Scotia Sea Springtime

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

As the days grow longer, the mountains shed their snowy mantle, king penguins shuffle eggs on their feet, elephant seals pup and fur seals are rambunctious. Currents of krill sweep up from the Weddell Sea, providing food for one of the greatest wildlife concentrations on the planet. Immerse yourself in whaling history, visit Shackleton’s grave and then reverse his route to Elephant Island. Finish off by exploring spectacular Antarctic Peninsula, photographing penguins, seals, whales and historic sites, hopefully stepping onto the continent itself before crossing Drake Passage to Puerto Williams.

Voyage Highlights
South Georgia
• Witness the incredible wildlife of South Georgia, one of the greatest wildlife concentrations on the planet
• Visit some of the world’s largest king penguin rookeries and search for wandering albatross on nests
• See beaches thick with elephant and fur seals
• Cruise past Elephant Island’s dramatic north coast (weather permitting)
• Trace the final leg of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s perilous journey from Fortuna Bay to Stromness
• Pay your respects to the great explorer at a visit to his gravesite at Grytviken

Antarctica
• 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
• Cruise past massive icebergs and ancient glaciers
• Enjoy the pristine beauty and vast landscapes
• Witness the endless sunlight of the midnight sun
• Learn about Antarctica’s unique geology, history and wildlife from our expert team
• Kayakers will glide through narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, paddle amongst ice floes and drift quietly alongside wildlife

Puerto Williams
• Spend time exploring the southern-most town in the world
• Enjoy a guided walk to Brass Waterfall for view of the Beagle Channel
• Visit Puerto Williams' Macalvi Yacht Club and enjoy time to explore the town and museum
• Absorb the birds’ eye view on our scenic flight over the breathtaking landscape of Cordillera Darwin with its magnificent glaciers, narrow austral channels and hidden colored lagoons.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Flight from Santiago or Punta Arenas, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands
Days 2 & 3 At Sea
Days 4 to 8 South Georgia
 Days 9 & 10 At Sea
 Day 11 Elephant Island
 Days 12 to 15 Antarctic Peninsula
 Days 16 & 17 At Sea
 Day 18Puerto Williams and flight to Punta Arenas 

Day 1 — Flight from Santiago or Punta Arenas to Stanley, Falkland Islands

Fly from Santiago or Punta Arenas, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands (Malvinas) where you will be transferred directly to Polar Pioneer and welcomed by our competent Russian crew.

Sailing towards South Georgia, we settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.

Days 2 & 3 — At sea bound for South Georgia

Between the Falklands and South Georgia you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow our wake. You may decide to join the whale watchers on the bridge, or just relax and read a favorite book.

If time and weather conditions permit, we could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea. Blue-eyed cormorants fill the air; their precarious nesting sites are white with guano.

The mood on board is definitely casual. A favorite pastime is to stand at the stern deck watching the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels, following in our wake, skillfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. Feeling transformed, we approach South Georgia, receptive and open.

Days 4 to 8 — South Georgia

To us, South Georgia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The island is a tiny speck in the South Atlantic Ocean, located in one of the most desolate parts of our planet. A 10,000 ft. (3,000 m) mountain range traces the spine of this long, narrow island. Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline.

Though geographically speaking, the island lies in the subantarctic area, as do the islands of Macquarie and Heard, it has a climate more in keeping with the true Antarctic regions. This is because South Georgia lies wholly within the Antarctic Convergence.

South Georgia is a British possession, having been claimed and named for King George III on 16 January 1775 by Captain James Cook, who records in his journal:
"The wild rocks raised their lofty summits till they were lost in the clouds and the valleys lay buried in ever-lasting snow. Not a tree or a shrub was to be seen, no, not even big enough to make a toothpick. I landed in three different places, displayed our colors and took possession of the country in His Majesty's name under a discharge of small arms." ("Antarctic Housewife" by Nan Brown.)

