Small Ship Cruises
Antarctica | Peninsula Expedition | Adult Only
Sail into an ethereal dream world of sculpted ice and spectacular wildlife
12 days / 11 nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Pack your warm-weather gear and sense of adventure and get ready for an exclusive, maritime voyage to Antarctica. Join our expert guides aboard the M/V Plancius and experience the best of the Antarctic Peninsula on this 12-day, all-inclusive exploration of our southernmost continent. Discover the “frozen desert” by snowshoe, kayak, and on the deck of the ship. Snap postcard-worthy shots with your camera as you observe the abundant wildlife in their icy home and get up-close-and-personal with an iceberg. This Antarctica vacation package includes visits to research stations and expert guides excited to share the history of explorers of yesteryear and current scientific projects. All the while, enjoy the cozy comforts of your spacious, private suite, delicious wining and dining, and of course Austin’s signature touch of inspired, thoughtful service. Get swept away by one of the world’s most ethereal, harsh landscapes and its captivating wildlife as you capture photos and memories to last forever.
Sliding penguins, slumbering seals, 3,000-foot ice walls, and surreal sunsets. The Antarctic Peninsula is home to the most dramatic scenery and the largest variety of wildlife in Antarctica. Enjoy nature at her best, navigating iceberg-laden waters and White Continent wilderness by small ship, zodiac, kayak, and on foot. We’ve handled every detail of this 12-day, custom journey to the wilds of Antarctica so all you have to do is kick back and soak in the majesty of the southernmost continent on the planet.
- Board your small ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, making your way south toward the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Convergence; you’ll know you’re near when you begin sighting wandering albatrosses, blue petrels, and icebergs
- Kayak the tranquil waters surrounding Jougla Point, coming nose-to-beak with Gentoo Penguins and Imperial Shags
- Hike a massive glacier on the Antarctic continent and count the fur, elephant, and leopard seals basking on ice floes in Neko Harbor
- Sail Lemaire Channel beneath Booth Island’s towering peaks, keeping an eye out for humpback, minke, and fin whales
- Get a glimpse into the lives of the people who live there year-round with a stop at a scientific work station
- Soak up a technicolor sunset before curling up in the comfort of a waterproof bivouac bag during an optional open-air camping excursion
A few more reasons why you've gotta go:
The singular environment: Antarctica is considered a desert, only receiving an average of 8-inches of precipitation each year, and almost the entire continent is covered in ice over one mile thick.
The singular community: At any one point in time, there are between 1,000 and 5,000 people living and working at research stations throughout the continent.
The singular wildlife: Native to Antarctica, the emperor penguin is the largest penguin species in the world. They mate in the winter, and will travel up to 75 miles to reach their mate.
Ushuaia, Argentina USH
Ushuaia, Argentina USH
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
About the M/v Plancius
M/v “Plancius” was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named “Hr. Ms. Tydeman.”
The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. The vessel was completely rebuilt as a 114-passenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea).
M/v “Plancius” is classed by Lloyd’s Register in London and flies the Dutch flag. The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view.
M/v “Plancius” has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Plancius was built for Ice conditions. To reach these ice-conditions she has a strengthened bow and stern.
About the M/v Ortelius
The Ortelius was built in Poland in 1989. This ship which served as a special-purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science, now serves as a floating hotel that serves up to 116 passengers. All passengers can take solace in the crew that is on board. To start it has 22 highly experienced nautical crew members, 19 Hotel staff, 8 expedition specialists and one doctor. This ship couldn’t be much safer than this
Begin your route through the Drake Passage, which you’ll travel over the next several days. The seafarer’s route to Antarctica since the sixteenth century, this famed waterway has spelled adventure for many historic navigator and modern-day tourist. 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. The Drake Passage spans the distance between Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands and the southern tip of South America, connecting the southeastern Pacific Ocean with the southwestern Atlantic. As a waterway it is colossal, measuring roughly 500 miles wide and 600 miles long. Even so, the Drake Passage is the shortest distance from the Antarctic Continent to any other landmass.
