Join Secret Atlas on a 12-day in-depth Antarctica cruise with an extended focus on wildlife viewing and photography in Antarctic peninsula. This expedition is aimed at those wanting to spend the maximum amount of unhurried time ashore observing wildlife and is suited for photographers and wildlife watchers.
What makes this trip even more special is that our vessel takes just 48 guests, the smallest group size in Antarctica. When you are ashore you will be in a small group of just 12 guests for an intimate wildlife and photography experience. Traveling on a small expedition vessel gives us more flexibility, more time ashore and allows us to visit landing sites that the large cruise ships can’t visit.
Antarctica Cruise Highlights
- Small group experience of just 48 guests, the smallest group size available in Antarctica.
- A rare opportunity to join a in-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula with extended time ashore to view and photograph wildlife.
- Explore key wildlife sites on the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula.
- Comfortable, and intimate ice-strengthened expedition vessel with sauna.
- Encounter Antarctica’s wildlife including penguins, fur and leopard seals and whales.
- This trip give you the maximum time ashore. All guests can fit in the Zodiacs and land at the same time, so no waiting time.
- Numerous opportunities to photograph Antartica’s Icy and stunning landscapes from the ship and shore.
- Led by highly experienced expedition leaders and photography guides.
Day 1 Welcome aboard! Depart Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 2 At Sea
Day 3 First landing on South Shetland Islands
Days 4 – 9 Exploring the Antarctic peninsula
Days 10 – 11 At Sea
Day 12 Arrive Ushuaia, Argentina
Antarctica Cruise Day by Day
Welcome to Ushuaia, Argentina, also known by its nickname ‘The End of the World’. In the afternoon we embark on the Polar Pioneer for the expedition of a lifetime. This tough, ice-strengthened expedition vessel will be our comfortable home and base for exploring for the next 11 nights.
After settling into your cabin there will be a full safety briefing and an introduction from the expedition team. You will meet the experts who will be your guides for the duration of your voyage who have extensive knowledge about Antarctica, the history, wildlife, and geology.
In the afternoon we will sail through the Beagle channel. It is the perfect time to spend time out on deck wildlife watching and appreciating the magnificent landscapes of Patagonia.
Days 2 to 3
Crossing the Drake Passage
As we sail south we will cross the famed Drake passage that separates Antarctica from the South American continent. It is the ideal time to spend time on deck watching the dozens of wandering albatrosses that circle the ship.
During these two days at sea, our experts will get you excited for what lies ahead with a series of lectures on the wildlife, history, and environment of Antarctica. As we cross the Antarctic convergence zone the air will chill and we will spend time on deck looking for the first icebergs and keeping a sharp lookout for whales that are frequently sighted.
An amazing part of any Antarctica expedition is sighting the land of the 7th continent for the first time.
Days 4 to 9
Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
The focus of this expedition is to spend the maximum amount of time exploring in an unhurried way which is only possible in a small group. Each day our expedition team will make decisions about where to explore based on the weather and sea ice conditions.
We will drop anchor in remote bays framed by icy mountains. Our plan is to explore key wildlife sites on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here we will encounter penguin rookeries up close. Gentoo’s, Adleie’s and Chin Straps are all residents here. We aim to do shore landings twice a day led by our expedition leaders. We will use the Zodiacs for short cruises to explore the icy waters in an intimate way. Keep an eye out for icebergs! There are plenty here.
The nutrient-rich icy seas are home to an abundance of wildlife including leopard, crabeater, Weddell and elephant seals, Orcas, Minke, and Humpback Whales.
If the opportunity arises sometimes it is possible to visit a scientific research station or historical site. As with all expeditions, flexibility is a must.
The beauty of an Antarctica cruise on Polar Pioneer is that all our guests can Zodiac cruise or visit the shore at the same time. The process of going ashore is much more efficient than a larger ship so our guests get to spend more time exploring and less time waiting.
Days 10 – 11
After 7 nights of exploring Antarctica, we will sail north towards Ushuaia. Our expedition team will continue the educational presentations. It’s a good chance to relax, warm up in the sauna and enjoy a drink at the bar.
The expedition leader will do a recap of the voyage and it is an opportunity to share moments and photos with your fellow explorers.
As we approach the South American continent, if the conditions allow, there may be a possibility to sight the mystical Cape Horn before we make our way into the Beagle channel.
In the morning we arrive back at the port of Ushuaia. After breakfast, we say our goodbyes after making new friends and sharing a wonderful adventure together.
The above itinerary is a guide only. A part of any Antarctica cruise is the flexibility to take advantage of the weather and ice conditions. Our expedition leader will make sure you see as much as possible.
Inside This Antarctica Cruise
Our trips are aimed at anyone with a passion for exploring the polar regions with a small group of like-minded individuals on a comfortable small ship cruise and include :
Expedition Vessel With 48 Guests
We believe the best way to experience an environmentally sensitive place such as Antarctica is with a small group of travelers. Newly launched expedition cruise ships now take up to 350 passengers, we believe smaller is better and that is why we offer the smallest group size available.
Expedition Leader & Guides
An aspect of our journeys is to learn about the place we are visiting. Our onboard guides are the core of what we do and will share their passion and knowledge of Svalbard throughout the trip. We have a team of expedition leader and 4 guides onboard offering the best guide to guest ratio available.
