Your adventure starts with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, the lovely capital of Argentina. Check out the well-preserved Italian and French architecture, order delicious beef in one of the many great steakhouses and maybe practise your dancing moves in the famous hometown of tango. Make sure to embrace the heat from this sensuous city, because it is about to get much colder.
If you would like more time to explore the city, we recommend coming a few days early. Or how about extending your stay with an optional Pre-Programme to explore wild Patagonia?
Late nighters beware, we fly early in the morning to Ushuaia where hybrid-powered expedition ship MS Fridtjof Nansen awaits you. This port city competes with Chilean Puerto Williams for the seemingly coveted title of the southernmost city in the world. The Martial Glacier sits north of the city, creating an impressive mountain backdrop for the ‘end of the world’.
After a mandatory health and safety meeting on board the ship, kick off your journey with a welcome dinner hosted by the Expedition Team. You can then spend some time getting to know the ship that will be your home for the next several days.
In order to get to Antarctica, we have to cross the infamous Drake Passage. It was named after the English sea captain and privateer Sir Francis Drake who discovered it by chance in 1578 when his ship was taken south by heavy winds. Since there is no landmass at this latitude, wind and water roam freely, making it hard for ships to sail here. But don’t worry, even the ‘Drake Shake’ isn’t a big deal for our modern expedition ship.
It takes two days to cross the roughly 1000-km-wide Drake Passage. So, you’ll have some time on your hands, which is definitely a good thing as there is plenty to do to get ready for your Antarctic adventure. The Expedition Team will start their lecture programme in the Science Center, drawing on decades of experience to teach you how to make your visit as safe and as sustainable as possible. As per IAATO guidelines, we will all wear sterilised rubber boats when ashore and ensure we vacuum our clothing beforehand to remove any possible foreign contaminants. You will also learn about the various hands-on Citizen Science projects you can get involved in, all of which feed into live research and current science.
MS Fridtjof Nansen, lies at your feet to be explored as well, quite literally. Work out in the indoor or outdoor gym, or order a spa treatment in our Wellness Area. There are also three superb restaurants on board where you can enjoy delicious meals that are a treat for your eyes and your taste buds. But even with all these mod cons, don’t forget to head out on deck from time to time to look for your first iceberg, and to spot wildlife like whales, numerous types of petrels and albatrosses.
Welcome to Antarctica. Being here, surrounded by icy waters, glaciers and icebergs big as cathedrals will probably make you feel like you’ve landed in a completely new world. Antarctica is magnificent, mesmerising and massive. You might need to stop for a moment to be able to take it all in. That awe-inspired silence is inevitably broken though when you see the first signs of wildlife like penguins, whales or seals and enthusiastic cheers erupt spontaneously all across the ship.
Just as the icescapes of Antarctica change through its seasons, so does its wildlife. In late spring from October to November, there will be much more snow, making the landscapes seem even more pristine. This forms the backdrop of penguin courting and nest building. Whales are still few and far in between during this time, most of them still on their way and beginning to arrive in greater numbers by December and January. Arrival of more whales marks the height of summer which is also when the first penguin chicks hatch. Seeing the clumsy clumps of feathers run around and is always a charming sight. February and March are the peak of whale-watching opportunities, when large amounts of krill lure them to the area.
When we get here, the Expedition Team will seize every chance to take you ice-cruising and on landings to get closer to the impressive scenery and wildlife. Spotting penguins from the ship is already an experience, which becomes even more wonderous when you go ashore to see them. It’s the same if a seal or whale suddenly appears next to you when cruising in our smaller explorer boats or when kayaking as part of an optional activity. Needless to say; keep your camera close at all times. To enhance your feeling of discovery, the Expedition Team will talk expertly about fascinating subjects like the frozen continent’s history, the biology of local wildlife, and glaciology.
After having explored remote and wild Antarctica over five days, we will be due to sail back for home. By this point, both your head and your heart will be filled with lifelong memories. You’ll hopefully also have captured many of these special moments on your camera. Crossing back over the Drake Passage, you’ll probably spend the next couple of days going through those pictures just to try and stay in Antarctica a little longer. The Expedition Team will also be doing the same as they recap the journey’s many experiences over in the Science Center. Working out is also a great way of processing everything you have seen, or maybe let your mind wander back to Antarctica in the Explorer Lounge and Bar?
Your expedition cruise reaches its end as we return to Ushuaia. From here, you join a transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires and a second chance to experience the Argentine capital. Since you are here already, why not extend your stay to keep your adventure going for a little while longer by joining our optional Post-Programme to the magnificent Iguazu waterfalls.
You will now have travelled to the bottom of the world and back. You’ve journeyed to the fabled Seventh Continent and have enchanting stories and photos of penguins to prove it. Antarctica will likely hold a place in your heart which few other places can match. Together with the other explorers who have been there, may we do all we can to preserve its unique beauty.