Antarctic Explorer Fly/Cruise Punta Arenas to Ushuaia

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
54 Passengers
Adventure Options

This Fly/Cruise itinerary features the best of Antarctica across eleven days and allows for more exploration with only one crossing of the Drake Passage. Get up close with tabular icebergs, vast colonies of Adelie and gentoo penguins and dramatic volcanic landscapes in the ice-filled Weddell Sea; the Antarctic Peninsula’s many islands are alive with leopard seals busy with courtship, bustling penguins and maybe whales!

Expedition 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
• Kayakers will glide through narrow sheltered waterways and fjords, paddle amongst ice floes and drift quietly alongside wildlife.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Punta Arenas, Chile
Day 2 Flight Punta Arenas to King George Island
Days 3 to 5 Antarctic Peninsula’s West Coast
Days 6 to 8 Antarctic Peninsula’s East Coast, Weddell Sea
Days 9 & 10 Drake Passage
Day 11 Ushuaia, Argentina

Day 1 — Punta Arenas, Chile

Expeditioners will gather at the hotel 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 colourful 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 4.7 mi (7.5 km) 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 (1400 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 for tomorrow.

Day 2 — Flight 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.

Our expedition team will be on hand to greet you when you arrive at King George Island. You will board Zodiacs for a quick ride to the Polar Pioneer. It’s a busy day on board so don’t forget you are in Antarctica now, be sure to take the time to drink in your surroundings as the crew sets course for our first landing.

Days 3 to 5 — Antarctic Peninsula’s West Coast

A host of choices are 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 their 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 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! Who knows where we will go?

Once we arrive in the calmer waters of Bransfield and Gerlache Straits, we hope to make landings and/or go kayaking two to three times a day. To get ashore we will use Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats). Sometimes we will cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, or make contact with whales, penguins and seals. 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. Our 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:
Livingston Island
A unique landing place on the Peninsula – tiny toes of land that are 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 60 beasts strong. Giant petrels nest on the ridge-line. The vegetation consists of mosses, lichens and the only grass species that grows in Antarctica. All this is set against a stunning backdrop, underneath long black scree slopes at the foot of the mountains and glaciers of Livingston Island.

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 often 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 could 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 clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.

Hydrurga Rocks
This group of low-lying unprotected granitic rocks protrude from the sea, swept by ocean swells. At first these rocks appear uninteresting, but on closer investigation, calm channels lead to a hidden interior where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstraps raise their families on rocky platforms. Hydrurga is Latin for leopard seal, and on occasions we see some skulking in the shallows. There are many places to simply sit and watch the rise and fall of clear green water and listen to the magic sounds and calls of the wildlife.

Other places we may visit around the Antarctic Peninsula are:
Petermann Island; Penola Strait; Neko Harbor; Antarctic Sound; and scientific bases of Ferraz (Brazilian), Vernadsky (Ukrainian) or Port Lockroy, a historic British base that is now a museum and post office.

Days 6 to 8 — Antarctic Peninsula’s East Coast, Weddell Sea

There are many exciting places that we would like to visit. A sample of these follows:
Brown Bluff
Situated on the eastern side of Tabarin Peninsula, the spectacular 2,400 ft (745 m) promontory of Brown Bluff towers over some 20,000 nesting pairs of Adelie penguins and hundreds of Gentoo penguins. Nesting skuas, snow petrels and pintados inhabit the upper slopes and kelp gulls screech overhead. Brown Bluff’s volcanic origins have created some fantastically shaped boulders that lie scattered across the ash beach and make colorful nesting sites for some of the penguins.

Paulet Island
This tiny volcanic island forms the nesting grounds of some 120,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, and the surrounding seas literally teem with penguins! There is also a blue-eyed shag colony situated at one end of Paulet's long beach front. Leopard seals are often seen cruising off shore, hoping to pick up a penguin snack. Weddell seals sometimes haul out here for a quiet nap on the beach. Apart from its plentiful wildlife Paulet is also rich in the history of Antarctic exploration, for it was here that the 22 men of Larsen's ship Antarctic arrived on 28 February 1903 after their ship had sunk. The men wintered on Paulet, living on penguins and seals, until eventually Larsen and five of the men rowed across Erebus and Terror Gulf to be reunited with members of Otto Nordenskjold's geological exploration party.

James Clark Ross Island
Separated from Trinity Peninsula by Prince Gustav Channel, the beaches and rocks of this mighty island are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary; creating a geologists’ paradise.

The beaches are populated with kelp gulls while Antarctic terns and skuas nest on the island's higher slopes. Many of the island's rocks are decorated with bright red and orange lichens, presenting fantastic photographic opportunities. Ice floes in the surrounding waters provide temporary floating homes for Weddell and leopard seals. We may walk up to Hidden Lake, following a stream rich in fossilized remains of deciduous trees, ferns and even clamshells. If ice conditions and time permit, we may also circumnavigate this fantastic island; a feat not often accomplished.

