Classic South Georgia
An expedition cruise to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
Aboard the USHUAIA
South Georgia offers spectacular scenery, outstanding wildlife, history of human endeavour and is at the same time such a remote island group, that a visit turns into a real privilege.
It is easy to think “small” with islands, but South Georgia is something very different. The mountain ranges offer a beguiling landscape. There are sheltered valleys with meltwater streams, tussac grass covered moraines with close-up wildlife. Glaciers cover the mountains and even huge tabular icebergs from the shelves of the far south thump along South Georgia´s weather shore to become features of its magnificent landscape. Come and join us to explore all the facets South Georgia has to offer.
Midsummer will just have passed, when we arrive. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the significant numbers of fur seal pups on all the beaches we are going to visit. In January the fur seals are not as fiercely territorial as at the beginning of the breeding season and females begin a series of foraging trips at sea that lasts for several days each. In between, they are ashore for one to several days to nurse their pups. The dark brown youngsters will hang out in groups and be very curious about visitors.
King Penguins are of course also around. As this species has an odd breeding cycle of 14 months, there are always large groups of King Penguins involved in the breeding process no matter when one arrives at South Georgia. And there will be Macaroni penguins busy with their offspring as well. Red eyes and golden crests make these little, 28-inch birds quite spectacular. Their efforts at leaping out of angry seas onto slippery, rocky ledges and then climbing high up a dauntingly steep hillside with stumpy bright pink legs will fill us with admiration for their tenacity.
Black-browed Albatross, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross are also tending to their nests. The Wandering Albatross has been breeding since the previous year, so the chicks are sitting on the nest and waiting for their parents to come in and feed them. The most important breeding site for Wandering Albatross, Prion Island, will be open again, for us to visit and have the chance to experience this extraordinary site.
Day 1: Depart from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Embark the cruise ship Ushuaia in the afternoon and meet your expedition and lecture staff. A welcome drink will follow an introduction to the crew and expedition staff, and we will have time to get to know our new shipmates. The ship will then set sail towards the Western Falkland Islands (Malvinas), known for their rugged beauty and wealth of seabirds and waterfowl.
Day 2: At sea
The open bridge policy on the Ushuaia allows us to join the officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for marine life and enjoy the views of the open ocean. These waters are also home to an exciting group of seabirds, which often ride the currents created in the wake of the ship, such as albatrosses and petrels. Join the expedition staff and naturalists on the deck while we are at sea as we search for seabirds and other local wildlife, such as orcas and dolphins. An exciting selection of lectures will help us to prepare for our first excursions in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
Day 3: Western Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
On the west coast we might visit the following islands:
- West Point Island which lies off the most north-westerly point of mainland West Falkland (Malvinas). The attractive settlement sits on the edge of a small harbour on the eastern side of the Island, in the lee of Black Bog Hill and Michael´s Mount. The valley between these two peaks rolls over the centre of the island to the dramatic Devil´s Nose, one of the island´s main attractions. From here visitors are treated to splendid views of Cliff Mountain, the Island´s highest point 381m and the highest cliffs in the Falklands. We will encounter a vast colony of Rockhopper Penguins and Black-browed Albatrosses, nesting together in close vicinity.
- Carcass Island which lies to the northwest of the Falkland archipelago (Malvinas). A mature tussac plantation covers much of the lower ground below Jason Hill to the east. The availability of abundant cover and the absence of cats, rats and mice throughout the island have made for a spectacularly large population of small birds, which is one of Carcass Island´s most delightful features. Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins do also nest here. Peale´s and Commerson´s dolphins frequently come close to the shoreline to get a glimpse of the visitors as well. At the settlement with its beautiful gardens, we are invited to enjoy tea and cookies with the locals. Overnight we will sail around the northern islands of the archipelago in an easterly direction to reach the capital, Stanley, in the following morning.
Day 4: At sea. Eastern Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
In the morning hours, we will have time to explore the quaint little town of Stanley and its beautiful museum, souvenir shops and pubs. The town was established in the early 1840s. Isolation and the weather conditions made life hard, but progress was gradual and punctuated by the extremely active times of involvement in two world wars. For those who are more interested in the outstanding wildlife the Islands have to offer, you do not even have to leave town to enjoy it. Southern Giant Petrels often fly close to the shoreline.
The endemic Falkland Steamer Ducks abound on the shores while Kelp Gulls can often be seen flying together with Dolphin Gulls. The less obvious but frequent visitors to the Stanley area are Black-crowned Night Herons, Red-backed Hawks and Peregrine Falcons. Turkey Vultures are regularly seen on top of any prominent building. Many pairs of Upland Geese frequent the park, and it might be nice to take a stroll around the gardens of town to see some of the singing birds as well. In the early afternoon, it is time to set sail, heading for South Georgia.
Days 5-6: At sea
An extensive lecture programme will be offered during the days at sea. Expert naturalists share their knowledge of the wildlife and unique ecosystems we will encounter throughout our voyage. South Georgia is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and inspiring places on Earth with more wildlife than virtually anywhere else on the planet.
Day 7: At sea
South Georgia will come in sight. Though extremely isolated, it has impressive scenery ranging from high mountains and mighty glaciers to deep fjords and low-lying grassland, deep fjords and low-lying grassland.
