ORMS Antarctica

Orms Antarctica 19 day tour

Your Expedition in detail

Antarctica, for many world travellers, is surely the ultimate destination! The aura of this magical place stems in part from its absolute remoteness, as well as the history of its exploration by the many intrepid men who battled such incredible hardships to avail it for future investigation.

Things have changed, however, and the icy mountains, rugged coastlines, numerous islands and icebergs that so challenged these heroic explorers now delight the modern traveller who can journey to this fabled land in relative comfort and safety. The scenic settings are as magnificent as any on earth, and the scale of nearly everything is grand to say the least. Complementing these astounding vistas are vast colonies of majestic penguins, brash skuas, giant petrels, weird sheathbills, somnolent seals and feeding whales that all add life to the region’s stark and amazing beauty.

Our voyage traverses some of the most interesting areas in the Southern Ocean, notably the Falkland and South Georgia Islands, both of which are renowned as among the richest of all subantarctic islands. South Georgia’s rugged beauty is worthy of Antarctica itself, while the Falkland Islands are better known as the battlegrounds for the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War. Several days are spent at sea, cruising from one island group to the next until we find ourselves at the very tip of the icy continent itself. These crossings provide thrilling pelagic birding, with huge numbers of albatrosses, petrels, prions, skuas and other seabirds making a daily appearance. Cetaceans are also regular, ranging from the largest whales to the striking Hourglass and Commerson’s Dolphin. This journey to Antarctica is an once-in-a-lifetime experience – except of course for those who love it so much that they simply have to return!

Day 1:

30th November: Arrival in Ushuaia, embarkation followed by departure

This afternoon we board our ship the Akademik Ioffe and begin our journey toward the Falkland Islands, through the Beagle Channel. While meeting the first of many Black-footed Albatross, Cape Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, and Kelp Gull, we will also keep alert for Magellanic Penguin, Magellanic Diving Petrel, Chilean Skua, South American Tern, Great Grebe, Flying and Fuegian Steamer Duck, Rock and Imperial Shag, Dolphin Gull and other Tierra del Fuego species.


Day 2:

1st December: At sea northeast toward Falkland Islands

We will watch for seabirds and marine mammals from the bridge as well as from the stern, where albatrosses and giant petrels should be following our ship. The spectacular Wandering Albatross should make its first appearances, along with Grey-headed and Black-browed Albatrosses, White-chinned Petrel, Great Shearwater and Slender-billed Prion. Wilson’s Storm Petrel is abundant and we will scour the masses for the rarer Black-bellied and Grey-backed Storm Petrel. While sorting out the Northern Giant Petrels from the Southern species, we will also become familiar with all the commoner petrels in order to notice any rarities that may appear.

Dusky and the localized Peale’s Dolphin may put in an appearance; and if we are lucky we may be treated to a sighting of the rare Dwarf Minke Whale, one of the many mammal prizes of this adventure. Information-packed, onboard lectures will serve as entertainment during some of the crossings.

We will celebrate the coming of the New Year in one of the majestic places on earth.

We will watch for seabirds and marine mammals from the bridge as well as from the stern, where albatrosses and giant petrels should be following our ship. The spectacular Wandering Albatross should make its first appearances, along with Grey-headed and Black-browed Albatrosses, White-chinned Petrel, Great Shearwater and Slender-billed Prion. Wilson’s Storm Petrel is abundant and we will scour the masses for the rarer Black-bellied and Grey-backed Storm Petrel. While sorting out the Northern Giant Petrels from the Southern species, we will also become familiar with all the commoner petrels in order to notice any rarities that may appear.

Dusky and the localized Peale’s Dolphin may put in an appearance; and if we are lucky we may be treated to a sighting of the rare Dwarf Minke Whale, one of the many mammal prizes of this adventure. Information-packed, onboard lectures will serve as entertainment during some of the crossings.

We will celebrate the coming of the New Year in one of the majestic places on earth.


Day 3:

2nd December: Falkland Islands (Malvinas), West Point and Carcass Islands

When in the region of the Falkland Islands, we will hope for Yellow-nosed and Sooty Albatrosses, and Atlantic Petrel, three species typical of the more temperate ocean to the northeast. We will spend the entire day on the fascinating western side of the archipelago. Our first stop will be West Point Island with its vast rookeries of Rockhopper Penguins, while South American Sea Lion, South American Fur Seal and both Peale’s and Commerson’s Dolphins are likely in the surrounding waters.

