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What to Expect on an Antarctica Cruise: The Ultimate Expedition Trip

Our 10-Day Travel Journal to the End-of-the-World.

Antarctica expedition cruise in 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026.
On our first zodiac landing in Antarctica.

The world's southernmost continent, Antarctica, has breathtaking beauty, incredible wildlife, and unforgettable adventures. With its frigid temperatures, icy landscapes, and harsh climate conditions, it is not an easy place to visit or even survive. Imagine venturing into the heart of this frozen wilderness, surrounded by jaw-dropping landscapes and unique wildlife such as whales, penguins, seals, and other species that only exist in Antarctica.

A journey to the white continent is a rare once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore one of the most remote places on Earth, and there are serval ways to get there. However, there's no better way to explore Antarctica's pristine wilderness than by taking an expedition cruise.

Below is a summary of our ten-day ultimate expedition trip to the frozen continent!

Day One: All aboard the Ocean Victory!

Our journey to the Seventh Continent began at the "End of The World" in Ushuaia, Argentina. On day one of our expedition, we made our way to the port of Ushuaia and boarded the Ocean Victory, our expedition ship for the next ten days.

After settling into our cabins (we were upgraded to a room with a balcony), Elli and I headed to the Shackleton Lounge for introductions from the outstanding expedition team members, a mandatory briefing, and some safety drills. The Shackleton Lounge would become the meeting point for all briefings, dialogues, and workshops.

After our safety briefing, we cast off from the Beagle Channel and set course for the Drake Passage. Despite the forecast of rough seas and strong winds, we were in good spirits, ready for the ultimate expedition trip!

Day Two: The Drake Passage

The Drake Passage is a body of water that separates South America's Cape Horn from the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It's considered one of the stormiest and roughest stretches of sea in the world, with frequent gales and waves reaching up to 40 feet tall. Researchers, travelers, and explorers often cross the passage to reach Antarctica despite its unpredictable weather conditions.

During our first full day at sea, we definitely experienced the fierce and energetic waves of the notorious Drake Passage. Elli and I took seasickness tablets, although we still couldn't get out of bed. Luckily, all mandatory briefings were streamed live, and we could watch them while lying in bed.

Later that evening, we rolled out of bed to attend the Captain's Cocktails event, but we quickly rushed back to our room before the sea got more aggressive. Despite our seasickness, we were lucky that the waves were not as intense as they could be; the highest reported waves were 26 feet.

As the night fell, it felt like the waves finally settled down, and the ship was gently swaying instead of jolting as it had been doing for a good 24 hours. The Drake waves seemed to have decreased, allowing us to rest a lot better that night.

Note: The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) outlines guidelines for all travelers to leave as little impact on Antarctica's ecosystem as possible.

Day Three: The South Shetland Islands

The following morning we had to go through mandatory biosecurity checks and receive our rubber boots. Everyone was called to the Shackleton Lounge with their outdoor gear, where staff members thoroughly checked each item for dirt and seeds, ensuring that we didn't bring any foreign species to the shores of Antarctica. Afterward, we stored our boots and any additional equipment in the locker rooms (where we would go to "suit up" before leaving the ship for expeditions).

By lunchtime that day, we had already reached the South Shetland Islands. The South Shetland Islands are located in the Southern Ocean, about 120 km north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The islands are covered in ice and snow, with rocky coastlines and numerous glaciers. Although, despite their remote and inhospitable nature, the South Shetland Islands are home to a variety of wildlife, including penguins, seals, and sea birds.

While moving between the islands, we spotted some whales in front of the ship. They turned out to be fin whales, the second largest species on the planet.

The goal for the rest of the afternoon was to do a split landing and a Zodiac cruise around Barrientos Island. All Zodiac landings were done in small groups, broken down by color. Once our group color was called, Elli and I headed to the locker room to prepare. A few minutes later, we found ourselves leaving the expedition ship and into a Zodiac.

The Zodiac landing was definitely an unforgettable experience! As we approached the shoreline, we were greeted by hundreds of breeding gentoo and chinstrap penguins. There were also some Elephants and Weddell seals lying on the beach in the distance. After landing on the beach, we followed a marked walking route to the penguin colonies that were matting or had already laid eggs. We spent a couple of hours exploring the area and taking hundreds of pictures before returning to the Zodiac and then the ship.

Day Four: Orne Harbor

The following day we woke up to a magical landscape of scattered icebergs, snow, and towering glaciers that rose over 20 meters high. The water was also super calm and glassy, making it the perfect morning for picture-taking.

After breakfast, the Captian dropped anchor at Orne Harbour. Orne Harbor is a small bay located on the western coast of Graham Land, on the Antarctic Peninsula. The harbor is named after the French Corvette Orne, which took part in a French Antarctic expedition in 1903.

It was time for another Zodiac expedition! This time we cruised around the harbor in the Zodiac and didn't make a landing. While cruising, we passed through penguin colonies on steep snow slopes and watched them slide down the snow and into the water. We also had the opportunity to cruise around massive icebergs. Although we didn't make a landing, the Zodiac cruise was an unforgettable and otherworldly experience!

After returning to the ship for lunch, we prepared to land at Cuverville Island. Unfortunately, too much snow and ice in the area made a landing impossible. Nevertheless, we had a beautiful voyage around the bay and saw many more giant icebergs, humpback whales, and penguin colonies scattered across the mystical landscape.

