Antarctica - The Polar Circle

Antarctica - The Polar Circle

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15 Days From

$14157

$13711

Antarctica - The Polar Circle

15 Days Starting and ending in Ushuaia

Visiting: Antarctica

Tour operator:

World Expeditions

Tour code:

PEP

Group size:

1 - 114

Physical rating:

Discovery and Cruising

From: $14157 $13711 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$446

NB: Prices correct on 24-Jun-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Cruising south of the Antarctic Polar Circle is a bucket list item for many visitors to the Antarctic. On this comprehensive voyage aboard Sea Spirit we aim to combine our voyage to the Peninsula with a crossing of the fabled Antarctic Circle at 66°33'. Crossing the Antarctic Convergence into the Southern Ocean via the Drake Passage, we have ample time to explore the spectacular landscapes and wildlife of this remote continent. Our flexible itinerary includes planned visits to numerous landing spots around the South Shetland Islands, the beautiful Gerlache Strait area and we hope to sail through the Lemaire Channel before heading south to Crystal Sound. Practice your photography on dramatic frozen landscapes, spend a night camping on ice, kayak through the crystal waters, or just utilise the ship's fleet of zodiacs to explore the rich diversity of wildlife that flourishes along the shorelines. This journey has it all.

Highlights

  • Sail south and attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle

  • Narrow sheltered waterways and fjords

  • Spectacular mountains rising directly out of the sea

  • Great variety of terrain over short distances

  • The most wildlife-rich part of Antarctica - penguins, whales, seals, sea birds

  • Icebergs and active glaciers

  • Opportunity to camp on ice (optional charges apply)

  • Kayaking through Antarctic waters (optional charges apply)

  • Photography Workshops (optional)

Itinerary

Expand All

Day 1 : Join In Ushuaia

Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of our expedition. Upon your arrival at the airport we provide a transfer to your hotel, which has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage. For the rest of the day you are free to explore the city. Take advantage of souvenir shopping and a variety of dining options in the city center.

Day 2 : Embark Ushuaia

Meals Included: B, D

In the afternoon we provide a group transfer to the pier and welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Antarctic dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail toward a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through the Beagle Channel on our first evening is wonderful and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Day 3 : Cross The Drake Passage

Meals Included: B, L, D

After passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, we turn south to begin our crossing of the Drake Passage. We watch for humpback and fin whales along the way. The majestic wandering albatross and other graceful subantarctic seabirds are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks and balconies. We also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas. Briefings, bio-security procedures and presentations by our lecture staff prepare you for our arrival in Antarctica. We hope to arrive in the South Shetland Islands on the evening of our second day at sea.

Day 5 : South Shetland Islands & Antarctic Peninsula

Meals Included: B, L, D

During the next eight days, we undertake an in-depth exploration of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land. Here we also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices. The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first area of exploration. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. We will also explore the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, obliging marine mammals and bustling penguin colonies. We plan to pass through the famous Lemaire Channel, also known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the narrow channel reflects the image of sheer snowy mountains. On this special voyage, we have additional days devoted to pushing even farther south in our attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle. The sublime icescapes in Crystal Sound and beyond are particularly austere, the weather is especially wild, and the waters are full of constantly shifting ice. Very few people have ventured this far south. This is a true expedition. Throughout the islands and on the mainland, we find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. It is a dramatic time at the colonies. While some parents remain at the nest to guard against skua attack, others go fishing in seas patrolled by predatory leopard seals and killer whales. Meanwhile, fluffy chicks are starting to explore away from their nests. Also at this time, humpback and minke whales have arrived in great numbers and the feeding frenzy in is full swing. Crabeater and Weddell seals abound in these highly productive waters. In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. Our knowledgeable guides will offer hiking and hill climbing for an even greater perspective of this raw polar wilderness. For sea kayakers, the wildlife-rich waters of Antarctica offer many chances to paddle with seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways. To make the most of your time on the White Continent, you can also spend a night camping ashore, surrounded by untamed Antarctic nature. This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our precise route and exploration opportunities will be shaped by weather and ice. Our experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions in this challenging polar environment. With over 17 hours of daylight per day, we seize every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery on shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.

Day 13 : Drake Passage

Meals Included: B, L, D

It is now time to head back across the Drake Passage toward South America, but the adventure is not quite over. Seabirds are our constant companions and there is always the possibility of whale encounters in these wild waters. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as we enter the calm Beagle Channel, we enjoy a night of smooth sailing toward Ushuaia.

Day 15 : Disembark Ushuaia, Where Trip Concludes

Meals Included: B

After breakfast we say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, where we started. We provide a group transfer to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice.

