Polar Circle Cruise
This 12- to 16-day Polar Circle Cruise travels from Ushuaia to the Shetland Islands and then far south down the Antarctic Peninsula to Detaille Island, crossing the Polar Circle. This border, located at Latitude 66° 33′ South, marks the Antarctic Territory. Sea mammals such as killer whales, humpback whales, minke whales, leopard and crabeater seals are frequently seen during Antarctic Circle voyages. A special 14-day itinerary skips the South Shetland Islands in lieu of unique visits to Elephant Island and various sites in the Weddell Sea. And a unique 16-day itinerary heads straight for the Antarctic Circle, focusing all explorations south of there.
The Antarctic Circle experiences a period of 24 hours of continuous daylight at least once in the year. The reason for this phenomenon is that the axis of the earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees. South of the Polar Circle, at Detaille Island in Crystal Sound, is the farthest south that this excursion will probably reach at Latitude 66°52′ South. The farther south in Antarctica, the colder it gets. Temperatures slightly below 0ºC (32ºF) can be expected on these journeys.
See the sub-ducted crater that is Deception Island, including hot springs and an abandoned whaling station. Look for black-bellied storm petrels nesting in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Take in a large colony of gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island. Enjoy Zodiac cruises through the ice-filled waters of Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay, and possibly Pléneau Island, watching for humpback and minke whales. Hope to sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island, before moving on to Detaille Island, which is likely to be the most southern landing.
Choose between the 108-passenger sister ships M/V Plancius and M/V Ortelius, both repurposed research vessels, or purpose-built expedition ship 170-guest Hondius; all four small ships offer guests the comfort and safety of expedition ships designed and built exclusively for polar cruises. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the expedition leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises like this Polar Circle Cruise.
Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Antarctica cruises and trips to Antarctica.