Crossing the Circle via Falklands & South Georgia from Ushuaia
If you desire to ‘do it all’ on your Antarctic adventure, then this is the voyage for you. Not only will you cross the Antarctic Circle and travel further south than traditional Antarctic cruises, you’ll also visit the wildlife playgrounds of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. This journey is for anyone who appreciates a wide variety of landscapes, unprecedented wildlife viewing opportunities and a decent mix of historic landing sites.
Ages: 8 - 99
Theme: Polar, Wildlife
Accommodation: Expedition Voyage, Hotel
You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentine town is an ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or enjoy handcrafted chocolate at a café in town.
As the ship sets sail in the late afternoon, you will begin your Antarctic journey, passing through the Beagle Channel. The channel opens up to the vastness of the Southern Ocean, where your next land sighting will be along the Antarctic Peninsula. Named after the famed ship on which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents great photo opportunities to capture seabirds hovering overhead.
There are many activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Take advantage of the library of books available on the ship, become acquainted with fellow travellers at the bar and enjoy spectacular views from the deck. Thick parkas will be provided to keep you warm. The expedition team will conduct a series of presentations on polar wildlife and history and to prepare you for the Zodiac cruises and shore landings ahead.
Explore the two main islands, East and West, of the rugged Falkland archipelago on Zodiac excursions and daily landings. Visit the capital of Stanley, a remote and peaceful outpost with a British country charm. There are plenty of churches and museums to explore, and the locals are often happy to chat over a drink at the pub. Wildlife sightings around the Falkland Islands should include at least three species of penguin and two endemic bird species - Cobb’s wren and the flightless steamer duck. The expedition team will educate you on the local flora and fauna so you will know what you’re looking for. Other potential landing sites include West Point Island, Saunder’s Island, Sea Lion Island and Bleaker Island. POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS CARCASS ISLAND The 5 mile (8 km) island northwest of West Falkland is owned by Rob and Lorraine McGill. It is a picturesque island, where songbirds nest amongst the luxuriant growth that covers the gently rolling landscape. The island is named for a Royal Navy ship, HMS Carcass, which arrived in 1766. NEW ISLAND The most southwesterly island in the archipelago is about 8 miles (13 km) long and half a mile (800 m) wide. The western side of the island is a cliff 600 feet (183 m) high, while the eastern side slopes to the sea. The ownership of the island is held by Tony Chater and Ian Strange. Both men have turned their portion of the island into nature reserves. STANLEY The deep-water harbor of Stanley was the economic mainstay of the community since the Port’s completion in 1845. Sailing ships damaged while rounding Cape Horn called in for expensive repairs. Stanley is as lively as it gets in the Falklands (Malvinas) and the future of the port may be bright if hydrocarbon deposits off the coast prove to be abundant. WEST POINT ISLAND The Napier family has owned the island since the 1860s. Black-browed albatrosses nest in colonies on cliffs along the water’s edge on the western side of the island. Rockhopper penguins share the cliffs, while Commerson’s dolphins are often seen in the water surrounding the island. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited. KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions. CAMPING – Spend the night under the Antarctic sky with a hardy group of your shipmates. Numbers are limited so book early. The crew will determine the best location and conditions for your overnight adventure. Dress warmly and eat a hearty meal before you head out as no meals are permitted onshore.
En route to South Georgia Island, cross the invisible biological boundary of the Antarctic Convergence. Unique to Antarctica, this meeting of oceans creates an abundance of krill and marine life. With the help of the expedition team, keep an eye out for large cetaceans, including humpback whales. Learn more about Antarctic conservation as well as the fascinating history of the area, as your on-board presentations continue.
South Georgia is sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the Poles’ due to the diversity and abundance of its wildlife. Visit rookeries teeming with hundreds of thousands of king and macaroni penguins. Encounter huge elephant seals or smaller fur seals, as well as shags, prions and albatrosses. You’ll also have the chance to see the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, at the settlement of Grytviken. Other potential landing sites in South Georgia include Salisbury Plain, Gold Harbour, Fortuna Bay, Grytviken, St. Andrew’s Bay and Cooper Bay. Excursions are determined by weather conditions, but your expedition team will ensure that each landing offers something unique. POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN SOUTH GEORGIA DRYGALSKI FJORD This is a photogenic and dramatic fjord, with sharp and jagged peaks rising out of the sea. Glaciation never reached the peaks of this fjord, giving it a unique landscape. GOLD HARBOUR The backdrop to this harbor is the hanging Bertrab Glacier. King and gentoo penguins call this home, as do rowdy elephant and fur seals. GRYTVIKEN Only a handful of people live, albeit temporarily, on South Georgia, a United Kingdom overseas territory. Two of them are curators of the South Georgia Museum, located in the former whaling station manager’s villa. The church was built for the whaling community and is the only building in Grytviken that is still used for its original purpose. PRION ISLAND Robert Cushman Murphy named this island for the species of petrels seen on the island. Birders will be pleased to know that wandering albatross are also known to nest on the island. SALISBURY PLAIN One of the largest king penguin rookeries on the island is located on Salisbury Plain. The Murphy and Lucas Glaciers flank the plain, creating a perfect backdrop for photographers. ST. ANDREW’S BAY Thousands of breeding pairs of king penguin nest at St. Andrew’s Bay. It is the largest king penguin rookery on South Georgia and is a wildlife spectacle to behold. Reindeer introduced by Norwegian whalers are known to feed on the grass in the area. STROMNESS This abandoned whaling station was in full operation the day that Ernest Shackleton and his companions staggered in after a 36-hour trek across the island. There is a small cemetery here, with the graves of 14 whalers.
