You will be warmly greeted by the crew and expedition staff as you embark Plancius in the afternoon. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we will settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.
During these two days, we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we will arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. 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 will glimpse at the first icebergs. The Master of the vessel may decide to sail the narrow English Strait, between Robert Island and Greenwich Island, if the conditions are favourable. We will then be in sight of Aitcho Island at the South Shetlands in the late evening of the third day. If the conditions do not allow us to manuvre through the English Strait, then we will continue sailing south of Livingston. These volcanic islands or the South Shetlands, 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.
We will sail directly we will sail into the Weddell Sea through the often ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs will announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Weddell Sea is largely covered in sea ice during the entire year but the northwest corner offers great opportunities for discovery in places that only few ever visit. The sites for our activities may include: Paulet Island with a huge number of Ad lie penguins and Brown Bluff where we may set foot on the Continent. On Dundee Island, we may reach the uninhabited Argentinean Petrel station with the large aircraft hangar and a myriad of Antarctic fur seals and Southern elephant seals along the coastline. Further into the Weddell Sea, we have a wide range of options depending on the ice conditions. James Clark Ross Island offers a number of rarely visited places that can be explored. The imagination is spurred on by names like Brandy Bay and Whiskey Bay. Devil Island has a large Ad lie penguin rookery and some stunning views of Erebus and Terror Gulf, while Snow Hill Island offers spectacular sedimentary rocks and tell tales of incredible Antarctic exploration in the early 20th Century. The Weddell Sea is prone to difficult ice conditions and it will demand and open and adventurous mind to embark on this journey in to the wild Weddell Sea.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, 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. In Deception Island, our ship braves through the spectacular Neptune's Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape petrels and many Kelp 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. Alternatively, we may try to conduct activities near Half Moon Island. Here we find Chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out on the beach near the Argentinean station Camara. Around noon, we depart for the Drake Passage.
In the Drake Passage, we will have again a chance of seeing many seabirds, and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
During the early morning we will cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia. It is a busy time, with people saying farewell to our crew and others who have shared the intensity of being in a magnificent white wilderness. We will head off in our different directions, hopefully with a new found sense of the power of natural forces.