Christmas in Antarctica and the Weddell Sea

Ioffe Cruise Ship
Ioffe
96 Passengers
Adventure Options

After many years of careful planning, we are excited to feature this unique journey for the very first time. This expedition combines many of the classic and well-known locations along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Yet it also adds a genuine sense of exploration as we enter the icy realms of the Weddell Sea, situated on the less-visited eastern side of the peninsula. It is here the big icebergs roam. The flat-topped tabular bergs, some the size of whole city blocks, break off from the vast ice tongues far to the south before drifting north on the ocean currents.

The Weddell Sea is home to astonishing wildlife colonies that dwarf those found in other regions. At Brown Bluff, on Paulet Island, and in the Danger Islands, it is possible to visit colonies with more than 100,000 nesting Adelie penguins. This is one of nature’s most amazing sights. A known emperor penguin rookery at Snow Hill Island means that we have our best possible chance of encountering the largest of Antarctica’s penguins while exploring in this region. Rich history is found at every turn adding to the experience.

This voyage provides our most in depth exploration of the Weddell Sea, at the optimal time of the season for weather and ice navigation. If you are seeking a voyage which provides a sense of the ‘wild and unknown’ and of ‘true exploration’, this may well be the trip you’ve been looking for. It’s not a bad place to celebrate the ultimate white Christmas either!

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina
Days 2 & 3 At Sea – Towards Antarctica
Days 4 to 6 Western Antarctica Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Days 7 to 10 Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
Days 11 & 12 Drake Passage – Return to South America
Day 13 Arrive Ushuaia – Voyage Concludes

Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina

Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.

Days 2 & 3 — At Sea – Towards Antarctica

We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we make our way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history of the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. As we approach the coastline of Antarctica, we anticipate an increase in whale sightings.

Days 4 to 6 — Western Antarctica Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

We awaken today, and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Arriving into Antarctic waters via the Bismark Strait, we aim for some of our favorite landing sites today. Anvers Island is one of the largest of the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are several outstanding sites here and neighboring Wiencke Island, such as Damoy Point, or Port Lockroy. These locations provide us with our first opportunity to venture on shore, and cruise in the Zodiacs. A short transit across the Gerlache Strait brings us along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. A shore landing at Paradise Harbor will be a highlight for many as you step foot on the continent proper for the first time.

An Argentine refuge is located here and the nearby hike up a snow-covered hill provides staggering views. Iceberg filled waters, surrounded by the towering peaks of the continent will leave even the most jaded traveller lost for words. If the ice conditions allow, Zodiac cruising or sea-kayaking into the nearby ice ‘cathedral’ of Skontorp Cove is another memorable experience. On a still day, the dark water reflects the gigantic glaciers throwing a magical light over this ethereal scene.

We navigate in a northerly direction along the Gerlache Strait overnight. This is an important whale migration corridor and with the long hours of twilight at this time of the season, we encourage you to be on the bridge looking for the tell-tale blows of the migrating pods of humpbacks and minkes. We may even catch a glimpse of the resident orca pod that inhabit this stretch of water.

By morning we have reached several other favored locations in the northern Gerlache. Places such as Cierva Cove or Mikkelson Harbor allow for some great excursions on shore and in the Zodiacs. There are substantial penguin rookeries located here and it’s a good place to look for leopard seals on the ice floes. The remote Spert Islands provide a fascinating lesson in geology. The island group is criss-crossed by narrow channels and coves and cruising in the Zodiacs or sea kayaking here is a real thrill. Seabirds nest on the cliffs above, while seals can be found resting along the shoreline. We usually encounter whales in this vicinity. We continue our journey and by morning, will have arrived in the South Shetland Islands.

Sunrise over Livingston Island is a sight to behold as the mountains are a blaze of color as we arrive into the South Shetlands. We enter the McFarlane Strait with an objective of Half Moon Island, or nearby Yankee Harbor. Arriving on shore, a sizable rookery of chinstrap penguins act as a very noisy welcoming committee and we hope to observe our first substantial elephant seal colony here. Additional locations we may visit include Fort Point on nearby Greenwich Island with its pebble covered isthmus, a popular location for resting fur seals. After a busy day in the South Shetlands, excitement is in the air as we set sail for Antarctic Sound, the gateway to the Weddell Sea.