What's Included

  • Accommodation
    13 Nights aboard Sea Spirit

  • 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 13 dinners

  • 1 night hotel accommodation in Ushuaia on a triple or twin share basis (depending on ship berth configuration chosen)

  • Group transfer from the airport to the hotel on day 1 of itinerary

  • Group transfer to the ship on day of embarkation

  • Comfortable cabin accommodation and use of all public areas on cruise

  • Specialist expedition staff

  • All shore excursions from the ship including the use of Zodiacs

  • Lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services

  • Medical services. There is a resident medical officer and infirmary on board (charges may apply)

  • Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities

show more

What's Not Included

  • Air transport and transfers before and after the cruises (except for pre-scheduled group transfers listed above)

  • Passport and vaccination charges, reciprocity fees and airport departure taxes

  • Accommodation and meals or other services not included in the ship cruise itinerary

  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those for special events and celebrations

  • Laundry, postage, personal clothing, medical expenses, travel insurance and items of a personal nature such as bar charges, wine and phone calls

  • Customary end of voyage tips

  • Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a minimum benefit of USD 200,000

Accommodation

13 Nights aboard Sea Spirit
There are a variety of cabins available on the ship. Please ask us for more details.

Grading

Although there is no commitment to extended walking on this journey we nonetheless want to keep the ‘accent on the active’. We therefore advise that any physical training you complete before undertaking the trip will be to good effect.

Wildlife

Apart from the deep sea, Antarctica is the oldest and largest self-contained ecosystem in the world. The animal world is very closely linked with the sea and is consequently to be found mainly on the periphery of the continent. With the exception of a few insects, all forms of life capitulate in the face of the increasingly harsh climatic conditions further inland. The coastal regions are populated by sea birds such as petrels, albatrosses, skuas and penguins as well as marine mammals like the crabeater seal, leopard seal, Ross seal, Weddell seal, fin and right whale, and sea lions. The Antarctic sea regions contain the greatest quantities of animal protein on Earth.
Antarctica’s marine food chain
The most common Antarctic shrimp, krill, uses its front legs to catch microscopic unicellular algae known as diatoms. The word krill comes from the Norwegian and means “food of the whale”. All living creatures consume 90% of their food for their everyday activities and thus convert only 10% into body weight, meaning that nutritional value declines exponentially as one progresses through the food chain. The whale jumps these links in the chain by preying directly on krill rather than on fish or sea birds. A fin whale requires about 2-3 tonnes of krill per day to reach an impressive length of 24 metres and a weight of up to 80 tonnes.
Antarctic birds
Penguins represent half of the Antarctic bird population, nine-tenths of its biomass. These birds depend on the sea for their food. They eat about 4.7 million tons of food each month, mainly crustaceans and fish, but also squid. While penguins dominate the bird biomass, tube-nosed petrels constitute the majority of the breeding species. Other groups include cormorants, skuas, gulls, and terns.
It takes a tough bird to overcome Antarctica’s notorious inclemency. One might infer from the enormous concentrations of sea birds that do occur that the populations are invincible. They are not. The long isolation of Antarctic birds has produced an extraordinarily innocent and docile avifauna - a quality attractive to both scientific study and tourism, but one that leaves these highly vulnerable birds open to harm from human presence or mismanagement.
Natural factors such as storms or abnormally extensive sea ice can cause extremely high mortality in nesting areas. But Antarctic bird species have evolved to overcome these adversities. Human activity is another matter. On the evolutionary time scale, people and their machines have just entered the Antarctic scene. The birds have had little time to adjust. Studies have shown that even casual or occasional contacts with Antarctic bird colonies can adversely affect breeding success. After visits are ended or controlled, bird populations have been observed to return to former levels.
Today, much is known about some of these birds at breeding sites, but virtually nothing about the longer time they spend at sea.

Check out our Q&As

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have offices on three continents which means your travelling companions will be just that – international and wonderfully eclectic. Part of small group travel means that although travellers come from various locations and backgrounds, you will be travelling with like-minded companions who, like you, are keen to share the experience and forge lifelong friendships.

  • What about environmental impact?

    We believe that adventure travel revolves around establishing a strong relationship with the people and environments in which we operate. Our responsible travel policies have been carefully developed to ensure that we minimise the impact of our presence and help to protect the regions we visit while contributing positively to the local community.

  • What should I pack?

    Your pre-departure documents include a detailed packing list with items that you need to bring. While most of the equipment for daily activities is included in your tour cost, some items like helmets and hiking boots are best brought from home. The pre-departure documents also include information on layering and recommended brands for various items to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes. World Expeditions does not require single travellers to pay a surcharge for travelling alone on the vast majority of our trips. Our holidays are primarily on a twin share basis, so if you are joining the group as a solo traveller, we will match you with someone of your own gender. The choice is yours however; if you prefer not to share, we do offer single supplements for private occupancy.

  • Are tips included in my trip price?

    Tips are not included in the tour cost. Tipping is a personal thing, do not worry about how much, or when, to tip. Tipping guidelines are provided for certain destinations in our pre departure information upon booking, however the best advice will be provided by your tour leader.

  • Am I suited to small-group travel?

    We recognise that many of our travellers have not been on a ‘group trip’ before. Yet what our departures provide is both structure and flexibility, allowing you plenty of freedom within the framework of the itinerary. You’ll find that with our maximum group size at 16, you’ll travel in a minimal impact style with a great group of like-minded travellers.

  • Can you advise which vaccinations are recommended?

    While our pre-departure kit provides information on vaccinations, we suggest that you consult your doctor, local government inoculation centre or a travel medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements.

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Sunday - Sunday

Jan 25, 2026 - Feb 08, 2026
$14157 $13711

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$446

Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    World Expeditions allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform world expeditions, 70 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    World Expeditions requires a minimum deposit of 250 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of world expeditions charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 35 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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