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Humpback Whale Breaching, Antarctica

Sail the Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands



12 Days

Prices Start from

£6,850 (ex. flights)

In this introduction to Antarctica, explore the Peninsula that is one of the Earth’s last pristine wilderness regions and count yourself as one of those who has crossed the renowned Drake Passage – whether you experience the “Drake Lake” or the “Drake Shake” only time will tell.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Golden sun over the Drake Passage 1

The Drake Passage

Earn your stripes by crossing the Drake Passage between Cape Horn and the South Shetlands.

Camping in Antarctica 2

Antarctic Experiences

Depending on the vessel and departure, go ice camping, kayaking, skiing or ice climbing.

Sea Spirit @ Sergey Dolya, Antarctica 3

Expeditionary Vessels

Choose from a wide range of ice-strengthened vessels, all renowned for excellent guiding.

Adelie penguins, Antarctica 4

Unique Wildlife

Endemic wildlife includes penguins, whales and seals, plus impressive bird species.

Why we like it

Combining the ultimate bragging rights of having crossed the Drake Passage with days spent exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, intrepid travellers sailing this route are able to explore the most accessible chunk of the continent. As much of the route traversed on this itinerary lies north of the Antarctic Circle, an extremely dense population of penguins thrive here. Owing to the milder climate and convenient up-welling of nutrients brought by the Antarctic Convergence, this place is a wildlife-lovers’ paradise.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Ushuaia or Puerto Williams

  • Days 2 - 3

    Drake Passage

  • Days 4 - 9

    Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands

  • Days 10 & 11

    Crossing the Drake Passage

  • Day 12

    Ushuaia or Puerto Williams

Day 1

Ushuaia or Puerto Williams

Catamaran boats in the Ushuaia harbour port, Tierra del Fuego province in Argentina

The windswept town of Ushuaia is an industrial port and the gateway to Antarctica and is commonly thought of as the southernmost city in the world.

Days 2 - 3

Drake Passage

Lightmantled Sooty Albatross, Drake Passage

Earn your stripes by crossing the Drake Passage, the renowned body of water between Cape Horn and the South Shetlands.

Days 4 - 9

Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands

Kayaking, One Ocean, Antarctica

Depending on the vessel and specific departures, it is possible to go ice camping, kayaking, skiing or ice climbing.

Days 10 & 11

Crossing the Drake Passage

Day 12

Ushuaia or Puerto Williams

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

Gentoo penguins, Antarctica on the coastline
Gentoo penguins, Antarctica

Days at Sea

Time spent on the high seas is spent whale-spotting, trying to capture photographs of abundant pelagic birdlife that follow the ship, and simply revelling in the remarkable and seemingly endless scenery. In addition, a variety of informal lectures given by the expert expedition staff cover subjects such as polar exploration, photography, marine biology and environmental issues. After following the path of the great polar explorers through the notorious Drake Passage, you will be able to experience the real thrill of expedition cruising – when not eating or sleeping, venture out for long, adrenaline-packed days on land or in a zodiac.

Icebergs, Antarctica
Icebergs, Antarctica

Wild Landscapes

Sailing around the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, navigate the Antarctic Sound that is often referred to as ‘iceberg alley’ to see its huge tabular icebergs drift north. Depending on the weather conditions, it is possible to visit Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords or Deception Island with its hot springs. Deception Island is still considered an active volcano, and sailing through the narrow Neptune’s Bellows passage into its huge flooded caldera is a thrilling experience.

Diver, Antarctica
Diver, Antarctica

Explore the White Continent

Off-ship, days are spent cruising ice-clogged channels by zodiac on the lookout for seals, whales and interesting icebergs. Landings are also a major part of the experience and, for many, setting foot on the white content is the ultimate travel experience in the world. It is also possible to camp out on the ice, kayak to icebergs, see abandoned whaling stations and modern-day research stations. At the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, receive a warm welcome from the station crew. On specific departures, certified divers can join an extraordinary polar diving expedition to witness the secret underwater world of Antarctica.

Crabeater seal, Antarctic Peninsula
Crabeater seal, Antarctic Peninsula

Endemic Wildlife

From elephant, leopard and crabeater seals hauled out on beaches to thriving colonies of gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins, the wildlife in this region is remarkable. When cruising between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords, look out for humpback and minke whales, and while visiting old whaling stations seek out black-bellied storm petrels nesting in the ruins.

