The cap of an iceberg rises above the sea water in antarctica as part of the polar circle cruise
suba diver with colorful coral reef in Antarctica holding flashlight
Solo Kayaker in water paddling towards the snowy peninsula in the polar circle.
Guests on a zodiac near an iceberg in the Polar circle viewing a whale breaching the surface
Rocky, snowy mountains are reflected in clear, still water in antarctica's polar circle
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Polar Regions Antarctica Cruise

Polar Circle Cruise

This 12- or 14-day Polar Circle Cruise travels from Ushuaia to the Shetland Islands and then far south down the Antarctic Peninsula to Detaille Island, crossing the Polar Circle. This border, located at Latitude 66° 33′ South, marks the Antarctic Territory. Sea mammals such as killer whales, humpback whales, minke whales, leopard and crabeater seals are frequently seen during Antarctic Circle voyages. 

The Antarctic Circle experiences a period of 24 hours of continuous daylight at least once in the year. The reason for this phenomenon is that the axis of the earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees. South of the Polar Circle, at Detaille Island in Crystal Sound, is the farthest south that this excursion will probably reach at Latitude 66°52′ South. The farther south in Antarctica, the colder it gets. Temperatures slightly below 0ºC (32ºF) can be expected on these journeys. 

See the sub-ducted crater that is Deception Island, including hot springs and an abandoned whaling station. Look for black-bellied storm petrels nesting in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Take in a large colony of gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island. Enjoy Zodiac cruises through the ice-filled waters of Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay, and possibly Pléneau Island, watching for humpback and minke whales. Hope to sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island, before moving on to Detaille Island, which is likely to be the most southern landing.

Choose between the 108-passenger sister ships M/V Plancius and M/V Ortelius, both repurposed research vessels, or purpose-built expedition ship 170-guest Hondius; all three small ships offer guests the comfort and safety of expedition ships designed and built exclusively for polar cruises. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the expedition leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises like this Polar Circle Cruise.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Antarctica cruises.



Itinerary

12-Day Polar Circle Cruise Itinerary

The 12-day Polar Circle Cruise travels from Ushuaia to the Shetland Islands and then far south down the Antarctic Peninsula to Detaille Island, crossing the Polar Circle. This border, located at Latitude 66° 33′ South, marks the Antarctic Territory. Sea mammals such as killer whales, humpback whales, minke whales, leopard and crabeater seals are frequently seen during Antarctic Circle voyages.

Polar Circle Cruise route map.
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Day 1
Embark Ushuaia, Argentina

In the afternoon, embark in the small resort town of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, nicknamed “The End of the World.” Sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Accommodations

Hondius, Plancius

Meals

dinner

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Days 2 - 3
Drake Passage

During these two days on the Drake Passage, enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first chartered these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence—Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas—the ship is in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Watch for changing marine and avian life, including possible sightings of wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black- browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels and Antarctic petrels.

Accommodations

Hondius, Plancius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 4 - 9
Antarctic Peninsula

The options for activities in the Antarctic Peninsula are many and no less so during the late summer. Humpback whales are prolific, gorging themselves on krill before their northern migration. The penguin chicks are fledging, creating activity on the beaches while sleek leopard seals lie in wait ready to attack the unfortunate ones.

Adventure sites may include Hannah Point on Livingston Island, possibly featuring a nice variety of gentoo and chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels and elephant seals hauling out on the beach. Deception Island is a sub-ducted crater opening into the sea that creates a natural harbor for the ship. Here, find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station and multiple bird species including cape petrels, kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas and Antarctic terns. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Cuverville Island is a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island, which contains a large colony of gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of brown skuas. In Neko Harbour, with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, enjoy the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. The crew aims for a Zodiac cruise between the icebergs in the inner parts of the amazing waterway of Paradise Bay, with opportunities to possibly spot humpback and minke whales.

