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Weddell Sea & Antarctica

Weddell Sea & Antarctica Weddell Sea & Antarctica
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Wild isolation, immensely powerful tides, blindingly white pack ice and monumental icebergs make this voyage into the Weddell Sea a true expedition.

Explore the Weddell Sea region and you will be struck by a sense of splendid isolation- and the beauty of nature in its most raw, uncompromising state. Your expedition to the Weddell Sea will take you to one of the most remote areas on Earth. A place where huge tabular icebergs flow ceaselessly from the Antarctic Sound - monstrous ice giants carved into eerie shapes by the biting wind.

You’ll visit them by Zodiac and walk on the glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula. You’ll find colonies of penguins and any number of cormorants, petrels and magnificent black-browed albatross. You’ll see seals gambolling around the edge of the horizon-wide pack ice. You should spot humpback whales and hunter-killer leopard seals.

You will discover all this and more, on your unforgettable expedition across the Weddell Sea and along the Antarctic Peninsular.

Shore visits are included but depend on weather conditions. Extra excursions vary with different itineraries and weather, and could typically include:

  • Exploration of a unique, fragile ecosystem
  • Visits to research stations
  • Helicopter excursions (dependent on the ship)

A select few ships operate Weddell Sea itineraries and there are normally only one or two each season (from November to March). 

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.  

To find out more about pricing, please get in touch.

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Weddell Sea & Antarctica

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Day 1 Ushuaia
Ushuaia

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening. 

Day 2-3 Sailing the Drake Passage to Antarctica
Sailing the Drake Passage to Antarctica

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin 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 are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone.

Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. 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 are a few of the birds you might see.

Day 4-7 Antarctica, via the Weddel Sea
Antarctica, via the Weddel Sea
You may sail into the Weddell Sea via the Antarctic Sound. Here huge tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. During this part of the cruise, the search is on for emperor penguins. Using both the vessel and helicopters, there’s a good chance you’ll find them. You might also enjoy scenic flights, and if conditions allow, helicopter landings in locations otherwise out of reach this time of year.   
 
Helicopter flights are a true trip changer, and may include: 
 
The west slopes of the Antarctic Sound – The western side of this area is only rarely seen from the air, though the landscape is truly worth the flight: Layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers, icebergs, and pack-ice extend as far as the eye can see. There are often individual emperor penguins and Adélie penguins on the ice floes, as well as kelp gulls, skuas, and various breeds of petrel. Jagged mountain peaks stab through the snow, and enormous walls of ice lie shattered on the slopes below.
 
Duse Bay – A soaring helicopter flight may deposit you on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking this bay. There’s still a lot of snow and ice this time of year, but much of the walk in this location is over frost-shattered rock covered with lichen of all shapes and colors. 
 
Seymour Island – This is where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 4 wintered under harrowing polar conditions. Sedimentary rock, fossils, and expansive views define this location. 
 
If conditions allow for deeper ventures into the Weddell Sea, Zodiac trips may include:
 
Devil Island – Home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, this island offers a magnificent vantage point for hikers willing to foot it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes forms a waterfall dropping from the cliffs close to Cape Well-met.
 
Brown Bluff – Maybe the most scenic location in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent:  sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice. A large Adélie penguin rookery lives here, with gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels also to be found. 
 
Gourdin Island – Chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie penguins love this island, which is yet another landing option for your continuing Antarctic adventure. 
 
Esperanza Base – This Argentine research station, which operates year-round and is one of only two civilian settlements in Antarctica, could serve as an alternative landing site.
Day 8 Deception Island
Deception Island

In the morning, you sail to Deception Island for the last landing of the voyage, either at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Day 9-10 Sailing the Drake Passage to Ushuaia
Sailing the Drake Passage to Ushuaia

Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 11 Ushuaia
Ushuaia

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

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