Days 8-10: South Georgia
Our exact itinerary will depend on local land and sea conditions, but the following destinations are among those that we would like to explore:
- Salisbury Plain. Sometimes called the ‘Serengeti of the South’, Salisbury Plain is a wildlife site without parallel. Several massive glaciers provide a dramatic backdrop for the tens of thousands of King Penguins that nest in the tussac grass of this remarkable ecosystem. The wide beach makes for excellent walking as we visit the colony, where we are surrounded and delightfully outnumbered by crowds of curious, gentle penguins. Elephant and fur seals also abound, as well as Southern Giant Petrels and the occasional wandering Gentoo Penguin. Prepare for an awe-inspiring experience, as the elephant seals are giving birth on the beaches.
- Prion Island is a beautiful tussac grass covered islet. If we are lucky, we will get the opportunity to see a breeding colony of Wandering Albatross on top of it. We will climb to the summit on a wooden boardwalk, which takes us close to their nests and offers comfortable viewing platforms.
- Grytviken lies within King Edward Cove; a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Point and Hobart Rock on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay. The rusting ruins of the Grytviken whaling station are situated on a level plain at the head of the cove, backed by steep hills and mountains. Now the site of the South Georgia Museum, the station remains a focal point of interest for many visitors, as does Sir Ernest Shackleton´s grave in the nearby whalers’ cemetery and his memorial cross on Hope Point. The scenery in this area is stunning even by South Georgia standards. The glaciers and snow-covered peaks of the Allardyce Range – Mt. Sugartop, Mt. Paget, Mt. Roots, Nordenskjöld Peak, Mt. Kling and Mt. Brooker – form a magnificent backdrop to the cove, and the views from King Edward Point, in particular, must be among the finest on earth.
- Situated 9km east of Cumberland East Bay on the eastern shores of Barff Peninsula, Godthul is a 3km long inlet that lies between Cape George and Long Point. Gentoo Penguins are abundant on the tussac plateau, and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses echo off the natural cliff amphitheatre that encircles the harbour. A floating factory ship serviced by two whale catchers was stationed here each summer between 1908 and 1929. A small shore depot supporting the whaling operations was established close by the stream in the southeast corner of the harbour, and the rusting barrels, wooden shed and boats are fascinating relics of the whaling era, as is the impressive collection of whale and elephant seal bones scattered along the beach.
- The surf-beat coastline at St. Andrew’s Bay runs north-south in a 3km-long uninterrupted sweep of fine dark sand, covered in penguins and seals and bounded in the interior by the Cook, Buxton and Heaney Glaciers. The bay hosts the biggest colony of King Penguins in South Georgia. Early in the season, the beach is carpeted with fur and elephant seals. Such a large assemblage of wildlife attracts an entourage of persistent and voracious scavengers. Sheathbills dart in and around the penguin colony — Cape Petrels nest in a small number on the cliffs north of St. Andrew’s Bay. Leopard seals patrol the rocks at this end of the beach too, hunting for penguins along the edge of kelp beds: a few White-chinned Petrels and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses nest on the tussac slopes. Brown Skuas and Antarctic Terns breed on the outwash plain and scree slopes at the north end of the beach, defending their nest sites with their characteristic noise and vigour.
- Cooper Bay found at the southeast extremity of South Georgia. There is a wealth of wildlife at this site, in a spectacular setting. Chinstrap, Gentoo and maybe one or two Macaroni Penguins dot the tussac slopes, and there are plenty of fur seals on the beaches. Fascinating volcanic rocks tower over small fjords, giving a stunning invitation for a thrilling zodiac cruise to watch wildlife from the waterfront.
- Drygalski Fjord is located in the far south-east of the island. The glaciers found in this dramatic fjord have retreated significantly in recent decades, but they remain one of the most striking features of this coastline, particularly the Rising and Jenkins Glaciers. With a little luck, we might see the glaciers calve and witness the birth of a new iceberg from on board the ship.
Days 11-12: At sea
We spend the next two days crossing the Scotia Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula offering opportunities to be out on the deck, catch up on some reading, check through and edit our photos, or reflect on the magical experiences of the last days on South Georgia. Lectures and other activities will be offered throughout these days.
Day 13: Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
We hope to have a chance to visit the enigmatic Elephant Island. Sir Ernest Shackleton fans will need no introduction to this historic windswept island. In 1916, Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will return with more knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a remarkable part of the world.
Day 14: At sea
Our expedition team will prepare you for our experience in the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.
Days 15-17: Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands
In the area of the Antarctic Sound, we will try to visit the following sites:
- Argentine Antarctic Station Esperanza – we will try to sail the passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which traverses the Antarctic Sound and runs northwest to southeast. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza are located on the western side of the Sound.
- Brown Bluff, a promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula, is located south of Hope Bay. Both of them might be possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the centre of the Peninsula´s Adélie Penguin population.