Spend your days at sea enjoying the view from the deck and attending educational presentations made by on-board experts about the history, geology and wildlife of the region. Hot drinks are available around the clock, so relax with a cup of tea or coffee. If weather conditions are good, a visit to the South Orkney Islands may mark your official landing on Antarctica.
Enter another world as you sail past icebergs, glaciers and snow-covered mountains along the Antarctic Peninsula. From the ship, watch whales feed in the waters of the South Shetland Islands and enjoy the comical antics of penguins playing among the ice floes. Dependent on the weather, you’ll make several excursions over the next few days. Hike to see glaciers, visit research bases and search for fur and elephant seals on a Zodiac cruise. Some landings may be as simple as sitting on a beach and taking photographs of curious gentoo penguins, while others may include hiking up a hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Peninsula. You may also like to awaken your senses with a polar plunge into the sea, or take part in the sea kayaking adventure option (reserve in advance when booking your trip). POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN ANTARCTICA CUVERVILLE ISLAND A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you arrive, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls breed on the island. DAMOY POINT If you are lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, you’ll likely pass through Damoy Point, the northern entrance to the harbor on which Port Lockroy is located. DANCO ISLAND This small island, one mile (1.6 km) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags. ENTERPRISE ISLAND Located in Wilhelmina Bay, the island was used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship. LEMAIRE CHANNEL This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula; you’ll see that this is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 6.8 mile-long (11 km) Channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so we’ll hope for clear waters MELCHIOR ISLANDS A group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy. NEKO HARBOUR Little evidence remains that this bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You might see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There is an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour. PETERMANN ISLAND Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. The dome of the island rises 650 feet (200 meters) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views. Adélie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island. PORT LOCKROY A ‘fun’ destination of sorts, we always strive to journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built on the harbour during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It is now designated as a historic site, where Port Lockroy is a museum and post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration. WATERBOAT POINT Of historic interest, you may venture to this unique point, which at low tide is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs are used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behavior lived in a water boat on the Point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site. BROWN BLUFF A possible exposed volcano, Brown Bluff towers 2,225 feet (678 meters) over the home of Adélie and gentoo penguin rookeries, which number in the thousands. These penguins will create a symphony of background noise while you explore the bluff. PAULET ISLAND Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, the island is home to a large Adélie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone 1,158 feet (353 m) high, Paulet Island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to penguins, you may be interested in visiting a historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition 1901-04. A cross marks the grave site of Ole Wennersgaard, a member of that team who died on the island. THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE While not a typical landing, the crossing of the Antarctic Circle is a moment to remember. The event will usually happen while at sea, so be sure to head up to the bridge and snap your photo of the GPS reading 66° 33’ S. AITCHO ISLANDS This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too. BAILY HEAD Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography. HALF MOON ISLAND This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua. HANNAH POINT Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from January 10 onwards. PENDULUM COVE Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water! PENGUIN ISLAND Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes. ROBERT POINT A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters. TELEFON BAY Your Expedition Team will be happy to point out that it is here where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen. TURRET POINT Chinstrap and Adélie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks. WHALER’S BAY To reach Whaler’s Bay it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbor created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated water springs along the shoreline. YANKEE HARBOUR Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned sealing try pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.
Few people can say they’ve crossed the Antarctic Circle. Toast to your adventure and the first explorers to venture this far south with a glass of champagne. This region has the densest concentration of wildlife in Antarctica, and is home to the midnight sun and otherworldly ice-sculptures. While not a typical landing, the crossing of the Antarctic Circle is a moment to remember. The event will usually happen while at sea, so be sure to head up to the bridge and snap your photo of the GPS reading 66° 33’ S.
Travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula and continue to journey onto land by Zodiac twice a day, weather depending. By now you should have gained enough knowledge to be able to tell the difference between various species of penguins, seabirds, whales and seals. Your expedition team will always be on the lookout for new species of wildlife.
The journey homeward begins as you cross the famous Drake Passage, named after the British navigator, Sir Francis Drake. Sail past icebergs and keep on the look out for any wildlife in the water or in the air. On your last night onboard the ship, reflect on your adventures over dinner with your fellow explorers.
