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We advise you to arrive one day before departure to arrive in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. This will help you to acclimatize to time difference and relax after your long flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile. Ushuaia is the Southern most city in the world located in the shadow of the Andes, right at the Beagle Channel shore, one of world’s most stunning locations. Expect wonderful views of the Beagle Channel, and the peaks of the Five Brothers from the airplane on its descent.
In late afternoon you make your way to the pier in Ushuaia to board the ship. Have your identification on hand, because you must pass through security.
Our staff on board will assist to find your cabin and where to store your dive gear. Take only your regulator with you in your cabin. Every diver is expected to prepare his own equipment well in advance prior to each dive. Bring your own spare parts for your regulators and dry suit in case of leakage or damage. When the Argentine authorities complete immigration, customs and other procedures, the sailing through the scenic waterway of the Beagle Channel begins.
During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. The Drake Passage is notorious for high winds and rolling seas. Traversing the Drake is as much a part of the Antarctic experience as penguins and krill. With the right weather conditions your passage will be relatively easy. After breakfast, the education program commences with a presentation that could be about seabirds of the Southern Ocean. In this area we may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black- browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we glimpse at the first icebergs.
If the winds are favourable we might do our first landing in Antarctic waters in the evening of the third day at Aitcho Island or Penguin Island at the South Shetlands.
These volcanic islands are windswept and often shrouded in mist and fog, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins and southern giant petrels.
A typical itinerary in the Antarctic Peninsula could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Team and is influenced local conditions, like ice and weather.
We start our first day in Antarctica with a mandatory check-out dive at an easy accessible site to get accustomed to the cold water and adjust your weights. Our dive guides will be with you in the water to assist you with your equipment. Diving in Antarctica is serious stuff and safety is our first priority. Being comfortable in the water with your equipment is essential.
We may make our first landing at Deception Island, a huge volcano of which the crater opens into the sea, creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Pigeons and many Dominican Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black- bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
On our way further South we will sail to Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island. It contains a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. In Neko Harbour we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers.
When sailing to Paradise Bay, with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, we will have the opportunity for zodiac cruising and diving between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords.
Here we will also have one of the most spectacular wall dives in the Antarctic. The wall drops down to 75m. Thanks to the nearby Shag colony, there is an abundant marine life.
We will sail through the Lemaire Channel, famous for its beautiful scenery and great dive sites, to Pleneau and Petermann Island where we can find Adelie Penguins and Blue- eyed Shags. We will visit one of the scientific stations in Antarctica, Vernadsky, which will give you an insight about the life of modern Antarcticans working on the White Continent. The diving around the station is known to be among the best in the area. Kelp walls and lots of marine life with sponges, anemones, sea-stars, isopods and possibly Antarctic Cod.
Sailing north through Neumayer Channel we arrive at the Melchior Islands with a very beautiful landscape and again possibilities for zodiac cruising among the icebergs, where we may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and whales. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales.
On our way back in the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team. You can count on the education program continuing. Learn more about the seabirds that escort the ship as it crosses the Drake Passage. With the help of the Expedition Team you gain the necessary knowledge to identify birds on the wing. Do not forget to pack your binoculars, they come in handy as you stand watch for whales and albatrosses.
In the morning the ship will arrive in Ushuaia. After a farewell breakfast you will disembark the ship.
Arrival in Ushuaia and disembarkation in the morning. In time to catch your afternoon flight to Buenos Aires.