Colossal glaciers calving into the sea in a sudden thunderous clap ... Weddell seals hauled out on ice floes ... jagged icebergs bathed in pink-hued summer sunlight—this is Antarctica. Once off-limits to all but the most fearless explorers, this remote landscape is now a milestone for intrepid world travelers. On this Small Ship Adventure, you’ll embark the 98-passenger M/V Corinthian for a journey to the bottom of the world—across the turbulent Drake Passage, past squadrons of humpbacks, and through swirls of albatross. Setting foot on the elusive seventh continent will change you—with its profound stillness, extraordinary diversity, and the sure knowledge that you are visiting one of the last pure places on Earth.
Please note: Your actual Antarctic cruise itinerary is dependent on constantly changing weather, ice conditions, and wildlife-viewing opportunities. Your safety is our top priority; your Captain and Expedition Leader will assess conditions throughout your journey to determine the best route and landing opportunities.
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Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.
5 nights from only $1695
Majestic peaks rise above glittering lakes in Bariloche, a nature-lover’s playground. The rugged landscapes of Patagonia and the influence of German culture combine for an Alpine experience in the foothills of the Andes. From a working ranch to a local brewery, you'll experience the vibrant culture that thrives in Argentina’s “Little Switzerland,” while also experiencing the area's natural beauty from lofty viewpoints.View Extension Itinerary
Your overnight flight to Buenos Aires departs in the evening.
When you arrive in the morning, a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the Buenos Aires airport and escort you to your hotel. Relax until mid-afternoon, and then join an optional orientation walk in the neighborhood around the hotel. Following this brief outing, join your Trip Leader and travel companions for a trip briefing.
This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner hosted by your Trip Leader at a traditional Argentinean steakhouse.
After breakfast, set off on a tour of Buenos Aires. Discover its elegant blend of Spanish architecture and several traditional European styles, and see the monument-filled Avenida 9 de Julio and the Plaza de Mayo, home to numerous buildings important to Argentinean history. Your exploration continues in La Boca, a colorful bohemian district with streets full of artists selling their work and performers practicing their tango. You'll then visit Recoleta, where you'll see elegant homes, fashionable shops and restaurants, and the famously ornate cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. The afternoon is yours to explore at leisure.
Following an exclusive Discovery Series discussion on the economy of Argentina later today, enjoy an evening to relax and dine where you please. Or, join us for an optional tango show, which includes dinner.
After a pre-dawn wake up, transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the “City at the End of the World.” A former penal colony, Ushuaia's name is a Yamana Indian word for “bay that stretches into the sunset.” Today, it's a small but busy port with a frontier atmosphere. The snowcapped Andes rise on one side of town, while the magnificent Beagle Channel extends from the other.
Upon arrival, you'll embark on a guided tour of Ushuaia, beginning in the coastal area overlooking Beagle Channel to Main Street in the city center. Then you'll visit the Prison Museum, with exhibits on the area's early penal colonies. Tonight, dinner is on your own. Perhaps you'll try one of the many great restaurants specializing in local king crab.
After breakfast, you'll visit Argentina's only coastal national park—Tierra del Fuego. Remarkable for its remote location, raging winds, and rugged landscape, the park protects unique flora and fauna including emerald-hued Austral parakeets and the South American Fuegian fox, native to the western slopes of the Andes. After visiting the park, you'll enjoy a traditional Argentine asado de cordero (lamb barbecue) lunch.
In the late afternoon, embark your expedition ship, the Corinthian. Your Antarctica cruise begins with a passage through the Beagle Channel as you head east for the storied Drake Passage. Once onboard, you'll meet your Expedition Team, an enthusiastic group of explorers, researchers, and naturalists, many of whom travel to the Antarctic every year. During this briefing, they'll preview your journey, outline the course your ship will strive to follow, and detail the sights that lie ahead.
Throughout your cruise, these Expedition Team members will serve as your steady companions. They’ll not only provide vital information about your voyage—from briefings on Antarctic safety and conservation, to onboard lectures about wildlife, history, and more—but they’ll also join you on every Zodiac excursion to ensure your time on the continent is full of discoveries.
Stretching from the southernmost tip of South America to the far-flung shores of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake Passage is the most direct route to the seventh continent, as well as the most adventurous. It’s here that the sub-polar waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide with the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean, creating some of the most turbulent sea conditions on Earth.
For centuries, explorers and whalers have set off across these rollicking waves to earn a glimpse of Antarctica’s myriad wonders—and today, you’ll join their ranks. If conditions are characteristically rough, the Corinthian will pitch and roll considerably throughout your crossing. Depending on the intensity, you may need to stay in your cabin until calmer waters are reached. But if the seas allow, you could be invited to the lounge to enjoy the first in a series of lectures from your Expedition Team on topics ranging from marine life to scenic photography.
Please note: For safety, all portholes will be closed while cruising the Drake Passage. Based on the unpredictability of the conditions here, we recommend that you carry—and use—patches and pills for seasickness, even if you have never experienced it previously.
As your adventure on the Drake continues today, your ship may be accompanied by an impressive variety of wildlife. Marvel at tenacious seabirds as they ride gale-force winds and dive into the churning waters. From large wandering albatrosses to swallow-like storm petrels, the passage is a haven for birds doggedly pursuing their prey.
You may also notice a variety of mammals cruising alongside your vessel, including humpback whales feasting on krill and sleek hourglass dolphins leaping in the wake. No matter what you spot, your Expedition Team will be on hand to identify the wildlife and tell you more about it.