- Paulet and the already mentioned sites might give us ample proof of this. The numbers of penguins are breathtaking. The region also teems with vibrant exploration history. The most bizarre of these tales involves the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03 under the command of geologist Otto Nordenskjöld. Four visitor sites have links to this expedition: Hope Bay, Paulet Island, Snow Hill Island, and Cape Well-Met on Vega Island. Our expedition staff will be pleased to share their exciting story with you. Nordenskjöld´s expedition was the first to overwinter in the Peninsula. His ship, Antarctic, under the command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen, was trapped in the ice and sank, but the men survived on different locations and even managed to carry out significant scientific research in the area.
- We plan to sail through the Gerlache Strait into the Northwest Antarctic Peninsula area. This region of broad straits, mountainous islands, protected bays, and narrow channels offer moments of solitude. A profusion of tall peaks humans have never climbed and vast glaciers flowing inexorably seaward are the physical features here.
- We might visit Hydrurga Rocks, a small group of islets, which lie east of Two Hummock Island in the Palmer Archipelago, at the northern entrance of the Gerlache Strait. Chinstrap Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags and Kelp Gulls are confirmed breeders here.
- We might also go to Cuverville Island, which lies in the scenic Errera Channel, in the centre of the Gerlache Strait. A well-defined raised beach forms a nesting site for many Gentoo Penguins here. On our way north we plan to explore the South Shetland Islands.
- Deception Island is the largest of three recent volcanic centres in the South Shetlands. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is fantastic. Once inside, the rising slope of the black, cinder-covered volcanic rim can be walked uphill to a rather spectacular vantage point.
- Half Moon Island is a crescent-shaped island, in the entrance of Moon Bay between Greenwich and Livingston Islands, is home to Chinstrap Penguins in breathtaking surroundings.
Days 18-19: At sea
We leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join our lecturers and naturalists on deck as we search for seabirds and whales. We will also enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures we have had over the past days.
Day 20: Arrival in Ushuaia
We arrive at the port of Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the Ushuaia after breakfast.
Please note that the above itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and programme will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions and opportunities to view wildlife. Changes will be made by the captain and expedition leader to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily programme sheet will be issued on board. Flexibility is the key to success.
Know before you go
Important! We strongly recommend that you arrive in Ushuaia a day or two before embarkation to have some additional time in case of flight delays and lost luggage. There is plenty to see and to explore in the southernmost city of the world. Please note that embarkation is at 4 pm and the USHUAIA will sail at 6 pm and cannot wait for missing passengers or luggage.
Most Passports must be valid 3 months beyond intended stay (6 months if you are joining us for our CLASSIC SOUTH GEORGIA voyage)
No Visa Required for stay up to 3 months. See further information below.
Vaccinations – International Certificate of Vaccination required for Yellow Fever if arriving from infected area within 5 days. See further information below.
Other citizens from different nationalities are asked for a visa to enter Argentina. Please see the official list at http://www.migraciones.gov.ar/accesible/indexP.php?visas.
The visa requirement for Chinese citizens has been waived for those holding the United States or Schengen visa. These citizens are allowed to enter Argentina after completing an ‘Electronic Travel Authorization’ form online. It is mandatory that the forms and payment are completed online in advance, in order to receive the authorisation mentioned above before your arrival in Argentina. The lack of any form or proof of payment will generate denial for entry and consequent return to their departure city by the airline. For further information, please refer to http://echin.cancilleria.gov.ar/zh-hans/content/visas.
*Note* Since this information may be subject to change, we recommend to all our passengers to check http://www.migraciones.gov.ar/ before your departure
Any Japanese national and any non-Japanese national residing in Japan who plans to visit the Antarctic Area (the area south of 60°S) is requested to submit a notification form to the Minister of the Environment. Please refer to https://iaato.org/info-for-japanese-nationals for further details.
Health and Vaccination Information
Yellow Fever Vaccination – None required unless you arrive from an infected area. No Visa Required for stay up to 3 months
Malaria – Malaria exists in rural areas near Bolivian Border, Salta and Jujuy Provinces
Cholera – Cholera is reported in some regions of the country
This information is provided for your guidance only; certain exceptions may apply. Please contact your physician for individual concerns. In addition to your physician, a good source of health information for travellers is the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta; you can find them online at www.cdc.gov.The CDC also operates a ‘Travelers Hotline’ at the following number: 1-877-394-8747.
Insurance Antarpply Expeditions requests their passengers to purchase comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancellation and mandatory medical evacuation and repatriation coverage with a minimum of US$100,000 (However for the 2018-19 season we will still accept a minimum of US$50,000).
Our expedition from South America to Antarctica is scheduled during the Austral Summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Generally, in the Antarctic, temperatures during the day are between 20° and 40° F. Although it can be very sunny, expect rain, snow, fog and a high wind chill factor.
You will have the opportunity to take some spectacular photographs including stunning scenery and the incredible abundance of wildlife.
Here are a few points for photography worth bearing in mind:
Check that your camera is working well before you leave home!
Bring some extra memory cards if you have a digital camera. If you’re using film, take as many pictures as you can… and keep in mind that you go through a lot of film in Antarctica!
It is good to have two cameras, spare batteries and lenses from 28mm to 200mm telephoto, or if you have up to 500mm for close-ups. Be aware that some batteries may not have a good performance in cold weather.
Favourite lenses are 20-35 mm, 35-70mm, and 80-200mm. It is not recommended to change your lenses outdoors, or you may get moisture or condensation inside the camera.
