Photographing whale flukes for the Happy Whale project, Antarctica

Classic Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands

  • EXPERT-LED CRUISE
Start date End date Days
Prices from
ex. flights
Boat
01/15/25 01/27/25 12 days $0 pp $13,739 MS Seaventure Reserve place
02/06/25 02/18/25 12 days $0 pp $13,739 MS Seaventure Reserve place
02/16/25 02/28/25 12 days $0 pp $13,023 MS Seaventure Reserve place

In this introduction to Antarctica, explore the Peninsula and South Shetland Islands 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.

This Antarctic cruise allows intrepid travellers to explore the most accessible chunk of the earth’s southernmost continent, experiencing dramatic icy landscapes and a wealth of wildlife. Cruise on board the 1-A Super ice class rated MS Seaventure or the cutting-edge Sylvia Earle, accompanied by an experienced and passionate team of adventure guides and experts.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

1

Expeditionary Vessel

Travel aboard one of our chosen ice-strengthened expeditionary vessels.

Lightmantled Sooty Albatross, Drake Passage 2

The Drake Passage

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

Kayaking, Icebergs, Antarctica 3

Antarctic Experiences

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

Chinstrap Penguin on Ice, Antarctica 4

Unique Wildlife

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

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Ushuaia

  • Day 2

    Embarkation

  • Days 3 - 4

    Drake Passage

  • Days 5 - 6

    South Shetland Islands

  • Days 7 - 9

    Antarctica

  • Days 10 - 11

    Drake Passage

  • Day 12

    Ushuaia

Day 1

Ushuaia

Arrive in Ushuaia. Situated on the southern shore of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is the most southerly city in the world. Transfer to your accommodation.

Day 2

Embarkation

Spend the morning exploring Ushuaia before transferring to the pier to board your boat, set sail and enjoy your first dinner onboard.

Days 3 - 4

Drake Passage

Earn your stripes by crossing the Drake Passage, the renowned body of water between Cape Horn and the South Shetlands. Begin to spot wildlife as seabirds including albatross and giant petrels follow the boat. Crossing the Antarctic Convergence into Antarctic waters, temperatures cool and icebergs will begin to appear.

Days 5 - 6

South Shetland Islands

Arrive on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the volcanic South Shetland Islands. The team will choose the best activities based on the weather, wildlife and ice conditions. Zodiac excursions will be twice daily, either landing ashore to explore on foot or joining the wildlife on the water.

Days 7 - 9

Antarctica

Heading north, explore picturesque bays manoeuvring through wildlife-rich waters offering excellent opportunities to stop at several active scientific bases and historic landing sites. Spot numerous species of penguins, seals, and whales along the rugged coastlines.

Days 10 - 11

Drake Passage

Re-cross the legendary Drake Passage spotting wildlife as you sail.

Day 12

Ushuaia

Arrive back in Ushuaia for onward travel.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

Expedition Ship and Iceberg, Antarctica
Antarctica

Days at Sea

Time on the high seas can be spent whale-spotting, photographing the 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.

Paradise Bay Antarctica
Paradise Bay 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.

Two red tents on the ice, Antarctica
Camping in 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. 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.

How does this holiday make a positive impact?

Travel is a great educator. Get hands on with the Citizen Science Program supporting research facilities and providing invaluable data to the scientific community. This could be anything from counting penguins and taking ocean samples to cloud mapping or taking photo identification images for the whale data bank. An enriching experience offering a new perspective to your travels.

100% carbon neutral, the Sylvia Earle operates with low energy consumption, high fuel-efficiency and a streamlined design to deliver a reduction in emissions. The ship can also utilise virtual anchoring to hold its position using a combination of GPS, steering technology, propellers and thrusters. This protects the sea floor and minimises the damage caused by conventional anchors.

Cruising with our partners at Polar Latitudes in turn supports a host of important Antarctica conservation initiatives. Regular events and activities contribute to the work of organisations including The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and Scott Polar Research Institute.

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Accommodation

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

MS Seaventure £££££

  • Antarctica

The Seaventure has capacity for a maximum of 139 passengers in five different cabin categories. She carries a fleet of 14 zodiacs and has 16 highly experienced expedition staff. All of the outside cabins are well designed with ample storage, a seating area and in cabin TV on which you can stream or record lectures. For when the weather is inclement there is a large forward observation lounge, two dining rooms and an outside café. There is also a gym, sauna, outdoor saltwater pool and a certified physician and clinic onboard.

View Boat

Sylvia Earle £££££

Named after legendary marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer and author, the Sylvia Earle pays tribute to its namesake’s long standing commitment to conservation and the protection of ocean wildlife. At the cutting edge of nautical technology, the Sylvia Earle is a robust and powerful vessel with an Ulstein X-BOW that adds extra stability and makes for a quicker transit through the waves. A glass atrium lounge inside the bow boasts views to the front of the ship and a state-of-the-art lecture theatre allows you to hear experts talk about culture, biology and wildlife.

View Boat

Other available dates

For further information about any of these tours please call 1 800 571 2985

Start date End date Days
Prices from
ex. flights
Boat
01/15/25 01/27/25 12 days $0 pp $13,739 MS Seaventure Reserve place
02/06/25 02/18/25 12 days $0 pp $13,739 MS Seaventure Reserve place
02/16/25 02/28/25 12 days $0 pp $13,023 MS Seaventure Reserve place

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge, curiosity and expertise set us apart, driving us to create remarkable holidays and Beautiful Adventures tailored perfectly to you, carefully curated to help protect and conserve our planet.

Are you ready to Discover Extraordinary?


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