Continue on your journey through the Drake Passage. 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.
The vessel may position itself here, launching its multiple basecamp activities from the protected waters around Wiencke Island. You can enjoy the splendors of this alpine environment at sea with Zodiac and kayaking trips, or if you’re in the mood for a walk, there are possible snowshoe hikes and soft-climb mountaineering options farther inland. Naturally, favorable weather conditions determine the possible activities.
After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you may get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. There are great opportunities also for kayaking and camping here, and when conditions are right, you can even snowshoe around the shore.
Pléneau & Petermann Islands
If the ice allows it, you can sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales here, as well as leopard seals. Kayaking, glacier walks, and more ambitious mountaineering trips are the potential activities of this location.
Neko Harbour / Paradise Bay
An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks. We also have the chance to camp at Paradise Bay like a true polar explorer (but with a better tent), enjoying a supreme overnight Antarctica adventure.
Errera Channel / Melchior Islands
Possible sites in this area include Danco Island and Cuverville Island, but also the lesser known (though equally picturesque) Orne Island and Georges Point on Rongé Island. On your last day of near-shore activities, you pass the Melchior Islands toward the open sea. Keep a sharp lookout for humpback whales in Dallmann Bay. You might also shoot for Half Moon Island, in the South Shetlands, with further chances for activities. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Continue your journey through the Drake Passage as you arrive ever closer to Ushuaia. The area’s impressive assortment of avian and marine life prized by polar travelers will be sure to accompany you on your return voyage.
There and Back Again
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.
* Austin Adventures is proudly offering this trip in conjunction with Oceanwide Expeditions.
** Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
Arrival & Departure
Embarkation is between 4:00 – 5:00 pm on day of departure.
- We recommend that all passengers arrive the night prior to departure in Ushuaia to avoid any delays from flights or lost luggage.
- Hotel night is not included.
- Transfers from airport to hotel and from hotel to the pier are not included.
- Passengers are asked to make their own way to the port on day of embarkation.
- It is not allowed to board the ship before 4:00pm as the crew is getting the ship ready for your arrival.
Disembarkation is between 8:30 – 9:00 am on the last day of the voyage.
- The transfer from the ship to the airport is included in the cruise rate.
- You can catch a flight out of Ushuaia anytime after 12:00 Noon on that day.
- Hiking: The possibilities to hike longer distances in the Antarctic are limited by mountains and glaciers. In general the longest hikes can last up to two hours.
- Kayaking: Basic kayaking experience is required and physical fitness is essential.
- Photo Workshop: For beginner and advanced photographers alike under the supervision of a photo expert on board. No previous experience required.
- Snowshoeing: Easy and does not require any technical skills.
- Mountaineering (optional): This is a technical and more strenuous activity for mountaineers who wish to walk beyond the shore radius in order to reach higher grounds and viewpoints. Mountaineers walk in rope parties under the leadership of a certified mountain guide mostly across glaciated environment. Mountaineering knowledge is preferable, but not required. Physical fitness is essential.
All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea are included. Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
Included in Trip Price
- Voyage aboard the M/v Plancius or M/v Ortelius vessel & cabin with private facilities.
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee, and tea.
- Fully trained, first-aid certified, knowledgeable expedition leaders.
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
- Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
- Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
- Austin Adventures T-shirt and luggage tags.
- Pre-departure and packing information.
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
Not Included in Trip Price
- Gratuities for stewards and other service personnel aboard the vessel.
- Transfer to the vessel.
- Government arrival and departure taxes.
- Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities.
- Pre-and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from host cities.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses (i.e. laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges).
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Want to know how to fully experience the depth of beauty and culture in a place? Ask Carol Austin. A Montana native who treasures the land and people in her own backyard—be it Yellowstone, the Beartooths, or the family around her dinner table—Carol knows how to embrace any destination she explores, a feat at 40+ countries and counting. And with more than 20 years in the travel industry, she’s really good at helping guests plan—and fully enjoy—their adventure vacation, too. She co-founded Austin Adventures with her husband, Dan Austin.