Port Lockroy, a historic British base that is now a museum and post office.

Day 10 — King George Island

As we approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to say farewell to Antarctica and our amazing adventure before boarding our flight to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Please Note: King George Island is located at the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required in order to take off and land safely. We apologize in advance if you experience any delays.

On arrival in the Punta Arenas you will be transferred from the airport to the centrally located Hotel in Punta Arenas.

Day 11 — Punta Arenas

After breakfast at bid a fond farewell to your fellow passengers as you make your journey home or continue on with your own arrangements.

Please note that all of our itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. Our itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates 2017-2018
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Photography, Kayak
Punta Arenas - Puerto Williams
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$14,3001 Berth$17,500 $21,200 $23,500 $24,800 $1,325  
Camp, Mountaineering, Kayak
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
$8,9001 Berth$10,400Full$11,900 $13,500 $14,900Full$1,050  
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Falklands - Punta Arenas
$15,300 $18,500 $22,200 $24,500 $25,800Full$1,350  
Punta Arenas - Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$15,300Full$18,5001 Berth$22,200Limited$24,500 $25,800Full$1,350  
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Antarctica - Punta Arenas
$9,5001 Berth$11,200Full$13,500 $14,500Full$15,900Full$1,050Full 
Punta Arenas - Antarctica
Puerto Williams - Punta Arenas
$9,500Full$11,200 $13,500 $14,500Full$15,900Full$1,050  
Punta Arenas - Puerto Williams
Antarctica - Punta Arenas
$9,5001 Berth$11,200Full$13,500 $14,500 $15,900Full$1,050  
Punta Arenas - Antarctica
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$9,500Full$11,200 $13,500 $14,500 $15,900Full$1,050  
Mountaineering, Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Falklands - Punta Arenas
$14,300 $17,500 $21,200 $23,500 $24,800Full$1,350  
Photography, Kayak
Punta Arenas - Falklands
Falklands - Punta Arenas
$10,900 $12,500 $14,500 $15,500 $16,500Full$1,250  
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

International Airfare Not Included. Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single costs are 1.7 times the twin rate.

Flights included for Fly/Cruise itineraries.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Optional Activities: Kayaking (rates as indicated), Camping  Free, Photography Free, Photography Masterclass $2,500, Climbing $950, South Georgia Alpine Crossing $2,150.

Mandatory Emergency Evacuation Insurance Required. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.


   Captain's Suite
Polar Pioneer's most deluxe cabin, the Captain's Suite (on Deck 5) features a separate sleeping area and lounge room, a private en-suite and large windows for optimal viewing opportunities from your own cabin. Only one cabin available, so be sure to enquire early.
Cabin Features: Private en-suite • Double bed in separate room • Forward- and side-facing windows • Separate lounge area • Desk and table area • TV, DVD player and mini fridge • Air-conditioning control • Outside deck access from Deck 5.

242 sq ft (22.5 sq m)
    Mini Suite
Two Mini Suites on Deck 5 offer a more spacious cabin with a separate sleeping and sitting area as well as a private en-suite and large windows to enjoy the views from the comfort of your own cabin. Perfect if you're after a bit more space and comfort.
Cabin Features: Private en suite • Double bed in separate room • Side-facing windows • Separate lounge area • Desk and chair • Cupboard with hanging space • TV, DVD player and mini fridge • Air-conditioning control • Outside deck access from Deck 5.

180 sq ft (16.8 sq m)
  Twin Cabin, Private Bathroom
Twin Cabins with Private Bathrooms on Deck 4 & Deck 5. Each cabin accommodates two people and offers the convenience of private bathroom facilities.
Cabin Features: Private en-suite • Two lower bunk beds (Note: #402 and #403 have an upper and lower bunk and a couch) • Side-facing window • Desk and chair • Cupboard with hanging space • Air-conditioning control • Outside deck access to main deck (Deck 4 cabins only) • Outside deck access to upper deck (Deck 5 cabins only).

130 sq ft (12 sq m)
  Twin Cabin, Shared Bathroom
Twin Cabins with Shared Bathrooms on Deck 3. Surprisingly spacious, each cabin comfortably sleeps two people and are only a short distance from the ship’s public bathroom facilities. Outside decks are accessible from this deck.
Cabin Features: Two lower bunk beds • Outside porthole • Wash basin • Lounge and desk • Cupboard with hanging space • Air-conditioning control • Shared bathroom facilities on same deck • Outside decks accessible via Deck 3 and 4.

105 sq ft (9.8 sq m)
  Triple Cabin, Shared Bathroom
Two Triple Cabins with Shared Bathrooms on Deck 3. Perfect for friends or families, or for solo travelers who are happy to share their space with fellow passengers. Bathrooms are located close by on the same deck.
Cabin Features: Two lower bunk beds and one upper bunk bed • Outside porthole • Wash basin • Lounge and desk • Cupboard with hanging space • Air-conditioning control • Shared bathroom facilities on same deck • Outside deck accessed via Deck 4.

110 sq ft (10.2 sq m)