Epic Antarctica: From the Peninsula to the Ross Sea to New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands

National Geographic Endurance
National Geographic Endurance
126 Passengers

Thrill along the ice’s edge of remote Antarctic shores—including the Antarctic Peninsula, rarely visited Western Antarctica, the impressive Ross Sea ice shelf, Australia's Macquarie Island, and the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand. National Geographic Endurance roams free at the bottom of the world on the most untrammeled, adventurous route on this epic voyage. Extraordinary adventure is a guarantee on all of our Antarctica expeditions. Flexibility is a hallmark of our explorations, and often the shipboard day-by-day itinerary will change—so we may take full advantage of rare wildlife sightings, watching whales feed off the bow, or perfect conditions for a late day kayaking excursion.

• Discover four stunningly beautiful wilderness regions aboard the ultimate polar ship, National Geographic Endurance, providing unprecedented access, opening up unexplored opportunities in polar environments, and making polar travel safe, smooth, thrilling, and luxurious.
• In the company of a top expedition team, encounter the big tabular icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula and remote West Antarctica, and sail along the spectacular Ross Ice Shelf, a wall of ice towering over the water by as much as 200 feet.
• Explore the seldom-visited sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia, UNESCO sites that are havens for wildlife.
• Follow the routes of Scott, Ross, Amundsen and Shackleton.
• Be active daily. Paddle a kayak in pristine bays, hike the landscape, and Zodiac cruise amid the bergs. Capture your best images with a National Geographic photographer by your side.
• Observe unique and abundant wildlife: endemic royal penguins, gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins—and the largest of the species, the emperor penguin. Visit the world’s largest colony of Adélie penguins, and see 100,000 pairs of king penguins on a single beach!

Please note that although international airline tickets are not included in the trip cost the dates of this trip include your travel dates (based on USA/USA travel).

Brief Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 Home/Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day 3 Fly to Ushuaia/Embark
Day 4 At Sea/Drake Passage
Days 5 to 9 Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
Days 10 to 17 Exploring West Antarctica
Days 18 to 25 Exploring the Ross Sea
Days 26 & 27 At Sea
Days 28 & 29 Macquarie Island, Australia
Day 30 At Sea
Days 31 to 33 Exploring New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands
Day 34 Bluff, New Zealand/Disembark/Auckland/Overnight Hotel
Day 35 Auckland/Home

Days 1 & 2 — Home/Buenos Aires, Argentina

Depart on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires (international flight not included). Settle into the hotel before seeing the city’s Beaux-Arts palaces and the famous balcony associated with Eva Peron.

Day 3 — Fly to Ushuaia/Embark

Fly by private charter to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise of the Beagle Channel. Embark National Geographic Endurance.

Day 4 — At Sea/Drake Passage

Settle into shipboard life, listening to informal discussions from our naturalist staff to prepare for the wildness ahead. While crossing the legendary Drake Passage, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.

Days 5 to 9 — Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula

With 24 hours of daylight, we have ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, the schedule throughout is flexible so that we can take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales at play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion.

We anticipate offering opportunities each day to hike, kayak among the ice floes, and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching our powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins. You’ll learn how climate change affects the penguin populations, and how best to capture images of penguins from a National Geographic photographer. Back aboard, our undersea specialist may present video from that day’s dive or show rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see, and experience more.

Days 10 to 17 — Exploring West Antarctica

This part of the planet is big and bold and full of adventure and magnificent scenery. The new National Geographic Endurance will be in full expedition mode, granting thrilling opportunities to crunch through thick ice and explore places few have seen. Rely on the planet’s best ice team as you probe the ice’s edge for wildlife, including numerous seabirds and whales. Activities throughout our journey are always weather and ice dependent. Your captain and expedition leader will look for spots to “park” the ship in the pack ice, allowing guests the unique thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and show-shoe hikes. There will be time, too, to relax in the library, head up to the bridge to scan for marine life, unwind in the sauna or yoga room, and of course, hear presentations from our staff. Along the way, our undersea specialist captures images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice. Always interesting, it can also be pioneering in this distant part of the world.

