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Day by Day Itinerary

Journey to the pristine wilds of Antarctica and you’ll discover icebergs in a fantastic array of shapes, a pink-hued polar sun that never sets in summer, and a surprising abundance of marine wildlife. Your privately chartered Grand Circle ship will bring you to remote landscapes inhabited by chinstrap, Adélie, and gentoo penguins, along with seals, whales, and seabirds. You’ll travel to a realm once known only to explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton and witness the rugged, glacier-clad shores they saw. Antarctica will change you—the extraordinary plenitude, profound stillness, and sure knowledge that you are visiting one of the last pure places on Earth.

Buenos Aires Drake Passage Expand All

    Your overnight flight to Buenos Aires departs in the evening.

  • When you arrive in the morning, a Grand Circle representative meets you at the Buenos Aires airport and escorts you to your hotel. Relax until mid-afternoon, and then join a short orientation walk in the neighborhood around the hotel if you wish. Then join your Program Director and travel companions for a trip briefing.

    View Plaza San Martin while touring Buenos Aires

    This this evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner hosted by your Program Director at a traditional Argentine steakhouse.

  • Explore Buenos Aires colorful bohemian district La Boca

    After breakfast, set off on a tour of Buenos Aires, an elegant mixture of Spanish Colonial architecture and several traditional European styles. See the monument-filled Avenida 9 de Julio and the Plaza de Mayo, where many buildings important to Argentine history stand. Your exploration continues in La Boca, a colorful bohemian district where you’ll stroll streets filled with 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.

    Your afternoon is free. Later, you’ll enjoy a discussion on the economy of Argentina. Dinner is on your own this evening, or join an optional tour to take in a tango show with dinner.

  • You rise very early this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Known as the “City at the End of the World,” Ushuaia is a former penal colony whose 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.

    Explore Ushuaia and view Tierra del Fuego in the distance

    You’ll take a tour from 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.

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    View Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in the Beagle Channel

    After breakfast, enjoy a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. This is Argentina’s only coastal national park, remarkable for its remote location, raging winds, and rugged landscape.The park protects unique flora and fauna including Austral parakeets and the Fuegian fox. After the visit to the park, you'll enjoy a traditional Argentine asado de cordero (lamb barbecue) lunch.

    In the late afternoon, you embark on your Antarctic expedition ship, the Corinthian II. Your cruise begins with a thrilling passage through the scenic Beagle Channel as we head east for the storied Drake Passage. Onboard, you'll meet our Expedition Team, an enthusiastic group of explorers, researchers, and naturalists, many of whom return to the Antarctic every year. At this initial session, they’ll preview your journey, outlining the course your ship will follow and detailing the stunning sights that lie ahead. Then, as we travel, they’ll become your steady companions, teaching you about all aspects of your voyage.

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    Your first full day at sea takes you across the Drake Passage, named after the 16th-century English navigator Sir Francis Drake and the point where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. This passage is notorious among sea captains and voyagers worldwide for having some of the most turbulent waters on the planet. If sea conditions are characteristically rough, the ship will roll considerably and, depending on the intensity, you’ll need to stay in your cabin until calmer waters are reached. For safety, all portholes will be closed while cruising the Drake Passage. (If you have problems with seasickness, we recommend that you carry—and use—patches and pills for seasickness.)

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    Discover the wildlife of Antarctica

    During much of this part of the trip, depending on the time of year, your ship may be accompanied by an impressive variety of sea birds—such as the magnificent Wandering Albatross. You have a good chance of spotting whales and dolphins; many different species have been encountered in these rich waters over the years. You'll also cross the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar waters sink beneath the warmer waters of the more temperate zones.