Ice conditions allowing, hope to sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island offering adélie penguins, blue-eyed shags and leopard seals. Pléneau Island is another option with fair chances to encounter humpback and minke whales. The vessel moves south along the Argentine Islands to Crystal Sound and across the Polar Circle in the morning. Hope to make a landing at the abandoned British research station on Detaille Island, which is likely to be the most southern landing. The landscape is very impressive with high mountains and huge glaciers. The Fish Islands farther north offer chances to encounter one of the southernmost adélie penguin and blue-eyed shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula. Sailing north again through Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Strait, arrive at the Melchior Islands, a beautiful landscape rich with icebergs and possible encounters with leopard seals, crabeater seals and whales. Optional, added-cost polar kayaking, camping and diving may be possible here. Depart from the Peninsula when weather and sea conditions on the Drake Passage are predicted as favorable.

Accommodations

Hondius, Plancius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 10 - 11
Drake Passage

On the way north, a vast array of seabirds follow the ship while crossing the Drake Passage.

Accommodations

Hondius, Plancius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 12
Disembark Ushuaia, Argentina

Arrive in the morning and disembark in Ushuaia.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; all meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; free use of rubber boots and snowshoes; luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation in Ushuaia; pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; comprehensive pre-departure material.

Exclusions

Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (mandatory); optional activities; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The 12-day Polar Circle Cruise begins and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina (USH). Embarkation time is between 4:00 and 5:00pm on day of departure. We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. The ship sails around 6:00pm on day of departure. Disembarkation is after breakfast on the final day between 8:30 and 9:00am. Plan flights to depart Ushuaia anytime after noon on the final day. Arrival and departure times vary for alternative itineraries; inquire with your Adventure Specialist upon booking for details. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Various optional activities may be available on your Polar Circle Cruise, including (K) kayaking $470 (2020-21 season) or $450 (2021-22 season) (14 persons max); (D) polar diving: $535 (February 2021 & 2022) or $595 (March 2021); (C) camping $195 (2020-21 & 2021-22 seasons) (30 persons max); hiking included (2-3 hours or longer). Please contact AdventureSmith for details on which activities are available on your specific departure date and to reserve space with your booking.

2020-21 Season:
Feb 14 – Feb 25, 2021 – Plancius – C, K, D

2021-22 Season:
Feb 13 – Feb 24, 2022 – Plancius – C, K, D
Mar 02 – Mar 13, 2022 – Honduis – C, K, D

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at 1.7x the per-person Twin or Superior listed rates. Single travelers wishing to book on a “sharing basis” may do so at no additional cost in Twin, Triple or Quadruple categories upon availability.

Families & Children

Upon request, children under 16 years old traveling with parents may receive 40% discount in Grand Suite, Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents/adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents/adults). Some voyages may be excluded.

Travel Insurance

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $100,000 per person. Trip cancellation insurance is optional but highly recommended. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditionswildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Antarctica expedition. Visits to research stations depend on final permission.

14-Day Deep South Polar Circle Cruise Itinerary

The 14-Day Deep South Discovery Polar Circle Cruise begins and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, spends two more days on the Antarctic Peninsula and attempts to cross the polar circle, reaching farther south including the Gullet and a possible circumnavigation of Adelaide Island.

Route map of Polar Circle Cruise Deep South Discovery, operating round-trip from Ushuaia, Argentina, with visits to the Antarctic Peninsula as far south as near to the Antarctic Circle.
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Day 1
Embark Ushuaia, Argentina

The voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

dinner

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Days 2 - 3
Drake Passage

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. Wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds you might see.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 4 - 5
Antarctica

Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. The intended route for this Antarctic adventure includes:

Cuverville Island

A small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island, Cuverville houses a large colony of gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of brown skuas.

Neko Harbour

An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.

Paradise Bay

Perhaps take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters before sailing to the Lemaire Channel.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 6 - 8
Nearing the Antarctic Circle

After a comfortable night of sailing, you wake among the many islands south of Lemaire Channel. You are now near the Antarctic Circle. At this point, a voyage through the aptly named Gullet – a narrow but picturesque channel between Adelaide Island and the Antarctic Continent is possible if the ice isn’t too dense. You can explore this area from the prow of the ship getting the closest possible contact with the polar terrain as you venture southward. Along the way, enjoy the following visits:

Pourquoi Pas Island

You might circumnavigate this island, named after the ship of the famous French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot. This location is known for its tight fjords and lofty, glacier-crowded mountains.