Days 7 to 10 — Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea

Arriving into the Weddell Sea is a humbling experience. We notice an increase in the huge, flat-topped tabular icebergs in this vicinity. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation in the Weddell Sea and watching the captain and officers at work is a lesson in skilled seamanship. The Weddell Sea is rich in history. The early Swedish explorer, Otto Nordenskjold, and companions spent several years here in a remarkable yet little-known tale of survival. Just over a decade later, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the survival of his crew from the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (HMS Endurance), in 1914-17, grabbed the imagination of the entire world. To this day, Shackleton’s journey remains one of the great tales of polar exploration and survival.

The region is home to immense colonies of the smallest of Antarctica’s penguin species – the Adelie. In locations such as Paulet Island, Brown Bluff, Gourdin Island and the Danger Islands, these rookeries are home to as many as 100,000 nesting penguins. If ice conditions permit, we push south towards the fabled location of Snow Hill Island. A known emperor penguin rookery can be found here. While the largest of Antarctica’s penguins nest far from the shoreline, all eyes are peeled on the waters and ice floes as we hope to view these superb penguins coming and going from their rookery.

Our adventure is far from over and we have an exciting day planned with possible shore landings on Vega Island, which is home to some of the most fascinating paleontology found in all of Antarctica. Fossils here tell the story of Gondwanaland, of giant penguins and other dinosaur species and early plant life on Earth. Brown Bluff and d’Urville Monument are other landing possibilities in the area. We celebrate our exploration of the Weddell Sea this evening, enjoying a fine Christmas celebration on board the ship commencing our journey home.

Days 11 & 12 — Drake Passage – Return to South America

As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our expedition leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship.

Day 13 — Arrive Ushuaia – Voyage Concludes

In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.

ABOUT OUR ITINERARY: Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s captain in conjunction with the expedition leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and Zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates Antarctica 2019-20
Main Deck Triple
Twin Semi-Private
Twin Private
Superior
Shackleton Suite
One Ocean Suite
Camp, XC Ski, Kayak, Snowshoe
Ushuaia - Antarctica - Ushuaia
$9,295Full$11,695Full$12,795Full$13,695Full$15,495Full$17,395Full
Kayak
Ushuaia - Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$14,195Full$16,295Full$18,195Full$19,295Full$21,195Full$23,195Full
Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica - Ushuaia
$9,095Full$11,295Full$12,295Full$13,395Full$14,595Full$16,595Full
Camp, Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica - Ushuaia
$10,895Full$13,495Full$14,795Full$15,995Full$17,495Full$19,895Full
Camp, Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica ✈ Punta Arenas
$11,695Full$13,795Full$14,895Full$15,595Full$17,195Full$18,895Full
Camp, Kayak
Punta Arenas ✈ Antarctica
Falklands ✈ Punta Arenas
$12,595Full$14,895Full$16,695Full$17,595Full$19,495Full$21,195Full
Kayak
Punta Arenas ✈ Falklands
Antarctica ✈ Punta Arenas
$18,095Full$20,595Full$22,795Full$24,395Full$26,295Full$28,295Full
Camp, Kayak
Punta Arenas ✈ Antarctica
Falklands ✈ Punta Arenas
$12,595Full$14,895Full$16,695Full$17,595Full$19,495Full$21,195Full
Kayak
Punta Arenas ✈ Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$18,895Full$22,295Full$24,495Full$25,895Full$27,495Full$28,695Full
Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica - Ushuaia
$9,095Full$11,295Full$12,295Full$13,395Full$14,595Full$16,595Full
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Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Rates are per person, based on twin-share.

The Single supplement is 1.5x the published twin rate for Twin and Superior Cabins.
Single supplement is 2x the published twin rate for suites.
Single supplement is not available in triple cabins.
No single supplement applies for passengers willing to share.