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Sue's in-depth knowledge of Antarctica, the route options and each of the vessels was invaluable in our preparation for the trip and was a strong differentiator when we were choosing a travel agent. When talking with Sue, we quickly got an honest perspective.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Both telephone and e-mail responses were excellent and all of Sue's expert advice was very much appreciated. She was prompt, supportive and engaging throughout and our expedition to Antarctica was spectacular.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue’s extensive first-hand knowledge of Antarctica was so apparent from our first phone call. She was able to help us select the ideal route and vessel for our needs, and with her guidance we were able to see the emperor penguins!

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue forewarned us that there would be no words to describe South Georgia and that our photos wouldn’t do it justice, and how right she was. All we can say is “see for yourself”. Thank you, Sue, for your indispensable advice.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

We were blown away by Sue’s in-depth knowledge of everything from endemic species to the history of Shackleton and his men. No question we had went unanswered, and no little detail was missed.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Ocean Adventurer £££££

  • Russian Arctic

Originally built in 1976 in Yugoslavia, Ocean Adventurer underwent extensive upgrades as part of a multi-million pound renovation in 2017. On this nimble, ice-strengthened vessel, facilities include a well-stocked library, a lounge area, a gym and observation decks. With major technical enhancements, including two new Rolls Royce engines, to increase fuel efficiency and minimise carbon footprint, Ocean Adventurer has the capacity to carry 128 passengers across 63 cabins. Ship-to-shore satellite communications allow for email and wireless internet access, and a stocked library houses a large collection of polar books.

View Boat

Ocean Endeavour £££££

  • Canada

Launched in 1982 as a purpose-built vessel for remote environments, Ocean Endeavour boasts a 1B ice-class that enables her to navigate freely throughout the Arctic summer. At 453-foot-long, she is a stable and spacious vessel with a shallow draft and impressive manoeuvrability that allows her to access isolated fjords, bays and secluded communities. Accommodating up to 199 passengers, Ocean Endeavour has cabins arranged over multiple decks and offers outdoor dining spaces, a swimming pool, a sauna, a hot tub and three lounges.

View Boat

Magellan Explorer £££££

The 100-passenger Magellan Explorer launched in December 2019 specialising in fly-cruise itineraries to Antarctica. During Antarctic fly cruise itineraries the ship will operate with a maximum of 73 passengers. Specific measures have been taken to minimize Magellan Explorer’s carbon footprint, including state-of-the-art low emission engines.

View Boat

Plancius £££££

  • Antarctica

Built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy she was fully refurbished after her decommission to become a very comfortable, but not luxurious, 108 passenger expedition vessel. The cabins all have television screens that alert passengers to wildlife sightings, and there is a superb observation lounge along with a bar that offer spectacular views. Equipped with kayaks, ten zodiacs and eight expedition leaders, guests can embark on anything from show shoeing expeditions and mountaineering trips.

View Boat

Ortelius £££££

  • Antarctica

Originally built in Poland in 1989 as an ice-strengthened passenger vessel, the 298-foot-long Ortelius spent many years plying the frozen waters of the Arctic and Northern Pacific before being totally refurbished in 2005. Sleeping a total of 108 passengers, the vessel provides comfortable (but not luxurious) cabins that range from quads to suites, each with a private bathroom. She carries a fleet of zodiacs for landings, and on some Antarctic departures helicopters are even used.

View Boat

Hebridean Sky £££££

Re-launched in early 2016 having undergone a comprehensive refit and upgrade, Hebridean Sky is a 295-foot-long expedition ship that accommodates up to 112 passengers. With the addition of 10 zodiacs and a state-of-the-art stabilization system, a well-stocked library with computers and internet access and a lounge with panoramic views, there is plenty of outdoor deck space and a panoramic top deck observation platform. The suites all offer exterior views, en-suite facilities and a sitting area along with ample storage.

View Boat

Greg Mortimer £££££

  • Greenland

Launched in October 2019, the Greg Mortimer is a purpose-built expedition vessel that features a revolutionary X-Bow design. One of the most dynamic and state of the art ships on the seas, it is designed to slice through the water rather than riding over the waves making for comfortable and fast travels through the polar seas.

View Boat

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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