9 Night Cruise sailing from Punta Arenas to King George Island aboard Greg Mortimer. Hotel stays pre-cruise in Santiago and post-cruise in Punta Arenas.
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago
Arrive in Santiago, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, kindly remind hotel check-in staff to provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number.
Enjoy free time to explore Santiago at your own pace and discover the town’s excellent restaurants. Between 5.00-7.00 pm, meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Embarkation Briefing. Afterwards, there’s free time to dine at your leisure. (Dinner not included).
Day 2 Embarkation in Punta Arenas
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to Santiago airport for your flight to Punta Arenas (flight not included in voyage price). Upon arriving in Punta Arenas, you’ll be met by a representative from Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our selected hotel for our mandatory pre-embarkation health screening and rapid antigen test. Afterwards, you’ll be transferred to the pier for embarkation. Once aboard, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we’ll gather on the deck to farewell Punta Arenas and commence our adventure to Antarctica.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
Day 3 Chilean Fjords
Sail along the legendary Beagle Channel and enjoy splendid scenery of fjords and channels flanked by majestic mountains. Keep watch for the many seabirds and marine wildlife including dolphins, sea lions and whales preparing to migrate to Antarctica to fatten up on plentiful krill. In the evening, we exit Nassau Bay, sail past Cape Horn and prepare to enter Drake Passage.
Days 4-5 Drake Passage & South Shetland Islands
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Our expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks, watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Days 6-10 Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula West Coast
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you’ll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (Captain's call) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for most polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form the Antarctic Sound – the gateway to the Weddell Sea. With a well-deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley, many large tabular bergs escape the Weddell Sea through the Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult. However, the rewards can be great. Fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era – gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone.
Be spoiled for wildlife encounters as the Weddell boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of the Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels. On thrilling Zodiac cruises or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, where you’re likely to spot humpback, minke and orca whales. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.
Day 11 Fly King George Island to Punta Arenas
As we approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to farewell Antarctica and our amazing adventure before boarding our flight (approximately 1.5 hours) to Punta Arenas, Chile. On arrival at the Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to our group hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Dreams del Estrecho
Note: King George Island is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required in order to take off and land safely. We apologise in advance if you experience any delays.
Day 12 Punta Arenas
After breakfast, bid a fond farewell to your fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport is included in your voyage fare. (Breakfast included).
Please note, while prices and inclusions are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to changes in cruise line policies and pricing and due to currency fluctuations. Currency surcharges may apply. Please check details of price and inclusions at time of booking.