Devil Island
This very rarely visited island was named for its two striking peaks or 'horns'. It is the nesting site for some 10,000 pairs of Adelie penguins. If weather conditions permit, we may walk up a scree slope to the top of the island's western peak. A few hundred meters in height, the summit provides superb views into Erebus and Terror Gulf. On the upper slopes we may even see nesting snow petrels and Wilson's storm petrels. For those who are less active, the comings and goings of penguins on the beach and the accompanying skua population provide endless fascination. There are often large numbers of grounded icebergs off shore that we may cruise among in our Zodiacs.

View Point, Duse Bay
View Point is one of the few places where we may be able to set foot on the Antarctic continent proper. A British hut was built here in 1953 and an Argentine refuge hut was established a few years later. In front of the old hut are the remains of crabeater seal carcasses, which provided food for the sledge dogs. Thanks to the cold conditions, the well-preserved hut looks just as it did all those years ago - a fascinating place to get a feeling for the olden days of Antarctic exploration.

Larsen Ice Shelf
Antarctica's most conspicuous geographical feature is ice. Glaciers inch towards the sea from towering mountain peaks and ridges. If conditions permit, we hope to cruise south and along part of the spectacular Larsen Ice Shelf, which runs continuously for some 500 mi (800 km) between Cape Longing and Cape Mackintosh.

In 1995 a massive iceberg measuring 23 mi x 22 mi (37 km x 36 km) calved from the Larsen Ice Shelf and drifted north. We may see some remnants of this spectacular event and perhaps even witness smaller pieces of ice splitting away.

Other places we may visit around the Weddell Sea area and on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula are:
Joinville Island; D'Urville Island; Hope Bay; Seymour Island; Snow Hill Island; Vega Island; Prince Gustav Channel; Beak Island; Crystal Hill; Herbert 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 — Beagle Channel & Ushuaia, Argentina

During the early morning we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia. It’s a busy time, saying farewell to our expedition staff, crew and 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.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Per Person USD
Rates Antarctica 2018-19
Triple Shared
Twin Shared
Twin Economy Private
Twin Private
Mini Suite
Captain's Suite
Kayaking
Option
XC Ski, Photography, Kayak
Santiago (or Punta Arenas) - Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$14,600Full$17,900$15,400Full$20,600Full$21,700$18,700Full$23,900Full$25,400Full$1,350 
Camp, XC Ski, Kayak, Snowshoe
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Puerto Williams - Punta Arenas
$9,100Full$10,600$9,700Full$11,600Full$12,100$11,100Full$13,800Full$15,200Full$1,050 
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
Punta Arenas - Puerto Williams
Antarctica - Punta Arenas
$9,700Full$11,400$10,500Full$13,100Full$13,800$12,800Full$14,800Full$16,200Full$1,050 
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
Punta Arenas - Antarctica
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$9,700Full$11,400$10,5001 Berth$13,100Full$13,800$12,800Full$14,800Full$16,200Full$1,050 
Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Falklands - Santiago (or Punta Arenas)
$15,6001 Berth$18,900$18,000Full$21,600Full$22,700$21,7001 Berth$25,100Full$26,400Full$1,350 
Kayak
Santiago (or Punta Arenas) - Falklands
Antarctica - Ushuaia
$15,600Full$18,900$18,000Full$21,600Full$22,700$21,700Full$25,100Full$26,400Full$1,350 
Kayak
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Puerto Williams - Punta Arenas

Save $1,000 (Twin Private) & $900 (Twin Shared)
(Prices in Red) Expires Oct 31st 2018
$9,100Full$10,600$9,700Full$11,600Full$12,100$11,1001 Berth$13,800Full$15,200 $1,050 
Kayak
Punta Arenas - Puerto Williams
Antarctica - Punta Arenas

Save $1,000 (Twin Private) & $900 (Twin Shared)
(Prices in Red) Expires Oct 31st 2018
$9,700Full$11,400$10,500Full$13,1001 Berth$13,800$12,800Full$14,800 $16,200Full$1,050 
Photography, Kayak
Punta Arenas - Antarctica
Antarctica - Ushuaia

Save $2,000 (Twin Private) & $1,500 (Twin Shared)
(Prices in Red) Expires Oct 31st 2018
$9,700Full$11,400$9,900Full$13,100 $13,800$11,800Full$14,800 $16,200 $1,050 
Mountaineering, Kayak, Photography
Ushuaia - Antarctica
Falklands - Santiago (or Punta Arenas)

Save $3,000 (Twin Private) & $2,500 (Twin Shared)
(Prices in Red) Expires Oct 31st 2018
$14,600Full$17,900$15,400Full$20,6001 Berth$21,700$18,700Full$24,000 $25,400Full$1,350 
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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.

DeckPlan_PolarPioneer

*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)