Days 18 to 25 — Exploring the Ross Sea

On these days we navigate some of the most remote regions of the planet, as you explore the Ross Sea, just like Scott, Shackleton, and Ross (the 19th-century explorer for whom this sea is named). Here, we will see the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest, and the Transantarctic Mountain Chain. Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is enormous, covering 182,000 square miles –the size of France—and the edge of the ice shelf is a wall of ice towering over the water by as much as 200 feet, with the majority of the ice below the waterline. The Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface.

Your journey to this unique part of the Antarctic waters will likely include stops at several small islands at the bottom of the world for opportunities to hike and explore via Zodiac and kayak. We’ll spot colonies of Adelie penguins, lazy seals, and majestic whales. We plan to visit Coulman Island, where we can see and photograph Emperor penguins, the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches tall and has been the subject of the beloved film, March of the Penguins.

Days 26 & 27 — At Sea

During our days at sea, we learn about the fascinating history of Antarctic exploration, as well as the flora, fauna, and geology of the region. Our naturalists help identify the seabirds that follow us.

Days 28 & 29 — Macquarie Island, Australia

Located south of the New Zealand mainland in the remote Southern Ocean, the wild and beautiful sub-Antarctic islands are home to abundant and unique wildlife, with many species of birds, plants and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. On these days we plan to visit Macquarie Island or Macca, as it is affectionately known. Macca is home to a large variety of wildlife, including thousands of seals and millions of penguins, and has been designated a World Heritage site. Four species of penguin breed on Macca. The endemic royal penguin has a population estimated at 850,000. Gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins also breed there. And imagine landing on a single beach with 100,000 pairs of king penguins, the third largest such colony in the world!

Day 30 — At Sea

With whales beneath and birds above, head up to the bridge to spot marine life and watch the calm business of navigation. Or spend these days enjoying the ship’s spa, yoga room, and fitness center. Take some time to browse the library or play a board game in the glass-enclosed observation lounge. And listen to a variety of engaging talks from our staff, including photo talks from the National Geographic photographer.

Days 31 to 33 — Exploring New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands

Spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s subantarctic islands and their surrounding waters—the entire marine landscape designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and considered a “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world.

Keeping a flexible weather-dependent schedule, we plan to explore several intriguing islands. Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds: the 99 recorded species include albatross, Antarctic terns and Snares crested penguins. The Auckland Islands are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with the richest flora, prolific birdlife, and an interesting human history. Conditions permitting, we cruise in Zodiacs to Enderby Island to view a large New Zealand sea lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If we are fortunate, we may see rare yellow-eyed penguins as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach.

On our final days aboard, enjoy one last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. And gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner.

Day 34 — Bluff, New Zealand/Disembark/Auckland/Overnight Hotel

After breakfast, we disembark on the New Zealand mainland in the town of Bluff, one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, with a strong maritime history. Today we fly to Auckland, where we overnight at the hotel.

Day 35 — Auckland/Home

Today we transfer to the airport for overnight flights home (international flight not included), crossing the International Dateline and arriving the same day. Note this day is subject to change.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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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.

Dates shown are USA/USA however international airfare is NOT included in trip price.

Free Bar Tab and Crew Gratuities are included in the listed rates.

Kayaking is available as an additional activity available to all passengers and arranged onboard free of charge.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.


   Category 1
Fore Deck (deck 4) with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair. 183 square ft.
   Category 2
Fore Deck (deck 4) with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair. 205 square ft.
   Category 3
Main Deck (deck 5)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 4
Lounge Deck (deck 6)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 5
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 6
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Junior Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed. 344 square ft.
   Category 7
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Large Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed, bathtub, walk-in closet. 430 square ft.
   Category A Solo
Main Deck (deck 5)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 140 square ft.
   Category B Solo
Lounge Deck (deck 6)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 140 square ft.