- Bucket List
- Eco Tour
- Natural Wonders
- Small Groups
- Water Baby
- Water Lovers
- Wildlife Watcher
- Winter Wonders
“Kingdom of Ice, Antarctica”
December 5 to 17, 2023 Small group
Price listed below the daily itinerary
It’s a profound experience to visit the White Continent for breathtaking scenery and otherworldly wildlife. Our new “Discovery and Learning voyage” sails deep into this crystal wonderland on the world’s largest ice sheet 2 miles thick. Come channel your inner explorer on a once in a lifetime voyage to the End of the World! There’s nothing like the magic of the blue and white wonder that is Antarctica.
It’s hypnotically beautiful– especially during the “Austral Summer.” December is the best time to visit when temps are tolerable and the sun stays in the sky until midnight. Everyone longs to have the 7th continent stamped in their passport and most state that it’s their “best vacation ever!” Our past six AFS groups loved it. Why repeat again? So many left behind on our waitlist and begging to go. Visitors come here once because it’s a once in a lifetime dream that leaves an indelible mark forever.
Keep your camera ready as we navigate through the Beagle Channel into the most pristine land on the planet – no roads, no trees and aside from the sounds of giant seabird calls, it’s a world of pure silence. Unexplored just 150 years ago, nature here is pure and flawless. From the Antarctic Peninsula to Shetland Islands, capture a world that looks surreal. Our course depends on the seas, but our sites include Paradise Bay, Danco Island, Neko Harbor, Port Lokeroy, Deception Island, Half Moon Island and more.
Nothing is more thrilling than exploring by Zodiacs as we weave around iridescent blue icebergs calving set against a backdrop of towering glaciers. We venture ashore for guided walks with the best expedition team. The unique wildlife is spectacular! Look for omnipresent whales, seals, albatross, unique birdlife and belly-flopping penguins of all kinds. They’re as curious about us as we are about them and sheer joy to watch them waddle.
It all begins where the earth ends in Ushuaia Argentina with so many activities and tours here to enjoy. Then all aboard! You’ll love our sparkling new advanced ship that just launched with all the amenities that you desire. MV Hondius is the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world! Surpassing all others, it meets the latest “green and safety standards” with state of the art stabilizers other icebreakers lack. Our smaller ship lends us the best opportunity to explore. She so stylish and holds only 80 cabins and 72 crew. Our expedition leaders have a passion for sharing their in-depth knowledge with you. Each day enjoy guest lecturers, photo workshops, fun activities and gourmet cuisines. Whale sightings are announced by loudspeaker day and night. Also special outdoor activities are included at landings and for the brave, sea kayaks to paddle up close to the ice.
Demand is HOT now as travelers clamor to top off their bucket list. This trip is limited to only 22 lucky AFS travel lovers, so book fast! Air is easy. Go early or add stopovers in Argentina, if you’d like. Fact – Antarctica always costs a fortune to visit with prices ranging on average 12 to 18K and still so popular, one must book 2 years out. Our new AFS 12 day land and cruise program is less than others for a greater value and we include all shore excursions and port charges! (The difference between ours and others high-end operators? You can’t keep your parka.)
Now is the time to visit this delicate polar region as the ice melts and sea levels rise. Charles Darwin could never have imagined exploring Antarctica would be this good. It’s the ultimate vacation to the most majestic land on earth that’ll take your breath away.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
05 December – Depart USA to fly Miami overnight to Ushuaia. Air details to come in trip tips later as it’s too early now. Everyone needs to fly in one or two days early pre-cruise.
06 December – Welcome to Ushuaia
Ushuaia is Argentina’s most important city in Tierra del Fuego and southern most city in the world. It’s easy to explore this small town on foot to many wonderful cafés and shops. You can arrange on own or we will present an optional two nights pre-cruise extension here with city tour, the End of the World Train and more in February.
Overnight at Altos De Ushuaia, Ushaiua (1 nights) B
07 December Cruise begins Embarkation!
Your cruise begins where the world drops off at Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on the planet. Leave your hotel late afternoon to board our ship MV Hondius by 5:00 PM and find our cabins. The captain and crew will welcome us aboard with a toast and introduction before our ship departs for one of the most remote corners of planet Earth. During the night, we sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel.
Overnight aboard the MV Hondius (10 nights) B/D
08 and 09 December. Path of the Polar Explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you 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. 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..
Overnight aboard the MV Hondius (10 nights) B/L/D
10-13 December Enter the Antarctic
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. Sites you may visit include:
Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby.
Neko Harbour – 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.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.
Port Lockroy – 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.
Overnight aboard the MV Hondius B/L/D
14 December Scenes of South Shetland
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels).
In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. A good hike is a possibility in this fascinating and desolate volcanic landscape. As an alternative, you may be able to engage in activities near Half Moon Island. Here chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station.
Overnight aboard the MV Hondius. B/L/D
15-16 December Familiar Seas, Familiar Friends
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. Enjoy lectures and activities with your crew.
Overnight aboard the MV Hondius B/L/D
17 December Disembark to Prepare for Home
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. Transfer to airport for our flights home. B
|Standard Outside with Porthole $8475 per person twin share.|
|Deluxe Outside with Twin Widows $9195 per person twin share.|
(Price based on a minimum of 18 participants.)