We do not recommend using a polariser. It takes the sparkle away from the ice and snow, which brings the ice alive. Also, the skies get too dark, almost black.
Telephoto is excellent here to capture distant animals. Respect their homes and get close via zoom. Don’t forget the wide-angle lens to capture the real expanse and vastness that is found nowhere else.
Many digital compact cameras now have a snow scene mode. Set the camera to this if it has one.
If it is available on your digital camera, it is recommended to shoot in RAW to be able to do some editing afterwards.
If you are very serious about getting excellent shots, a tripod gives you more potential, but it certainly is not mandatory.
Be aware that Antarctic conditions can be very harsh on camera equipment. Please aim to carry plenty of protection for your camera against salt spray, snow or rain. Please bring a sealable ‘Pelican Case’, a waterproof day pack or ‘dry bags’, but do not bring lightweight plastic or rubbish bags because it’s too easy for such bags to blow away in contravention of our obligation under the Antarctic Treaty.
Weatherproof protectors and containers are recommended for your gear and also your memory cards storage.
Also, keep with you a soft lens tissue or microfiber cloth to clean your lens if necessary.
Digital cameras allow photographers to capture images on flashcards instantaneously. We have a computer for our passengers use. Nevertheless, we recommend that you bring your laptop and enough chips or cards as a backup just in case you could not download your pictures on board due to any technical incompatibility, or merely due to lack of time to download them between landings.
Unfortunately, drones or UAVs are not welcome on board the USHUAIA as we are not allowed to operate these according to the IAATO guidelines.
Most importantly: Forget the camera from time to time and enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife!
To help you prepare for your expedition, we have made a list of recommended items to pack. Please keep in mind this list is simply a guideline, which you may choose to modify to fit your individual comfort needs. www.shiptoshoretraveler.com is an excellent website for the appropriate outfit.
Please also see our guide How to dress in Antarctica” (Powerpoint slideshow) prepared by one of our Expedition Leaders, Agustín Ullman, which shows you the best way to keep warm!
Expedition Clothing (Comfortable, Durable & Loose)
Pull-on, unlined, knee-high boots are required for wet landings. Boots must be 14”-16” high with strong, rubber-ridge, non-skid soles. These specifications are essential. You may be stepping into water up to 10” deep on wet landings. Moon or leather boots are NOT appropriate.
A supply of rubber boots or Wellingtons, are available on board the USHUAIA and includes a wide variety of sizes. I recommended that you bring your own only if you require a particular size. Please note that previous passengers have used the boots on board.
Parka (Water-repellent hooded parka)
Waterproof gloves or mittens
Hat, scarf, or other face protection
Jacket or sweaters
It is best to bring at least one lightweight and one heavy jacket or sweater. Sweatshirts, turtlenecks, and fleece pullovers are also good Insulators. Layering with wool, silk or synthetics fabrics, rather than cotton, is recommended.
Thermal or long underwear
Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
Clothing on board
Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended for the vessel. Appropriate footwear includes at least one pair of deck-type, rubber-soled shoes.
Sunscreen and lip protection (Minimum SPF 15)
Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera and binoculars from wave splash and spray while in Zodiacs
Expedition clothing and gear for rent in Ushuaia
Antarpply Expeditions recommends Ship to Shore – http://www.shiptoshoretraveler.com/antarpply for all of your expedition gear needs.
Available items for rent in the town of Ushuaia are:
Rainpants (with insulation)
Children on board the USHUAIA
The parents are responsible for their children at all times, on land and onboard. Our staff is not responsible for babysitting etc., and they must stay with the groups at all times and follow the instructions and directions of the Expedition Leader and his staff. Passengers must make sure that the children are supervised at all times and the children are not allowed to run on board or on deck. Small children should be kept in a harness while on deck and must be accompanied by a parent.
Children must wear special life vests when boarding the zodiacs. However, decisions, if children may disembark or not, will be taken by the Captain for each landing according to the prevailing landing conditions. Safety is first and foremost.
On board our vessel we do not have any child facilities. We do not provide toys, colouring books etc.. Therefore parents are kindly requested to bring their own to entertain their children.
We regret not to be able to provide any medication suitable for children on board the USHUAIA, and the parents must bring adequate medicines, especially for seasickness.
Should a situation arise that the parents or children need to be evacuated to a hospital, there is no hospital in Antarctica and evacuation to the continent may take several days or may not always be possible. The small infirmary on board is merely suitable for first aid treatment.
Passengers must have appropriate insurance including evacuation and repatriation coverage. All costs for any evacuation are for the passenger’s account.
Unfortunately, we cannot offer any children’s discount.
Air Conditioning and Heating
The ship is fully climate controlled. Each cabin is equipped with individual temperature controls. Please contact our staff in case you wish to change these controls to your comfort level.
All announcements are made via our Public Announcement (PA) system on board. The bridge announces interesting events and wildlife attractions. Should there be an emergency call from the bridge, we will make sure that you receive it!
The USHUAIA encourages you to take advantage of our open bridge policy. During the days we are underway, the officers invite you to observe the navigational operations of the ship and will gladly answer any questions you may have. We kindly ask you to respect the bridge as the working area for the officers. Occasionally, for reasons of safety, the bridge may be closed to visitors.
