Famed for its tremendous tabular icebergs, year-round sea ice, fascinating fossils and the pivotal role it played in Shackleton's Endurance expedition, the Weddell Sea offers unsurpassed opportunities for exploration. Embark on a true Antarctic expedition as we not only explore the west Antarctic Peninsula and across the Antarctic Circle, but also attempt to venture east towards the icy perimeter of the Weddell Sea, often guarded by impenetrable pack ice and home to awe-inspiring tabular icebergs.
M/V Sylvia Earle
14 nights premium boat
2 nights comfortable hotel
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Ushuaia (USH), where you will be met by a representative and transferred to your pre-voyage hotel. If you are already in Ushuaia, we ask you to make your way to your hotel. Check-in is from 3pm.
Upon arrival, please visit the AE Expeditions hospitality desk in the lobby between 3pm and 7pm, to collect your luggage cabin tags and confirm if you wish to join the Ushuaia tour the following day. The team will confirm details regarding your embarkation day, answer any questions and provide you with information about where to dine or purchase last minute items.
Expeditioners arriving after 7pm will find a welcome pack waiting for them at check-in. We ask you to visit our hospitality desk tomorrow between 8am - 10am.
The remainder of your time is at leisure.
Hotel in Ushuaia to be confirmed
This morning, enjoy breakfast and check-out. Please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Take your cabin luggage to hotel reception, prior to, or at check-out. Your luggage will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance, to be placed in your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
Once you have checked out of your hotel, you have free time before meeting back in the hotel lobby at 1:30 pm to commence a short sightseeing tour of Ushuaia.
Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests. On this brief introductory tour, you will visit La Mision neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the Old Prison Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4pm.
Alternatively, enjoy time at leisure and make your own way to the Prison Museum carpark by 3.45 pm to re-join the group to be transferred to the pier for embarkation.
After embarkation, you'll have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we'll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
This evening get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
M/V Sylvia Earle
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Our expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica's history, wildlife and environment.
Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following our vessel. On sea days, you may can enjoy the facilities on board the vessel including the gym, wellness centre or the relaxing in one of the observation lounges.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the afternoon of day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon or forge onwards towards the Antarctic Circle.
It's almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
The waters at this time of year are rich with krill and we hope to see plenty of whales - particularly humpbacks and minkes and enjoy the spectacle of penguins feeding their ravenous chicks.
To be part of a voyage that attempts to explore the remotest and wildest parts of a region that in and of itself is already arguably one of the remotest regions on Earth gives you more than basic bragging rights. As we approach and attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle, an imaginary line at latitude of 66° 33\ south, you will notice subtle changes in the landscape, and also in the distribution of wildlife.
Venturing below the Antarctic Circle is a chance to enter a different world that is rarely seen, it feels more isolated and colder than further north, with great swathes of pack ice and dream-like icebergs. Thread through pack ice and narrow channels where scenes of ice-clad mountains, whales fattening up on krill, leopard seals patrolling the waters for vulnerable penguins and snow petrels soar above. Raise a glass to toast venturing below the Antarctic, joining an exclusive group of adventurers in doing so.
After our explorations below the Antarctic Circle and along the western side of the peninsula, we sail north to make our way to the Weddell Sea on the eastern side of the peninsula. Along the way, we plan to visit some of our favourite places around the Antarctic Peninsula, exploring coastlines by Zodiac, landing on beaches where fur seals frolic, and where fledging penguins are taking to the waters for the first time. As we approach Antarctic Sound, we hope for favourable weather and ice conditions to grant our good ship entry to its frozen realm. A considerable aspect of a voyage to the Weddell Sea is the thrill of not knowing if the ice will allow us to enter its frozen realm. The Weddell Gyre pushes enormous amounts of ice from the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf up towards the area near Antarctic Sound, blocking the entrance to the Weddell Sea, but a visit to the region has numerous rewards.
Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, the Endurance became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for many polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form Antarctic Sound - the gateway to the Weddell Sea. With a well-deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley, many large tabular bergs escape the Weddell Sea through the Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult.
Gigantic icebergs, the size of skyscrapers, dwarf our Zodiacs as we attempt to push through seemingly impenetrable sea ice to land on remote beaches where ancient fossils can be found. The wildlife we may encounter in the Weddell Sea region makes the attempt worthwhile. The abundant ice attracts ice seals such as crabeater, leopard and Weddell seals, which all breed and birth on sea ice. The Weddell Sea boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson's storm petrels.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You'll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula and in the Weddell Sea region.
On thrilling Zodiac cruises or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, as well as humpback, minke and orca whales. In the Weddell region, fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era - gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you'll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting!
