Across the Antarctic Circle Fly/Cruise via Punta Arenas

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
54 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
• 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 on the ship - or more intimately from the Zodiacs
• Witness the endless sunlight of the midnight sun
• Learn about Antarctica’s unique wildlife, environment and geology from our expert team
• Champagne celebration when we reach the Antarctic Circle at 66°33' south
• Kayakers will glide through narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, paddle amongst ice floes and drift quietly alongside wildlife
• Divers and snorkelers will discover a hidden wonderland below the surface of the polar sea
Puerto Williams
• Spend time exploring the southern-most town in the world
• Visit the UNESCO declared Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve
• Absorb the birds’ eye view over the breathtaking landscape of Cordillera Darwin with its magnificent glaciers, narrow austral channels and hidden colored lagoons

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Overnight in Punta Arenas, Chile
Day 2 Punta Arenas to King George Island
Days 3 to 8 Antarctic Peninsula & South of the Circle
Days 9 & 10 Drake Passage
Day 11 Punta Arenas, Chile

Day 1 — Overnight in Punta Arenas, Chile

Situated on the shore of the Strait of Magellan, one of the world's historic trade routes, Punta Arenas enjoyed its first great boom during the California Gold Rush, when it served as a haven for great clipper ships. When the Panama Canal opened in 1914, it lost considerable shipping, but that trade was quickly replaced by Chile’s international wool trade. Today, Punta Arenas has a mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors and remains important for Chile’s connection with Antarctica. A great place to start in Punta Arenas is the Cerro La Cruz promontory, which provides panoramic views of the city with its colorful tin roofs along orderly streets. 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 eclectic introduction to the region. The Centro Cultural is equally engaging, offering an intimate glimpse of the life of a prosperous Punta Arenas trading family. For those who enjoy a bit of maritime history, try the Museo Nao Victoria 7.5 kms north of the city on the way to the airport. This museum’s main attractions are the replicas of three very famous ships, Magellan’s Nao Victoria, the James Caird from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, and Darwins’, Beagle. Punta Arenas is the third largest city in the entire Patagonian Region and is roughly 880 mi (1420 km) from the coast of Antarctica.

In the evening we will gather for an introduction to our expedition and a briefing on the flight to Antarctica tomorrow.

Day 2 — Punta Arenas to King George Island

Our early morning charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will take approximately two and a half hours. The flight first takes us over the Strait of Magellan then over the Cordillera Darwin with its magnificent glaciers, narrow austral channels and hidden colored lagoons. Before too long we are out over the Drake Passage and then to King George Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. King George Island is the first landfall in the South Shetland Islands so once you can spot land, you will land shortly. Should bad weather in Antarctica delay our charter flight from departing on time, we’ll have optional activities available.

Our expedition team will be on hand to greet you when you arrive at King George Island. You will have a short walk from the plane to the beach where you will board Zodiacs for a quick ride to the Polar Pioneer. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before we gather for introductions. Once everyone is well fed and settled in, we will set course for our first landing.

Days 3 to 8 — Antarctic Peninsula & South of the Circle

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, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day.  This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather and ice conditions, kayaking and diving opportunities and unparalleled encounters with wildlife. Because we are so far south, we will experience 18-20 hours' daylight and the days will be as busy as you wish.  Once we arrive in the calmer waters of the Bransfield, Gerlache and Penola Straits and Crystal Sound, we expect to make landings two or three times a day.  We will use our Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats) to get ashore and for cruising. 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”.

Crossing the invisible line of the Antarctic Circle at 66° 33’ South latitude, 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. Some of the places we may visit to view spectacular wildlife, visit historic sites or cruise icebergs and glaciers are:

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 at Neptune’s Window.

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

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 3,000 ft (900 m) 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.

Port Lockroy/ Jougla Point
Tucked into a sheltered bay, Port Lockroy has a long history of ship-based whaling, then it became the site of a small British Base during WWII. Their mission was to report on weather conditions and keep their eyes open for German shipping.  The Base was converted to a research station after the war until the late 1960s. Now it stands as a fantastic museum that allows us to experience what it was like to live on an Antarctic station 50 years ago.

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.

Detaille Island
South of the circle, Detaille Island was a center for British exploration in the 20th century. Home to a smallish colony of Adelie penguins and a haulout for Antarctic fur seals, the historic buildings still stand today, partly renovated as wonderful museum of a bygone era.

Other places we may visit around the Antarctic Peninsula are:
Petermann Island; Pleneau Island; Neko Harbor; Scientific Base of Vernadsky; Argentine Islands; Fish Islands; Crystal Sound.

Days 9 & 10 — Drake Passage

Time to head back to Argentina’s Tierra del Feugo, 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 us all. If we have a good crossing and weather permitting, we will try our best to approach the legendary Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.

Day 11 — Punta Arenas, Chile

During the early morning we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Puerto Williams. 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 45-minute flight back to Punta Arenas, where we’ll enjoy a birds’ eye view over the breathtaking landscape of Cordillera Darwin.

In Punta Arenas, a group transfer to our preferred hotel is included in your expedition cost.

Note: There are many exciting places we can choose to visit along the Antarctic Peninsula. According to weather and ice conditions your expedition leader will create an itinerary to make the most out of the many possibilities. Our primary goals will be to get south across the Antarctic Circle and to set foot on the continent itself—not an easy feat since so much of the coast consists of sheer ice cliffs. The itinerary listed here may require changes depending on weather, ice conditions and the movements of other vessels.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Rates Antarctica 2018-19
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Economy Private
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Santiago (or Punta Arenas) - Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Puerto Williams - Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas - Puerto Williams
Antarctica - Punta Arenas
Photography, Kayak
Punta Arenas - Antarctica
Antarctica - Ushuaia
Mountaineering, Kayak, Photography
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Falklands - Santiago (or Punta Arenas)

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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, Snowshoeing $250, Ski Touring $900, Climbing $900, South Georgia Alpine Crossing $2,150, Ski Touring $900.

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


*Cabins #402 & #403 will be sold as:
Twin Private Cabins for the 2017-18 Season and as
Twin Economy Private Cabins for the 2018-19 Season.

   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 - 2017-18 Season Only) • 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 Economy Cabin, Private Bathroom (2018-19 Season Only)
Twin Cabins with Private Bathrooms on Deck 4 (#402 and #403). Each cabin accommodates two people and offers the convenience of private bathroom facilities.
Cabin Features: Private en-suite • 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.

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)