This program aboard the vessel Sea Spirit provides the opportunity to spend Christmas in the dreamy Antarctic Peninsula. Crossing the Antarctic Convergence into the Southern Ocean via the fabled Drake Passage, we have ample time to explore the spectacular landscapes and wildlife of this remote continent. This voyage offers participants a chance to kayak through the tranquil waters or even camp out on the ice ,which is a popular experience, that will create memories to last a lifetime. We utilise the ship's fleet of zodiacs to explore the rich diversity of wildlife that flourishes in the sheltered bays, steep glaciers and clustered iceberg castles that characterise the shoreline. There are no shortage of photographic opportunities along the Antarctic Peninsula, and our workshops will help you capture the natural beauty of this incredible ice-bound land. Join in one of the optional activities on offer or simply take in the surreal landscapes of this untouched wilderness.
The most wildlife-rich part of Antarctica - penguins, whales, seals, sea birds
Narrow sheltered waterways and fjords
Spectacular mountains rising directly out of the sea
Great variety of terrain over short distances
Icebergs and active glaciers
Opportunity to camp on ice (optional charges apply)
Kayaking through Antarctic waters (optional charges apply)
Photography Workshops (optional)
9 Nights aboard Sea Spirit
There are a variety of cabins available on the ship. Please ask us for more details.
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.
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.
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.