Tailor-Made Holiday

Fly & Cruise-Antarctic Circle & Weddell Sea

26 days

from £13,575pp (excluding flights)

This incredible Antarctica cruise offers the most comprehensive itinerary of all boats. Explore the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula, the ice packed Weddell Sea and the remote and wildlife rich Falkland Islands. This voyage also crosses the intangible Antarctic Circle, a lesser visited area of the peninsula.

  • Longest and most comprehensive exploration of Antarctica
  • Sixteen days of off-ship exploration in the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetlands, Weddell Sea and the Falklands
  • Cross the Antarctic Circle, something very few people do each season
  • Two chances to land on Elephant Island, central to the Shackleton story
  • Activities available include camping, kayaking, snow shoeing, bird watching, mammal spotting and hiking

This epic Antarctic expedition cruise, begins with a short flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to the Falkland Islands. Upon arrival board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov ship which will be home for the next 21 nights. Set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula, during the two day sea crossing look out at the hundreds of sea birds including the wandering albatross which can be found in this area.  Whilst sailing learn from the onboard experts about the Antarctic environment, wildlife and history of this fascinating area. Before reaching the peninsula, if conditions are right, make a visit to historic Elephant Island, a place central to the Shackleton story. The southern tip of the island also has an impressive macaroni penguin colony as well as Antarctic fur seal and gentoo penguins.

Over the following days travel south along the Antarctic Peninsula and its outlying islands, with the aim of crossing the Antarctic Circle. Along the way make shore visits in small groups of 10-12 and admire the large icebergs and ice strewn waters of this incredible place. There are some wonderful spots for kayaking, an unforgettable experience to get up close to the icebergs. After reaching the turnaround point of Detaille Island the cruise will return north exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic peninsula. Each day there is the opportunity to get off the ship and explore on foot, stopping at classic locations like Petermann Island, Pleneau Island and the Lemaire Channel. If the weather permits, there will be the opportunity to stay a night off the ship camping, a special and memorable experience. The first part of this voyage will end at King George Island with some passengers leaving the ship and others joining.

The second part of the Antarctic voyage will start in the South Shetland Islands visiting chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries as well as areas where the huge southern elephant seal can be found. Hiking opportunities exist to walk to the top of a volcanic crater, a chance to further explore the white continent on this beautiful walk. Days will continue to be spent in small groups going on guided walks in the snow and looking out at the ice covered mountains and glaciers. There will be more opportunities to visit gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and further cruising by zodiac or kayak in the icy waters.

Upon rounding the northern tip on the Antarctic Peninsula enter the Weddell Sea, where sea-ice and huge tabular icebergs can be found. The Weddell sea has a rich history, it was in this area that Shackleton and his men abandoned the Endurance ship that was stuck in pack ice. Maximum time is spent off the ship, exploring on foot and in zodiacs, visiting the Weddell and elephant seals as well as the large Adelie penguin rookeries. Look out for majestic emperor penguins, the largest of the penguins, that can be found in this region.  If weather conditions are favourable there is a second chance to spend a night camping on the snow. Upon leaving the Weddell Sea pass by Elephant Island for the second time with another chance of going ashore.

This Antarctic cruise ends on the Falkland Islands, visiting the wildlife rich Saunders Island. It is here that gentoo, rockhopper, magellanic and king penguins can all be found. Also visit nearby West Point Island which is home to an incredible colony of black browed albatross. After 21 nights disembark the ship and fly back to Chile, again avoiding more days at sea.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 13575 £ 1100

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Madrid

Fly Madrid to Santiago overnight

Day 2

Fly Santiago to Punta Arenas

Situated at the foot of The Andes with striking views across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego, Punta Arenas is Patagonia's liveliest and most interesting city. Made rich by the wool boom following the importation of sheep from The Falklands in the 19th century, vestiges of the town's heyday remain today in the form of fine colonial architecture and interesting history. The town itself is compact with everything within walkable distance. A visit to the extraordinary Palacio Sara Braun and the manicured cemetery are strongly recommended.

You will be staying at Hotel Cabo de Hornos, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Punta Arenas to Port Stanley
The journey commences in Punta Arenas, meet at a central location and transfer to the airport for the scheduled flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Explore the small town of Stanley before embarkation.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 4

At Sea
Chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of wildlife. Seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are constant companions on the way south. Join the ship's Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of a modern research vessel. Throughout the day onboard experts educate with a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlife and history. With good sailing conditions it may be possible to visit to the very historic location of Elephant Island - a place central to the Shackleton story. It is from here that Shackleton and four of his companions set off on their epic ocean crossing to South Georgia 100 years ago. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously tricky due to surging swell onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless this a thrilling place to visit.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 5

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 6

King George Island and Antarctic Peninsula
King George Island - the largest in the South Shetlands group. There are two landing sites here and a visit depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Penguin Island and nearby Turret Point offer good opportunities for shore landings to view Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns are also known to nest here. Continue south, navigating into the broad expanse of the Bransfield Straight, this is an important migration corridor for wildlife including whales. The towering mountain peaks of the Antarctic continent loom into view; make landfall around Wilhelmina Bay. This is truly an 'A-list' location and a place to often encounter sizeable pods of humpback whales. Navigate under the towering cliffs of Spigot Peak and into the Errera Channel hoping for a shore landing at Cuverville Island - home to a rookery of Gentoo penguins. A fantastic location for a zodiac cruise or a paddle in the sea kayaks.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 7

