Expedition to Antarctica

See the White Continent in its unspoiled state—turquoise glaciers, bustling penguin rookeries, and breaching whales.

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 Chinstrap penguins   Adélie penguins in Antarctica  Towering mountains of ice  Smithsonian travelers and expert Jim Zimbelman in Antarctica  Reflection of an iceberg, Antarctica. Credit: Brenda Morris  Two young Adélie penguins. Credit: Richard Sidey  A group or "waddle" of penguins. Credit: Max Seigal  Solitary penguin about to jump.  Credit: Cara Sucher

Tour Details


This trip was the perfect combination of knowledgeable guides and lecturers, small group size, wonderful ship, and the most spectacular destination imaginable. 

Dalia A.

I loved everything! One of my best trips…

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Save $1,000 per person when you book by June 3, 2016

• Jan 21 - Feb 3, 2017

Experience the White Continent of Antarctica in its unspoiled state—fantastically shaped icebergs, turquoise glaciers, bustling penguin rookeries, and breaching whales—during the lingering light of the austral summer. 

Highlights Include:

  • Cruising Antarctica: Cruise below the 60th parallel to the Earth’s last frontier. Here, explore some of the world’s most amazing landscapes of towering mountains, glaciers, and icebergs. 
  • Wildlife: Watch for breaching fin, humpback, and minke whales; crabeater and Leopard seals; chinstrap, gentoo, Adélie, and King penguins; and countless seabirds. 
  • Zodiac and Land Excursions: Take Zodiac excursions amid ice floes and, during shore excursions, explore rocky shores and wildlife up close, plus Port Lockroy and other sites. Buenos Aires: See the neighborhoods of La Boca, Monserrat, Palermo, Puerto Madero, and San Telmo. 


Day 1 — Depart U.S.

Depart from the U.S.

Day 2 — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Arrive in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and check into the deluxe Plaza Hotel Buenos Aires. This evening, attend the Welcome Reception. (R)

Day 3 — Buenos Aires

The city tour highlights Buenos Aires’ diverse barrios (neighborhoods) including the colorful La Boca District; Monserrat’s historic Plaza de Mayo and grand public buildings; Palermo’s lavish parks; Puerto Madero’s riverfront community; and the charming old quarter of San Telmo. Visit the historic Recoleta Cemetery, famous for its ornate vaults and sculptures and as the final resting place of the legendary Evita Perón, the former First Lady of Argentina. (B)

Day 4 — Buenos Aires, Ushuaia

Fly to remote Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, the capital of Tierra del Fuego and the gateway to Antarctica, where you will embark M.S. Le Boréal. This afternoon, cruise through the Beagle Channel, named for the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his South American voyages. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. (B,R,D)

Day 5 — Cruising Drake Passage

Cross the legendary Drake Passage. Upon reaching the Antarctic Convergence, watch for breaching fin, humpback and minke whales and seabirds feeding on plankton and krill brought to the surface by the cold Antarctic currents merging with the warmer waters of the South Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The expedition team of naturalists will present insightful lectures to prepare you for your first landing in Antarctica. (B,L,D)

Days 6-11 — Cruising Antarctica

The ship cruises below the 60th parallel to the outer shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Earth’s last frontier. Here, explore some of the world’s most pristine wilderness, where towering mountains of ice and lava create precipitous coastlines and islands, and constantly changing patterns of ice stretch as far as the eye can see. In this seemingly harsh environment, a vast array of marine wildlife flourishes, including millions of penguins, countless seabirds and thousands of seals and whales. From spectacular volcanic topography and majestic glaciers to fascinating wildlife and historic outposts, this itinerary reveals the fascinating highlights of the following destinations for the complete Antarctica experience.

Please note that the ship’s cruising pattern and destinations are dependent on weather, ice and sea conditions and are subject to change.

One of the smallest but most beautiful South Shetland Islands, Half Moon Island, is a crescent-shaped isle known for its craggy volcanic rock formations and tranquil lagoons. It is also the site of Camara Station, a base staffed by Argentine biologists monitoring regional wildlife. Here, observe the antics of the island’s colony of chinstrap penguins and enjoy the lingering twilight of the Antarctic summer.

Deception Island is actually the rim of a massive dormant volcano crater that encircles a lake known as Port Foster. The ship enters Port Foster through dramatic Neptune’s Bellows, a sublime harbor ringed by snowcapped peaks and sheer cliffs. In Pendulum Cove, see the steaming, geothermally heated waters of the Antarctic. Observe the amazing colony of tens of thousands of chinstrap penguins at Baily Head. Then walk along the black sand beaches of Telefon Bay to nearby craters, which offer fascinating insight into the volcanic activity that created the island and played a pivotal role in the natural history of the region.

In Paradise Bay, awesome cliffs of ice descend from the surrounding mountains into the floating iceberg-laden waters along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Named by 19th-century whalers who sought shelter in its coves, Paradise Bay is an ideal sanctuary for marine wildlife including humpback whales, crabeater seals and Cape petrels. Listen for the low rumbling of Rudolf Glacier as it calves chunks of ice into Neko Harbor, named for an early 20th-century whaling boat. The harbor is surrounded by soaring glaciers and snow-covered mountains and is one of the most dramatic and spectacular sights in Antarctica. Here, make your first “continental landing” in Antarctica.

Cruise through breathtaking, glacier-lined Neumayer Channel to Port Lockroy. Originally constructed in 1944 by an eight-man team as an intelligence post for British espionage during World War II, Port Lockroy was converted into a whaling station and scientific base in the 1950s. It is nestled among glistening mountain peaks as high as 6,000 feet, and the surrounding grounds are populated by blue-eyed shags and gentoo penguins. Gain insight into the lives of past explorers at the British Antarctic Survey Museum and mail a postcard stamped with an Antarctica postmark from the official British Post Office. Just beyond Port Lockroy, enjoy an excursion to the rocky shores of Jougla Point on Wiencke Island.

Experience this rare opportunity to view the nearly intact skeleton of a large whale, and see large colonies of gentoo penguins and kelp gulls. Flanked by sheer cliffs of towering glaciers between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island, Lemaire Channel offers views of seven majestic miles of mountains and wildlife combined with fascinating patterns of ice floes. Call at Petermann Island, the southernmost point of your journey, and watch its thriving rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. Enter the Weddell Sea and spot the enormous tabular icebergs that have calved from the Larsen Ice Shelf. See Brown Bluff’s 2,450-foot-high, reddish-brown cliffs jutting into the Antarctic Sound. Observe the area’s flourishing colony of friendly Adélie penguins, who may approach you for an up-close encounter. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Cruising Drake Passage, Cape Horn

Relax and reflect onboard as the ship turns north and crosses the Drake Passage. Enjoy lively, informative discussions with the ship’s naturalists. Watch for endangered albatross and the many different species of petrels as you cruise across the Antarctic Convergence and past Cape Horn, the most southerly point of South America and a milestone on the world’s trade routes from the 18th century until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 13 — Ushuaia, Buenos Aires

Disembark and fly to Buenos Aires. Continue on the Iguazú Falls Post-Program Option with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, or depart for the U.S. (B)

Day 14 — Arrive U.S.

Arrive early this morning in the U.S.