Epic Antarctica: Crossing the Circle
An expedition cruise with countless unforgettable moments in Antarctica aboard the Ultramarine
Epic Antarctica: Crossing the Circle
Witness sparkling icebergs and glaciers
Observe Polar wildlife in their natural habitat
Whale watching from your Zodiac
Cross the drake passage
The Polartours experience
Experience the chill of a polar plunge
Learn from Polar experts
Your trip is 100% carbon offset
Expedition Parka to take home
Enjoy an epic Antarctic experience as we set sail on the comfortable and spacious Ultramarine from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Become an Antarctic wildlife expert with our experienced polar guides and get to photograph huge albatrosses, millions of seabirds, friendly dolphins and over five different species of penguins. Make the most of this important milestone for any world traveler with a wide range of activities organized on your vessel.
We compensate all 5.98 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.
Your ship: Ultramarine
Welcome aboard the Ultramarine! One of the newest cruise ships in the Polar fleet, Ultramarine was designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration - to discover new places and immerse you in the best of the region. Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, it offers robust adventure activities. It features the category’s most spacious suites, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships of its size. It also features a best-in-class operational range and an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards. … Read more about Ultramarine
Food & Drinks
*Ultramarine” two dining options. “Balena” is the main restaurant located on Deck 5. “Bistro 487” gives guests an alternative dining option on Deck 7. Both offer a great choice of high-quality international dishes and healthy options. While mealtimes may change due to landings and wildlife encounters, you’ll always be served three meals a day.
In addition, an “early riser’s” breakfast will be offered in Bistro 487, as well as afternoon tea and late-night snacks. There’s also a permanent selection of light snacks available here at all times.
The dress code on the ship is casual, as befits a polar exploration vessel, though some may choose to dress up a little for the Captain’s Welcome Reception.
The well-stocked bar on the ship is open to enjoy with your fellow shipmates in the late morning, afternoon, and evening. Soft drinks, juices, and water are available at no cost, and beer and wine are offered with dinner. A selection of liquors, spirits, and premium beer, wine, and champagne is available and can be charged to your shipboard account.
Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.
Adventure options during the cruise
Start your journey in Buenos Aires
Upon arriving in this splendid city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).
Fly to Ushuaia and embark on your new home, the Ultramarine
After an early breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to have some time on your own to explore this quaint port town before making your way to the pier.
After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you see land, you’ll be in a wildlife wonderland!
Get to know your shipmates on the way to the Falkland Islands
The Falklands Passage is the name given to the stretch of the Southern Ocean between mainland South America and the Falkland Islands. This is usually a 2-day sailing.
During this time, your naturalist guides will hold a series of informative and exciting talks and lectures about the wildlife and the geology that makes the Falklands and the Southern Ocean so remarkable.
Your guides will also be available to help you spot the various species of seabirds you will encounter, as well as using their expert eye to spot whales and other cetaceans in the water as you make your way to your next destination.
Explore the Falkland Islands
Lying 300 miles off the Patagonian coast, and 750 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands (also known as Islas Malvinas in Spanish) is a far-flung British overseas territory.
Consisting of two major islands and over 770 smaller islands and islets, they are home to a hardy resident population of about 3,400 islanders. With a chequered history of disputed sovereignty, the islands were uninhabited until the 1700s.
With an economy that was traditionally driven by whaling, then fishing and farming, the islands have more recently diversified into sustainable tourism. With an abundance of wildlife, particularly birds - including some species found nowhere else - the islanders have been restoring natural habitats previously lost to grazing, as well as farming in ways that are more environmentally friendly.
There are a variety of sites to visit where you can see endemic and migrant birds, as well as several colonies of penguins and seals. Whales and dolphins are frequently spotted in the Sound and off the shoreline around the islands.
You will also see the historic capital, Stanley, which visitors often remark reminds them of how England used to be 50 years or more ago…
At sea towards South Georgia Island
The passage to South Georgia to or from the Falklands or South America is usually a 2-day sailing. On your way to the magnificent yet remote South Georgia, your expert guides will enthrall you with a range of talks and lectures all about the remarkable concentrations of Antarctic wildlife that can be found on the island.
