Ushuaia – Weddell Sea Quest

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Embark on a 11 Day expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, and the Weddell Sea aboard the Motor Vessel Ushuaia. 

The Weddell Sea will always be remembered as the polar region, that still echoes the ill-fated expedition of the great British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.  After Amundsen and Scott had reached the South Pole, Shackleton planned the Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition to make the first crossing of Antarctica, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole. The 1914 expedition was a failure but it produced one of the greatest stories in the history of polar exploration. His ship, the Endurance was beset in the ice almost in sight of her destination, Vahsel Bay, and after drifting northwards, eventually sank. The crew camped out on the pack-ice and slowly made its way to Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands and, as there was no hope of rescue, Shackleton determined to go for help. 

He decided to head for South Georgia. Shackleton and five companions set out in one of the lifeboats across 1,300 km (800 miles) of the stormiest water in the world. Sixteen days later, worn out, soaked and hungry they sighted the southern coast of South Georgia. But they still had to cross the interior of the island, as the whaling stations were all situated on the northern coast.

The interior of South Georgia had never been surveyed and they had to guess their route, but after a difficult march they finally found their way to the whaling station Stromness, where they did get help. However, it would take them another three attempts to get back to Elephant Island before the 22 marooned men of the Endurance were rescued. Through Shackleton’s outstanding courage and leadership his men survived.

This voyage explores this remote and ice-bound region in combination with the mountainous Antarctic Peninsula.

The 278-ft Motor Vessel Ushuaia was originally built for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, and has been refurbished to accommodate a maximum of 88 passengers on Antarctica expeditions. She is not a luxury vessel, but rather offers simple, yet comfortable accommodation and amenities. The smaller group size allows travelers to take full advantage of Antarctic wildlife observation and exploration. The expert staff are all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment.

The Ushuaia complies with the latest SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) regulations, flies under the Union of Comoros flag, is ice-strengthened (INSB Ice class C) and travels at a maximum speed of 14 knots (cruising speed – 12 knots).

In addition to the this Weddell Quest 11 Days itinerary listed, there are alternative itineraries of varying lengths that explore the Classic Antarctica or the Classic South Georgia.


Day 1: Embark Ushuaia
Day 2 & 3: Crossing the Drake Passage
Day 4 to 6: Exploring de Weddell Sea
Day 7 & 8: Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and the Shetland Islands
Day 9 & 10: At Sea crossing the Drake Passage
Day 11: Arrival at Ushuaia - Disembark

NOTE: The above itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the Captain and/or Expedition Leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily program sheet will be issued on board. Flexibility is the key to success.

  • Ushuaia - Embark

    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.

  • 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 in 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.

  • Crossing the Drake Passage

    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.

  • 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 with ice, making for exciting ice navigation. Get up early and go out on deck. It may be 3:30h 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.

  • Exploring the Weddell Sea

    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.

  • Exploring the Weddell Sea

    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.

  • 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.

  • Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands

    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. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing, so is visiting the crescent shaped island Half Moon, home to Chinstrap Penguins in breathtaking surroundings.

    There might also be a chance to visit the enigmatic Elephant Island. Sir Ernest Shackleton fans will need no introduction to this historic windswept island. In 1916 Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will return with a greater knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a truly remarkable part of the world.

  • 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

  • At Sea crossing the Drake Passage, northbound

    Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.

  • Ushuaia - Disembark

    We arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the USHUAIA after breakfast.


  • Length: 84.73 m / 278.3 feet
  • Breadth: 15.54 m / 51 feet
  • Draught: 5.48 m / 18.08 feet
  • Gross Tonnage: 2,963 tonnes
  • Speed (Max): 14 knots
  • Cruise Speed: 12 knots
  • Passengers: 88
  • Crew & staff: 38
  • Zodiacs & RIBs: 7
  • Electrical Outlets: 110 V, 60 Hz
  • Yard: American Shipbuilding, Toledo, Ohio
  • Date of Build: 1970
  • Classification: INSB Ice Class C
  • Flag: Union of Comoros
  • Engine: 2 ALCO 1600 HP each
  • Bow thrust: 1x 500Kw


  • Large Dining Room on the Main Deck F comfortably accommodates all guests at a single seating. There is an open seating for all meals and guest tables are unassigned
  • Observation Lounge Bar. The bar is well-stocked with carefully selected wines and spirits.
  • Gift Shop on the Main Deck F is stocked with ladies and men’s clothing, film, sundry items, apparel, gift and souvenir items.
  • Lecture room with modern multimedia equipment, on Deck E. Both lectures and films are offered. Passengers are encouraged to participate in all the ship’s activities, including the stimulating and informative lectures.
  • A well-stocked Library on the Main Deck F, containing a good selection of international titles, with an emphasis on reference material essential to your voyage. A variety of games, including playing cards and board games, are also at your disposal.
  • Bridge: The USHUAIA encourages you to take advantage of our open bridge policy. During the days we are underway, the officers invite you to observe the navigational operations of the ship and will gladly answer any questions you may have. We kindly ask you to respect the bridge as the working area for the officers. Occasionally, for reasons of safety, the bridge may be closed to visitors.


The Motor Vessel Ushuaia has 46 comfortable cabins and suites all of which range in size, shape and bedding configuration, even within the cabin categories. All cabins other than the standard twin cabins have private bathroom facilities

Standard Plus Triple Cabin

Standard Plus triple cabins have 3 lower berths and private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck E and have porthole windows.








Standard Twin Cabin

Standard Twin Cabins have 1 upper and 1 lower berth and have semi private facilities meaning 1 bathroom is shared between 2 cabins, although there is a wash basin in the cabin. They are located on Deck E and have porthole windows.








Standard Plus Twin Cabin

Standard Plus Twin Cabins have 2 lower berths in all cabins other than 1 which has a double bed. They have private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck E and the majority have porthole windows however 3 cabins do have larger picture windows.








Premium Twin Cabin

Premium Twin Cabins have 2 lower berths and have private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck G and have picture windows.








Premium Single Cabin

Premium Single Cabins have 1 lower berth and have private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck G and have picture windows, however the view from these is obstructed by the lifeboats.








Superior Cabin

Superior Cabins have 2 lower berths in all cases other than Cabin 301 which has 1 double & 1 single berth. All cabins have private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck G and have picture windows.









Suite have 2 lower berths in all cases other than Suite 201 which has 2 double beds, Suite 202 which has 1 double bed & sofa bed and Suite 204 & 207 which have 3 lower single beds. All cabins have private bathroom facilities. They are located on Deck G and have picture windows, lounge, TV, DVD player & fridge.











  • Voyage aboard the USHUAIA as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the USHUAIA.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by zodiac.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Detailed post-expedition log


  • Any airfare
  • Pre- and post land arrangements
  • Transfers to/from the vessel
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Meals ashore
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Excess baggage charges
  • All items of a personal nature such as bar and beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages (guidelines will be provided)


All Classic Antarctica itineraries begin and end in Ushuaia, Argentina. We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your cruise start in case of any flight delays, cancellation or lost luggage issues.

Embarkation is at 4:00pm on Day 1 of the itinerary. The vessel will sail at 6:00pm and is not able to wait for missing passengers or luggage.

The ship arrives at 7:00am on the final day of the expedition and disembarkation is normally at 8:00 or 8:30am

This itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the Captain and/or Expedition Leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily program sheet will be issued on board. Flexibility is the key to success.