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Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands 2018

The trip starts with a short flight from Punta Arenas in Chile to Stanley in the Falkland Islands, where the comfortable expedition ship Akademik Ioffe is awaiting. After having explored the charming capital and Sea Lion Island we set sail towards South Georgia, a haven for anyone interested in nature and wildlife. The coastline is home to seals, albatrosses and hundreds of thousands of king penguins. Our voyage then continues to the world’s most remote continent, Antarctica, which offers dramatic landscapes, gigantic icebergs, scenic channels and penguin colonies.

Accommodation: Hotel, cabin on board the expedition vessel Akademik Ioffe. Transport: Airplane, expedition ship, Zodiacs. Ship: Akademik Ioffe. Passengers: 96 (approx. 40 from PolarQuest). Length: 20 days, 18 nights on ship. Price: From USD 13 995. Departures: 19 October 2018


Day 1: Punta Arenas, Chile

Our expedition starts in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, where we stay at a centrally located hotel.

Day 2: Punta Arenas, Chile - Stanley, the Falkland Islands

We transfer to the airport and board our flight to the Falkland Islands. After a short 90-minute flight we arrive in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Before embarking the ship there will be time to explore this charming, rural town with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens and a quaint cathedral. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980’s, is a sobering reminder of recent history. After settling into our cabins we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers and set sail – the expedition has started!

Day 3: The Falkland Islands

Having cruised down the eastern coastline of the Falkland Islands overnight, we are now at the far south-eastern end of the archipelago. Near the barren and windswept Sea Lion Island, we plan to launch the Zodiacs for our first shore excursion. Here we find an incredible diversity of wildlife. Gentoo, Magellanic and rockhopper penguins, as well as Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are known to inhabit the area. Weather permitting we may also visit neighbouring Bleaker Island, another settlement on this remote eastern coast of the Falklands. In the evening, we navigate into the Scotia Sea towards South Georgia.

Day 4 - 5: At sea

As we make our way to South Georgia hundreds of seabirds including giant petrels, smaller cape petrels and the graceful wandering albatross will join us. The anticipation grows especially when we cross the Antarctic Convergence and notice a dramatic drop in temperature. Throughout the day our on board experts will educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, history and the locations we hope to visit.

Day 6 - 9: South Georgia

In the middle of the Southern Ocean lies South Georgia. With nearly 3000 meter high mountain peaks, impressive glaciers and sandy beaches the island invites its visitors to some of the world’s most magnificent sceneries. We arrive in the beginning of summer when there are few ships in the vicinity and the peaks of the dramatic mountain ranges are still snow-covered. If you are interested in wildlife, South Georgia is a true oasis. At the height of the breeding season, the rookeries are believed to have more wildlife per square metre than any other place on the planet.Here we hope to visit places such as Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour, where thousands of king penguins greet us. Huge ele-phant seals lounge on sandy beaches and this is the best time to see the elephant seals fighting for their harems. The island is also home to gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap penguins, curious fur seals and nesting albatrosses. Hopefully we will have the chance to make a landing on Prion Island and witness the huge wandering albatrosses breeding. South Georgia played a significant role in Shackleton’s epic adventure. After his ship Endurance sank, he crossed the furious ocean in an open lifeboat to reach the island. In Grytviken we plan to visit Shackleton’s grave and the small Whaling History Museum.

Day 10 - 12: At sea

We now head towards the world’s most remote continent – Antarctica. Weather and ice will dictate our crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica, leading us perhaps to the South Orkney Islands or Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his crew took refuge after their ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea in 1916. Our polar guides continue their lecture programme and on outer deck we watch the many sea birds that faithfully accompany us on our adventure. We also keep our eyes open for the first iceberg, which may appear on the horizon at anytime!

Day 13 - 17: The South Shetland Islands & the Antarctic Peninsula

Our exact route around the peninsula is subject to weather and ice conditions. Following are examples of places we may visit.

Around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland we find the South Shetland Island chain. Possible landing sites here include King George Island, Half Moon Island and Yankee Harbour. Hopefully, we will also have the chance to sail into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. We continue south along the Antarctic Peninsula, where pack ice still covers large parts of the bays, and we watch the experienced officers navigate our ice-strengthened ship. We may enter the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. We cruise through labyrinths of icebergs and on some of them we may see a few penguins, looking curiously at us. Along the shoreline in the bays and harbours of the peninsula lives an incredible abundance of wildlife. Large rookeries are home to chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins. Wedell and leopard seals can often be seen resting on the ice floes and the coast also offers many nesting sites for gulls, skuas and cormorants. From the deck, lounge and bridge we keep a lookout for whales and enjoy the breathtaking sceneries. Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel are examples of places we hope to explore by Zodiac and on foot. If the opportunity arises we may also visit a science base or an old historic hut.