As well as the huge numbers of breeding birds and sea mammals, you'll also learn about the geology and human history of the island, and its importance in the exploration (and exploitation) of the Southern Ocean.
On deck, your guides will help you to identify the bird species that frequently follow the ships, as well as spotting cetaceans and other marine life you can spot en route.
Explore South Georgia
This remote and mountainous island might seem to be barren at first, given that it has no trees and is snow-covered for much of the year. However, appearances can be deceptive, and South Georgia is teeming with life!
Not only is it home to important breeding grounds for fur seals, elephant seals, and king penguins, it is also the only known habitat of the South Georgia Pipit - the Antarctic's only songbird - and the South Georgia Pintail duck.
High, rugged mountains and stunning coastal fjords make cruising the coast of South Georgia a spectacle you will remember.
Used as a base for early-20th century sealers, there are relics of this industry at various places around the island - a reminder of the human history of exploitation of Antarctica and its natural resources.
At sea to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
This is a 2-day passage through the Southern Ocean and the edge of the Weddell Sea. During the passage, your expert naturalist guides will entertain and enthrall you with a series of talks and lectures about the geology and wildlife of the Antarctic, and in particular what you will be able to discover on South Georgia and on the South Shetland Islands.
As well as learning more about the remarkable Antarctic bird and sea life, you'll also learn about the fascinating human history of your destinations, including their roles in whaling and sealing, as well as scientific exploration and discovery.
Discover the South Shetlands Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
Sometimes overlooked as a destination by people keen to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands are a must-see destination in their own right.
Often the first and last landfall on an Antarctic cruise, many people are taken aback by the stunning beauty of these islands. What better way to make contact with the Antarctic than by making your first beach landing here surrounded by gentoo penguins?
Apart from some of the most southerly species of penguin, the South Shetlands are home to a huge range of Antarctic wildlife, and they make a superb introduction to the wildlife of the whole region, including key species like elephant seals, humpback whales, and more.
With active volcanoes, the relics and remains of its history as a centre for whaling, and some of the most beautiful Antarctic mountain scenery, the South Shetland Islands are a fitting first destination for any Antarctic cruise.
Cross the Antarctic Circle
For the hardiest of adventurers only, this is the "deep south"!
Discover the wonders of the South West side of the Antarctic Peninsula, a region that truly embodies the spirit of the "deep south." This extraordinary journey begins just below the Lemaire Channel, extending southward towards the captivating Yalour Islands. If you are lucky you will enjoy remarkable frozen vistas with invigorating Zodiac and ship cruises bringing you up close and personal with the wonderful ice landscapes of places like Crystal Sound.
If conditions are right, you will cross the Antarctic Circle, and get ashore to some remote historical sites - and be able to describe yourself as a true Antarctic explorer.
Travel back north along the western Antarctic Peninsula
The North-West portion of the Antarctic Peninsula is the most frequently visited by expedition cruises and is home to many of the most popular landing sites. The Gerlache Strait is renowned for the stunning scenery with the snow covered mountains, as if covered in icing sugar, with numerous glaciers tumbling down to the sea.
Being the most northerly part of the whole continent, the Peninsula enjoys the mildest Antarctic condition, with temperatures in winter averaging a balmy -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F)! In the summer, things warm up to an average of just above freezing. Large areas of this part of the peninsula are ice-free in the early season, being important breeding and feeding grounds for many iconic Antarctic species.
It's here that many of the historic Antarctic expeditions began, and where early military and scientific bases were first established, some of which you will be able to visit if conditions allow. These remarkable artefacts have been left as time capsules, their contents showing remarkable levels of preservation thanks to the dry and cold climate.
Cross the infamous Drake Passage
The Drake Passage is the name given to the infamous stretch of open ocean between the tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
It usually takes 2 or 3 days to cross the Drake Passage, and this is a great time to learn from your expert Antarctic naturalist guides. Through a series of fascinating talks and lectures, you'll begin to learn more about the remarkable wildlife and awe-inspiring geology of the Antarctic continent.
Your guides are always on hand to help you identify the sea bird species that always follow the ships, as well as spotting whales and other cetaceans that can be seen en route to the Antarctic Peninsula or the South Shetland Islands.
Your unforgettable Antarctic cruise comes to an end
Dates & Prices
Preferred date unavailable? Contact us
Single Cabin Supplement
When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.
Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leaders, including shore landings and other activities
All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
All shore landings per the daily program
Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board throughout your voyage (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)
Select beer and wine during dinner; and coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock
Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled
A photographic journal documenting the expedition
A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for landings and Zodiac cruising excursions
An official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep
Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
All luggage handling aboard the ship
Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person
Group arrival transfer in Ushuaia from airport to pre-expedition hotel on Day 1
One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Ushuaia with breakfast (Note: The number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel. Triple rooms may not be available.)
Group transfer from hotel to ship on embarkation day
Group departure transfer upon disembarkation in Ushuaia from ship to local airport or to luggage storage facility
What's not included
Passport and applicable visa expenses
Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned
Meals ashore unless otherwise specified
Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance—strongly recommended
Excess-baggage fees on international flights
Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac landing and cruising excursions, or any other gear not mentioned
Laundry, bar, spa services and other personal charges, unless specified
Phone and Internet charges
Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and shipboard crew
Additional overnight accommodation
Arrival and departure transfers, except where explicitly stated
Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities
Credit Card charges may apply
A fuel surcharge may apply at a later stage. More info
Should I Cross the Drake Passage by Ship or Fly to Antarctica?
When it comes to traveling to Antarctica, one of the first questions that often arises is, "Can I fly to Antarctica?". The answer is: Yes, you can. Most trips start in Patagonia (Ushuaia and Punta Arenas) and cross the Drake Passage by ship, but there are also trips that use planes to cross that infamous sea passage. Here are the Pros and Cons for each method:
Flying to Antarctica:
Pros: Flying to Antarctica is the quickest way to reach the continent. It offers convenience and is often the choice for those with very limited time.
Cons: There are limited commercial flights to Antarctica, and these are primarily reserved for research and expedition purposes. Tourist accessibility is limited, and it can be costly. Also, as not many trips include flights, you'll be limiting your choice a lot if you decide to only look for such trips.
Crossing the Drake Passage by ship:
Pros: If you choose to cross the Drake Passage by ship, you embark on an incredible adventure. This journey is not just a means of transportation; it's an expedition in itself. The crossing takes 1.5 - 2 days, which are filled with scientific lectures that prepare you for the experience. You'll witness diverse wildlife, including penguins and whales, as your anticipation starts building up. To us, the crossing is a quintessential experience of a true Antarctic explorer.
Cons: Crossing the Drake Passage takes some time, and the seas can be rough. It's not the quickest way to reach the continent, and you need to allocate more time for your expedition.
In conclusion, when it comes to traveling to Antarctica, you have these two choices. Flying offers efficiency and direct access, perfect for specific purposes. Crossing the Drake Passage by ship provides an unmatched adventure and connection with Antarctica's unique environment. Consider what truly matters to you, and you'll find the Antarctic transportation choice that suits your goals and spirit of exploration.
What activities can I expect on a Polar Cruise?
All cruises in the polar regions operate to itineraries that are more-or-less fixed. We say "more or less", because wildlife (breeding, seasonality) and weather always play an important role in routing. Most cruises will offer a range of land-based and water-based activities that you will enjoy at various points in your cruise, including:
- Land excursions (including hiking trails, visitor centers, time relaxing on beaches, observing animals, etc.)
- Bird Watching
- Snorkeling (from ship or beaches)
- Dinghy rides
- Diving (on ships with diving itineraries)
- Naturalist presentations. These usually take place every evening - on board the bigger ships also with help of projectors, microscopes etc.
All boats carry English speaking, scientifically trained guides. They will lead you on your excursions, allowing you to learn as much as possible about the unique wildlife and habitats of the Polar Regions.
How to choose the right ship?
Choosing the right ship for a cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic seems difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Our fleet is over 30 vessels, we are sure that there is the perfect one for you. Please, follow these simple steps, and you will be able to find your ideal ship:
- Determine your budget and desired level of comfort: Are you looking for luxury or more budget-friendly options? On our website you can set the price range.
- Consider ship size: Large ships offer more amenities and facilities, but they can also feel crowded and impersonal. Smaller ships offer a more personal experience, but may not have as many amenities.