We then proceed to the pristine Carcass Island, the scenery is varied with beautiful white sandy beaches, tussac paddocks, rocky hills and cliff tops Elephant seals bask on the northern beaches, magellanic penguins reside close to the settlement, gentoo penguins and other marine mammals inhabit the southern end of the island a real feast for our camera lenses. Carcass Island supports the highest diversity and abundance of many land and waterbirds in the Falklands.

Our explorations here will seek out Magellanic and Gentoo Penguin, Rock and Imperial Shag, South American Tern, the lovely Dolphin Gull, the aptly named Kelp Goose that forages in the beds of giant kelp, White-bridled Finch, Black-chinned Siskin, Sedge Wren and the recently split endemic Cobb’s Wren, amongst other species. The approachability of these birds is remarkable, and superb photographic opportunities can be expected. In the late afternoon we will steam towards Stanley.


Day 4:

3rd December: Stanley, Falkland Islands

The roughly 2,000 people inhabiting the historic town of Stanley represent about 80% of the population of the entire Falkland Islands. Our visit will give perspective on the history of British settlement of the islands, plus the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War in which Argentinean forces invaded but were subsequently defeated and expelled by the British.

Photographic opportunities of the island include brightly coloured corrugated iron roofs and painted decorative woodwork which are characteristic of older houses in the Falklands. The cottages can be seen on Pioneer Row and Drury Street .Probably the most photographed buildings in Stanley are the Christchurch Cathedral and the Government House. Christ Church Cathedral is the most southerly Anglican cathedral in the world. It has a tower with a ring of five bells and stained glass windows from the 19th and 20th century. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Whalebone Arch, constructed from the jawbones of two blue whales in 1933 to commemorate a century of continuous British administration in the Islands. The Government house is the private residence of the Governor of the Falkland Islands and also the offices of the Foreign and Commonwealth representatives and the South Georgia Government. Set in beautiful flower gardens, it has been extended at various points in time so presents a mixture of both styles and materials.

There are ship remains in Stanley and around the island, and these wrecks can be photographed.

Rounding Cape Horn, and indeed some parts of the Falklands coastline, in times past was a dangerous business and many ships arrived in Stanley looking for repairs. High costs usually prevented the work being carried out and wrecks were utilized for storage purposes.

Birds common at Stanley include the endemic Falkland Steamer Duck, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-throated Finch and Black-chinned Siskin. Time will be available to explore the museums, shipwrecks, historical trails and shops of Stanley, or to enjoy more nature oriented excursions into the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon, we begin our multi-day cruise to South Georgia.

Antarctica4_DaleMorris-min
Antarctica4_DaleMorris-min

The roughly 2,000 people inhabiting the historic town of Stanley represent about 80% of the population of the entire Falkland Islands. Our visit will give perspective on the history of British settlement of the islands, plus the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War in which Argentinean forces invaded but were subsequently defeated and expelled by the British.

Photographic opportunities of the island include brightly coloured corrugated iron roofs and painted decorative woodwork which are characteristic of older houses in the Falklands. The cottages can be seen on Pioneer Row and Drury Street .Probably the most photographed buildings in Stanley are the Christchurch Cathedral and the Government House. Christ Church Cathedral is the most southerly Anglican cathedral in the world. It has a tower with a ring of five bells and stained glass windows from the 19th and 20th century. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Whalebone Arch, constructed from the jawbones of two blue whales in 1933 to commemorate a century of continuous British administration in the Islands. The Government house is the private residence of the Governor of the Falkland Islands and also the offices of the Foreign and Commonwealth representatives and the South Georgia Government. Set in beautiful flower gardens, it has been extended at various points in time so presents a mixture of both styles and materials.

There are ship remains in Stanley and around the island, and these wrecks can be photographed.

Rounding Cape Horn, and indeed some parts of the Falklands coastline, in times past was a dangerous business and many ships arrived in Stanley looking for repairs. High costs usually prevented the work being carried out and wrecks were utilized for storage purposes.

Birds common at Stanley include the endemic Falkland Steamer Duck, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-throated Finch and Black-chinned Siskin. Time will be available to explore the museums, shipwrecks, historical trails and shops of Stanley, or to enjoy more nature oriented excursions into the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon, we begin our multi-day cruise to South Georgia.


Days 5 & 6:

4th & 5th December: At sea between Falkland Islands and South Georgia

Now we sail southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. These days at sea are never dull. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals as well as seabirds. Our friendly onboard experts continue to fill minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. We will also learn about Polar conservation – a theme particularly close to the hearts of our One Ocean Expeditions’ guides and crew. The anticipation grows particularly as we cross the Antarctic Convergence and notice a dramatic drop in temperature. For the seabird enthusiast, these are some of the most exciting waters in the world. As we cruise from the Falklands to South Georgia, we cross the Antarctic Convergence where the warmer, saltier water of the north meets the colder and less-salty Antarctic water.

