Fly/Cruise Across the Circle

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

Note: This cruise begins in Punta Arenas and ends in Ushuaia.

Ever since Captain Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle in 1773, Latitude 66°33’ S has beckoned explorers and adventurers. Even today, our champagne toast as we cross the line depends on the weather and ice gods. It’s worth every effort, as this voyage takes us to such magnificent sites along the southwest Antarctic Peninsula, as Crystal Sound and the Gullet. Our scuba divers may explore new sites while we visit penguin rookeries and other wildlife spectacles of the Antarctic summer.

“Cruising past the Antarctic circle, it's easy to see how difficult conditions were for early explorers. Our comfortable ship Polar Pioneer and its experienced crew travels without a rigid timetable, setting course based on a combination of conditions, passenger's interests and our famous enthusiasm for discovering new places.”

Gary Miller - Expedition Leader

Our actual program will vary to take best advantage of local conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. No two voyages are the same; there is always an element of the unexpected.


Day 1 - Embark King George Island, Antarctica

Note: We recommend Expeditioners arrive into Punta Arenas the day prior to flight departure.

Expeditioners will gather in Punta Arenas, Chile. Punta Arenas is the southern most city on Earth, overlooking the Straits of Magellan. Situated astride one of the world's historic trade routes, its prosperity has risen and fallen with that trade. Punta Arenas enjoyed its first great boom during the California Gold Rush, when it served as a haven for great clipper ships. Although the port's importance diminished after the opening of the Panama Canal, the city reached even greater prosperity early in this century as the center of Chile's international wool trade.

Today, Punta Arenas reflects a great mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, and it remains an utterly fascinating testament to Chile's rich history. Punta Arenas is also the starting point for excursions to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

The best spot to gain an introduction to Punta Arenas is the Cerro La Cruz promontory, which provides breathtaking views of the city's orderly streets, colorful tin roofs, and the strait beyond. Among the city's most interesting attractions are the Museo Salesiano de Mayonino Borgatello, started by an order of Italian missionaries, and the Centro Cultural Braun-Menendèz, housed in the mansion of one of the city's most prosperous families. The museum provides visitors with an extraordinary and eclectic introduction to virtually every aspect of the region. Its collection, accumulated by the missionaries during their extensive travels in the area, is composed of artifacts of all sorts-from ceramics to rare animal species The Centro Cultural is equally engaging, offering an intimate glimpse of the life of a prosperous Punta Arenas trading family. Furnished with fine European antiques, Italian marble floors, and grand ceiling frescos, this grand mansion gives a good indication of the economic stature of Punta Arenas before the Panama Canal was completed. Punta Arenas is the third largest city in the entire Patagonian Region and is roughly 1418.4 km from the coast of Antarctica.

Our early morning charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will take approximately three and a half hours. We first fly across the Drake Passage and then arrive to King George Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. Satellite and weather information is checked before departure and during the flight.

Note: As bad weather conditions in Antarctica can prevent our charter flight from departing, Aurora Expeditions has developed different programs to offer you while waiting. These programs include visits to Torres del Paine National Park and a flight over Cape Horn.

Days 2 to 7 - Antarctic Peninsula & South of the Circle

Having landed on King George Island, the day prior, the largest of the South Shetland Islands and home to the largest biggest collection of scientific stations in Antarctica. Zodiacs will have taken us and our luggage across Fildes Bay to our vessel Polar Pioneer.

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.

On King George Island we are at the stepping off point for the Antarctic Peninsula. 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, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-20 hours' 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?

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, before leaving King George Island. 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.

A sample of the many exciting places that we would like to visit follows:

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 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 700 meters 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

Penguins 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.

Days 8 to 9 - Drake Passage & Cape Horn

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.

This is 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 10 - Beagle Channel

During the early morning we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia. As soon as customs have cleared the ship we will be free to disembark. It’s a busy time, saying farewell to our crew and to fellow passengers who have shared the intensity of exploring this magnificent white wilderness. We head off in our different directions, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.

At the conclusion of the voyage flights are not to be booked from Ushuaia prior to 12 noon on the day of disembarkation.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Per Person USD
Rates 2014-2015
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Kayaking
Option
Charter
Air
Photography, Kayak
-Limited Availability-
$13,660
 
$16,200
 
$18,900
 
$20,700
 
$21,990
 
$1,295
 
 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak

Save 15% (Prices in Red)
Expires Aug 31st 2014
$8,700
$7,395
$10,290
$8,747
$11,550
$9,818
$12,900
$10,965
$14,290
$12,147
$995
 
 
Kayak
-Limited Availability-
$13,660
 
$16,200
 
$18,900
 
$20,700
 
$21,990
 
$1,250
 
 
Kayak
-Limited Availability-
$13,660
 
$16,200
 
$18,900
 
$20,700
 
$21,990
 
$1,250
 
 
Camp, Kayak
-Limited Availability-
$8,700
 
$10,290
 
$11,550
 
$12,900
 
$14,290
 
$995
 
 
Mountaineering, Kayak
Shackleton Crossing
-Limited Availability-
$13,660
 
$16,200
 
$18,900
 
$20,700
 
$21,990
 
$1,295
 
 
Kayak
-Limited Availability-
$7,100
 
$8,750
 
$10,200
 
$11,300
 
$12,600
 
$925
 
 
Kayak
Snorkeling
-Limited Availability-
$7,100
 
$8,750
 
$10,200
 
$11,300
 
$12,600
 
$925
 
 
Kayak

Save 15% (Prices in Red)
Expires Aug 31st 2014
$12,660
$10,761
$15,200
$12,920
$17,900
$15,215
$19,700
$16,745
$20,990
$17,842
$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.

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

Mandatory Flight for Fly/Cruise (Punta Arenas to Antarctica) and Cruise/Fly (Antarctica to Punta Arenas) - $1200
Optional Flight Punta Arenas / Falklands or Falklands / Punta Arenas $660

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 $250, Photography Free, Camping  Free.

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

Only show rates under
$ X
Use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to adjust price.
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
 
$21,700
 
$23,090
 
$1,295
 
 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
$8,310
 
$9,825
 
$11,025
 
$12,325
 
$13,650
 
$1,050
 
 
Camp, Kayak
$7,800
 
$9,600
 
$11,220
 
$12,430
 
$13,860
 
$995
 
 
Camp, Kayak
$7,800
 
$9,600
 
$11,220
 
$12,430
 
$13,860
 
$995
 
 
Kayak
$14,300
 
$16,900
 
$19,800
 
$21,700
 
$23,090
 
$1,295
 
 
Kayak
$14,300
 
$16,900
 
$19,800
 
$21,700
 
$23,090
 
$1,295
 
 
Camp, Kayak
$8,310
 
$9,825
 
$11,025
 
$12,325
 
$13,650
 
$1,050
 
 
Kayak
$7,800
 
$9,600
 
$11,220
 
$12,430
 
$13,860
 
$1,050
 
 
Kayak
$7,800
 
$9,600
 
$11,220
 
$12,430
 
$13,860
 
$1,050
 
 
Mountaineering
$14,300
 
$16,900
 
$19,800
 
$21,700
 
$23,090
 
$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.

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

Polar Pioneer Deck Plan