- Look at the cabins: Although you probably won’t spend much time in your cabin, look at the photos and read the descriptions to make sure you're happy with the one you choose.
- Consider the activities on board: Are you interested in kayaking, camping, diving or a photography workshop? Or maybe you want to take part in a Citizen Science Program? These activities can enhance your overall experience. See what our ships have to offer.
- Read customer reviews: Learn about other travelers' experiences by reading reviews.
- Ask your Polar Specialist: Feel free to contact your Polar Specialist. They are happy to share their knowledge and are always ready to help.
In addition: We work with responsible partners who provide a great experience for their passengers. All of our providers are committed to sustainability and to preserving the beauty of the polar regions. You don’t need to worry about the impact of your cruise, because we’ve already taken care of it.
What is the booking process for a Polartours Cruise?
We love to help people find their dream vacation to the Arctic and Antarctic. Whether you give us a call, contact us via email, or use our website inquiry form, one of our Polar travel experts will be more than happy to answer any questions, recommend ships and itineraries, and walk you through the whole process!
Step 1: Find your perfect trip. If you have already started looking for Polar Cruises, you will have quickly noticed that the sheer amount of options can be quite overwhelming. To help you navigate the countless departures and itineraries that our fleet offers, we have put together a great filter page for Antarctic and Arctic Expedition Cruises. Use this page to filter all trips by price, date, ship category, and even destinations you wish to visit. We update all dates, prices, and availabilities daily, and are proud to host what is doubtlessly the world's most complete collection of information.
Step 2: Found something you love? We'll hold your spaces, free of charge! If you find a cruise you like, you can either inquire directly with us or make an unbinding booking online. We will then reach out to the shipowners to put a hold on your spaces for a limited time, free of charge. Once we have confirmed your block with the ship, we will send you a written confirmation of your reservation and include full payment details in an invoice. Typically, we are able to hold unpaid reservations for up to 1 week*. This gives us time to clarify all your remaining questions, and also ensures that no other passengers can book your spaces, while we continue our conversation.
Step 3: Confirm your booking. In order to confirm your booking, we ask for a deposit payment. You can pay via bank transfer or credit card. Keep in mind, that we can only hold your spaces for a limited amount of time. If we don't receive your payment after this time, we can no longer guarantee that the places will be available or that the price won't increase. To prevent disappointment, we will automatically cancel your reservation if we don't receive your deposit by the due date stated on your booking reservation.
Step 4: Booking confirmation & Payment. As soon as we have received your deposit and a completed passenger information form, we will be pleased to send your booking confirmation and updated invoice, along with your trip itinerary, important information, and other great tips for your cruise.
Step 5: Final payment. In your initial invoice, we will define a final payment date by when you need to pay us the remaining amount of your trip. Once we have received your final payment we'll send you your cruise documents and voucher. As your trip approaches, we make sure to pass along all necessary information, so you feel super prepared and stress-free.
*For last-minute bookings, we might not be able to hold your spaces for so long. We will also require the full payment of your cruise upon booking.
When is the best time to book?
An expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic is a big deal! Most people plan for this type of trip at least 8 months in advance. This means the earlier you book, the better chance you'll have to reserve your prefered cabins. Early bird discounts are also popular and a great way to get 10-30% off your cruise.
Most expedition cruises offer optional activities like camping and kayaking, but the spaces are limited. A cruise with 120 passengers can have only 10-15 spaces for kayaking. These are reserved on a first come first served basis. The earlier you book, the higher your chance of grabbing a spot.
Even though last minute deals do occur, keep in mind that the airline prices will be much higher if you purchase them last minute. You may save a few hundred on your cruise, but you may end up paying the most for airfare.
What can i do to avoid seasickness?
If you are prone to motion sickness then here are a few hints to help you.
Firstly, book a cabin in the middle of the ship. The middle of the ship will move less, both in roll and in pitch. Secondly, chose a larger ship. Bigger vessels typically are more stable, and some of them are even equipped with "stabilizers", fins under water that remove the rolling in the swells. Thirdly, take medical advice on anti-seasickness medication. Some traditional remedies are said to be very effective, such as taking ginger or using commercially-available acupressure wristbands.
Watch this informative video about life onboard an expedition ship and seasickness from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.
Epic Antarctica: Crossing the Circle
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