On 20 May 1916, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Crean and Worsley stumbled into the busy whaling station at Stromness; hungry, exhausted and covered in grime. They had just made the first ever crossing of the mountains of South Georgia, from King Haakon Bay, to find help for their three exhausted companions left at Cave Cove and rescue the men they had left on Elephant Island. They had sailed in the James Caird for 16 days under horrendous conditions and found safety in the tiny entrance of Cave Cove. This epic story of survival had begun with the sinking of his ship, the Endurance, in the Weddell Sea, six months earlier.

As we explore South Georgia, we will have the opportunity to reflect on Shackleton’s epic journey.

Some other glorious destinations we plan to visit in South Georgia are listed below:
Grytviken
Originally a Norwegian sealing and whaling station, it was finally abandoned in 1965. Here we must be careful to avoid stepping on sleeping elephant seals as we skirt the ruins of factory buildings peering into the past, trying to imagine what it was like when whale processing was in full swing. Abandoned ships lie sunken alongside old wharves, while pitted concrete walls remind us of the more recent Falkland's War, which started here.

Sir Ernest Shackleton died from a heart attack during his final expedition on board the Quest on 6 May 1922. His body was laid to rest at Grytviken and we hope to make a pilgrimage to visit the cross his men erected in his memory looking out across beautiful Cumberland Bay.

St Andrews Bay
The sandy black beach is a resting place for hundreds of elephant seals that haul out on the shore to moult. Behind the beach, the sight and sound of tens upon tens of thousands of king penguins at different stages of their breeding cycle will be overwhelming. The glacial river that runs into the sea here will be alive with penguin chicks and elephant seal pups testing their aquatic skills. If we lift our gaze from the wildlife for a moment, we will glimpse the snow-capped peaks of some of the world's most spectacular mountains.

Godthul
Imagine indented bays lined with bleached whalebones, teeming with fur seals and with penguins just “hanging about”. Here you have the opportunity to clamber through the tussock to a spectacular plateau offering magnificent views across the island and the waters beyond. A careful descent leads us to a magnificent Macaroni penguin rookery.

Prion Island
We will aim to visit Prion Island where we can sit quietly to watch serene wandering albatrosses sitting proudly on eggs or cute downy chicks. We may be blessed by the performance of an intimate courtship dance, or may witness a youngster being lovingly fed. We watch adolescents exercising their wide wing spans, trying to launch themselves into the air, as they realize that Mom and Dad will no longer feed them and they must leave the island in search of food.

Other stunning wildlife destinations we may visit include:
Elsehul Bay; Cooper Bay; Larsen Harbor; Salisbury Plains; Right Whale Bay; Royal Harbor
Drygalski Fjord; Stromness; Gold Harbor; Possession Bay.

Days 9 & 10 — At Sea

Leaving South Georgia we head across the Scotia Sea in a south- westerly direction.

Our team entertain with interesting lectures and there is plenty of time for wildlife watching from our open bridge.

The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of the sight of your first iceberg will remain with you forever.

Day 11 — Elephant Island

Today, if weather permits, we set course for Elephant Island, a half-submerged mountain cloaked with an ice sheet at the outer limits of the South Shetlands. En route, our recaps and lectures will resume and there will be time to gather energy for the busy days ahead.

We’ll learn the story of Shackleton and hear how his ship, the Endurance, was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, before he and his men climbed into three open boats, spending 16 months at sea, before finally making landfall on this tiny toe of rock and ice in the vastness of the Southern Ocean on 14 April 1916.

As we commemorate the upcoming century of Shackleton’s fateful expedition, we plan to sail past Cape Valentine to see the beach where the men first put ashore nearly 100 years ago. Weather permitting; we hope to follow the coastline six miles west to Point Wild, where the men eventually set up camp under two of their upturned open boats and some old tents.

We will attempt to make at least one landing on historic Elephant Island.

Days 12 to 15 — Antarctic Peninsula

Once we arrive in the calmer waters of the Bransfield and Gerlache Straits, we will generally make landings or Zodiac excursions two to three times a day.

