Christmas Antarctic Peninsula Adventure 11 daysAboard: Akademik Ioffe
Experience the ultimate 'white christmas' – exploring Antarctica! December provides maximum hours of daylight as we experience Antarctica during the Summer solstice. Over the course of ten nights, we visit many of the classic locations along the Antarctic Peninsula providing a great variety of exciting activities both on and off the ship. Traditionally, this departure has been very popular with families as it falls over the holiday season.
A special feature of this voyage is the two additional days of exploration in Antarctica compared to voyages of similar duration. We achieve this by flying back from King George Island (Antarctica) to South America at the end of the voyage, saving two days on the return sea crossing. Those two days 'saved' are spent exploring in Antarctica. This equals more time on shore, more time in the Zodiacs and more time spent in the company of our expert guides.
Our full range of activities will be offered on this voyage – walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, zodiac cruising amongst icebergs, visits to historic sites and possibly even a working science station. For the more adventurous, sea kayaking is a wonderful way to discover Antarctica – and if weather conditions permit – why not spend the night, camping on shore? This trip provides the great opportunity to maximize your time down ‘on the ice!
- Celebrate Christmas in Antarctica!
- Spectacular scenery
- Amazing marine wildlife
- Myriad birdlife
- Exciting activity options including kayaking
- Save time by flying back across the Drake Passage
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Transfers to & from ship
- Flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas
- 1 night hotel stay in Punta Arenas post-voyage
- Loan of waterproof boots
- All zodiac excursions and landings
- Programme of expert lectures
- Resident photography guide
So much to experience
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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
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 in to 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.
At Sea - Drake Passage
Sailing south towards Antarctica we will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship 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 expedition vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
We awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on this incredible sight. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. This is Antarctica.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous small islands. The Gerlache coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. We frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, usually found hauled out on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are present much of the time as they feed on the vast schools of krill. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Our activity program is in full swing and we encourage all guests to choose how their adventure unfolds. Every day we plan an exciting range of activities, including guided hikes on shore (both short and long), visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides. The historic huts and science stations located along the peninsula provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice searching for seals and whales is a memorable activity. Meanwhile, our sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship experiencing Antarctica from an entirely different perspective. Our resident photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling and image composition. Maybe what you really want to do is sit on a rock, simply watching the penguins come and go from the water? Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show.
Planned excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula could include Cierva Cove or Mikklesen Harbour, Danco Island, the Melchior Islands and Fournier Bay - or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the gentoo penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where we frequently encounter playful humpback whales. Nearby Paradise Harbour is a particular highlight and offers an excellent hiking route to a viewpoint providing expansive views. Andvord Bay and Neko Harbour provide yet another continental landing opportunity. It is somewhere along this stretch of coastline we plan a night on shore, camping in Antarctica. We have all the right gear and equipment and an expert team to make it happen - all you need is an adventurous spirit! Camping always depends on the weather and we can never guarantee it on any voyage. If the weather is good and site characteristics suit our requirements, rest assured, we will always go for it. Camping is included and you can decide to participate on the day. There is no need to pre-book.
South Shetland Islands
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, we head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station and airport hangar. There are several superb hikes and an opportunity for a swim - the 'Polar Plunge!' We head north-east, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is always a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in this vicinity including Half Moon Island, and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. Tonight we enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship’s Captain, cruising towards King George Island.
King George Island to Punta Arenas
This morning we say goodbye to our expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac. We walk from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up towards the airstrip where we board our special charter flight. This flight takes a little over two hours and is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided. This itinerary includes a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas for all guests returning from King George Island at the end of the voyage. This evening is at your leisure. Punta Arenas is home to some cozy restaurants, cafes and bars – including the historic ‘Shackleton Bar’ at the Hotel Jose Nogueira – a fitting location to reflect on your journey to Antarctica.
After breakfast and check-out, make your own way to the airport for your onward journey. (We recommend you book flights after midday). Otherwise, why not continue your exploration of Patagonia? Just a few hours north, lies the celebrated Torres del Paine National Park – home to towering peaks, glaciers and spectacular wilderness - a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
A view from Above
Built in Finland in 1989 as a Russian polar research vessel, the Akademik Ioffe, was operating as One Ocean Navigator until recently, is a comfortable, stable, ice-strengthened ship with all the facilities for modern expedition cruising. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with windows or portholes and some with private facilities. Public areas include dining room, lounge, bar, library with forward facing windows, multi-media room with Apple Mac computers and photo management software, presentation room, mud room, passenger lift and gift shop. There is also a wellness centre, sauna, spa, salt-water plunge pool, fitness room and infirmary. Along with plenty of open deck space, there is a top deck with 360degrees views and a small observatory with spotting scope. The ship has an open-bridge policy.
we work hard to earn passionate reviews from our clients.
Now that I am back from my odyssey voyage, I thought I would let you know that after all that planning it really did exceed my expectations – we managed landings everywhere even on Tristan da Cuhna and had great bird sightings. The guides all knew what they were talking about too and made sure I got some great photos – still sorting them all out! Thanks for everything and see you at Birdfair!Dave Martin
Overall I think that it was an excellent trip that was well worth the price paid and I would have no hesitation recommending your company to others.Steve Sutton
Just a quick note to express my sincere thanks to you and all your staff for making this an epic adventure of immense proportions. Everything went smoothly, pickups, hotels and most of all the expedition itself. Truly a mind blowing experience unlike any I have ever taken.Mr J Borg, Malta
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Mike has more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.
Amy’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
As Senior Travel Expert, Simon has an absolute wealth of experience in adventure travel in some of the most fascinating places in the world. With in-depth knowledge and fantastic organizational skills, Simon’s first-hand experience and genuine passion drive him to work to create your perfect itinerary.