Horseshoe Island

This is the location of the former British Base Y, a remnant of the 1950s that is now unmanned though still equipped with almost all the technology it had while in service.

Stonington Island

Home to the former US East Base and British Base E, which was occupied until 1975, this island marks the southernmost landing site of the trip – 68° south. If a landing here is possible, your road turns north again afterward, through the Gunnel Channel.

Hanusse Bay

Enjoy the scattered icebergs of this scenic bay, which offers a good chance of spotting whales.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 9 - 11
Antarctic Peninsula

You are near the Antarctic Circle again, cutting north through the countless ice floes of Crystal Sound. Humpback whale sightings are likely, and your approach to the Fish Islands offers the possibility of a Zodiac cruise or even a landing. Whatever the case, the views beyond comparison in this area. There may also be more Adélie penguins congregating among the bergs nearby. Petermann & Pléneau Islands provide a great variety of birdlife, along with possibilities for Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are highly popular among leopard and crabeater seals. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins can also be found here. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 12 - 13
Drake Passage

The return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 14
Disembark Ushuaia, Argentina

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; all meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; free use of rubber boots and snowshoes; luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation in Ushuaia; pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; comprehensive pre-departure material.

Exclusions

Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (mandatory); optional activities; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The 14-day Deep South Polar Circle Cruise begins and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina (USH). Embarkation time is between 4:00 and 5:00pm on day of departure. We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. The ship sails around 6:00pm on day of departure. Disembarkation is after breakfast on the final day between 8:30 and 9:00am. Plan flights to depart Ushuaia anytime after noon on the final day. Arrival and departure times vary for alternative itineraries; inquire with your Adventure Specialist upon booking for details. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Various optional activities may be available on your Deep South Polar Circle Cruise, including polar diving (D): $595 (March 2021 & 2022). Please contact AdventureSmith for details on which activities are available on your specific departure date and to reserve space with your booking.

2020-21 Season:
Mar 19 – Apr 01, 2021 – Ortelius – D

2021-22 Season:
Mar 19 – Apr 01, 2022 – Ortelius – D

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at 1.7x the per-person Twin or Superior listed rates. Single travelers wishing to book on a “sharing basis” may do so at no additional cost in Twin, Triple or Quadruple categories upon availability.

Families & Children

Upon request, children under 16 years old traveling with parents may receive 40% discount in Grand Suite, Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents/adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents/adults). Some voyages may be excluded.

Travel Insurance

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $100,000 per person. Trip cancellation insurance is optional but highly recommended. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditions, wildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Antarctica expedition. Visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Mar 19 - Mar 31, 2021
Plancius • 13 days
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From $8050USD
Per Person
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Mar 19 - Apr 01, 2021
Ortelius • 14 days
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From $8550USD
Per Person
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Feb 13 - Feb 24, 2022
Plancius • 12 days
From $8050USD
Per Person
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Mar 02 - Mar 13, 2022
Hondius • 12 days
From $8050USD
Per Person
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Mar 19 - Apr 01, 2022
Ortelius • 14 days
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From $8500USD
Per Person
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Accommodations

Learn About the Small Ships on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Ortelius

The 108/114-guest M/V Ortelius is an ice-strengthened small ship designed for polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica. She offers passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program to spend as much time ashore as possible.

Expedition Ship
Plancius

The Plancius is a 108/114-passenger small ship designed and built exclusively for polar cruises. A wide variety of cabins, ample space on five decks and a wide range of activities offered make the Plancius a great option for active expedition cruises.

Expedition Ship
Hondius

The 170-guest M/V Hondius was built exclusively for cruises in Antarctica and the Arctic. She is one of the strongest ice-strengthened vessels currently cruising in the polar regions.

Expert Review

Reviews from Our Experts So You Know What to Expect

Justin Massoni • June 25th, 2018
Expert Review: Polar Circle Cruise

AdventureSmith's Director of Sales & Operations makes a case for crossing the Drake Passage and venturing as far south as the Antarctic Circle in this review of his time aboard 108-guest Ortelius.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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