Days will be spent cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface and landing on the continent and it’s off shore islands to visit penguin rookies and seal haul outs as well as a few of our favorite spots on the peninsula.

Our chefs will prepare delicious meals that, accompanied by good conversation, will become a focal point of our shipboard life.

There are many exciting places we can choose to visit. A sample of these follows:
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.

Paradise Harbor
A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, the rocky cliffs of this unforgettable piece of heaven 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 haven 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.

Other places we may visit around the Antarctic Peninsula are:
Pleneau Island; Neko Harbor; Vernadsky, a Ukrainian scientific base; Port Lockroy, a historic British base that is now a museum and post office; plus a selection of our other favorite landing sites.

Days 16 & 17 — Drake Passage

Time to head to Isla Navarino, Chile, with lectures and videos to complete our Antarctic education. This is a time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and felt, and the impact this voyage has had on our attitude to life. As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather conditions permitting.

Day 18 — Puerto Williams and flight to Punta Arenas

During the early morning we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Puerto Williams about 7:00am. As soon as customs have cleared the ship, we commence our town tour of the world’s southern-most town. Puerto Williams has been declared one of the 20 most pristine places on the planet by UNESCO.

After our town tour and some morning tea, we’ll board our short 35-minute flight back to Punta Arenas, where we’ll enjoy a birds’ eye view over the breathtaking landscape of Cordillera Darwin. In Punta Arenas we’ll bid our fellow expeditioners and new found friends a fond farewell, before you continue on with your own arrangements.

Note: At the conclusion of the expedition flights should not to be booked from Punta Arenas prior to 5:00pm on the day of disembarkation. An overnight in Punta Arenas is recommended, but not mandatory.

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 2015-2016
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Kayaking
Option
Charter
Air
Kayak
$14,300Limited$16,900$19,800$21,700$23,090Full$1,295 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
$8,310Limited$9,825$11,025Limited$12,325$13,650$1,050 
Camp, Kayak
- Limited Availability -
$7,800Full$9,600Limited$11,220$12,430Full$13,860Full$995 
Camp, Kayak
- Very Limited Availability -
$7,800Full$9,600Limited$11,220$12,430Full$13,860Full$995Full 
Kayak
- Very Limited Availability -
$14,300Full$16,900Full$19,800Limited$21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295 
Kayak
- Very Limited Availability -
$14,300Full$16,900Full$19,800Limited$21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295 
Camp, Kayak
- Very Limited Availability -
$8,310Full$9,825Limited$11,025Limited$12,325Full$13,650Full$1,050Full 
Kayak
- Full -
$7,800Full$9,600Full$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995 
Kayak
- Full -
$7,800Full$9,600Full$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995 
Mountaineering, Kayak
$14,300Limited$16,900Full$19,800$21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295 
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 $925-1295, South Georgia Alpine Crossing $1250, Climbing $450, Photography Free, Camping  Free.

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

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates 2016-2017
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Kayaking
Option
Charter
Air
Kayak
$14,300$17,200$20,790$22,785$24,200$1,325 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
$8,500$9,990$11,575$12,940$14,330$1,050 
Camp, Kayak
$8,725$10,200$12,340$13,250$14,650$995 
Camp, Kayak
$8,725$10,200$12,340$13,250$14,650$995 
Kayak
$14,300$17,200$21,285$23,325$24,800$1,325 
Kayak
$14,300$17,200$21,285$23,325$24,800$1,325 
Camp, Photography, Kayak
$8,725$10,200$12,340$13,250$14,650$1,050 
Kayak
$8,725Full$10,200$12,340$13,250$14,650$995 
Kayak
$8,725$10,200$12,340$13,250$14,650$995 
Kayak
$14,300$17,200$20,790$22,785$24,200$1,325 
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 prices as listed, Climbing $450, Photography Free, Camping  Free.

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

Polar Pioneer Deck Plan