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Polar Routes - The Ultimate Antarctic Expedition


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Price available on enquiry

More information available upon request. Minimum duration may apply.
Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

This 23-day journey showcases the very best of Antarctica on board an expert vessel, with an expert charter leader.

Over 23 incredible days, you will visit and experience the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, plus the opportunity to see Elephant Island. This is a journey with an all-out focus on exploration that you'll enjoy in the most unhurried way, only made possible because the maximum group size will be just 53 passengers – almost a quarter of the size of a typical expedition ship in today's market. The vessel is one of the strongest categorisations possible which means the ship can safely navigate a huge range of environments and conditions, including areas of sea ice. With ample deck space and an open bridge policy, there will always be a great spot from which you can view the incredible scenery and wildlife without jostling for position. And you’ll also enjoy many great facilities that create a comfortable home-away-from-home for the rest of your time onboard.

This cruise is designed around spending as much time as possible exploring, and you won’t find any other cruise that is able to offer more opportunities to do so.

On every full expedition day, you can expect two off-ship excursions, weather permitting, of up to three hours each. Every cruise carries five Zodiacs, which are used to get everyone off the ship quickly, together and without the need for separate groups. Once on land, there will be a variety of activities designed to really make the most of that particular location and all your time ashore.

You will also be accompanied every step of the way by an experienced team of five expedition staff along with a fantastic Charter Leader, which means you’ll have unrivalled access to experts who will really bring the destination to life.

The Ultimate Antarctic Expedition deserves the ultimate charter leader - a renowned historian, award-winning author and an experienced expedition leader. He was also a curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute and the National Maritime Museum in London and has wandered extensively across both Antarctica and the Arctic. He has also appeared as an expert in many television programmes, including BBC 4’s Everest Revealed: Imagining the Himalayas, Antarctica's Natural Histories of Ice, and the three-part series Wilderness Explored: Arctic, Central Australia, Congo. He has also contributed to BBC 2’s Frank Wild: Surviving Antarctica, Channel 4’s Franklin’s Lost Ships, and ABC’s Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery.


Day 1 - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Guests can arrive in Buenos Aires at any time today. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to check in at the hotel for the night. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the vibrant capital city of Argentina. 

Day 2 - Ushuaia, Argentina

It's an early start this morning for a group transfer to the airport, to board your flight to Ushuaia. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, you will be transferred to the port to board the MV Polar Pioneer. You’ll be checked into your cabin and after some time to settle in and complete the necessary safety briefings, you'll then set sail and begin our journey by sailing through the beautiful Beagle Channel.

Days 3 & 4 - Drake Passage

Your first 2 days sailing will be spent crossing the infamous Drake Passage. There will be a programme of briefings and lectures by the expedition crew to get you ready for the expedition ahead! Out on deck, it’s a good opportunity to spot wandering albatross and, if you're lucky, maybe some whales.

Days 5 - 8 - Antarctic Peninsula

After much anticipation, you will arrive in Antarctica and spend the next four days exploring the Western side of the Peninsula. Your ship will drop anchor in remote bays framed by icy mountains, and explore key wildlife spots. You'll encounter Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries up close, while the nutrient-rich seas are home to an abundance of wildlife including leopard, crabeater, Weddell and elephant seals, orcas, minke and humpback whales. Expect plenty of walks, wildlife observation, Zodiac rides and for the foolhardy, perhaps even the opportunity to take the polar plunge! If the opportunity arises, it may also be possible to visit historical sites or a scientific research station. Along the way, our expedition team will bring the destination to life and offer unique insights into what we are seeing.

Day 9  -  Retracing Shackletons route to Elephant Island

As your ship departs the Antarctic Peninsula, your expedition team will bring to life the story of one of the greatest Antarctic explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton. The Imperial Trans-Antarctica expedition of 1914 ran into problems in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica with their ship, the Endurance, becoming trapped and crushed by ice. They survived on the ship, and then on the ice, for 14 months before finally making their escape aboard three 20-foot lifeboats. The first part of their escape saw Shackleton and 28 men sail to Elephant Island, which was perhaps not the welcoming refuge they hoped for, but it was enough to help them survive. Today you will retrace that initial journey and attempt a Zodiac cruise around Elephant Island. Due to its exposed location, it’s always a challenge to get close to Elephant Island, so we will have to see what can be achieved with the conditions presented to us on the day.

Days 10 & 11 - At sea

For the next two days, you will sail across the open seas on your way to South Georgia and retrace the path sailed by 5 of Shackleton’s men aboard the lifeboat, James Caird. There will be a programme of briefings and lectures by the expedition crew to get you ready for the upcoming landings in South Georgia! 

Days 12 - 15 - South Georgia

South Georgia is always one of the standout highlights of any cruise to the Antarctic region, and this is no exception, your journey will include an amazing four full days exploring this mountainous island.

Sometimes referred to as the “Galapagos of the Poles”, South Georgia is home to massive king penguin colonies, including Salisbury Plain which is home to over 250,000 breeding penguins! But the wildlife doesn’t stop there, you'll also have the possibility to see numerous fur and elephant seals, Gentoo and macaroni penguins, and large numbers of sea birds including the 12,000 pairs of black-browed albatross located at Cooper Island.

You will continue retracing Shackleton’s story as we sail into King Haakon Bay and make a landing at Pegotty Bluff, which is where Shackleton and his 5 men first landed after 17 days sailing from Elephant Island. The island is also home to Grytviken which is an old whaling station, the administrative capital of the island and the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton himself. You'll have the opportunity to join in the long-held tradition of raising a glass of his favourite drink – a scotch whiskey – by his grave.

Days 16 - 19 - At sea

Depending on sea and weather conditions, we may have one last landing in South Georgia in the morning before charting a course towards the Falkland Islands. While we are at sea, there will be a programme of lectures to offer further insight and perspective on the things you've seen, as well as prepare you for visiting the Falkland Islands.

Days 20 & 21 - The Falkland Islands

Your first day in the Falklands will be at Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. About 2,500 islanders live here (70% of the population of The Falklands) and you’ll find a slice of British life to enjoy here. Today is a free day to self-explore the town, enjoy lunch at one of the local pubs or visit the cathedral and museum. Around a 4-mile walk (or taxi ride) away is Gypsy Cove, where there is a Magellanic penguin colony and the chance to see a lot of other Falklands wildlife. Please note lunch is not provided by the ship today, as the crew will enjoy a well-deserved rest day (breakfast and dinner will be served as normal).

On your second day in the Falkland Islands, you will make landings in the Western region of the archipelago. Your camera will get one last workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged landscape of this sub-Antarctic region.

Day 22 - At sea

Today you will bid farewell to the Falkland Islands and head back towards where it all began. On the final evening, there will be a farewell dinner, followed by a presentation of photos taken during the trip.

Day 23 - Disembark in Ushuaia

This morning it's time to say goodbye to the crew of the MV Polar Pioneer after you have enjoyed one final breakfast. There will be time available to explore Ushuaia before your afternoon flight back to Buenos Aires or alternatively, you can join an optional excursion to the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park (not included). Our services will end upon arrival at Buenos Aires Domestic Airport where our local guides will be available to assist with onward taxi transport. For anyone wishing to travel from the international airport today, we would not recommend booking any flights prior to 9 pm. We can also book a final night in Buenos Aires for you if you would prefer (not included) - please speak to your Travel Specialist to arrange. 

Price available on enquiry

More information available upon request. Minimum duration may apply.
Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

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