Day 18 - 19: Drake Passage

As we leave this magical place and make our way back, heading across the Drake Passage, we listen to interesting lectures and reflect on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

Day 20: Ushuaia, Argentina

In the early morning we arrive in Ushuaia, disembark and continue home or on to further adventures.

The trip is operated by One Ocean Expeditions and there will be a large group from PolarQuest onboard. A tour leader from PolarQuest will accompany the group. 

Please note: Our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife. We always strive to maximize your experience. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!

Extra option: Sea Kayaking 

For those of you who have experience of sea kayaking it will be possible to enjoy Antarctica in a unique way. Pre-booking is necessary, to a price of USD 795 per person.

Pre and post cruise extension in Chile and Argentina 

For those of you who want to experience Santiago and Buenos Aires we offer a pre and post cruise extension. You travel independently to Santiago and meet up with the group and your PolarQuest tour leader at a designated four star hotel. In the evening we enjoy our first delicious dinner. The following day we take a short sightseeing tour before we fly to Punta Arenas and join the expedition as described in this brochure. Disembarkation in Ushuaia we will explore this little town and then continue by air to Buenos Aires, where we enjoy a spectacular tango show and a farewell dinner with our new friends. We stay the night at a four star hotel. The following day you continue home independently. Please contact us for a more detailed program.

Maximum 100 passengers are allowed to go ashore at the same time in Antarctica

Akademik Ioffe is the perfect size ship for exploring Antarctica. She carries a maximum of 96 passengers. This is under the maximum number of people allowed on shore (100) as mandated by the regulatory organization for tourism activities in Antarctica (IAATO). Being under this limit, means you will spend the maximum possible amount of time on shore, on EVERY excursion – we don’t need to operate shuttles to and from the ship or run hurried excursions. Once on shore, we typically break up into smaller groups, based on interest and physical ability. 

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The ship Akademik Ioffe

  • Akadmeik Ioffe in Antarctica
    Johanna Vakkila
  • Twin private
    One Ocean Expeditions
  • Dining room
    Daisy Gilardini

Akademik Ioffe is a comfortable and ice strengthened expedition vessel, perfectly suited for polar expeditions. She was built in Rauma, Finland in 1989 to serve as a polar research vessel, taking 96 passengers in 48 outside cabins. With her spacious public areas, she is ideally suited for both small group gatherings and lectures for all passengers. A separate bar and lounge, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge. There is also a presentation room, seating all passengers. Here, our polar experts entertain and educate us with lectures on the area’s flora, fauna, geology and history. Other facilities on board include gift-shop, a small fitness room, laundry and sauna. In the ship’s dining room, hosting all passengers in a single seating, we are treated to delicious meals between the excursions. Passengers are welcome on the bridge around the clock and there is always something to see or search for from the spacious observation decks. From the ship’s top deck we can enjoy 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. Here you can find a spotting scope. Travelling with this small expedition ship offers an entirely different experience and perspective than you can get on a more conventional cruise ship.

The triple cabins have portholes, while all other cabins have windows. In all cabins you will find a desk, chair, bathrobes and storage space for clothes and equipment. The triple cabins have bunk beds, a sink in the cabin and shared bathrooms in the corridor. The semi-private cabins have two lower berths and semi-private facilities (one bathroom between two cabins). The twin private cabins have two lower beds and private facilities. The superior cabins have two lower berths, a small sofa and private facilities. The Shackleton suites have a sofa bed, a separate sleeping area with a double bed and private facilities. The One Ocean suite has a sofa bed, a separate sleeping area with a double bed and private facilities with a bathtub.

Cabins & prices

Cabin category Price per person
Triple share (bunk beds, shared facilities in the corridor) USD 13 995
Twin Semi Private (2 lower beds, 1 bathroom between 2 cabins) USD 15 995
Twin Private (2 lower beds) USD 17 895
Superior (2 lower beds) USD 18 895
Shackleton Suite (Separate sleeping area with double bed) USD 20 695
One Ocean Suite (Separate sleeping area with double bed) USD 22 695

Price includes: 1 night in hotel in Punta Arenas, Chile . 18 nights on board Akademik Ioffe . Flight Punta Arenas - Stanley . Transfer from the hotel to the airport in Punta Arenas and between the airport and the ship in Stanley . All meals on board . Coffee and tea . An experienced expedition leader and knowledgeable guides/lecturers . A tour leader from PolarQuest . Loan of waterproof jacket, trousers and rubber boots . Lectures . All excursions and activities by Zodiac . Landing fees and port taxes . Comprehensive pre-departure material . A detailed post-expedition logbook

Not included: Airfare to Punta Arenas and from Ushuaia . Airport taxes . Travel and cancellation insurance . The customary gratuity to the ship’s crew . Beverages . Bar and shop charges

Departures & booking

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or wish to make a reservation.

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Departure Return
19 October 2018 7 November 2018