Day Five: Neko Harbour & Brown Station

Our first Zodiac landing that morning took us to Neko Harbour. Neko Harbour is a small bay located on the Antarctic Peninsula and named after a whale catcher vessel, Neko, which operated in the area in the early 1900s.

As soon as we landed on shore, we were surrounded by penguin colonies scattered across the hills. We walked beside their highways and frequently stopped to let them cross. One of the roads led us to a colony that offered a pristine view of a gigantic glacier. After taking another few hundred pictures, it was time to return to the boat for a barbecue on the deck.

After lunch, we made another Zodiac landing at the Argentinean research station named Brown Station. Brown Station, also known as Base Brown, is an Argentine research station located on the coast of Paradise Bay in the Antarctic Peninsula. The station opened in the early '50s and was named after Admiral William Brown, an Irish-born Argentine naval officer. The station is one of several research stations operated by Argentina in Antarctica. It is a base for scientific research in various fields, including glaciology, geology, biology, and oceanography.

Brown Station was a unique place to visit. There wasn't much of the station to see since we were standing on top of most of the buildings due to the immense snowfall. However, the site was lovely, and we managed to take a bunch of close-up penguin shots!

Massive Iceberg in Antarctic Peninsula
Massive Iceberg in Antarctica

Upon returning to the ship, the crew announced they were preparing for the polar plunge! The polar plunge was open to anyone who dared to jump in the freezing Antarctic waters for an instant adrenaline rush. Surprisingly, out of the 120 passengers on board, seventy-six did the polar plunge!

Day Six: Port Lockroy

We were up early and excited for our landing on Port Lockroy. Port Lockroy is a natural harbor on the west coast of Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago, Antarctica. It was discovered in 1904 by the French Antarctic Expedition and was later used as a whaling station.

Zodiac view of Port Lockroy in Antarctica.
View from the zodiac.

In 1944, during World War II, the British government established a secret military base on the island to monitor German ship movements. After the war, the base was converted into a scientific research station and later became a museum and post office for tourists visiting Antarctica.

Nowadays, Port Lockroy is one of Antarctica's most famous traveler's destinations. The museum, known as the Port Lockroy Base A museum, contains a collection of historical items and photographs from the whaling and military eras. The post office, operated by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, is a popular destination for visitors to send postcards back home with a special Antarctica postmark.

As we landed in Port Lockroy, we were greeted by one of the staff members for a quick brief before entering the museum and the post office. After walking through the museum and sending out some postcards, we headed outside to take pictures. However, the wind started picking up drastically, and we were rushed back to the ship; it was a very wet and bumpy ride back on board.

Due to the high winds, the afternoon Zodiac landings were canceled. Elli and I spent the rest of the afternoon attending lectures and playing backgammon in the library on board the ship.

Day Seven: Deception Island

As we awoke to Deception Island's mystical views, we couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement. This horseshoe-shaped island, located at the southern end of the South Shetland Islands, is an active volcano that last erupted in 1970. Deception Island is also renowned as the site of the first Antarctic flight in 1928, a 20-minute journey that marked the beginning of many attempts to map the Antarctic coast. Furthermore, In the early 20th century, Deception Island was used as a whaling station. The remains of the whaling industry, including old boilers, oil tanks, and buildings, can still be seen today. These historical sites provide a glimpse into the island's past and the harsh conditions faced by early Antarctic explorers.

Man standing on Deception Island in Antarctica during a storm, 2023, 2024, 2025.
Deception Island - Antarctica

As we navigated the narrow entrance of Neptune's Bellows, the wind followed us into the deep basin known as Port Foster. The zodiac ride to shore was short, and we made it to the black volcanic sand beach in no time. After landing on the beach, we walked up the sandy hill to get a better view of the crater. After spending an hour on the active volcano, it was time to head back to the ship.

Later that evening, we began our journey back to Ushuaia and headed into the notorious Drake Passage again.

Day Eight: The Drake Passage, Again

Cruise sailing down the Drake Passage in Antarctica, 2023, 2024, 2025.
On the Drake Passage

Our northward journey to Ushuaia on the Drake Passage was very bumpy. Apparently, we crossed through the tail-end of a storm with the wind strength of a Category One storm. The Drake Passage crossing was much worse than the first time; we couldn't wait to enter the Beagle Channel. For the next 24 hours, Elli and I remained in bed, sleeping and eating what we could.

Day Nine: The Beagle Channel

On day nine, we were still on the DrakePassage until the early afternoon when we finally entered the Beagle Channel, and we knew that our ultimate expedition trip was coming to an end.

The Beagle Channel is a strait located in southern South America, between the main island of Tierra del Fuego and several smaller islands. It stretches approximately 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The channel is named after HMS Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin during his famous voyage in the 1830s.

As soon as we entered the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, everyone went outside to take pictures of the famous "Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse." (Lighthouse at the End of the World). Later that evening, Elli and I could finally enjoy our dinner without the ship rocking back and forth. We spent the rest of the evening having drinks with some of the friendly people we met on the cruise.

Day Ten: Ushuaia and the End of our Ultimate Expedition Trip

As the final morning of our ultimate expedition trip dawned, we were greeted with the bittersweet realization that our adventure was ending. Despite the early hour, we prepared to depart from our expedition vessel, our home for the past ten days. Our bags were packed and lined up in the corridors, ready for the buses that would take us back to our hostel. We said goodbye to the ship and the people who had become our friends during this incredible journey and set off on foot to our hostel.


Have you been to Antarctica? Are you planning to go? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sep 24, 2023

What about the price?


Aug 28, 2023

Super cool! I want to go with my husband one day!

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