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Epic Antarctic

23 days

Includes all of the major Antarctic highlights you can imagine. From the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) to South Georgia to the Antarctic Peninsula

Day 1
Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina

You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).

Day 2
Fly to Ushuaia and Embark

After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.

After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you see land, you’ll be in a wildlife wonderland!

Day 3
At Sea

Your days at sea are filled with presentations led by your Expedition Team who will prepare you for the wildlife, glaciology and history that will greet you upon your arrival. In between presentations, spend time on deck looking for wildlife or chatting with your shipmates over a drink at the bar.

Days 4 and 5
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Upon your arrival in the Falklands (Malvinas), your camera will get its first real workout capturing the abundant wildlife and rugged feel of this sub-Antarctic region. The archipelago contains two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, which you will explore during daily Zodiac excursions and landings.

Stanley, also known as Port Stanley, is often a favored landing site, as the town offers a unique British outpost feel, complete with eclectic charm. You’ll be free to explore, grab a pint at the local pub, or visit the numerous churches and museums.

The Archipelago is rich in wildlife, especially birds, and home to Magellanic, gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins. If you’re lucky, you may even spot king penguins here as well! You can expect to see black-browed albatross, plus two endemic bird species—the flightless Falkland steamer duck, and possibly, the elusive Cobb’s wren.

Your expert education team will enrich your understanding of the local flora and fauna, helping you make the most of your time in the Falklands.

Days 6 and 7
At Sea

Sailing southeast to South Georgia, you’ll officially enter Antarctic waters once you cross the Antarctic Convergence, an invisible biological boundary encircling the continent. This meeting of oceans, where the cold Antarctic waters mix with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, helps nourish the abundance of krill that attracts whales, seals, and birdlife to this part of the world. Your Expedition Team will notify you when you cross this invisible yet important line, and will also help you look out for the seabirds and marine life that frequent the area.

Days 8 to 11
South Georgia

This remote, mountainous island was a popular stop for many historic Antarctic expeditions and was once a haven for hunting whales and seals. Today, island wildlife populations are rebounding, but you’ll still see remnants of old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts.

Among the most significant and moving sites on South Georgia is the grave of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, plus a museum, gift shop, church and small research station.

Although South Georgia’s history is an important attraction to the island, it is the tremendous abundance of wildlife that you and your shipmates will surely find most captivating. Each landing you make on South Georgia, often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, will open your eyes to the wondrous lives of new, enthralling creatures.

One day you may see rookeries with hundreds of thousands of pairs of king penguins waddling on a beach, and the next, you may visit another beach blanketed with hundreds of fur or elephant seals. The grasses, mountains and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different species on the island. Your Expedition Leaders will help you understand and appreciate the delicate balance among these fragile and interwoven relationships.

Days 12 and 13
At Sea

Say goodbye to the king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Your days at sea are filled with presentations, workshops, and social activities led by your Expedition Team.

Days 14 to 16
South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula

The experience is hard to put into words, but the most common reaction upon reaching the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes: at one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and solitude; the next, you’ll be laughing at the comical antics of a curious penguin.

Zodiac cruising, visits to historical sites and, of course, communing with seals and penguins are sure to keep you smiling every day. Perhaps you’ll catch sight of the fearless penguin eater, the leopard seal, or maybe you’ll come eye to eye with an Antarctic minke whale while you cruise in a Zodiac. Each day, and each excursion, will present a new collection of creatures to delight you and keep your camera busy.

If you find yourself wanting more, treat yourself to an optional kayaking adventure (reserve in advance when booking your trip), or cast reason aside and join in the Polar Plunge—it’s something you’ll never forget!

Days 17 and 18
Antarctic Circle

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 19 and 20
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 the Drake Passage. You will continue to make excursions by Zodiac 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.

Days 21 and 22
Crossing the Drake Passage

After more than three weeks of unique wildlife encounters and remarkable landscapes, your journey home begins. The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage is an adventure unto itself. While being well taken care of by our expert onboard staff, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the ocean, take pictures of seabirds swooping around the ship, and reflect on your remarkable Antarctic adventure.

Day 23
Disembark in Ushuaia and Fly to Buenos Aires

You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a little taste of Patagonia with a Tierra del Fuego National Park tour before transferring to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.

Reminder

*MANDATORY TRANSFER PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • One night pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Buenos Aires with breakfast (Note: The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available.)
  • Group flight departing from Buenos Aires’ domestic airport (Aeroparque/AEP) to Ushuaia, and returning to Buenos Aires’ international airport (Ezeiza/EZE)
  • Group transfer from hotel to airport in Buenos Aires
  • Group transfer from Ushuaia airport to the ship, and return (Note: Transfer on arrival in Buenos Aires from airport to hotel at the beginning of the journey is not included. Please make your way to the included hotel.)
  • Combined airport transfer and express bus tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park after disembarkation in Ushuaia

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.

Ships
Ultramarine

The newest addition to our fleet, the 199-guest Ultramarine will be equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, 20 quick-launching Zodiacs, spacious suites, wellness amenities and numerous outdoor wildlife viewing spaces.

Please call us for a customized quote.
Travel Protection is offered by us and is an additional cost.

Ultramarine

The newest ship in our fleet, Ultramarine, is designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, to discover new places, and to immerse you in the best the region has to offer.

Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, Ultramarine offers the most robust portfolio of adventure activities in the industry, the most spacious suites in its category, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships its size. It also features an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards.

With all this and more, Ultramarine is set to deliver the ultimate polar expedition experience.

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
Day 1

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.