Cruise/Fly Across the Circle

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

Cross latitude 66° 33’ South in the wake of hallowed explorers including the first to do so, Captain James Cook. It’s a moment to celebrate, and we oblige with enthusiasm. In this frozen area of extraordinary beauty, powerful orcas and leopard seals patrol the waters, while ethereal snow petrels grace the skies against a background of bristling mountain ranges and surreal icebergs. Threading our way through an intricate system of icy waterways, we aim for the glorious Crystal Sound at the mouth of The Gullet.

Voyage Highlights
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
• 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
• Learn about Antarctica’s unique geology, history and wildlife from our expert team
• Champagne celebrations as we reach 66°33' south
• Kayakers will glide through narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, paddle amongst ice floes and drift quietly alongside wildlife

Brief Itinerary

Day 1Embark Ushuaia, Argentina
Days 2 & 3Drake Passage
Days 4 to 9Antarctic Peninsula & South of the Circle
Day 10King George Island & Flight to Punta Arenas
Day 11Punta Arenas, Chile

Day 1 — Embark Ushuaia, Argentina

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 you 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. This marks our entrance to the Drake Passage.

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.

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 & South of the Circle

Depending on the weather, we may first approach Antarctica near the South Shetland Islands, perhaps entering Bransfield Strait near 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 is 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 this expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather and 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! That's why we call our cruises, "Expeditions of Exploration and Adventure" - who knows where we will go?

Once we arrive in the calmer waters of the Bransfield, Gerlache and Penola Straits and Crystal Sound, we hope to make landings 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. 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.

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

Crossing the invisible line of the Antarctic Circle provides a special highlight. In Crystal Sound the mountains soar from the sea, while small islands provide havens for penguins and seals. At this time of the summer the waters are rich with krill and so we are hopeful of seeing whales, particularly humpbacks and minkes.

If ice conditions allow, we will try to travel south through the narrow twisting channel called The Gullet.

A sample of the many exciting places that we would like to visit is:
Robert Point
A fine example of the South Shetland Islands – a tiny toe of land that is 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 40 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 of mountains and glaciers of the surrounding islands.

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 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 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.

Lemaire Channel
If the ice conditions allow, standing on the bow of Polar Pioneer and quietly moving through the narrow Lemaire Channel may be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 2,300 ft (700 m) directly above the ship. The water can be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface. Gigantic icebergs can clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.

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

Crossing the Antarctic Circle
Our exciting crossing of the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66°33' South is a highlight of this voyage. In order to accomplish the extra distance of this significantly longer voyage without compromising the quality of our Antarctic experience, the ship will motor south every night and during meal times. By the time we've crossed the Circle in Crystal Sound, we notice subtle changes in the Antarctic land and icescapes, and also in the distribution of wildlife. As we head north again, we understand more about the effect of southerly latitudes on Antarctic wildlife.

Day 10 — King George Island & Flight to Punta Arenas, Chile

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

On arrival at the Punta Arenas airport you will be transferred from the airport to the centrally located hotel.

Day 11 — Punta Arenas, Chile

After breakfast at the hotel, 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 2015-2016
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Kayaking
Option
Charter
Air
Kayak
$14,300 $16,900 $19,800 $21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295  
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
$8,310Full$9,825Full$11,025Limited$12,325 $13,650 $1,050Full 
Camp, Kayak
$7,800Full$9,600Limited$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995  
Camp, Kayak
$7,800Full$9,600Full$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995Full 
Kayak
$14,300Full$16,900Full$19,800Limited$21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295  
Kayak
$14,300Full$16,900Full$19,800Full$21,700Full$23,090Full$1,295  
Camp, Kayak
$8,310Full$9,825Full$11,025Full$12,325Full$13,650Full$1,050Full 
Kayak
$7,800Full$9,600Full$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995  
Kayak
$7,800Full$9,600Full$11,220Full$12,430Full$13,860Full$995  
Mountaineering, Kayak
$14,300Full$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 $12,940Full$14,330 $1,050  
Camp, Kayak
$8,725 $10,200 $12,340 $13,250Full$14,650Full$995  
Camp, Kayak
$8,725 $10,200 $12,340 $13,250Full$14,650Full$995  
Kayak
$14,300 $17,200 $21,285 $23,325Full$24,800 $1,325  
Kayak
$14,300 $17,200 $21,285 $23,325 $24,800Full$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 $24,200Full$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