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 8

Towards the Antarctic Circle and Gerlache Coastline
Spend time on the outer decks soaking up the scenery while navigating south; passing through the ice strewn waters towards the ultimate objective, the Antarctic Circle. Given favourable ice conditions, the first goal will be to sail south of the Antarctic Circle and into Crystal Sound. A favoured landing site here is Detaille Island, home to an abandoned British science hut from the 1950's. This vicinity marks the turnaround point, return in a northerly direction exploring the dramatic coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is hoped to visit a working scientific base to learn something of the important climate-related research happening here. Hike over the snowy saddle of nearby Winter Island and explore a historic British Antarctic Survey hut. If the conditions are right, it may be possible to camp out overnight.
Petermann Island is home to an Adelie penguin rookery. Adelies - the smallest of the Antarctic penguins nest here and share the location with Gentoo penguins and Imperial cormorants. The view to the north of Mount Shackleton and Mount Scott is impressive. These towering granite sentinels mark the southern entrance to the nearby Lemaire Channel. Pleneau Island offers more opportunities for shore landings. Just off shore, massive icebergs run a round in the shallows. Constant wind and wave action sculpt these gargantuan chunks of ice into fantastic shapes, revealing more shades of blue than imaginable.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 9

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 10

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 11

Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Transit the Lemaire Channel on the way north towards Paradise Harbour. This may be the first opportunity to step foot on the continent of Antarctica itself. Nearby Neko Harbour offers another continental landing. Both locations offer terrific hiking opportunities up to panoramic view points. For the sea kayakers, the paddling opportunities here are endless. Expect to be in full sensory overload by this time of the voyage.
By morning arrive in the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around; explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.
On a sunny day, cruising along the coast of Livingston Island is a memorable experience. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where Weddell are often found. This is another great spot for a hike or a zodiac cruise. It's a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Charting a course for King George Island in early evening light.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 12

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 13

King George Island
This morning anchored off King George Island, say farewell to many of the passengers as they disembark to fly back to South America. There will be an opportunity to go ashore, or you may wish to relax on board, updating the diary or visit the multi-media room to download and back up photos. New passengers are welcomed aboard and soon the ship is underway for the second leg of the epic adventure.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 14

Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
Enter the steely blue waters of Antarctica's Gerlache Strait, protected by two large offshore islands, the waterways are home to deep bays, pristine coves and numerous small islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 15

Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
Over the next two days spend time in small groups of just 10-12 guests, take guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and zodiac cruising among the ice. Planned visits could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay is another favourite location and one where humpback whales are frequently encountered.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 16

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 17

Antarctic Sound and the Weddell Sea
At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, the Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing into the sound witness the vastness and majesty of the Antarctic icecap, an awe-inspiring sight. Heading into the Weddell Sea there will be a significant increase in the number of huge tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. These massive icebergs break from the huge ice shelves to the south and drift north on the currents which makes for exciting navigation.
This region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of staggering size. Weather permitting, excursions may include Paulet Island, Brown Bluff and even the southerly Snow Hill Island, home to Weddell and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a staggering abundance of penguins.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 18

Exploration in the Weddell Sea
Spend more time exploring the Weddell Sea with the expert guides. The plan is to set foot on the continent in this vicinity and, if the weather allows, some may choose to camp ashore overnight. Sailing among the islands of the Weddell Sea, in the realm of the emperor penguin, the largest of the penguins, and keep a lookout as juvenile emperors are sometimes sighted riding the ice floes.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 19

Exploration in the Weddell Sea
The region features a rich exploration history. It is hoped to visit Nordenskjöld's winter hut on Snow Hill Island that was built in 1902 and remains intact. The Shackleton story also features strongly and it was here that he and his men drifted north on the ice after their ship had been lost in the ice months earlier. Heading north and out of the Weddell Sea leaving Antarctica behind, pause to consider the bravery and/or foolhardiness of those early explorers who travelled these waters a hundred years before.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 20

Elephant Island
Approach Elephant Island from the south. Point Lookout, on the southern tip of the island, is home to an impressive macaroni penguin colony. Gentoo penguins are also known to nest here and there are often sizeable numbers of Antarctic fur seals hauled out on the beaches. Shore landings at the fabled Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, are notoriously difficult due to the surging ocean currents and pounding surf on the rocky beach. If conditions are right, attempt a landing. This is a thrilling location and a major highlight for history buffs.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 21

Sailing towards the Falkland Islands
While sailing across to the Falkland Islands onboard polar experts will recap on the Weddell Sea adventures and prepare for the days ahead. Much time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 22

Sailing to the Falklands
During the sea crossing to the Falkland Islands, the spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species are constant companions as they soar above the ship.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 23

West Point & Saunders
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falklands archipelago. West Point is known for its sizeable rookeries of rockhopper penguins and nesting black browed albatross. While nearby Saunders Island, with its white sand beaches, features no less than four penguin species including gentoo, magellanic and rockhopper - and the ultimate goal for the Falkland Island visit, the impressive king penguin.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Full board

Day 24

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
In the early morning, navigate through the narrows and into the harbour of Port Stanley. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Punta Arenas.

It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile however we would suggest a night in Punta Arenas to allow for any delays.

You will be staying at Hotel Cabo de Hornos, Bed & Breakfast

Day 25

Fly Punta Arenas to Santiago

Fly Santiago to Madrid

Day 26

Fly Madrid to London

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Antarctica

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

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John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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