Your stewardess will make your cabin in the morning.
Change of bed linen – Your bed linen will be changed once a trip. If you prefer to have it changed more frequently, please inform our Hotel Manager.
Change of Towels – To limit the use of washing powder for our environment, we only change your towels upon request. Please leave your towels on the floor if you want them changed. If you hang up your towel, we understand that you will use it again. Thank you for your cooperation.
Toilets – The marine toilets are very efficient but also very sensitive. Please treat them gently and do not put anything into them except small amounts of toilet paper. Dispose of used tissues, etc. in the garbage can.
Water supply – The water from the tap is safe to drink. Freshwater is produced by evaporating and condensing seawater. Typically there is no reason for water-rationing on board, but water conservation is encouraged.
The USHUAIA is equipped with the INMARSAT system, which allows direct communication with the ship by phone from any location in the world.
For communications with the USHUAIA, you will receive a list of numbers before your departure. Onboard you will find a list of important numbers and
instructions for the use of your phone in the folder in your cabin. Costs will be charged to your cabin at US$4 per minute and will be paid at the end of your voyage.
Email and Internet access
Passengers may use dedicated computers to access the internet and to check their emails. You can purchase an internet code at a rate of $10 for 30 minutes of internet access. Kindly note that there is no Wi-Fi available.
Please keep in mind that many of the places you are visiting on the voyages are unique. We at Antarpply Expeditions are very proud of our outstanding reputation for conservation and respect for all the ecosystems we visit. Please assist us in maintaining this reputation. Our lecturers and staff will accompany you on shore excursions and provide you with guidance and specific information for the region. We kindly ask you to bring back any garbage to the ship where it will be correctly disposed of. For cruises to Antarctica, you will receive our Antarctic Guidelines with your travel documents.
Currency aboard the USHUAIA is US Dollar, and Euro is accepted as well as the following credit cards: MasterCard, Visa and American Express (see Payment below). However, for credit card payments minimum charge is US$100.
Each evening during the Recap the daily program for the next day will be presented by your Expedition Leader. Included in the program is information about the next day’s activities, events, landing times, meal times, and lecturers.
Please remember that the expeditionary nature of this voyage may result in changes to the daily program due to sea, weather, ice and local conditions. Also, your Captain and Expedition Team may deviate from the plan to take advantage of unexpected opportunities such as wildlife sightings, favourable sea conditions, or other local events.
Any changes to the daily program will be announced over the PA system. We thank you in advance for your understanding and flexibility.
With advance notice, our Executive Chef will happily accommodate a variety of special dietary requests. Please note that it is imperative to inform Antarpply Expeditions three weeks before your departure at the latest. Kindly also state this request on your Booking Form. We regret that Kosher meals are not available.
The Dining Room on the Main Deck F comfortably accommodates all guests at a single seating.
There is open seating for all meals and guest tables are unassigned.
Dress Attire on Board
Casual attire (expedition style) is the accepted apparel for the voyage. Clothing should be comfortable and versatile as described in the detailed packing list enclosed with your preliminary documentation.
Dress Attire on Shore
Comfortable, casual clothing in expedition spirit is the rule for attire worn on shore excursions. The most crucial factor in determining appropriate clothing for your time ashore will be your route and mode of travel. Please refer to the detailed packing list enclosed with your preliminary documentation.
Electrical Appliances and Outlets
Electric current on board is 110 V/ 60 Hz, and cabins are fitted with multi-type sockets suitable for several international plugs. However, we recommend bringing necessary converters and any special adapters with you as only a limited number can be borrowed on board.
Some outlets in public areas are 220v-240v and are marked. However, they are fitted with Argentine outlets. This plug has two flat pins in V-shape and also has a grounding pin. The ungrounded version of this plug with only two flat V-shaped pins or a plug with two thin round pins also work.
Emails on board the USHUAIA
Please see COMMUNICATION (above).
In case of emergency, please call the Bridge (phone #108). When in port, please contact the watchman at the gangway.
Your voyage will be directed by an Expedition Leader in conjunction with staff assistants, zodiac drivers, and a team of lecturers. Staff members are specially selected and trained to provide an eventful cruise.
The gift shop on the Main Deck F is stocked with ladies and men’s clothing, sundry items, apparel, gift and souvenir items. Please see the daily program for opening hours.
The customary gratuity to the ship’s service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage and is divided among the crew. You will receive detailed guidelines aboard.
Tipping is a very personal matter, and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US$15 per person per day. Cash US Dollars would be appreciated. Unfortunately, credit cards cannot be accepted.
All cabins are equipped with a hairdryer for your comfort.
The highest priority of the Captain is always safety for passengers and ship. Therefore we might have to change the itinerary due to local conditions and unforeseeable reasons. Please rest assured that the crew will do their utmost to offer you the best possible alternatives.
As part of your voyage experience, you will find many languages are spoken aboard the ship.
English and Spanish are the languages used and spoken by all officers and crew (although some crew members may only speak Spanish). Lectures are given in English and Spanish.
Laundry and Valet Service
We regret not to be able to offer Laundry or Dry Cleaning services on board.