With lectures and film presentations to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
As we approach the tip of South America, our captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
Hotel in Punta Arenas to be confirmed
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia where you will be free to disembark around 8am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue on your onward journey. On disembarkation, passengers on flights departing prior to 2pm will be transferred directly to Ushuaia Airport, or you will be transferred to your post-voyage Ushuaia accommodation. Passengers flying after 2pm will have time to explore Ushuaia, prior to an afternoon airport transfer, the details of which will be provided onboard prior to disembarkation.
Note: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.
Polar Temperatures during Antarctic season: Min.: -15°C; Max. 12°C; Average 0°C.
2 Pin Round
Argentina has a climate that ranges from subtropical in the north to cold in the temperate south. The Andes has erratic rainfall and flash floods from December to May. From June to September spring like sunny days temper the cold nights.
3 Pin Flat
Predominantly Roman Catholic.
Spanish is the main language throughout this region, along with a number of indigenous dialects, of
Whilst landings are included in the cost of your trip as per the outline itinerary, some departures aboard the MV Greg Mortimer have additional optional excursions which can be pre-booked with the ship operator directly. These will be charged at an additional fee, depending on the excursion and we recommend booking these in advance to ensure availability. Please speak to a member of our Polar team who will advise you on the booking process.
Parkas You should look for a lightweight, roomy, wind and water-resistant parka with some insulation. Bright colors are more visible - and thus safer - in polar environments. Gloves Keeping your hands warm and dry can be a challenge. Thin polypropylene gloves can be worn underneath warm outergloves. This allows you some protection from the cold when removing your gloves to operate your camera etc. We strongly recommend that you bring more than one pair of gloves, in case one gets wet (or lost). Hat/Cap Warm, woollen hat/cap to protect your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection, such as a balaclava. Trousers Water-resistant trousers of coated nylon or, even better, Gore-Tex® are essential for your comfort. They can be worn over your regular clothes to keep you warm and dry. We suggest that you purchase trousers a few sizes larger than you normally wear as you will be wearing them over other clothing. Gore-Tex® or similar fabrics are excellent for keeping out wind and water without trapping excess heat. Rain gear and Gore-Tex® products can be found in any outdoor sport clothing store. In addition to your waterproof trousers, warm ski pants are suggested if you have them. Warm trousers such as jeans, corduroys etc are also good. Socks Warm wool socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene socks should provide enough warmth and insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of socks, since you will inevitably get your feet wet. Outer Clothing Woollen, knit or cotton sweaters/tops, polar fleece tops (medium weight), several cotton turtlenecks and T-shirts for layering on and off the ship. Underclothing Thermal underwear is highly recommended as it will keep you warm without adding bulk. Most polar travellers prefer a lightweight version.
Complimentary waterproof boots will be supplied on-board. However, if you have extra small or large feet, you are advised to bring your own. Also ensure you take good walking boots and trainers for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. Please note that a 15kgs luggage weight limit is sporadically enforced on the internal flight to Ushuaia, occasionally charges may be levied against passengers taking luggage in excess of 15kgs.
Sunglasses and sun cream Insect repellant Personal toiletries A refilllable water bottle Books/reading material Camera and memory cards Seasickness remedy Walking poles
M/V Sylvia Earle, Zodiac
The Sylvia Earle is a purpose-built expedition vessel and is the sister ship to the M/V Greg Mortimer. Built with the same revolutionary Ulstein X-Bow design, which allows the ship to comfortably navigate the ice, the Sylvia Earle features a distinctive glass atrium lounge at the bow of the vessel which offers stunning panoramic views. Other features include a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, from which you can soak up the passing scenery. With just 132 passengers, guests can enjoy spacious stateroom cabins and suites, a large mud room and easy boarding access at water level. The ship also has a library and multimedia room, gym, sauna and spa.
The lead-in prices on our website are based on triple outward facing, Stateroom cabins. All staterooms have private bathrooms, ample storage, with twin beds. Many of the stateroom categories, have floor to ceiling windows that offer prime observation opportunities around the clock. Additionally, there are private balconies in most of the staterooms, allowing you to watch the world float past and take in the salty air of the open ocean. A full layout of the deck plan can be found under the Polar Ships section on our website. Your confirmed cabin type will appear on your Booking Confirmation, which will be sent on receipt of your deposit payment.
Meals are served in the large, spacious dining room with an open seating arrangement, perfect for swapping stories with your extended expedition family. A range of courses is offered at each meal time and you can enjoy a variety of house wines, beers and soft drinks which are included with your evening meal. Complimentary coffee, tea and snacks are available throughout the day and any additional drinks can be purchased at the fully-stocked bar. On the last day of your trip, the team on the MV Greg Mortimer will provide a special farewell four-course
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. USA (If flights transit): you will need to apply for an ESTA if you are transiting the USA as you will have to disembark and clear immigration before re-boarding for the onward flight. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. When completing an application for transit you should enter the words 'In Transit' with your final destination location in the address line You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan in the past five years or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Programme. Instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Yellow fever is only recommended for those travelling to Iguazu falls. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.