Be one of the very few to cross the Antarctic Circle and witness one of the planet’s last frontiers. In Zodiac cruises, search for humpback, minke, and orca whales, as well as leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals. And of course, keep your eyes open for gentoo and Adelie penguins.
• Venture to extreme southern latitudes as you cross the Antarctic Circle and witness one of the planet’s last frontiers.
• Spend five full days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and become one of the privileged few who have set foot on the Great White Continent.
• Cruise through the Lemaire Channel, a supremely scenic strait where orca and humpback whales are frequently found.
• Board Zodiacs to search for humpback, minke, and orca whales; as well as leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals.
• Photograph a variety of subjects, from mighty glaciers descending from lofty peaks and electric-blue icebergs to an array of unique wildlife.
Arrive in Ushuaia. Transfer to Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa. The rest of the day is at leisure with a welcome dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Today, enjoy a boat trip on the Beagle Channel and disembark in Tierra del Fuego National Park for nature hikes surrounded by dramatic scenery. Board the Island Sky this afternoon and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.
Named for the 16th-century English seaman, the Drake Passage is a deep waterway spanning 600 miles from the southern tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands. Join naturalists on deck to watch for wandering and black-browed albatross, pintado and white-chinned petrels. Attend informative lectures on the history, geology, and wildlife of the Antarctic realm.
As you cruise the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula and its adjacent islands, landings are dependent upon weather and ice conditions. Our leaders have been to Antarctica numerous times, and their experience in the region enables them to adapt quickly to change, making sure every option is considered, and every opportunity seized. If the weather is in our favor, landings may be offered before breakfast or even after dinner. There is also a possibility that you may visit a research station to witness the scientific activities conducted by the multinational community of scientists working there. Though the expeditionary nature of our voyage precludes guaranteeing specific stops, we plan to visit the following islands, bays, and coves where outstanding birdlife, dramatic scenery, and unique marine life can be seen close at hand. This list serves only as a guideline of the places you may experience:
Crystal Sound / Antarctic Circle – Dependent on ice conditions, we will attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle in Crystal Sound, so named for research conducted here on the structure of ice crystals. Board Zodiacs for a cruise among element-sculpted icebergs as you search for leopard, Weddell, and crabeater seals hauled out on ice floes. Minke and humpback whales are also frequently sighted during this time of year.
Detaille Island – Conditions permitting, step ashore on Detaille Island and explore the remains of the British Antarctic Survey Base that was abandoned in 1959.
Vernadsky Research Base – Permission pending, visit the Ukrainian-operated Vernadsky Research Station. Take a tour of the station and meet with a group of scientists to learn about their research and life in the Antarctic.
Lemaire Channel and Pleneau Island – Cruising the beautiful Lemaire Channel, keep watch for the humpback and minke whales frequently spotted here. This narrow channel is one of the most visually impressive areas of the Antarctic Peninsula and is often referred to as the “Kodak Gap” or “Nikon Niche” due to the wonderful photo opportunities it offers. Steep mountain peaks jut out of the sea on both sides, and the surrounding waters are often choked with icebergs and frequented by crabeater seals. A stunning labyrinth of grounded icebergs lies in the shallow waters west of Pleneau Island, presenting a superb Zodiac cruising experience. Crabeater and leopard seals haul out on the ice, and elephant seals and gentoo penguins may be found on the island itself.
Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay – Weddell seals can occasionally be found hauled out on the beach here, and a gentoo penguin colony overlooks a spectacular glacier, which is sometimes quite active in calving icebergs. In Zodiacs, cruise among these fantastic shapes sculpted by wind and water. Later, the Island Sky navigates the scenic waters of Paradise Bay, where Chile and Argentina both maintain bases.
Deception Island – As you approach Deception through Neptune’s Bellows, a channel just wide enough for the ship to navigate, southern fulmars and pintado petrels soar overhead. Weigh anchor inside a volcano whose collapsed cone was filled by rushing seawater.
Enjoy two days at sea to relax, sort through your photos, and attend lectures recapping your Antarctic adventures. On deck, keep watch for seabirds and the whales that are frequently seen in these waters.
Disembark in Ushuaia and transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 230 square feet, located on the Magellan Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and two to four portholes. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 240 square feet, located on the Columbus Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and large picture window. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 225 square feet, located on the Marco Polo Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and large picture window. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 240 square feet, located on the Marco Polo Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and large picture window. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 270 square feet, located on the Erikson Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and patio doors leading to private balcony. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Ocean-view suite, averaging 325 square feet, located on the Explorer Deck with sitting area, private bathroom, and patio doors leading to private balcony. Bed can be configured as two twins or one queen.
Vessel Type: Luxury Small Ship
Length: 90 metres
Passenger Capacity: 116
Built: 1992 / refurbished 2010
With a maximum passenger capacity of only 116, a vessel of her size is capable of carrying many more but instead the MS Island Sky has the benefit of unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks.
On board there is a high ratio of crew to passengers. Our friendly crew of 75 are mainly Filipino and Eastern European and our Scandinavian captains are experienced mariners, having been in service aboard large 2000 plus passenger vessels and who now prefer a less frantic life aboard a small ship. If, like them and us, you prefer a more peaceful life at sea, you will find the MS Island Sky the perfect ship. When choosing the vessel for your next voyage of discovery, you can select a ship with endless entertainment and impersonal service or come with us where peace, high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. We promise there will be no organised entertainment, fancy dress, deck games or any of the usual big ship experiences. The atmosphere on board is more akin to a private yacht or country hotel. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, guest speakers, informative port briefings from our cruise director and of course good food which may be enjoyed leisurely in the attractive dining room. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of a well run and exceedingly comfortable ship.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. The feeling of luxury is enhanced by the wood panelling and brass, which predominates throughout the vessel conveying the atmosphere of a private yacht. The passenger accommodation is arranged over five decks and all suites have outside views. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring marble-topped vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower, large wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a mini-fridge, flat screen television with inbuilt DVD player which can also play CDs and a telephone in each suite. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Other facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries and individually controlled air-conditioning and heating. The suites on each deck have their own colour theme. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. The onboard library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. There is also WI-FI access throughout the vessel. Outside there is a rear sun deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade, a bar and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. On the top deck there is a Jacuzzi and further observation and sun deck. There is also a small hairdressers on board with appointments made on request.
Another benefit of a small ship is the quality of the cuisine. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the galley is able to provide delicious meals. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, the chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus.