Akademik Sergey Vavilov is modern, comfortable, safe and ice strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, we have public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need.
A separate lounge and bar with panoramic views, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.
The sumptuous meals prepared for you by our culinary team are enjoyed in our dining room, which can host all passengers in a single seating and will keep you feeling healthy and strong for the myriad of activities offered throughout the voyage.
Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, Jacuzzi, sauna and plunge pool. There’s also a dedicated expedition ‘mud-room’ where you prepare for your off-ship excursions.
Alternatively AKADEMIK IOFFE operates the same/similar itineraries on different dates . Please contact us for more details and availability
Antarctic Peninsula Adventure
Ushuaia - Ushuaia
Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the vessel in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city at the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with ‘our home’ for the next 11 days, we cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as we make our way ever closer to the white continent. Guests eagerly soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as our numerous Polar experts prepare us for our adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife to history. Eventually, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence where we will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, we will witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and even several whale species some of which on occasion fully breach from the sea.
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, we will take as much time as possible to explore by inflatable Zodiac boats and marvel up close at nature’s glory. Planned excursions might include Neko Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay and even the southerly Petermann Island, where we will observe Weddell, crabeater and elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds as well as a shocking abundance of penguins including some very large colonies of the comical Adelie penguin. At Half Moon Island we will observe a breeding colony of chinstrap penguins that share their territory with fur seals and blue-eyed shags. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and possibly have an opportunity to observe orcas and Minke whales as we go.
We finally arrive on the continent of Antarctica at Paradise Harbour or Neko Harbour. Prepare to be dazzled by your first glimpse of the continent. The scenery here is amazing. In particular we will be struck by the oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures, as well as the colossal ‘tabular’ icebergs that break away from the continent’s ice shelf. We hope the weather will be mild enough to allow us all to step foot on the White Continent itself. Some may wish to camp on shore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether it is onboard or onshore expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet.
As we leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, we have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner.
Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica
Punta Arenas - Punta Arenas: Fly - Cruise - Fly -
Punta Arenas - Ushuaia: Fly - Cruise
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Ushuaia is known as the southernmost city in the world (although, with a population of around 60,000, really more of a large town). Set on the shores of the Beagle Channel, ‘Ushuaia’ actually means “the bay facing westward” in the language of the original Yamana inhabitants. Once a penal colony for political prisoners as well as hardened criminals – the Presidio (prison) was closed in the late 1940s – Ushuaia is now a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica. The town is also a major ski resort area for both alpine and cross-country skiers and offers magnificent hiking in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the only coastal national park in Argentina.
Today is the first day of your adventure. Your morning is at leisure to do any last minute shopping, take an optional excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park, or perhaps make a good hike up to the Martial Glacier. This afternoon board the expedition ship, with embarkation time set for 1600hrs. As you board the vessel and start to become familiar with your ‘home’ for the next 18 days, you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead. In the early evening set sail, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
As you make passage towards the Falklands, you have time to become acquainted with the ship and frequent the common areas that include the lounge, dining room, library and presentation room where you will meet your guides, the ship’s crew and the expedition staff. You will have the chance to spend plenty of time with the on-board polar experts who will be pleased to educate you about the wonders of Antarctica, with a number of lectures and information sessions scheduled covering the flora, fauna, the science and the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region, providing an excellent introduction to this vast continent. Sailing northeast, you’ll likely be joined by swooping seabirds including the wandering albatross that you’ll come to know well on this journey.
The Falklands consist of 700 small and mostly uninhabited islands and two main islands – East and West Falkland. Located 490km east of Patagonia, the Falklands have always been a land of hot debate. Officially discovered on August 14, 1592 by John Davis they remained uninhabited until 1764 when the French built a garrison at Port Louis, disregarding the Spanish claim to the islands. From that moment on and over the next 200+ years, there have been many disputes between Spain, France, Britain and Argentina, until the end of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982 brought the islands firmly under Britain’s control. Now with a human population of only 2,491, the islands are the first stop in your journey. Arrive in the Falkland Islands overnight, and by morning everyone will be excited to make their first shore excursion.
The plan will be to explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. The first penguin sightings will be on the island of West Point with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island, you will see nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers, geese and the flightless steamer duck that is a permanent Falkland resident. The next day make a stop in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. As you wander through the charming streets of brightly-painted houses that provide contrast to the long dark winters, you will learn that this quiet harbour was once a major port in the 19th century for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, acts as a sobering reminder of recent history. You may also like to visit to Stanley’s famed philatelic museum with its impressive collection of historic stamps.
Now the ship sails southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. These days at sea are never dull – much of your time will be spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals, as well as seabirds. The friendly on-board experts continue to fill your minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. You will also learn about Polar conservation, a theme particularly close to the hearts of the guides and crew. The anticipation grows, particularly as you cross the Antarctic Convergence and immediately notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on the island of South Georgia, the most rugged island in this region. Weather permitting, you will have three full days to explore this island. Cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots such as Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay. The highlight of both 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. But 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, your constant companion, is never far away.
Known for its brutal whaling and exploratory history, this 170km long and 40km wide island is considered the first gateway to Antarctica and was the centre of the huge Southern Ocean whaling industry from 1904 to 1966. The famous English sea captain, James Cook, was the first to land on South Georgia on January 17, 1775 and named the island after King George III. During the 62 years of whaling activities, any number between first year’s 183 whales and the record toll of 7,825 whales in the 1925-26 season were killed annually for their oil. Whales weren’t the only animals hunted for their oil at that time: a total of 498,870 seals – mostly giant elephant seals – were also slaughtered. South Georgia is a thrilling location for history buffs with the rusting relics of the early whaling industry all around and it is hoped to observe several of the old stations at locations including Leith, Husvik and Stromness.
Since the end of whaling activities more than 40 years ago, wildlife has slowly returned to the island. Today the island’s wildlife is extraordinary, not only in its variety but also for its sheer abundance. South Georgia is home to roughly 300,000 elephant seals, 3 million fur seals, and 25 species of breeding birds, including wandering albatrosses. The gravel beach at St. Andrews Bay has a king penguin rookery of 100,000 and an estimated 5 million macaroni penguins.
The best-known adventurer connected with this part of the world would have to be the British explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. On his attempt at the South Pole his ship, Endurance, was captured by pack ice in the Weddell Sea on January 19, 1915. The ship was ultimately destroyed by the heavy ice in November, and after almost 5 months in desolate isolation and struggling to travel over the ice and sea to land, in April 1916 he and his men finally made it to Elephant Island. Because the island was uninhabited, Shackleton decided to risk an open-boat journey to the far-distant South Georgia whaling stations where he knew help was available. After a 15-day journey of 1,300km in a 6m open boat, he finally landed with five chosen men at King Haakon Bay on the south-west coast of South Georgia Island. They proceeded to hike the ice-covered mountainous terrain, arriving at Stromness whaling station on May 20, 1916. Shackleton returned to South Georgia in 1922 for one last assault on Antarctica but passed away after suffering a major heart attack while in his cabin. At the request of his wife, he was buried at the whalers’ cemetery at Grytviken Station.
A visit to Grytviken, the largest of the whaling stations and situated at the head of Cumberland Bay, is a highlight. Aside from Shackleton’s gravesite, there’s also an excellent museum, maintained by the South Georgia Heritage Trust, while the restored church, built by the original Norwegian whalers, provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
The ship crosses the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica and leading you perhaps to the South Orkney Islands or legendary Elephant Island, depending on conditions. Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, these often mist-shrouded islands are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. You may be lucky enough to see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, and from the tiny beach at Point Wild, he and his selected men set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia rowing the tiny lifeboat, ‘James Caird’. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. Shore landings at Point Wild are notoriously difficult due to the surging ocean currents and pounding surf on the rocky beach but, if conditions allow, a landing will be attempted.
Plotting a south-westerly course the ship now heads to the South Shetland Islands that frame the north-west edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, providing some shelter from the winds. Dazzling wildlife sightings await you on your excursions to some of these islands and possible landing sites could include King George Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point. Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins thrive here, as do several species of seal, including the powerful leopard seal that you might encounter. Gulls, skuas and cormorants are also found nesting and feeding at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula, and with luck you may see yet more whales feeding off King George Island.
If the weather allows, you will 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.
Finally, after so much anticipation, you will enter the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. The scenery here – from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet – is truly breathtaking. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest, iciest and highest of all the major landmasses in the world, with the longest nights and the longest days and the world’s greatest concentration of wildlife. It is also one of the last true wilderness areas left on earth – largely unchanged since the early explorers and whalers first landed on its inhospitable shores less than two centuries ago.
If conditions are good, you will undertake a shore excursion and set foot on the White Continent itself. Locations you may visit include Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel. Perhaps join the photographic guide to take close-up photos of the penguins, or of the impossibly blue ice. Or enjoy a hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle with one of your adventure guides. If the opportunity presents itself, visit a science base or an old historic hut. The sea kayakers may range up to several kilometres from the ship – a truly memorable experience. Each and every day, you will be presented with a range of great choices.
As you leave this magical place and make your way back, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn, there is no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days. Sailing up the Beagle Channel, you will celebrate the conclusion of your Polar expedition at a special dinner
In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.
Antarctica - In Depth (Extended Peninsula Voyage)
Ushuaia - Punat Arenas
After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, we head for the South Shetland Islands. The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station and airport hangar. There are several superb hikes and an opportunity for a swim – the ‘Polar Plunge!’ We head north-east, cruising along the pristine coast of Livingston Island, which on a sunny day is always a memorable experience.
This morning we say goodbye to our expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac to board our special charter flight back to South America. This flight takes a little over two hours and is included in the price of your voyage. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas a transfer from the airport into town is provided. This itinerary includes a complimentary hotel night in Punta Arenas for all guests returning from King George Island at the end of the voyage. This evening is at your leisure.
Ultimate Antarctica - Weddell Sea & The Falkland Islands
Punta Arenas - Punta Arenas
Overnight we have navigated across the Bransfield Strait and awake to the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent. For the next three days we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline of Antarctica. If ice conditionsallow, we cruise through the Lemaire Channel. Planned visits might include Paradise Harbour, Orne Harbour, or Andvord Bay, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. We chart a course towards Antarctic Sound – the gateway into the icy Weddell Sea. Along the way we hope to make a planned visit at Deception Island.
Navigating into the Weddell Sea, we see the vast sweep of the Antarctic icecap for the first time and will find ourselves increasingly surrounded by tabular icebergs. These gargantuan icebergs break from the ice shelves and drift north on the currents. This always makes for exciting navigation and stunning photographic opportunities. If weather conditions co-operate we spend the night camping in Antarctica.
Point Lookout, on the southern tip of Elephant Island, is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. If conditions permit we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before five men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia. Landings at this location are tricky due to the currents and surf on the beach.
Arriving into the Falkland Islands overnight, we explore West Point or neighboring Carcass Island. These locations are best known for rockhopper penguins and nesting black browed albatross colonies. One final highlight awaits –Saunders Island, where we hope to encounter four penguin species living in close quarters, including the mighty king penguin. Charting a course for the port of Stanley tonight, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
- All meals/afternoon teas.
- Accommodation aboard
- Use of our onboard expedition rubber boots, wet weather gear (you are welcome to bring your own as well)
- Shore excursions
- Educational presentations
- Expedition guides, naturalist staff, and hospitality staff
- ER trained English speaking physician
- Guided hikes/walks
- Complimentary tea and coffee 24 hours per day
- Access to our multimedia room and download stations and accommodations on board.
- Gear Hire – To save you from purchasing expensive specialist gear with this cruise you will receive a free wet weather gear loan service on board. This kit includes a comfortable, polar rated waterproof jacket and pants, as well as insulated rubber boots, designed for walking.
- Port charges
- Any items not mentioned as included
- Personal expenses
- Airfares to/from embarkation and disembarkation city
- Visa and passport fees (if applicable)
- Travel Insurance