Voyages commencing/ending in Stanley (Falkland Islands) or King George Island (Antarctica) include flights from Punta Arenas (Chile).
Voyages ending in King George Island (Antarctica) include one night hotel accommodation in Punta Arenas at the end of the trip.

Costs for standard adventure options: Photography - Free of charge, Snowshoeing - Free of charge, Camping - Free of charge, Kayaking (must be pre-booked, maximum 16 participants) – $795.
Please note - camping is less likely to happen on the longer voyage to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica itinerary or on March voyages.

Costs for Off the Beaten Track adventure options (must be pre-booked): Standard Kayaking (maximum 16 participants) – $795, Overnight Kayaking - Additional $300 add-on to standard kayaking program (maximum 6, minimum 4 participants), Ski Touring (maximum 12, minimum 6 participants) - $750, Expedition Snowshoeing (maximum 12 participants) - free, Onboard Photography - free. Additional options (No pre-booking/no fee): Overnight Camping, Hiking, Classic Snowshoeing.

Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

DeckPlan_Ioffe_b

   One Ocean Suite
Located on deck 5 this cabin is separated into two very spacious rooms. A spacious lounge area is perfect for relaxation and features a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, writing desk, ample storage, plus large picture windows overlooking the bow (forward facing) that can be opened. The separate bedroom features a double bed with upgraded linen/ pillows, night light, and window over the port side of the ship. The bathroom has a bathtub and shower. There is also a region specific iPad, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, fully stocked mini bar, iPod alarm clock with audio line and several arms chairs.
   Shackleton Suites
Located on decks 4 and 5 these cabins are separated into two spacious rooms, one that is ideal for relaxation with a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, writing desk, chair, ample storage and a large window that can be opened. A separate private bedroom has a double berth with upgraded linen/pillows, night light, private facilities, a region specific iPad, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, fully stocked mini bar, iPod alarm clock with audio line.
   Superior Cabins
These very large cabins are located on deck 6, and feature two lower berths, a loveseat, writing desk and chair, ample storage and private washroom facilities. All cabins have a window that can be opened. These cabins provide great access to the outer observation decks and ship’s bridge.
   Twin Private Cabins
Located on decks 4 and 5 these spacious, well-appointed cabins feature two lower berths, with private washroom facilities (sink, shower, toilet and bathroom cabinet). There are tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window that can be opened.
   Twin Semi-Private Cabins
Located on deck 4 these cabins have two lower berths, one of which can be converted to a sofa during the day. These cabins have tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window that can be opened. Facilities are semi-private – meaning you share the washroom with the adjacent cabin.
   Main Deck Triple Cabins
Located on deck 3 these cabins feature two lower berths and one upper berth. One lower berth can be converted to a comfortable sofa during the day. Washroom facilities are shared. There is a washbasin in the cabin, a writing desk and chair and ample storage for all cabin occupants. These cabins are efficient and well-appointed with two portholes with the option to open one.

 

Cabin and Voyage Inclusions            
Outside View With Opening Porthole/Window
Complimentary use of Wet Weather Gear
Complimentary use of Wellington Boots
Complimentary use of Waterproof Backpack and Binoculars
Innovative Dream Sleep Package
100% Cotton Bathrobes
Custom Blend Natural Canadian Made Essential Oil Amenities
Custom Color Coordinated Canadian Made Linen Package
Black Out Curtains
Clock Radio with Media Connector
Desk with Chair
Complimentary Water Bottle
In-Room Coffee & Tea Station
In-Room Private Field Guide    
In-Room Private Reference Library      
In-Room Mini Bar        
In-Room iPad Preloaded With Reference And Fictional Content        
In-Room Single Brew Coffee System        
In-Room Mini Stereo        
Complimentary Welcome Package (Wine, Fruit Basket, Natural Snacks)        
Complimentary Field Guide to Antarctica        
Early Morning Adventure Concierge Coffee Service