Our team of lecturers will accompany you throughout your voyage. While they will give lectures and lead shore excursions, they will also be on hand to answer your questions and provide ready knowledge throughout the day. Antarpply Expeditions has selected these lecturers for both their professional accomplishments and reputations. We hope you enjoy exploring with them.
Lectures and Films
Both lectures and films are offered in the observation lounge/lecture room with modern multimedia equipment on the Main Deck F. Passengers are encouraged to participate in all the ship’s activities, including the stimulating and informative lectures.
The ship’s library on the Main Deck F contains a good selection of international titles, with an emphasis on reference material essential to your voyage. A variety of games, including playing cards and board games, are also at your disposal.
You have been provided with a lightweight inflatable life jacket, which inflates automatically by pulling the rip-cord. These life jackets must be worn at all times in the zodiac while cruising. Please take care of your life jacket. It will be collected at the end of the cruise.
Additionally, there is a large “heavy duty” life jacket in your cabin, which is to be used in case of ship emergency and for lifeboat drills.
Lost and Found
Lost and found items can be left with/recovered on board. Please contact the Hotel Manager.
At the end of each voyage, all items will be sent to our office in Ushuaia. Should you miss something, please do not hesitate to contact Antarpply Expeditions at phone +54 (2901) 433636/436747, or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals on Board
You will find the following dining options while aboard the USHUAIA:
Continental and American Breakfast Buffet
Buffet or Seated Served Lunch
Meal times vary depending upon shore excursions. Coffee and tea are offered throughout the day.
A qualified physician accompanies every voyage to provide both emergency and routine health care. The ship’s infirmary is located on Deck E. Office hours are posted in your daily program. In case of emergency, please call the bridge (phone #108).
There is a charge for this consultation:
In ship’s infirmary US$ 20
In your cabin US$ 25
Seasickness is treated free of charge. If you require constant or particular medication, please make sure you bring a sufficient supply as the infirmary only carries supplies for emergency medicine.
Note: This section is for your reference only and should not be construed as medical advice. Many of the treatments mentioned here may have side effects. Always check with your doctor before taking medications. The ship’s doctor is also available for advice.
Seasickness, or mal de mer, is an unpleasant – but generally treatable – condition. There are a variety of effective over-the-counter and prescription remedies. Remember that these treatments are usually most effective when taken BEFORE the onset of nausea; so if you are prone to seasickness, consider taking a preventative before sailing or entering open seas.
Other treatments include inter-dermal patches and bands. To avoid seasickness, limit your time below deck. Fresh air and watching the horizon can help to alleviate symptoms.
Open Door Policy
The USHUAIA maintains an open-door policy. If you wish to store your valuables, please contact the Hotel Manager.
All passports are collected upon embarkation and kept with the purser during the voyage. Passports must be kept for administrative and safe-keeping purposes.
Payment: Your Account
We suggest that you bring at least US$300 to US$400 (in small bills). On most voyages, particularly to Antarctica, this sum will be more than sufficient spending money as we will be navigating through isolated areas where spending opportunities are rare. For services rendered aboard the ship, you will be provided with a personal account using a “chit” system. Your purchases will be kept on record and totalled at the end of your voyage.
Your account must be settled before disembarkation in cash (U.S. Dollar and Euro). If you prefer to pay by credit card, please advise the Hotel Manager at the beginning of the voyage. We accept MasterCard, Visa and American Express for charges over US$100. However, we cannot accept gratuities by credit card.
Phone on board the USHUAIA
Please see COMMUNICATION (above), for detailed information.
When photographing do not approach wildlife to the point that it becomes frightened, agitated, or must flee. Give extra space to animals with young. In some areas, photographing military installations, airports, and other sensitive objects is restricted. Your Expedition Team will advise you of local regulations.
Recaps and Briefings
Daily, the Expedition Team will summarise experiences ashore and update you on our plans for the next day. These informal sessions are generally held during cocktail hour.
A supply of rubber boots or Wellingtons is available on board and includes a wide variety of sizes. It is recommended that you bring your own only if you require a particular size. Please note that the boots on board have been used by previous passengers.
Safety at Sea
Our highest priority during your cruise is the personal safety of all passengers and crew. Our vessel meets all international requirements as well as U.S. Coast Guard Guidelines. Officers and crew are well trained and regularly practice emergency procedures to ensure your comfort and safety. Within 24 hours of embarkation, there will be an emergency drill which all guests are required to participate. Through this exercise, you will become familiar with procedures that must be followed in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Please be aware:
Always obey all safety announcements given by the Captain, the officers, or your Expedition Team.
For your safety and the safety of your fellow passengers, please do not leave any china or glass on the outside decks.
The exterior decks may be wet – we ask you therefore not to run but to walk slowly and hold on to the ship’s railings.
We recommend all ladies to wear low heel shoes for their comfort and safety.
In rough seas, please hold on to bannisters and fixed objects. Please expect the boat to pitch and roll, especially in the ice, as there will be sudden lurches, rolls and other motions as the ship’s sails through the ice. Use the handrails whenever possible, especially going up stairways, ladders etc.
Please mind the high steps in many exterior doorways. When passing through all doorways, and while in your cabin, PLEASE DO NOT PLACE YOUR HANDS ON THE EDGE OF THE DOORS. A lurching movement could slam the door on your fingers.
