During this 19 Days Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica expedition, follow in the footsteps of the great explorers to Antarctica. Along the way marvel at the magnificent flora and fauna that Darwin first documented on the islands of South Georgia and the Falklands. Pass through the Weddell Sea into the Antarctic Peninsula through spectacular channels and bays of icebergs, seals, penguins and more, and be one of the few to set foot on the continent of Antarctica!
Enjoy shore-based walking opportunities, including the Shackleton walk. Zodiac cruises reveal at least six different penguin species. Take in Victorian-era charm at Port Stanley. Seek out Shackleton’s grave on South Georgia Island, which may also provide chances to see large wandering albatross sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Select departures also offer polar diving (added cost).
At Grytviken, see an abandoned whaling station, where king penguins now walk in the streets and elephant seals have taken residency. Fin whales may follow the ship on its way south to the Antarctic Peninsula. Possibilities exist to sail the Weddell Sea, Bransfield Strait, Gerlache Strait and Lemaire Channel, and the ship may set course for Elephant Island. Flexibility is key to making the most of any Antactica small ship cruise.
The main 19 Days Falkland, South Georgia & Antarctica itinerary travels east from Ushuaia to the Falklands and South Georgia Islands, then turns south for the South Orkney Islands and three days on the Antarctic Peninsula. Finish the journey back to Ushuaia after crossing the famed Drake Passage aboard either the 106 passenger Motor Vessel Plancius, the 116-passenger Motor Vessel Ortelius or the 176 guest Motor Vessel Hondius
ITINERARY IN BRIEF:
Day 1: Embark Ushuaia
Day 2: At sea
Day 3: Falkland Islands
Day 4: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Day 5 & 6: At sea
Day 7 to 10: South Georgia
Day 11: At sea
Day 12: South Orkney Islands
Day 13: At sea
Day 14 to 16: Antarctica Peninsula
Day 17 to 18: At Sea crossing the Drake Passage
Day 19: Disembark Ushuaia
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. Average cruising speed of Motor Vessel Plancius is 10.5 knots.
Ushuaia - Embark
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.
Several species of albatross follow the vessel into the westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems, the site of a 1982 war between the UK and Argentina. Not only do various species of bird live here, but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters.
During this segment of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.
Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here.
Stanley - Falkland Islands
The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Port Stanley has some Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Port Stanley. Feel free to wander at will, though be aware that admission fees to local attractions are not included in the voyage.
En route to South Georgia, you now cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
En route to South Georgia
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
Over the next several days, you have a chance to visit the following sites:
Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7). From January on, the breeding adults have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Enjoy witnessing the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any birds in the world.
Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for Antarctic fur seals. Literarally millions breed on South Georgia during December and January. Only during the mid-season do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the large bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. Watch your step and stay cool when walking the beaches during this time.
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds trailing the vessel south.
South Orkney Islands
Depending on the conditions, you might visit Orcadas Base, an Argentine scientific station on Laurie Island in the South Orkney archipelago. The personnel here will happily show you their facility, where you can enjoy expansive views of the surrounding glaciers. If a visit isn’t possible, you may instead land in Signy Island’s Shingle Cove.
Enormous icebergs and a fair chance of fin whale sightings ensure there’s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south. Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here.
If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the chance to set foot on the Antarctic Continent itself.
If conditions aren’t favorable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, the ship will set course for Elephant Island and head into the Bransfield Strait, between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you can attempt to access the Antarctic Sound from the northwest.
The breathtaking scenery continues in the southern Gerlache Strait, and if ice conditions allow, we may even reach Lemaire Channel. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
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.
Crossing the Drake
Disembark - 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.
- Passengers: 106 in 50 cabins
- Staff & crew: 47
- Length: 89 meters (293 feet)
- Breadth: 14,5 meters (47 feet)
- Draft: 5 meters (16 feet)
- Ice class: 1D (Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters)
- Displacement: 3211 tonnes
- Propulsion: 3x Diesel-Electric
- Speed: 10.5 knots average cruising speed
Motor Vessel Plancius accommodates 106 passengers in 50 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 3 quadruple porthole cabins, 9 twin porthole cabins, 26 twin window cabins, 2 twin deluxe cabins and 10 superior cabins.
All cabins offer lower berths (one queen-size bed in the superior cabins and two single beds in the twin cabins), except for the 4 quadruple porthole cabins (for 4 persons in 2 upper and 2 lower beds) and 2 triple porthole cabins (1 bunk bed plus 1 lower bed). Common amenities include desk and chair, telephone and internet connection, a flatscreen TV and a hairdryer in each cabin and ample storage space.
#203-206 on Deck 2: two upper & lower berths and one porthole. Approximately 161 square feet. This cabin is suitable for families traveling with children, or guests who do not require a twin or more luxurious cabin.
#301-307, 309 & 311 on Deck 3: two lower berths and one porthole. Approximately 161 square feet.
#403-408 & 410-429 on Deck 4: two lower berths and one window. Approximately 161 square feet.
#401-402 on Deck 4: two lower berths and two windows. These corner cabins feel slightly more spacious than the normal twin window/porthole cabins, yet are still approximately 161 square feet.
#409 on Deck 4; #501-504 on Deck 5; #601-606 on Deck 6: one double bed, two windows, one sofa bed, refrigerator, coffee and tea maker. Approximately 226 square feet.
- Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
- Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
- Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia.
- Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
- Comprehensive pre-departure material.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
- Pre- and post- land arrangements.
- Passport and visa expenses.
- Government arrival and departure taxes.
- Meals ashore.
- Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory).
- Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
Age and Nationality
Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s – with a majority usually from 45 – 65. Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.
In keeping with our expeditions atmosphere, dress on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities. Keep in mind that much of the spectacular scenery can be appreciated from deck, which can be slippery. Bring sturdy shoes with no-slip soles and make sure the parka is never far away in case of the call “Whales!” comes over the loudspeaker and you have to dash outside. Wear layers since it is comfortably warm aboard the ship – and often cold on deck.
Currency & Payment
Refreshments from the bar and souvenirs will be charged to your cabin. The day before departure you can settle your bill with the Hotel Manager and pay by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or cash (Euro or Dollar). We do not accept cheques of any kind. The prices and standard currency on board our vessels is the Euro. Other currencies may be accepted at the discretion of the hotel manager at prevailing rates.
The electrical supply aboard the ship is 220v, 60Hz. Electrical outlets are standard European with two thick round pins. You may need a 220v/110v converter.
The customary gratuity to the ship’s service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage which is divided among the crew. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US$8 to US$10 per person per day. It is better for the crew, if you can give them cash US Dollar.
On board our vessels we have a non-smoking policy. It is prohibited to smoke inside the ship. You can smoke in the designated smoking areas. Please respect the wishes of non-smokers.
Your physical condition
You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.
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. Average cruising speed of m/v Plancius is 10.5 knots.