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    Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands

    The following itinerary for your Antarctic cruise is for guidance only. Due to constantly changing weather, ice conditions, and wildlife-viewing opportunities, no two Antarctic voyages can ever be exactly the same—which is precisely why this trip is such a unique adventure. Flexibility is the key to creating the best possible experience, as all landings are dependent on the current weather. Your Captain and Expedition Leader continually assess daily weather conditions and wildlife opportunities to take full advantage of the almost continuous daylight and to maximize time ashore. Visits to research stations depend upon receiving final permission. Although it is impossible to guarantee precisely what you will see and when you will see it, because sightings and encounters inevitably vary from trip to trip, we are confident that your voyage to Antarctica will be an unforgettable experience.

    When you catch sight of land for the first time after crossing the Drake Passage, you will have reached the South Shetland Islands. This impressive group of islands, lying to the north and roughly parallel to the Antarctic Peninsula, is a haven for wildlife. You'll visit vast penguin rookeries, land on beaches ruled by Antarctic fur seals, and observe wallowing southern elephant seals. We also hope to visit one of the many research bases in the archipelago and look for either of Antarctica’s only two flowering plants, Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis), which thrive here during the short southern summer. A highlight of your visit to the South Shetlands will be sailing through a narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island.

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    View glaciers and a wide variety of Antarctic wildlife

    You continue cruising the region of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands. As we go, you’ll have plenty of time to experience the special magic of this awe-inspiring wilderness of snow, ice, waterways, and mountains, and you can expect to see a wide variety of Antarctic wildlife. Enormous rookeries of gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins; blue-eyed shags; kelp gulls; Cape petrels; snowy sheathbills; and Antarctic terns are just some of the many birds found here in abundance. You are also likely to see Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals. Depending on the season, you may also encounter orcas, humpback, and Minke whales at close range.

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    Explore the South Shetlands on zodiac expeditions

    You continue cruising the region of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands. The Antarctic Peninsula has a remarkable history and, during the voyage, your Expedition Team will regale you with tales of the most important and dramatic expeditions to this remote corner of the world. As you watch from the ship and make excursions in Zodiacs, you will certainly feel the same sense of excitement as many of those early explorers.

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    View Antarctica's stunning landscape and wildlife during zodiac tours

    You continue cruising the region of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands. If they are not choked with pack ice and icebergs, we plan to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways in the world: the Neumayer and Lemaire channels, narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers. You may also sail south of the Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island, where Adélie and gentoo penguins, skuas, and blue-eyed shags nest close to the landing site.

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    View a wide variety of Antarctic wildlife during the cruise

    Begin your journey back to Ushuaia, crossing the Drake Passage. Known as the “Drake Lake”or the “Drake Shake” (depending on the severity of conditions), this famous passage is a travel milestone. Depending on the degree to which the seas are rolling, you may need to stay in your cabin during the crossing.

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    View southern right whales off the coast of Argentina

    As you cruise the Drake Passage, you can watch for birds and whales, enjoy some final lectures by your Expedition Team, and relax and reflect upon your discoveries.

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    You disembark the ship after breakfast to board a return flight for Buenos Aires. If you are ending your trip at this point, you will depart for the U.S. in the late evening. If you are continuing on the optional post-trip extension, you transfer to your Buenos Aires hotel for the night.

Extensions

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Striving for Excellence

Read about our goals >

Our #1 commitment is delivering the best travel experience at the best value, so we take feedback from our travelers seriously as we strive to improve what we do. And one of the best ways for us to measure how travelers have rated our trips—including their experiences and the value we offer—is from our post-trip surveys, sent in by travelers.

Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

Ship Excellence
98%
Program Director Excellence
90%
Overall Trip Excellence
90%
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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

  • This trip is only for physically fit and healthy travelers, travels to remote destinations with no medical facilities, and is not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids. This is an expedition and not a typical tour, and demands more of travelers than other Grand Circle Cruise Line itineraries. You must have a strong sense of balance, possess good agility, and be able to hike 3 miles unassisted on rough terrain if you choose to get off the ship to participate in the "wet" Zodiac landings during shore excursions. This trip involves cruising for 4 days across the Drake Passage on days 6, 7, 12, and 13, where rough seas and constant motion of the ship are very likely. It is imperative that you have a good sense of balance and are not subject to motion sickness in order to be able to move safely aboard the steadily rocking ship.
  • We reserve the right for our Program Directors to modify participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home if their condition would adversely affect the health, safety, or enjoyment of themselves or of their fellow travelers.
  • The ship's physician reserves the right to deny boarding to any traveler deemed unfit for the itinerary, or if he or she determines that a traveler has a medical condition that cannot be safely managed onboard.
  • Due to the varied geography of the regions we visit on this program you will experience a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. We recommend that you bring a rain jacket and sun-block regardless of the time of year you travel. In Antarctica, we travel during the Austral summer—from November to February—when daylight lasts up to 18 hours and temperatures average 32 degrees.

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Antarctica: No visa required.
  • Argentina (main trip/optional extensions): No visa required. Note: Argentina charges an advance reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Brazil (optional Iguassu Falls extension): Visa required. (Necessary to visit the Brazilian side of the falls.)

Travelers who are booked on this vacation will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Corinthian

    The Corinthian is 297 feet long and carries 98 passengers in 49 outside-facing suites—each at least 225 sq. ft. in area. All suites feature individual climate control, mini-refrigerator, safe, telephone, TV, DVD/CD player, a sitting area, and a private bath. An elevator serves all passenger decks. The ship’s well-appointed common areas include a restaurant, two lounges—including one with panoramic windows—and a library with Internet access, and provide congenial spaces to get to know your fellow travelers as you cruise. Enjoy off-shore expeditions in a group of no more than 25 travelers led by your own expert, resident Program Director.

Main Trip

  • Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina | Rating: Superior First Class

    The 152-room Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel is just steps away from Florida Street and Plaza San Martin, offering easy access to Argentina’s capital. An inviting atrium lobby greets you, and its rooms are accented with wood, marble, and granite touches. Hotel amenities include a gym, sauna, bar, and laundry service.

  • Cilene del Faro Hotel

    Ushuaia, Argentina

    We'll spend a night in Ushuaia at the Cilene del Faro Hotel, conveniently located on the waterfront next to the Maritime Museum. Relax inside at the Glass Bar—a former lighthouse converted into a cocktail lounge with panoramic views of the Andes, the Beagle Channel, and the city. The hotel has 48 rooms, each equipped with a safe, high-speed Internet access, kitchenette, and private bath.

Extensions

  • Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina | Rating: Superior First Class

    The 152-room Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel is just steps away from Florida Street and Plaza San Martin, offering easy access to Argentina’s capital. An inviting atrium lobby greets you, and its rooms are accented with wood, marble, and granite touches. Hotel amenities include a gym, sauna, bar, and laundry service.

  • Cacique Inacayal Hotel

    Bariloche, Argentina

    With Nahuel Huapi Lake as its backdrop, the 67-room Cacique Inacayal Hotel welcomes guests with water views and friendly service. A light-flooded six-story atrium is just one of the appealing features in this hotel, which also offers a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna, as well as a Patagonian restaurant. Each room includes private bath, cable TV, and wireless Internet.

  • Amerian Portal del Iguassu

    Puerto Iguassu, Argentina

    This modern-style hotel sits amid the lush vegetation of the Iguassu Falls area, and boasts a spectacular view of the junction of the Parana and Iguazu rivers. Take a dip in either an indoor or outdoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or enjoy a cocktail at either of the hotel's two bars and restaurants that offer both local specialties and international cuisine. Each of the 102 rooms is comfortably furnished and features a private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle Cruise Line vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $9095
w/ standard air $10295

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in Antarctica

Here’s how Grand Circle travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Antarctica's White Wilderness adventure. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite Grand Circle trip photos.

  View chinstrap penguins on Antarctica's Peterman Island  

On Peterman Island, 4-time traveler Sue Straw of Riverside, California, caught these two chinstrap penguins looking both ways before crossing the ice.