Shore excursions will be outlined during the recap and briefings the day before. Before disembarkation information on the length of time on land and the type of landing (“wet” or “dry”) will be announced. Your Expedition Team will accompany you on daily shore excursions and provide you with extensive information. Please carefully follow their instructions and advice.
Smoking is permitted on all exterior decks except for the “Zodiac Deck”. Inside the ship, all areas, including cabins, are designated non-smoking. For safety and environmental reasons, NEVER throw cigarette butts or other (burning) materials into the sea!
Your cabin is not equipped with a safety deposit box. However any valuables such as money, jewellery or documents could be deposited with the hotel manager who will store them safely for you. We are not responsible for the loss of personal effects and valuables.
Weather and Sea Conditions
Weather and sea conditions play essential roles in expeditionary cruising. All planned activities are subject to modification or cancellation due to changing weather or sea conditions. We thank you in advance for your understanding and flexibility.
During the time we are in areas where there is a possibility of sighting wildlife, the ships’ officers and staff are always on the lookout. However, please don’t hesitate to report a sighting to the bridge or staff. If we are fortunate enough to sight wildlife, we will announce it from the bridge, regardless of the hour. If you wish to go back to sleep, please do so!
The USHUAIA carries her fleet of Zodiacs. Zodiacs accommodate up to 12 guests and, in the hands of our skilled boatmen, are stable, safe and manoeuvrable. Constructed of high-performance plastimer fabrics, with several airtight compartments, they are easy to board and disembark. Their versatility, their ability to open whole new worlds of exploration make zodiacs the key to expedition cruising enabling you to go ashore and investigate some of the world’s unique regions. Instructions will be provided on how to embark and disembark these watercraft.
Ushuaia – Pier Information:
No ground transfers are provided in Ushuaia.
Please proceed on your own to the pier located in the centre of the town. Embarkation is at 4 pm on the day of departure.
We do recommend that you arrive a day earlier in Ushuaia to have some additional time in case of flight delays and lost luggage on the day of arrival. Please note that the vessel will sail at 6 pm and will not be able to wait for missing passengers or luggage.
Ushuaia’s port is located on Maipu avenue. The main entrance to the pier is on Lasserre street, opposite the Hotel Albatros. It is only about fifteen minutes from the airport. A taxi or ‘remise’ will currently cost approximately US$8.00.
Please note the following new regulations and procedure to access the port:
Please proceed to the port at 3.30 pm.
Embarkation starts at 4 pm on board the USHUAIA. Please note that we cannot embark any passengers before this time.
You must be able to show your passport and voucher with your cruise details. If you have forgotten it or can’t find it, please contact our office in Ushuaia: Gobernador Paz 633, 1° floor – or call us on phone +54 (2901) 433636 / 436747.
All your luggage will be scanned. Please let the authorities know if you are carrying films or any other sensitive objects.
Please remember that once you have checked-in on board the USHUAIA, you will not be able to disembark.
In case you hire services of a Tourism agency, or any other private transportation such as taxis or ‘remises’, please ensure that they are authorised to enter the port area.
The ship arrives at 7 am on the date of arrival and disembarkation usually is at 8.00/ 8.30 am. We strongly recommend not to book flights departing before noon time.
IAATO Visitor Guidelines
Visitor Guidelines Recommendation XVIII-1
Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic
Recommendation XVIII-1, adopted at The Antarctic Treaty meeting, Kyoto, 1994
Activities in the Antarctic are governed by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and associated agreements referred to collectively as the Antarctic Treaty System. The Treaty established Antarctica as a zone of peace and science.
In 1991, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties adopted the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which designates the Antarctic as a natural reserve. The Protocol sets out environmental principles, procedures and obligations for the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment, and it’s dependent and associated ecosystems. The Consultative Parties have agreed that as far as possible and per their legal system, the provisions of the Protocol should be applied as appropriate. The Environmental Protocol was ratified in January 1998.
The Environmental Protocol applies to tourism and non-governmental activities, as well as governmental activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area. It is intended to ensure that these activities, do not have adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment, or its scientific and aesthetic values.
This Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic is intended to ensure that all visitors are aware of, and are therefore able to comply with, the Treaty and the Protocol. Visitors are, of course, bound by national laws and regulations applicable to activities in the Antarctic.
Protect Antarctic Wildlife
Taking or harmful interference with Antarctic wildlife is prohibited except under a permit issued by a national authority.
Do not use aircraft, vessels, small boats, or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land.
Do not feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, or approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behaviour. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or moulting.
Do not damage plants, for example by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes.
Do not use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife.
Do not bring non-native plants or animals into the Antarctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.
Respect Protected Areas
A variety of areas in the Antarctic have been afforded special protection because of their particular ecological, scientific, historic, or other values. Entry into certain areas may be prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by an appropriate national authority.
Activities in and near designated Historic Sites and Monuments and certain other areas may be subject to special restrictions.
Know the locations of areas that have been afforded special protection and any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near them.
Observe applicable restrictions.
Do not damage, remove, or destroy Historic Sites or Monuments or any artefacts associated with them.