In addition to animal sightings, this will likely be the day your ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence. At this biological barrier, cold polar waters sink beneath the warmer waters of the more temperate zones. Once you’ve reached this boundary, Antarctica is not far off.
Glistening ice-capped mountains … snow-dusted islets and rugged skerries … penguin rookeries teeming with chicks—these are the South Shetland Islands. This archipelago is the first land you’ll encounter after crossing the Drake Passage, and if conditions allow, it may also be your first chance to go ashore.
Due to ever-changing wind, weather, and sea conditions, it is impossible to predict precisely when this first landing—and all subsequent landings—will occur. Therefore, the following itinerary is for guidance only. Throughout your journey, your Captain and Expedition Leader will assess weather conditions and wildlife-viewing opportunities to take you ashore as often as possible, with a goal of at least one Zodiac landing per day. For that reason, your specific Antarctic adventure will be unlike any other. But one thing is certain: setting foot on Antarctic soil for the first time will be an unforgettable experience.
With your Expedition Team and Trip Leader by your side, you’ll embark one of the Zodiac crafts in the Corinthian’s onboard fleet and set off across a sea dotted with ice floes. Feel the frosty wind and ocean spray course past your face as your Zodiac zips toward a spectacular landscape of rugged mountains and glittering snow. Please note: Zodiacs can accommodate ten travelers per trip, so excursions will be staggered between the six crafts on board.
Upon arrival, you’ll splash onto the rocky shore, where you may be greeted by lolling sea lions and robust emperor penguins eager to observe you as you make your way through their unspoiled domain.
Awake this morning to the incredible majesty of your Antarctic surroundings. If the weather is favorable, perhaps you’ll make your way to the Sun Deck to soak in the astonishing stillness as pods of humpback whales breach the tranquil waters and blue-tinged icebergs tower in the distance.
If sea conditions allow, you’ll continue to explore this unspoiled wilderness with your Expedition Team today. You might board Zodiacs bound for Deception Island, the snow-capped caldera of a still-active volcano. As you hike the rugged black-sand beaches, you’ll likely encounter vast colonies of chinstrap penguins, easily identified by the black band running under their heads. Your Expedition Team will also keep watch for rare plant species—including mosses and flat-leafed liverworts—that thrive in the warm volcanic soil.
No matter which islands you’re able to visit, you’re sure to discover an array of wildlife and landscapes like nothing you’ve seen before.
Depending on conditions, you may have an opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula itself. As you wait to board your Zodiac, take a moment to survey the dazzling terrain that awaits you, imagining what the 17th-century explorers must have felt when they first laid eyes on this icy realm filled with fascinating creatures impervious to Mother Nature’s impulses.
Upon arrival, you’ll wade up the stone-covered shores from the Zodiac to drier land. From there, the peninsula is yours to explore. Perhaps you'll happen upon “penguin highways” carved into the snow. Long-tailed gentoo penguins form this delicate infrastructure as they waddle between the sea and their rocky rookeries high in the cliffs.
You may also notice impressive mountains, and flocks of skua and snowy sheathbills swirling overhead. Perhaps you'll take a moment to turn your gaze backward toward the crystalline sea, where the Corinthian rests serenely against an infinite expanse of sky.
After a day of exploring, you’ll return to your ship, where your Expedition Team may lead an informative discussion on the peninsula. As night falls, perhaps you’ll venture out onto the Sun Deck to see your surroundings bathed in the pink-hued light of the summer sun, which never completely sets this time of year.
During your expedition, your Captain may be able to navigate along some of the most stunning waterways in the world: the Neumayer and Lemaire channels. As the Corinthian cruises through these narrow passages, she will be flanked on both sides by cloud-piercing mountain peaks and hulking icebergs. Sea life is also prevalent here: You might encounter fur seals relaxing on floating ice blocks, or see tuxedoed Adélie penguins dive into the water on the hunt for fish.
You may also have the chance to visit Pleneau Bay during your journey. Known as an “iceberg graveyard,” the bay is home to thousands of frozen structures that have drifted in from far-off locations and gotten trapped. If conditions allow, you may have the opportunity to ride Zodiacs among these icy nomads—many of which are larger than most expedition ships—to marvel at their jagged angles, frozen coves, and vivid blue hues up close.
As you cruise from one site to the next, your Expedition Team will offer even more insights into Antarctica’s fascinating ecology, wildlife, and history.
Bid farewell to Antarctica today as you begin your journey back to Ushuaia. Once again, the Corinthian will cruise across the Drake Passage, where conditions are typically rough. If it is safe to do so, your Expedition Team may invite you to the lounge to share some final insights into the discoveries you’ve made throughout your cruise. However, if seas are rolling, you may need to stay in your cabin until conditions improve.
Savor your final day onboard as you complete your Drake Passage crossing. You may choose to take some final photographs to commemorate your once-in-a-lifetime expedition. Perhaps you’ll spot giant southern petrels overhead, or minke whales hunting alongside your ship. You might also use this time to exchange photos and relive your memories with your fellow travelers.
After breakfast, disembark the ship in Ushuaia to board a return flight for Buenos Aires. If your trip concludes at this point, you will depart for the U.S. in the late evening; if you are continuing on our optional Iguassu Falls, Argentina & Brazil post-trip extension, you transfer to your Buenos Aires hotel for the night.
3 nights from only $995
Add thundering Iguassu Falls—twice as wide and 65 feet higher than Niagara Falls—to your explorations of the Southern Hemisphere’s natural wonders. On this extension, visit both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of this astonishing array of 275 separate cascades and waterfalls—and let this lush tropical environment serve as a colorful contrast to your Antarctic experience.View Extension Itinerary