The ultimate off-the-grid Antarctic expedition cruise
There’s off the beaten track, and there’s really off the beaten track.
And then there’s the Antarctic Explorer’s Voyage, a far-ranging polar expedition cruise that lets you visit areas of Antarctica we rarely if ever offer – or any other cruise operator, for that matter.
Designed for those who crave a supreme indulgence of their exploratory spirit, this voyage takes place over 10 nights on two different Plancius programs. Potential landing sites include Petrel Cove, the Wright Ice Piedmont, and Anvers Island, among many others.
Depending on which program you book, you’ll also have your choice of activities ranging from open-air camping to kayaking to polar scuba diving, all of which will immerse you fully in Antarctica.
Added to which, this expedition cruise gives you the chance to see emblematic Antarctic animals: gentoo penguins, several species of seal (Antarctic fur, southern elephant, Weddell), numerous seabirds (albatrosses, fulmars, and petrels) and maybe even fin whales.
Though the Antarctic Explorer’s Voyage ventures into areas so little-known our itinerary can only mention the main landings, what follows are some tantalizing details about what you can experience on this epic Antarctic expedition.
En route to Antarctica: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and the End of the World
What better place to begin a voyage than where the world drops off?
Your embarkation point is Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Known as Tierra del Fuego, this area is also aptly nicknamed “The End of the World.”
From Ushuaia you sail south via the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel, making for the Drake Passage and Antarctica beyond.
Path of polar explorers: Drake Passage, Antarctic Convergence, and all the seabirds
You’ll spend two days sailing the Drake Passage, enjoying experiences shared by the historic polar explorers who first sailed here: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a whale spouting up sea spray.
After passing the Antarctic Convergence (Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas) you’ll enter the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone.
Not only will the marine life change, but also the bird life: You’ll start seeing wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels, just to name a few.
Antarctic icescapes: glaciers, icebergs, and pack ice of Antarctic Sound
By the time you reach Antarctic Sound, you’ve truly sailed into a polar paradise.
Glaciers, icebergs, and pack ice extend into the horizon, and everywhere you look lie spans of pristine white snow.
On the northern side of the Antarctic Sound, on Dundee Island, you’ll have the chance to land at Petrel Cove. The Argentinean Base Petrel is also located here.
And in the Antarctic autumn (which runs in February), a large number of Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals haul up on the beaches.
You might also see Active Sound, if ice conditions permit.
The Wright Ice Piedmont, Valdivia Point, and Brabant Island bays
Next up is the expansive Wright Ice Piedmont, a colossal strip of ice extending west from Lanchester Bay.
Keeping to the west coast of Graham Land, you will then sail for Valdivia Point, and farther west you might also see Challenger Island and Bluff Island.
The western side of Brabant Island comes afterward, where you can explore Avicenna Bay, Buls Bay, and engage in some polar psychoanalysis at Freud Passage.
Adventures on Anvers Island, then back to Ushuaia
The final stage of the Antarctic Explorer’s Voyage visits the glacial Fournier Bay, an extravaganza of ice located at the northeast coast of Anvers Island.
You might also make a landing at Inverleith Harbour (also on the northeast coast of Anvers), possibly spotting an Antarctic tern colony and Weddell seals.
After this, it’s back across the Drake toward Ushuaia.
You’ll be greeted on your way by many of the same seabirds you saw on your passage south, but they’ll seem a little more familiar to you now.
By the time you’re back in Ushuaia, you’ll not only be a legit polar traveler but the utter envy of all your Antarctic-aspiring friends. Because as you’ve seen, the Antarctic Explorer’s Voyage affords all passengers some pretty major bragging rights.