Respect Scientific Research
Do not interfere with scientific research, facilities or equipment.
Obtain permission before visiting Antarctic science and support facilities; reconfirm arrangements 24-72 hours before arrival, and comply with the rules regarding such visits.
Do not interfere with, or remove scientific equipment or marker posts, and do not disturb experimental study sites, field camps, or supplies.
Be prepared for severe and changeable weather and ensure that your equipment and clothing meet Antarctic standards. Remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous.
Know your capabilities and the dangers posed by the Antarctic environment, and act accordingly — plan activities with safety in mind at all times.
Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, both on land and at sea.
Take note of, and act on, the advice and instructions from your leaders; do not stray from your group.
Do not walk onto glaciers or large snowfields without the proper equipment and experience; there is a real danger of falling into hidden crevasses.
Do not expect a rescue service. Self-sufficiency is increased and risks reduced by sound planning, quality equipment, and trained personnel.
Do not enter emergency refuges (except in emergencies). If you use equipment or food from a refuge, inform the nearest research station or national authority once the emergency is over.
Respect any smoking restrictions, particularly around buildings, and take great care to safeguard against the danger of fire. This is a real hazard in the dry environment of Antarctica.
Keep Antarctica Pristine
Antarctica remains relatively pristine, the largest wilderness area on Earth. It has not yet been subjected to large-scale human perturbations. Please keep it that way.
Do not dispose of litter or garbage on land. Open burning is prohibited.
Do not disturb or pollute lakes or streams. Any materials discarded at sea must be disposed of properly.
Do not paint or engrave names or graffiti on rocks or buildings.
Do not collect or take away biological or geological specimens or human-made artefacts as a souvenir, including rocks, bones, eggs, fossils, and parts or contents of buildings.
Do not deface or vandalise buildings or emergency refuges, whether occupied, abandoned, or unoccupied.
IAATO Briefing Film
Going Ashore in Antarctica
We would also like to draw your attention to a film created by IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) for visitors to Antarctica.
The animation uses beautiful wooden puzzle pieces to reflect Antarctica´s extraordinary natural environment, communicating important guidelines on staying safe and having no more than a minor or transitory impact. These include avoiding the introduction of non-native species, behaviour around wildlife, respecting historic and scientific sites, leaving no trace of your visit and not removing items of any sort.
Seasons in Antarctica
Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
Antarctic wildlife is at its most active during the southern summer. The beauty and solitude of Antarctic seas and mountains conceal the frantic activity of the shoreline colonies of birds and mammals. In these five months, from November to March, we operate our expedition cruises aboard the USHUAIA. Summer arrives first in the South Shetland Islands and spreads south along the Antarctic Peninsula. As the Antarctic year progresses, from spring to autumn, the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands change in appearance and character each season offering a different range of spectacular sights and possibilities to the visitor.
November – December (spring – early summer)
After the winter darkness, spring fever hits Antarctica, and the sun causes an explosive growth of phytoplankton in areas of mineral upwelling. The phytoplankton provides food to the astronomic swarms of zooplankton, including krill. Krill forms the base of the food chain for squid, fish and ultimately for seabirds, seals and whales, which flock in to fatten themselves and to produce their young.
Crabeater seals are born between September and November.
Elephant seals guard their harems aggressively until December.
The first big whales come down to Antarctica to feed, among them humpback, Minke and southern right whale.
Amazing displays of the penguins’ courtship ritual, including nest building, sky pointing and stone stealing.
Penguin, petrel and cormorant eggs are laid in November and December.
Penguin chicks start to hatch at the end of December in the South Shetland Islands.
Wintering scientists at the research stations welcome the first visitors of the season.
Longest days in December create longer daylight hours – photographs can be taken at midnight!
Last winters sea-ice offers sometimes spectacular sailing among the floes with seals everywhere on the ice.
January – February (summer)
In Antarctica’s warmest months wildlife activities are in full swing. Most penguin chicks hatch in January, earliest in the South Shetland Islands and later more to the south at the Peninsula. The frantic activity continues in the colonies in February as the young get older and bolder and are gathering in crèches.
Fur seal and leopard seal pups are visible.
Whale watching is at its best in February.
Penguin colonies at their busiest, fetching krill and feeding chicks.
In February receding ice allows exploration further south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
The concentration of fur seals increases.
Nightly darkness returns as the sun sinks farther below the southern horizon, but temperatures are still above zero, though we may experience a touch of Antarctic winter with night frosts, creating beautiful patterns of thin sea ice on the surface. The snow cover is at its minimum allowing for easy and extensive walks in the South Shetland Islands.
Penguin chicks are in their adolescent state now and quite curious about visitors.
The adult penguins moult, and the young go to sea.
Receding ice allows exploration farthest south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Spectacular green and pink algae bloom on snow-slopes and ice cliffs.
Whale watching is still excellent.
In the Falkland Islands and South Georgia spring and summer arrive earlier than in the South Shetlands & the Antarctic Peninsula, and consequently, the breeding activities of sea-birds and sea mammals start earlier there. South Georgia is home to several birds with a cycle longer than one year, so eggs and young in King Penguin colonies can always be found from November to March. November is full spring in South Georgia, comparable with December in the South Shetlands, but without sea-ice.