The Antarctic peninsula encompasses a large number of islands, straits and inlets and we’ll explore many of them, weather conditions permitting. Below are just some of the possible targets and their features for determining which Antarctica cruise is right for you.
Paulet Island: Preserved by the cold climate, remains of several early 20th Century expeditions dot the island, such as the Nordenskiöld Expedition, and we’ll find a colony of hundreds of thousands of Adelie penguins here also.
Trinity Island: View thousands of gentoo penguins and Weddell and fur seals hauled out on the beach.
King George Island: Home to several research stations, and if time and the stations’ schedule permits, we will visit some for a look at the scientists’ activities.
Deception Island: Carefully navigating our ship through the impossibly narrow channel of Neptune's Bellows, we’ll anchor in a ancient caldera where volcanic activity warms the water enough for a swim! Explore old whaling installations and abandoned boats, along with cliffs with petrel nests.
Cuverville Island: a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula. It contains a large colony of gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of brown skuas.
Charlotte Bay: A chance to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula itself as well as observe crabeater seals.
Hannah Point: One of the best wildlife spots in the area. Great for giant petrels, cape pigeons, blue-eyed shags, gentoo, chinstrap and possibly macaroni penguins, plus elephant seals.
Paradise Bay: Home to colonies of thousands of chinstrap and gentoo penguins.
Gerlach Straits, Lemaire, Neumeyer, Errata Channels: Some of the most spectacular scenery on your voyage can be viewed here. Precipitous mountains and massive tidewater glaciers line the shore and enormous icebergs dot the channels.
At Sea: While sailing between our land destinations, your time will be spent attending fascinating lectures by our top expedition staff and speakers. On deck, you’ll want to be ever-vigilant for a wide variety of whale species: orca, humpback, minke and possibly a blue whale. Seabirds follow our ship and will keep your binoculars busy: MacCormick skua, snow, giant, white-chinned and storm petrels and the elusive juvenile emperor penguins.
Falklands, South Georgia & Orkney Islands Destinations
Below are the major destinations along the route of the various ships’ itineraries we offer. Please refer to them when choosing your itinerary. Not all departures may visit all of the locations listed.
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
The Falkland Islands, or Malvinas, as they are known to the Argentineans, give the overwhelming impression of a slice of Britain, despite the long-simmering dispute with Argentina over their sovereignty. Little Port Stanley with its brightly-painted houses with impeccable English gardens, seem just a skip and a jump from merry old England.
Stanley is also noted for its large number of stranded three and four-masted clippers, whalers and freighters from the golden age of sail in the shallow harbor. These extremely well-preserved (due to the cold climate) vessels from the 19th Century, some with their rigging and masts still intact, constitute a virtual ‘accidental sailing museum’, one of the world’s most unique!
The Falklands are also known for their healthy populations of sub-Antarctic wildlife species. Our trips will visit the fascinating western part of the archipelago, where we can expect to find black-browed albatross , rockhopper penguins and blue-eyed shags (cormorants) on New Island. On Carcass Island, we can view two more penguin species, the Magellanic and gentoo, along with night herons and waterfowl such as steamer ducks.
Of course, in any of the inlets and channels we have good chance for whales, such as orcas and humpbacks.
South Georgia Island
Approximately two days sailing southeast from the Falklands lies the hauntingly beautiful South Georgia Island. Long a bustling center for whalers, it was largely abandoned by 1964 except for a few research facilities. The main whaling station of Grytviken is still largely intact and the huge wooden flensing dock still reeks of rancid whale oil. A whaling museum has been established at the whaling station.
The beaches are now abandoned to a few king penguins and huge elephant seals hauled up on the shore. A short hike will take us to the grave of one of the 20th Century’s greatest explorers, Sir Ernest Shakleton.
In 1916, in what has become one of modern history’s greatest heroic stories, Shakleton’s Antarctic expedition became stranded when their ship, the Endurance, was crushed in ice. Shakleton and five others left 22 others on Elephant Island, some 800 miles to the west, and traveled in a small lifeboat to South Georgia, where, exhausted, they hiked 22 miles over rugged mountains to the little whaling station of Stromness. He then directed the rescue of his remaining party at Elephant Island. Not a man was lost in this harrowing adventure.
South Georgia is also home to some spectacular bird species, such as the wandering albatross, which has the largest wingspan of any bird (more than 10 feet). Conditions permitting, we’ll land on Prion Island to observe their fascinating nesting and courtship behavior.
We’ll also visit Salisbury Plain where more than 200,000 king penguins raise their chicks. We may also visit Elsehul, Right Whale Bay, Possession Bay, Gold Harbor and Drygalski Fjord to give you a good opportunity to see a wide spectrum of landscapes and wildlife, like the introduced reindeer, plus fur seals, elephant seals, gentoo and macaroni penguins, grey-headed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, northern and southern giant petrels, several species of prions and storm petrels, brown skuas, Dominican gulls, Antarctic terns, sheathbills and the endemic South Georgia pintail.
South Orkney Islands
Further to the southwest of South Georgia and closer to the Antarctic Circle, lies the South Orkney Islands. The islands were discovered in 1821, and though they were declared British territory in 1908, under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed and therefore may be used by any nation for peaceful purposes.
Depending on the voyage, we can visit Coronation and Laurie Islands. Of interest are the possibility of seeing nesting giant petrels, Adelie penguin colonies as well as snow and cape petrels.
Elephant Island is known primarily as the overwintering location of the stranded Shakleton Antarctic Expedition of 1916. It was here that 22 of Shakleton’s men miraculously weathered the winter while he sought help at South Georgia, some 800 miles distant. Weather permitting, we’ll be able to stand on the very rocky shore where the encampment was. We can expect to see a small colony of chinstrap penguins here also.