- Cross the Antarctic Circle and set foot on the continent and mainland of Antarctica and encounter Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins
- Spot elephant seals, Antarctic fur seals, Weddell seals, leopard seals and crabeater seals and watch for humpback, Minke, orca, pilot, and beaked whales
- Identify Snowy Sheathbill, Antarctic Cormorants, Kelp Gulls, Antarctic Terns, Cape Petrels, Wandering Albatrosses, Southern Fulmars, Blue-eyed Shags, Southern Giant Petrels, Black-browed Albatrosses, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and many other birds
Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina
Embark Silver Explorer, settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. During the afternoon you will be introduced to some of the important crew members and your Expedition Team. At sail-away bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the ‘Land at the End of the World’.
Days 2–3 — Drake Passage
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the westerly winds and the funnelling effect of the passage. Within the Drake Passage is the ever shifting Antarctic Convergence. Here nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that glide in the air currents of our ship’s wake such as the Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. Have your camera ready to capture the magical colour of late night sunsets.
As we sail on our initial transit, familiarise yourself with the elegant Silver Explorer and the Expedition Team members. Attend wildlife, geography and history discussions hosted by our expert naturalists and guest lecturers that will prepare you for the exciting adventures that lie ahead. When available, visit the Bridge and meet our Captain and officers; information will be posted in the “Chronicle”, our daily onboard newsletter.
Days 4–10 — Antarctic Peninsula
While sailing in Antarctica, every turn can reveal a new and breathtaking adventure. Sailing as far south as possible the pack ice becomes thicker and thicker as we move into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular icebergs and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing ashore and on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface.
Each day we will attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, we will cruise amidst colourful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations led by our team of natural history experts.
Day 4 — Antarctic Sound
We will start our Antarctic experiences at the top of the Antarctic Peninsula, venturing into Antarctic Sound and its magnificent array of tabular icebergs, historical sites and Adelie and Gentoo Penguin rookeries. Depending on weather and ice conditions Silver Explorer might visit Brown Bluff, Hope Bay, and Paulet Island and cruise the Antarctic Sound.
Brown Bluff, (a 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent) is an ice-capped, 745-metre-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. The coastal area at the base of Brown Bluff is used by Adelie and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls, and Cape Petrels as a breeding area. Under good climatic conditions a walk onto a nearby glacier might be feasible.
Hope Bay has one of the largest Adelie Penguin colonies in Antarctica and a Zodiac cruise past the Argentine Station “Esperanza” will show some of the penguins, Weddell seals and Blue-eyed Shags. Paulet Island is home to Adelie Penguins, Kelp Gulls and Snowy Sheathbill as well as a massive colony of Blue-eyed Shags. The crew of Otto Nordenskjold’s relief ship Antarctica had to over-winter on the island in 1903. Remnants of their hut still remain.
Days 5–9 — Antarctic Peninsula
A flexible itinerary will allow us to take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter. Apart from attempting to cross the Antarctic Circle here are some of the places we may visit:
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel -Cuverville’s large bare rock areas provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins. Snow Petrels and Cape Petrels may also be seen whilst Wilson’s Storm Petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. Conditions permitting we will climb part of the hill for spectacular panoramic views. During Zodiac tours around the many icebergs, hauled-out Weddell seals may be seen.
Paradise Bay -The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs. From the ship or Zodiac, observe Argentina’s “Base Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations.
View the wildlife from sea level while cruising by Zodiac. There’s a good chance you will come across a crabeater seal relaxing on an ice floe or locate Minke whales in the bay.
Lemaire Channel. To reach Petermann Island and going further south the Lemaire Channel has to be crossed. This is one of the most spectacular channels with steep snow-covered mountains on both sides and icebergs of different sizes at the southern end.
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago -The island is named for German geographer August Petermann and was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74. Rock surfaces show glacial polish, some glacial grooving and nice samples of frost shattering. During our landing, we will be able to observe rookeries of Adelie Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago -Pleneau Island lies at the south end of the Lemaire Channel, and was first explored during Charcot’s 1903–05 French Antarctic Expedition. The island was named for the expedition’s photographer, Paul Pleneau. Amongst the common breeding birds are Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas. Southern elephant seals are often hauled-out in wallows. Enjoy spectacular glacial and ice scenery from the island during a Zodiac cruise in Pleneau Bay.
Attempting the Antarctic Circle crossing –On our way south we pass Vernadsky, the former British Faraday Station, and will see how far we can sail based on the ice conditions.
Day 10 — South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands run parallel to the Antarctic Peninsula and were the first part of Antarctica seen during the early 19th century, although claims exist that early European explorers might have been there some 200 years before.
Aitcho Islands -As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island you will be greeted by Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins. Other annual seabirds include the Southern Giant Petrels. Leopard seal are often seen prowling the shore for penguins.
Deception Island, Port Foster and Whalers Bay -Deception Island is an excellent example of a breached caldera flood by seawater. We plan to sail into Port Foster through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. Our resident Geologist will be on hand to explain the unique volcanic features of the area while our naturalists might introduce you to the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
Days 11–12 — Drake Passage Return
Navigating our return through the Drake Passage, we will watch for seabirds and wildlife we may have missed on the first leg. Take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers as we travel towards Ushuaia.
On the final day our onboard Videographer will present the Voyage-DVD with all the highlights and special encounters of our journey to Antarctica.
Day 13 — Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.