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Quark Expeditions - Antarctica

Polar Circle Quest

An unique Antarctic expedition cruise for the adventurer in you aboard the Ushuaia

Length

12 Days

Ship category

Classic

Ship type

Small Ship

Capacity

90 Passengers

Polar Circle Quest

8 Reviews

Trip highlights

Bird and whale watching

Cross the infamous Drake Passage

Immense icebergs and glaciers

Observe penguins in their natural habitat

The Polartours experience

Cross the Antarctic Circle - an unique experience!

A bird watcher's paradise

Learn from Polar experts

Your trip is 100% carbon offset

Early Antarctic explorers returned from their voyages to the deep south with tales of a magnificent, ice-covered land teeming with life. Experience the jaw-dropping beauty and immensity of Antarctica and discover the amazing wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula, where giant glaciers tumble into the sea, penguins inhabit below soaring peaks, and humpback and minke whales dine on abundant krill.

Your ship: Ushuaia

ushuaia deck plan

Welcome aboard the Ushuaia, a charming expedition cruise ship built for an unforgettable adventure in the Antarctic. This intimate cruise ship comfortably accommodates 90 passengers. Originally made for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the Ushuaia is a class 1C polar vessel, constructed with expedition in mind. This cruise ship offers plenty of deck space and a unique open bridge policy, where the Ushuaia officers encourage each passenger to observe the navigational operations of the ship. During your Ushuaia Antarctic cruise, a specialist team of … Read more about Ushuaia

Cabins

Suites

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

3

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Premier Single

Type:

Single

Max. occupancy:

1

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Standard Plus Twin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

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Standard Plus Triple

Type:

Triple

Max. occupancy:

3

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Premier Twin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

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Superior Twin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

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Standard

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.

Arrival to Ushuaia
Arrival to Ushuaia
Laguna Esmeralda

Arrival at Ushuaia

Ushuaia, located in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, serves as the southernmost city in the world and the starting point for many Antarctic expedition cruises.

The city offers a range of options, from small-ship expeditions to larger vessel tours, providing travelers with an unforgettable experience in the remote and beautiful Antarctic. Many cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands, allowing visitors to see diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.

In addition to the natural beauty, Ushuaia also boasts a rich history and a stunning national park, making it a unique destination worth exploring. Overall, Ushuaia is the perfect base for those seeking adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Antarctic.

Drake Passage
Crossing the Drake Passage
Beagle Channel

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.

South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands

Yankee Harbour

Baily Head on Deception Island

Northeast beach Ardley Island

Penguin Island

Telefon Bay

Hannah Point

Pendulum Cove

Turret Point

Point Wild

Whalers Bay

Barrientos Island

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.

Antarctic Peninsula
Before and After Antarctic Peninsula
South Georgia

Cuverville Island

Georges Point, Rongé Island

Neko Harbour

Port Charcot, Booth Island

Goudier Island

Danco Island, Errera Channel

Damoy Point

Jougla Point

Astrolabe Island

Orne Harbour

D’Hainaut & Trinity Island

Orne Islands

Portal Point

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.

Antarctic Peninsula
Before and After Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula

Detaille Island

Half Moon Island

Horseshoe Island

Pleneau Island

South of the Polar Circle

Petermann Island

Yalour Islands

Stonington Island

Wordie House, Winter Island

Torgersen Island

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.

Antarctic Peninsula
Before and After Antarctic Peninsula
South Georgia

Cuverville Island

Georges Point, Rongé Island

Neko Harbour

Port Charcot, Booth Island

Goudier Island

Danco Island, Errera Channel

Damoy Point

Jougla Point

Astrolabe Island

Orne Harbour

D’Hainaut & Trinity Island

Orne Islands

Portal Point

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.

Drake Passage
Crossing the Drake Passage
Beagle Channel

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.

Arrival to Ushuaia
Arrival to Ushuaia
Laguna Esmeralda

We arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the USHUAIA after breakfast.

*** Important - Please be sure not to book flights out of Ushuaia before 12PM (Noon) on the day of disembarkation from your cruise ship

Dates & Prices

From

Until

Info

Availability

Price

15

Feb

2025

26

Feb

2025

Full

Upon Request

15

Feb

2025

26

Feb

2025

Full

Upon Request

Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

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.

What's included

Shipboard accommodation

All meals onboard

All scheduled landings/excursions

Guiding and lectures by expedition leader and team

English-speaking expedition team

All port fees

All landing fees

Detailed post-expedition log

What's not included

Airfares to/from embarkation and disembarkation city

Visa fees (if applicable)

Travel Insurance

Beverages (other than coffee and tea)

Personal expenses such as laundry, onboard communication (telephonce calls, faxes, email service)

Gratuities for the crew (recommended US$15.00 per person per day)

Pre or post cruise travel expenses

Transfers to/from the pier in Ushuaia

Reviews

Tim Duffy

Ushuaia Antarctica Cruises

Classic

Antarctica was great, the team on the boat were excellent, helpful and resourceful. All very accommodating setting up and throughout the journey. (copied from Swoop Antarctica)

Barbara- California

Ushuaia Antarctica Cruises

Classic

We were so pleasantly surprised by this cruise. None of us knew what to expect...but we were blown away! We had a triple cabin and it did not have bunk beds which made us soooooo happy. We also had a private bathroom and space so we were really pleased with the room. (Copied from Swoop Antarctica)

Linda- Illinois

Ushuaia Antarctica Cruises

Classic

I loved that the Ushuaia was small and intimate. The staff was great and it had a good vibe to it- definitely the right ship for us. I would recommend this ship to those who truly want an expedition, truly wanting to experience Antarctica. (Copied from Swoop Antarctica)

FAQ

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.

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
  • Kayaking
  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Life Onboard & Seasickness
Polar Circle Quest

4.8

(8)

Classic

Price

Upon Request



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