Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle
The fastest way to explore the Antarctic Circle.
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile
Your adventure begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, the most populated city in southern Patagonia. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and shops to keep you busy for days. By early afternoon, a Quark Expeditions® representative will meet you at the official starting point hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed about preparing for your embarkation day.
Fly to King George Island and Embarkation
Your charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will have you crossing the legendary Drake Passage in only two hours. Far below, the ship will approach King George Island for your arrival. Your first glimpse of dramatic Antarctic landscapes will be from a unique perspective, as your plane descends for landing in the South Shetland Islands. After landing, stretch your legs with a one-mile (1.6 km) walk to the shore, before being transferred by Zodiac to your ship to set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula!
Days 3 to 5
Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
There are few places in the world as evocative as Antarctica. As your ship approaches the White Continent, you may be overcome by feelings of excitement and awe. Much of Antarctica is indescribable and can only be fully appreciated through your own eyes.
As your Captain and Expedition Team keep a lookout for whales and seabirds, you’ll be alerted to any new sightings. Our expert education team will also provide in-depth explanations of the glaciology, history and wildlife of the region.
Even more exciting are your land excursions. Your first Zodiac landing is something you’ll never forget! Walking on a beach dotted with penguins is the most intimate way to experience the unique wildlife of Antarctica.
Each landing is different and dependent on weather, but every day presents new sightings and photo opportunities, and it won’t be long before you can tell the difference between an Adélie, gentoo and chinstrap penguin.
You may take a Zodiac cruise in search of whales and icebergs one day, followed by a hike to a penguin rookery the next day. From the booming sound of a calving glacier to the thrill of spotting apex predators like leopard seals and orcas in action, you’ll wake up early and welcome each day with a sense of adventure and a desire to explore this unrivaled travel experience.
Your Expedition Team will accompany you along the way, ensuring safety and providing insights into the places you visit.
Days 6 and 7
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is both a memorable experience and impressive achievement, as few travelers reach so far south. If conditions allow us to cross this famed latitude of 66°33´ S, we’ll toast the first explorers who ventured here, and you can raise a glass and take pride in knowing you’ve made it to a part of the world visited by very few people. This is raw Antarctica, home of the midnight sun, Weddell seals, and your best chances of encountering sea ice – the foundation of the Antarctic marine ecosystem.
Days 8 and 9
Northbound Along the Peninsula
If you haven’t had your fill of Antarctic wildlife and icebergs by now, you’ll surely be satisfied by the time you return to King George Island. You will continue to explore by Zodiac or on land as you travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula.
Your Expedition Team will always be on the lookout for species of seabirds, seals and whales that may have eluded you on your journey south.
Disembarkation and Fly to Punta Arenas
After your week of exploration, you’ll say goodbye to your Expedition Team and disembark at King George Island. Your two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Punta Arenas, Chile, brings your adventure to an end. After your group transfer to the hotel, you are free to explore and enjoy an evening on your own, in the city or at the hotel to reminisce about the sights and sounds of Antarctica.
Depart Punta Arenas
After breakfast, you are welcome to continue on your own travels or make your way to the Punta Arenas airport for your homeward flights.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
- Meet and greet on arrival at Airport.
- Accommodation and meals as indicated in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner).
- Entrance fees where applicable.
- Tours as indicated in the itinerary.
- Professional English-speaking guide/driver guide.
- Travel Protection is offered on all packages at an additional cost.
Ocean Adventurer has long been a fleet favorite among guests and crew who’ve appreciated the charm and intimacy of this 128-passenger vessel, its ample outdoor deck space, numerous cozy spots to socialize onboard—and the outdoor jacuzzi. A few years ago, Ocean Adventurer underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation involving a talented team of marine architects, engineers, interior designers and polar expedition specialists. Quark Expeditions is proud of the enhancements to the much-loved polar vessel—which subsequently won the Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Overall Small Cruise Ship (500 passengers or: under).
The refurbishments now enjoyed by guests:
- A refreshed, contemporary new look and feel throughout the ship
- The addition of six new twin cabins and three new suites
- All existing cabins furnished with new soft furnishings and brand new bathrooms
- Remodeling of common areas such as the Lounge and Dining Room
- Major technical enhancements, such as two new Rolls Royce engines, which increase fuel efficiency and minimize carbon footprint.
Click here to download deck plan.
QEI’s Antarctic Express (8 and 11 Day Itineraries)
QEI will make every effort to ensure the Antarctic programs take place, but due to weather conditions, flying in this region can be difficult and is beyond the control of QEI. The following table illustrates the last itinerary day on which an attempt will be made to fly:
|Itinerary Name||Itinerary Days||Day 1|
|Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake||8 Days||Arrival in Punta Arenas|
|Antarctic Express: Crossing the Circle||11 Days||Arrival in Punta Arenas|
International airfare, domestic airfare, any additional services purchased or change fees, will not be refunded by QEI. QEI will provide a trip interruption letter to be submitted by the passenger to their insurance company for airfare, change fees, and other expenses incurred due to the trip interruption.
QEI will issue the cruise fare refund back in the same form/medium in which payment was received.
16.2 Contingency Plan Itinerary
QEI reserves the right to send passengers on the charter plane the evening prior to the scheduled day. This may happen when we see a weather system that could cause a delay on subsequent days. It is for this reason that we request all passengers to arrive in Punta Arenas (PUQ) no later than 3:00pm on Day 1. There will be no refunds for passengers who miss the charter plane departure due to an arrival in Punta Arenas airport (PUQ) after 3:00pm.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
For each day of the itinerary after Day 1, if there is a delay, all guests will be briefed by the QEI ground staff on the flight status. Often we are waiting for a weather window to depart and could be required to leave with very little notice. All guests and staff will be on stand-by until notified by the QEI ground staff.
During the stand-by period, you must be at the airport, or at another location designated by the QEI ground staff to be ready to go if and when a suitably long weather window becomes available. If an opportunity to fly does not present itself, you will be returned back to your respective hotels. QEI will provide additional night(s) hotel accommodation and meals.
QEI reserves the right to make exceptions to the timing guidelines outlined in this section.