Weddell Sea Quest Aboard the Ushuaia
11 Days/10 Nights
From $8,570 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Navigate from South America to Antarctica and back on this fascinating expedition cruise. After crossing the Drake Passage, the first stop is the Weddell Sea, full of huge tabular icebergs and numerous Adelie Penguins. This region also has a vibrant exploration history, including that of the ill-fated Shackleton Expedition in 1914. You will also explore the various landing sites of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands and encounter penguins, seals, and other wildlife on this amazing journey.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 10 nights (10 nights aboard the Ushuaia), and 29 meals (10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 10 dinners).
Best Time to Go: November-March.
Day 1: Depart from Ushuaia.
Embark the USHUAIA in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. After you have settled into your cabins, we sail along the famous Beagle Channel and the scenic Mackinlay Pass. Overnight aboard the ship. (D)
Day 2-3: Crossing the Drake Passage.
Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds.
As we sail across the passage, Antarpply Expeditions’ lecturers will be out with you on deck to help with the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in our wake. The USHUAIA´s open bridge policy allows you to join our officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. A full program of lectures will be offered as well.
The first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Capt. William Smith of the brig Williams. With favorable conditions in the Drake Passage, our lecturers and naturalists will accompany you ashore as you experience your first encounter with the penguins and seals on Day 3. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Days 4-6: Exploring the Weddell Sea.
This is where huge tabular icebergs roam. In some years, the Erebus & Terror Gulf and Weddell Sea are chock-a-block full of ice, making for exciting ice navigation. Get up early and go out on deck. It may be 3:30am in the morning, but the sunrises will be unlike anything you´ve ever seen. Huge tabular bergs break from the Larsen, Ronne, and Filchner ice shelves and combine with one-year-old and multi-year sea ice to produce a floating, undulating panorama of rugged ice scenery. All-white Snow Petrels are likely to be coursing over the floes, often joined by Pintado Petrels.
The usual passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula traverses the Antarctic Sound, which is 30 miles (48 km) long and 7-12 miles (11-19 km) wide and runs northwest-to-southeast. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza, are located on the western side of the Sound. Brown Bluff, a promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula, is located south of Hope Bay. Both of them might be possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the center of the Peninsula´s Adélie Penguin population. Devil Island, Paulet Island and the already mentioned sites, might give us ample proof of this. The numbers of penguins are breathtaking. Sometimes juvenile Emperor Penguins have been sighted, riding ice floes but are by no means regular in the area.
This region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Four visitor sites have links to this expedition: Hope Bay, Paulet Island, Snow Hill Island, and Cape Well-Met on Vega Island. Our expedition staff will be pleased to share their exciting story with you. Nordenskjöld´s expedition was the first to overwinter in the Peninsula. His ship the Antarctic, under the command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen, was trapped in the ice and sank, but the men survived on different locations and even managed to carry out significant scientific research in the area. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Days 7-8: Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.
The Antarctic Peninsula´s remarkable history will also provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore its amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as Minke whales and orcas at close range.
We hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways: the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel and Neumayer Channel. Possible landing sites may include: Paradise Bay, which is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post office at Port Lockroy.
Further exploration will lead us to the South Shetland Islands. The volcanic island group is a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries and seals hauling out on the shorelines make every day spent here unforgettable.
We plan to sail through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island – the largest of three recent volcanic centers in the South Shetlands – which is truly amazing. Once inside, the rising slope of the black, cinder-covered volcanic rim can be walked uphill to a rather spectacular vantage point. We also aim to visit the crescent-shaped island Half Moon, home to Chinstrap Penguins in breathtaking surroundings, in the entrance of Moon Bay between Greenwich and Livingston Islands. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Days 9-10: At Sea. Crossing the Drake Passage, northbound.
We leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join our lecturers and naturalists on deck as we search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Arrival in Ushuaia.
We arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the USHUAIA after breakfast. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
|Departure Dates||Std. +
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency at xe.com.
- The above prices are valid until January 29, 2024.
- A limited number of twin cabins (except suites) are available for single occupancy at 1.5 times the share rate.
- Suites for single occupancy may be reserved at 2 times the share rate.
- A third birth in the Suites and Superior Cabin #301 may be occupied at 50% of the published twin share rate.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Ushuaia.
- All meals scheduled on board.
- Zodiac expeditions conducted by English speaking guides.
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges.
- Detailed post-expedition log.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Hotel nights before/after the cruise.
- Transfers to/from the vessel.
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- Bar, gifts, and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance and to make these arrangements for you.
Group/Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis.
Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a valid passport (for the duration of your visit) and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Australian and Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee of $100 and $75 respectively (subject to change without notice due to currency fluctuations or other reasons) online, and must show proof of payment prior to arrival. The reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens has been suspended until further notice. For citizens of Australia, this fee covers unlimited entries to Argentina for 10 years, while citizens of Canada are charged the fee every time they enter the country (or $150 for multiple visits within five years). The fee can be paid online at ProvinciaNet.com.ar. You will need to register in order to make the payment. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the embassy of Argentina in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: Call or email us to confirm the availability of this ship for your desired dates of travel. The required deposit for single passengers is $1,700 to $2,600 and for double and triple passengers, it is $1,300 to $1,900 per person (depending on the cabin type), plus the cost of airfare, if we arrange it for you. The balance of the trip cost is due 90 days prior to departure.
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