Deposit $1000 non-refundable after Feb 1. 50% of remaining balance due May 20, final is due July 28. Due to demand, the supplier Oceanwide Expeditions requires non-refundable deposits. This is to secure your booking but to secure a specific cabin, Oceanwide requires 20% nonrefundable deposit due to high demand 2023.
Included in this voyage
- 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.
- International air roundtrip USA to Ushuaia. (Pre-trip land package with Ushuaia tours to come later.)
- Travel Insurance
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
5 reasons to go to Antarctica
From Wanderlust Magazine
- You’ll have a real wilderness adventure
Antarctica is the last great untouched wilderness, a continent of stunning and alien beauty with a rich history of adventure and exploration. It’s a world of white, blue and grey as far as the eye can see, with ice sheets, some two miles deep, ever-shifting crevasses, and, off the coastline, magnificent icebergs.
Larger than Europe, Antarctica’s icy cover spreads out across the sea in winter, doubling its size and forming an impenetrable barrier. During the summer (November to March) the sea ice shrinks, allowing tourist ships, as well as station personnel, access to this magical world.
Most visitors arrive by ship, usually on ice-breakers or vessels with reinforced hulls. Inflatable dinghies with outboard motors are the best way to explore the islands and mainland.
The opportunity for adventure is endless. You can camp on the ice, kayak between icebergs, take the ‘polar plunge’ and swim in sub-zero waters, scuba dive and perhaps come face-to-face with a seal underwater, cross-country ski, or go mountaineering.
- You can witness world-class wildlife Antarctica is home to many creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Watch with horrified fascination as a Leopard Sealtosses an Adelie penguin in the air before it opens its enormous jaws and devours it. Enjoy the gentler Crabeater Seals basking in the relatively warm summer sun on floating sea ice, or observe the flatulent Southern Elephant Seal, the largest seal in the world and perhaps the smelliest. A majestic wandering albatross (with a wingspan up to nine feet) may follow your ship, and you’re likely to hear the hiss of a humpback whale exhaling from its blowhole as it comes up for air, sometimes so close to the hull you may feel the spray on your face. When the tall dorsal fins of a pod of black and white Orcas break the water’s surface, it takes your breath away. If you arrive early in the season, you’ll witness new life being born, including fluffy white seals and downy grey penguin chicks. Visiting a large penguin colony, like the one hundred thousand breeding pairs of Chinstrap Penguins on Deception Island, is an incredible experience, not just because of the noise they make, but because the inquisitive little fellows can’t resist investigating your boots and camera bag.
- You can discover the heroic history. Antarctica has a rich history of exploration, heroism and adventure. There are few of us who haven’t heard the tales of Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary, and because the climate is so cold and dry (Antarctica is a desert), the historic huts and their contents remain in remarkably good condition. As you enter Scott’s Hut at Cape Evans, it’s like stepping back in time to 1911. You can see bunk beds, kitchen pots and pans, medical supplies, books, even a big stack of seal blubber that they used in a blubber stove. But there are also huts of less famous expeditions, such as Base ‘W’ on Detaille Island, which was abandoned by a small group of researchers in 1959. In the windows hang green and white checked curtains. The tool room is full of everything needed to build and maintain the hut. Hanging over a stove in the kitchen is a pair of long johns, with rusted tins of Scotch Oats and bottles of HP Sauce in the cupboards. A jigsaw puzzle of a quant English village scene is part-completed. A World Sports magazine dated August 1953 lies open on a table. It’s as if the inhabitants will return at any minute.
- It’s a photographer’s dream. It’s not just the wildlife and the historic huts that inspire photographers. The winds and waves carve amazing ice sculptures. You’ll marvel at two storey high icebergs in bizarre shapes, and get to touch startlingly blue ice that’s blistered like bubble-wrap. You can also peer down crevasses that could be hundreds of feet deep, or stand on virgin ice that no person has ever stood on before. Depending on when you travel during the summer season, you may experience 24 hours of daylight, which means plenty of opportunity to take photos of the landscapes and wildlife.
- It’s one of a kind: a peaceful continent that nobody owns. Antarctica is unique in so many ways, but perhaps the most extraordinary is its peacefulness. Take time out from the screech of penguins squabbling or the bark of fur seals, and walk inland where you can sit quietly in this vast wilderness of ice. The silence is both cleaning and energizing, perhaps because in our busy lives, silence is nearly impossible to find. I put Antarctica’s cathartic quality down to its vast open spaces and the fact that nobody owns it. Antarctica is managed in a unique way: by a host of cooperating nations. The Antarctic Treaty is a goodwill agreement, and yet, so far, it has kept Antarctica protected and free from crime and exploitation. Imagine if, like Antarctica, your country had never been to war, had no military presence, there had never been a single murder, and a group of nations worked together to maintain that peace. Because of this Treaty, Antarctica remains a peaceful place of scientific discovery. As long as Antarctica is protected this way, it will remain one of the most unusual and breathtakingly beautiful places in the world to visit.