This is a very rich feeding ground for seabirds and marine mammals, attracting large numbers of animals from distant breeding islands and waters. Though the Convergence attracts birds from both north and south, we will notice a shift of species and relative numbers between the waters on either side of the Convergence. Albatrosses and petrels will predominate here. In addition to the species already noted, we are likely to see Royal Albatross (usually both the Northern and Southern species are observed), Light-mantled Albatross, Southern Fulmar, Soft-plumaged, White-headed and Blue Petrel, Antarctic Prion, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm Petrel, and Common Diving Petrel.

We will also look for rarer prizes such as Kerguelen and Great-winged Petrel, and albatrosses from the other side of the Sub Antarctic.


Days 7 to 9:

4th & 5th December: At sea between Falkland Islands and South Georgia

Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on the island of South Georgia – the most rugged island in this region. We will cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots the highlight of these excursions is the mind-boggling abundance of king penguin adults and young that live in these locations by the hundreds of thousands, covering every inch of the shore. That is not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and the albatross our constant companion is never far away. We hope to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Of course, birds and pinnipeds are also resident, and photographic opportunities will be breathtaking throughout!

Weather and time permitting, we will explore Salisbury Plain where beyond the black sand beach lies one of the world’s largest colonies of King Penguin. Walking here is a truly incredible experience!

We will also attempt a landing at Gold Harbour another major King Penguin colony that is also the breeding ground for Light-mantled Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Snowy Sheathbill, Brown Skua and Antarctic Tern; as well as both Elephant and Fur Seal.

(Please bear in mind, however, that throughout Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic, landings are subject to the weather being safe; alternatives are usually available when winds and surf are unfavourable at the planned site.)

Our final day on spectacular South Georgia features some of the most dazzling scenery yet, especially around the southeast tip of the island, while the stunning Drygalski Fjord is framed by sharp, non-glaciated mountain peaks.

Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on the island of South Georgia – the most rugged island in this region. We will cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots the highlight of these excursions is the mind-boggling abundance of king penguin adults and young that live in these locations by the hundreds of thousands, covering every inch of the shore. That is not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and the albatross our constant companion is never far away. We hope to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Of course, birds and pinnipeds are also resident, and photographic opportunities will be breathtaking throughout!

Weather and time permitting, we will explore Salisbury Plain where beyond the black sand beach lies one of the world’s largest colonies of King Penguin. Walking here is a truly incredible experience!

We will also attempt a landing at Gold Harbour another major King Penguin colony that is also the breeding ground for Light-mantled Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Snowy Sheathbill, Brown Skua and Antarctic Tern; as well as both Elephant and Fur Seal.

(Please bear in mind, however, that throughout Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic, landings are subject to the weather being safe; alternatives are usually available when winds and surf are unfavourable at the planned site.)

Our final day on spectacular South Georgia features some of the most dazzling scenery yet, especially around the southeast tip of the island, while the stunning Drygalski Fjord is framed by sharp, non-glaciated mountain peaks.


Days 10 to 12:

9th to 11th December : At sea between South Georgia and South Orkney Islands, with possible visits to Coronation and Laurie Island

As we cruise southwest, crossing the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica, towards the Orkney Islands, we cross increasingly polar waters. More temperate species disappear while the true Antarctic species become more prominent. Our informative on-ship lectures will continue to provide breaks from the hours of watching seabirds, whales, dolphins, and icebergs. The ship will, once again, be followed by a multitude of seabirds.

Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous sub-marine mountain range these islands, often shrouded in mist, and are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. The South Orkney Islands were discovered in 1821 by two sealers and originally named Powell’s Group; with the main island named Coronation Island since it was King George IV’s coronation year. In 1823, James Weddell visited the Islands and gave the archipelago its present name. Subsequently the Islands were frequently visited by sealers and whalers, but no thorough survey was ever done until an expedition in 1903. Weather permitting, there will be an excursion to Coronation Island to observe the penguins and graceful Snow Petrels in their moss bed nests.

We also aim to visit Orcadas Station; an Argentinean base located in the South Orkney Islands that is the oldest research station continuously staffed in the Antarctic. The friendly base personnel will show us their facilities, and we can expect to be astounded by the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers. Sub Antarctic Skua, Southern Giant, Cape, Snow and Wilson’s Storm Petrels should entertain us during our time at these seldom-visited islands.