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How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: GCTtravelerphotos@gct.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

Our Antarctica small ship

Discover Antarctica aboard Grand Circle’s privately chartered expedition ship

Get a closer look at Antarctica’s White Wilderness during your 9-night cruise aboard the Corinthian, a 98-passenger expedition ship featuring all suites with ocean views, a fleet of Zodiac rafts for shore landings, and an expert onboard Expedition Team. When you join Grand Circle to explore Antarctica, you’ll enjoy the greatest access to the richest discoveries as you cruise in comfort aboard this well-appointed small ship. It’s an incredible experience no other travel company can match at the value we offer.

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Here are a few of the features you’ll enjoy
aboard the Corinthian:

• All outside cabins. Each of the ship’s 49 climate-controlled suites measures at least 215 square feet, features a sitting area or separate living room, and affords ocean views.

• Distinctive dining. Enjoy a variety of Continental and South American cuisine, with all meals included during the cruise, and complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks during lunch and dinner.

• Our seasoned Expedition Team. The ship’s 67-person staff includes a six-member Expedition Team—experts in Antarctica’s wilderness and wildlife who will lead us ashore aboard sturdy Zodiac rafts.

• More shore landings. Our small ship allows us to easily comply with guidelines stating that only 100 passengers may go ashore in Antarctica at a time, meaning all 4 groups of no more than 25 travelers will be able to go ashore when weather allows, with two landings scheduled per day.

• The latest safety features. The Corinthian is outfitted with the most current navigational and communications technology, retractable fin stabilizers, and an ice-strengthened hull.

• The best season for exploring Antarctica. Our trip operates during Antarctica’s austral summer—November through February—when the weather is warmest and wildlife activities are in full swing.

Learn more
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At Home in the White Wilderness

Distinguishing Antarctica’s favorite denizens

by Magdalena Zoroza, Regional General Manager, South America & Antarctica

... When it comes to distinguishing penguins, it’s never as simple as black and white.

It’s an old joke among explorers that there are only two kinds of penguins: the white ones coming toward you, and the black ones walking away. But these flightless birds are more diverse than you might think, with 17 species found around the world, including six in the Antarctic alone. Travelers cruising to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula are likely to see four distinct species of penguins. All of these species wear the “tuxedo,” but one wears a turban while another sports a helmet and a “strap” across its chin.

First and foremost among Antarctic penguins is the Adélie, whose solid black head and white front most invoke the look of an old English butler. Unlike the majority of penguins, which inhabit the region only seasonally, Adélies live here year-round, with a population of two million ringing nearly the entire continent. During the winter, they huddle together to share body heat, rotating in and out of the cluster so those on the outside of the huddle get a chance to warm up.

The Adélies were named by 19th-century French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville for his wife, who was left behind in Paris while her husband went exploring for up to a year at a time. Adélie penguin couples rarely endure such lengthy separations, at least during mating season, when males and females share incubation, parenting, and foraging duties. Gentoo penguins are even more dramatically faithful than Adélies. They stay with their mates throughout the entire year, sometimes even reusing the same nesting site, which is rare among penguins. They use the same path to and from the sea so routinely that they wear a beaten path into the Antarctic landscape. Like a mini-highway, these clearly defined routes become the paths for other gentoos, who are easily spotted by their two defining features: an orange beak and their “turbans,” the white swaths on their glossy dark heads.

Chinstrap penguins have a different kind of headgear. Beneath their beaks, their white faces boast slender black markings resembling straps, making it appear that the birds are wearing helmets. Maybe they should be, as chinstraps are among the most aggressive species. Fast, strong, and not concerned with politeness, they’ll fight over the best spot, steal each other’s rocks, and even force other penguins off their nests.

Once you’ve explored Antarctic waters, you’ll find the differences in species easy to spot—and know that when it comes to distinguishing penguins, it’s never as simple as black and white.