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Island Holidays
Established 1987

Antarctic Peninsula and Polar Circle

Expedition crusing in the High Antarctic

Adélie penguins marching across an antarctic landscape with cruise ship anchored in the background

Locations in this tour typically include: Ushuaia • Beagle Channel • Drake Passage • Aitcho Island • Hannah Point • Deception Island (Whalers Bay, Neptune's Bellows) • Orne Island or Cuverville Island • Neko Harbour • Paradise Bay • Lemaire Channel • Petermann Island • Crystal Sound • Fish Islands • Detaille Island • Melchior Islands • Drake Passage • Ushuaia;

Route map

Polar Circle Antarctic Peninsula Route

The above route/s is/are representative for this cruise and may not exactly match the itinerary of every departure available. Please check the PDF itinerary download/s for the exact route/s.

Key facts

The ships

M/v Ortelius was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was originally named Marina Svetaeva, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. Read more about Ortelius

M/v Ortelius

M/v Plancius started her life in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". In June 2004, the vessel was taken out of active service and was purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions in December 2006. The vessel was completely rebuilt in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). Read more about Plancius

M/v Plancius

Your itinerary

Please note that the itinerary below is representative and may not be that of all cruises listed under the same title, since they can vary slightly in their route, duration, destinations or activities and can be different from year to year. Note also that during the cruise the programme may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. Please check the PDF itinerary downloads above for the precise itinerary and route of your chosen season and departure date.

Day 1: Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 & 3: At sea
During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may see 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. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs. The Master of the vessel may decide to sail the narrow English Strait between Robert Island and Greenwich Island or Mc Farlane Strait between Greenwich Island and Livingston Island if the conditions are favourable. Then we might be able to enter Antarctic waters in the late evening of the third day and see Aitcho Island at the South Shetlands. If the conditions do not allow us to manoeuvre through the English Strait then we continue sailing South of Livingston. These volcanic islands or the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist and fog, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and southern Giant Petrels.

Days 4 - 9: Antarctica
We may start our first day in Antarctica with a landing at Hannah Point, where we will find a nice variety of Gentoo Penguins, Chinstraps and southern Giant Petrels, as well as Elephant Seals hauling out on the beach.

Deception Island is a sub ducted crater, which opens into the sea creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson's Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. On our way further South we call at Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island. It contains a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. In Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, we have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. We shall have the opportunity for zodiac cruise between the icebergs in the inner parts of the amazing water way of Paradise Bay.

We sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island offering Adélie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. We also try to land at Pléneau Island with a fair chances to encounter Humpback and Minke Whales. Overnight we head south along the Argentine Islands to Crystal Sound, and cross the Polar Circle in the morning. We aim to make a landing at the abandoned British station on Detaille Island which is likely to be our furthest south. The landscape is very impressive with very high mountains and huge glaciers. We may reach the Fish Islands on the way northwards were we encounter one of the southernmost Adélie Penguin and Blue-eyed Shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing north again through Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Strait, we arrive at the Melchior Islands with a very beautiful landscape with icebergs, where we may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and whales.

Days 10 & 11: At sea
On our way north we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.

Day 12: Ushuaia
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.

Disclaimer: This itinerary is dependent on sea and ice conditions. The final itinerary will be decided by the ship's captain and your Expedition Leader to maximize opportunities.