Days 13 to 16:

12th to 14th December: South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Mainland

If conditions are suitable, Elephant Island, en route to the South Shetland Islands, will be our next destination. Here we will learn more about the famous Antarctic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea. Thereafter, we will cruise amongst the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Dazzling wildlife sightings await us on our excursions to some of these islands, including King George, Half Moon, Barrientos or Livingston. Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguin thrive here, along with several species of seal. We also stand a chance of seeing the gentle Humpback Whale as it dines on the abundant krill off King George Island.

Weather permitting we will then visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge!

On the final approach to the Antarctic Peninsula, crossing just outside the icebound Weddell Sea, we should be encountering the more awe-inspiring tabular icebergs, large fragments of the vast Weddell Ice Shelf, and the ice shelves along the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Further shipboard lectures prepare us all, though these will be suspended while cruising Antarctica itself due to the many thrilling sights that await us around the clock! This includes numerous species of pinnipeds (Weddell, Crabeater, Leopard, Southern Elephant, and Antarctic Fur Seals) and cetaceans (e.g. Antarctic Minke and Humpback Whale and Orca), along with further possibilities for the beautiful Snow Petrel and, hopefully, Antarctic Petrel.

On our way west and south we will pass the Orne Islands with large colonies of Chinstrap Penguin and a beautiful view across the Gerlache Strait to Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula. Cuverville Island is home to the region’s largest Gentoo Penguin colony and most of the region’s breeding bird species. Such Penguin colonies and their inevitable attendants are frequent highlights.

Finally, after so much anticipation, we will arrive at the Antarctic mainland in either Paradise Harbour or Hope Bay. The scenery here, from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet, is truly breathtaking; while the bay is also an excellent site for Orcas. Weather permitting, we hope to undertake a shore excursion and set foot on the White Continent itself!

Antarctica8_DaleMorris-min
Antarctica8_DaleMorris-min

If conditions are suitable, Elephant Island, en route to the South Shetland Islands, will be our next destination. Here we will learn more about the famous Antarctic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea. Thereafter, we will cruise amongst the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Dazzling wildlife sightings await us on our excursions to some of these islands, including King George, Half Moon, Barrientos or Livingston. Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguin thrive here, along with several species of seal. We also stand a chance of seeing the gentle Humpback Whale as it dines on the abundant krill off King George Island.

Weather permitting we will then visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge!

On the final approach to the Antarctic Peninsula, crossing just outside the icebound Weddell Sea, we should be encountering the more awe-inspiring tabular icebergs, large fragments of the vast Weddell Ice Shelf, and the ice shelves along the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Further shipboard lectures prepare us all, though these will be suspended while cruising Antarctica itself due to the many thrilling sights that await us around the clock! This includes numerous species of pinnipeds (Weddell, Crabeater, Leopard, Southern Elephant, and Antarctic Fur Seals) and cetaceans (e.g. Antarctic Minke and Humpback Whale and Orca), along with further possibilities for the beautiful Snow Petrel and, hopefully, Antarctic Petrel.

On our way west and south we will pass the Orne Islands with large colonies of Chinstrap Penguin and a beautiful view across the Gerlache Strait to Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula. Cuverville Island is home to the region’s largest Gentoo Penguin colony and most of the region’s breeding bird species. Such Penguin colonies and their inevitable attendants are frequent highlights.

Finally, after so much anticipation, we will arrive at the Antarctic mainland in either Paradise Harbour or Hope Bay. The scenery here, from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet, is truly breathtaking; while the bay is also an excellent site for Orcas. Weather permitting, we hope to undertake a shore excursion and set foot on the White Continent itself!


Days 17 to 18:

16th & 15th December: At sea in the Drake Passage

As we cruise north through the famous Drake Passage between Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego with another crossing of the Antarctic Convergence, we will again have many opportunities to enjoy and study the region’s many seabirds and cetaceans. While encountering the pelagic seabirds of the Subantarctic Southern Ocean, especially the now-familiar albatrosses and petrels, we will examine each bird in search of rarer species; perhaps a Westland Petrel, a Southern Royal Albatross, or one of the Shy Albatross complexes. Lectures continue to provide entertaining diversions and educational information, while on our last night we will toast the conclusion of our amazing venture with a celebratory dinner.


Day 19:

18th December: Return to Ushuaia and disembarkation

Today we cruise into the Beagle Channel and land at Ushuaia in the early morning. This provides another chance to see any sea and land birds of Tierra del Fuego, before bidding farewell to the fellow travellers with whom we have shared this remarkable voyage of a lifetime.

Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.

Today we cruise into the Beagle Channel and land at Ushuaia in the early morning. This provides another chance to see any sea and land birds of Tierra del Fuego, before bidding farewell to the fellow travellers with whom we have shared this remarkable voyage of a lifetime.

Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.

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