Zodiac landing craft for shore landings
Shore landings are the essence of every Antarctica cruise and your guides will take you exploring on a daily basis. The vessel is equipped with 6 landing craft that can be used to reach remote beaches so you can experience the wilderness firsthand. The beauty of a small ship expedition is that everyone onboard can fit in a Zodiac at the same time, so no waiting to go ashore.
Caring for the environment is what we do. For every trip we run we plant trees in Greenland to offset the emissions. We are a member of AECO and follow strict guidelines to ensure our trips don’t cause any disturbance to the wildlife or natural sites.
Expedition Motor Polar Pioneer Polar Pioneer needs no introduction. She is a veteran expedition vessel with a proven track record exploring the polar regions. She returns in 2022 with a full refurbishment. We love this vessel because she was built for the polar regions and is a very strong and capable vessel to explore the ice with. She takes just 48 passengers offering the lowest group numbers in Antarctica and South Georgia. She has a large deck space with raised areas making her perfect for photography. She features a large passenger saloon with bar, and an onboard sauna to warm up in after a day in the cold. She is crewed by a team of experts with decades of experience navigating polar waters, and is an ideal vessel for guests looking to go on a real expedition with an authentic expedition vessel. There is accommodation for 48 guests across twins, triple cabins and suites. She is equipped with Zodiacs that can accommodate all guests for shore landings and exploring. Capable expedition vessel with highest ice class gives the best chance of reaching the sea ice edge Small group size of 48 guests ensures an intimate experience Large passenger saloon with bar Newly refurbished to a high standard with warm, comfortable cabins Large open deck space and raised areas for photography Expert team of crew and guides Boots provided for shore landings
Step aboard Polar Pioneer a true polar expedition vessel
Expedition Motor Polar Pioneer
Polar Pioneer needs no introduction. She is a veteran expedition vessel with a proven track record exploring the polar regions. She returns in 2022 with a full refurbishment.
We love this vessel because she was built for the polar regions and is a very strong and capable vessel to explore the ice with. She takes just 48 passengers offering the lowest group numbers in Antarctica and South Georgia.
She has a large deck space with raised areas making her perfect for photography. She features a large passenger saloon with bar, and an onboard sauna to warm up in after a day in the cold.
She is crewed by a team of experts with decades of experience navigating polar waters, and is an ideal vessel for guests looking to go on a real expedition with an authentic expedition vessel.
There is accommodation for 48 guests across twins, triple cabins and suites. She is equipped with Zodiacs that can accommodate all guests for shore landings and exploring.
Capable expedition vessel with highest ice class gives the best chance of reaching the sea ice edge
Small group size of 48 guests ensures an intimate experience
Large passenger saloon with bar
Newly refurbished to a high standard with warm, comfortable cabins
Large open deck space and raised areas for photography
Expert team of crew and guides
Boots provided for shore landings
Dates and Prices
Prices quoted are per person. Twin and double cabins are based on double occupancy.
Polar Pioneer is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment. We can’t wait to share the new images with you shortly. The renderings below show how the interior will look like.
A render of the new lounge style
A render of the new cabin style
Captain’s Suite (Category A)
With double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom, hairdryer. Forward and port windows.
Cabin Size: 22.5 m2
Cabin Number: 501
Mini-Suite (Category B)
With double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom, hairdryer. These cabins have a window.
Cabin Size: 16.8 m2
Cabin Number: 502 & 503
Twin Cabin with Private Facilities (Category C)
With two lower berths, a writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom, hairdryer. These cabins have a window, private bathroom, 2 lower berths, except #402 and #403 which have upper and lower bunks and a couch.
Cabin Size: 12 m2
Cabin Numbers: 504 – 506 & 400 – 408
Twin Cabin with Shared Facilities (Category D)
With two lower berths and sofa, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin, hairdryer. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
Cabin Size: 9.8 m2
Cabin Numbers: 302 – 310
Triple Cabin With Shared Facilities (Category E)
With one bunk (one upper and one lower berth) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. This cabin has a porthole.
Cabin Size: 10.2 m2
Cabin Numbers: 300 & 301
Peace Of Mind Coronavirus Booking Guarantee
We would like to ensure our guests about our risk free booking policy.
As travel returns to normal we would like to ensure you we will do everything to make sure your trip goes ahead as planned.
If your trip is canceled by us you can rebook on another departure free of charge or receive a full refund with no questions asked.
If you can’t enter the departure country due to covid travel restrictions we will offer you a free rebooking on a future departure.
You can read our full policy here.
Payment Options & Information
We offer payment via the following methods:
- Credit card
- Payment by bank transfer
Please let us know at the time of booking your preferred method.
A 30% deposit is taken at the time of booking with the final 70% payable 90 days prior to departure.
We highly recommend you take out comprehensive travel insurance at the time of booking that also covers cancellation.
Solo travellers are welcome on all our voyages. We often host solo travellers, particularly on our photo voyages so the chances are you won’t be the only one. We offer the following accommodation options:
- Option to share a twin cabin with another traveller of the same gender.
- Option to have your own cabin for an additional supplement. Please contact us for this option as the price varies depending on trip and availability.
This trip is operated by Secret Atlas and is subject to the Secret Atlas terms and conditions of travel. You can read the full booking terms here.