Arrive into Ushuaia in the morning after breakfast. Time to say farewell to your expedition team and fellow travellers before starting the journey home.
Your Ushuaia Hotel
Although you don't need to be particularly fit to take part in an Antarctic expedition, you do need to have a good level of mobility. You must be able to complete the on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet while negotiating the ship over potentially slippery decks and gangways. The zodiacs are accessed via a gangway or stairs which may be steep on some ships. Most of our ships have lifts, but these may not access all decks so some stair climbing on board will be necessary.
For Fly/Cruise itineraries landing or departing from King George Island, a walk of approximately 1.5km's is required between the runway and the zodiac landing point. Your luggage will be transferred for you.
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Antarctic voyages. Some voyages also offer other activities such as camping, stand up paddle boarding, cross country skiing and mountaineering. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required for cross country skiing and mountaineering. See the itinerary for Adventure options available on this voyage.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Your voyage will be led by an experienced Expedition Leader. In addition, a number of experts will be on board to add knowledge of their field to your experience. This will include a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Glaciologist or Geologist, Polar Historian, Kayaking guide and Naturalist guides. Voyages offering other adventure activities will have additional specialist guides on board.
On your way to join your voyage, you may take advantage of the opportunity to visit a larger South American city such as Buenos Aires or Santiago. It is worth researching matters of personal safety and security in these places before your departure. Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Safety is paramount on a Peregrine voyage. Due to new International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by a Peregrine representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations. All ships operating in Polar waters must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. All our ships adhere to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention). In addition, Quark Expeditions is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators). Quark Expeditions have also been externally audited for its' health and safety programme and have been awarded the British Standard BS8848, the only expedition cruise company to have this accreditation.
All of our ships have facilities to communicate with the outside world.
Satellite phone communications are available on all ships but be aware that on some ships, this connection is only available in certain locations and may not be possible from your cabin. Satellite communications can be intermittent and may not be available at all times or in all locations. Phone calls are charged per minute of usage.
Internet access is possible via wifi on your personal laptop or device in certain areas of each ship and is charged via a pre-paid card which can be purchased through the hotel manager. Each ship also has a computer for passengers to use for internet access and emails and the hotel manager can set you up with a temporary webmail address. Please be aware, accessing some websites from the ship will be very expensive as downloading picture heavy content will use up a large amount of data. Text only emails use up much less data and is a very affordable way to communicate with friends and family at home.
All communications from the ship are a bit intermittent as when travelling through mountainous areas or through narrow channels, signals can be disrupted and may not be transmitted until clearing this terrain or until satellites next pass overhead. Please make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations of your ability to communicate with them so they don’t worry about you.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
No visas are required to visit the Antarctic continent or its offshore islands. However, you will need to have your passport with you on the ship, as port authorities will wish to inspect passports on departure from Ushuaia or Punta Arenas and also again at the end of your voyage. To facilitate matters, our ground operators in Ushuaia or Punta Arenas will usually collect your passport prior to departure in order that all passengers’ passports may be kept together for the duration of the voyage. After completion of port formalities on the return to Ushuaia or Punta Arenas, they will be handed back to you prior to your disembarkation from the ship.
For most departures, your ship departs for the Antarctic continent from the port of Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, at the southern tip of Argentina. At the time of printing, no visas for Argentina are required by holders of Australian, New Zealand, British, Canadian, U.S.A. or European passports. Passengers holding passports issued by other countries should carefully check the situation with their travel agent or Argentinean consular authorities.
For Fly/Cruise itineraries departing from Punta Arenas (Chile) or if your flight to Ushuaia travels via Santiago, tourist visas are required for Chile for some nationalities. Please check with your travel agent.
For the voyages scheduled to visit the Falkland Islands, visitors from Britain, the Commonwealth, North America, Chile and the European Community do not need visas as at the time of printing. Visitors should check their particular situation with us, their travel agent, the nearest British Consulate, or contact the Travel Co-ordinator at the Falkland Island Government Office in London (tel: 020 7222 2375).
Americans, Australian, Belgians, British, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, New Zealanders and South Africans do not currently require a visa for Argentina. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa or entry requirements with the Argentinean consulate in your home country.
Why we love it
Journey to the end of the civilised world and your embarkation point at Ushuaia
South Georgia Island is incredibly rich in rare wildlife and history. See over 30 species of birds, including four penguin species, and visit the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton
Encounter whales, seals and penguins on regular Zodiac excursions along the plunging coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula
On-board lectures by polar experts provide great insight into the unique history, geology and wildlife of the region
Few people ever get the opportunity to set foot on the Great White Continent, but you'll be one of them
A diversity of possible landing sites and activities allows you to see the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula from multiple perspectives
This all-encompassing trip includes everything you need for peace of mind on your journey, such as pre-expedition hotel accommodation, transfers to and from your ship, full meals on-board, around the clock tea and coffee, waterproof expedition boots for shore landings (on loan) and emergency evacuation insurance.
Is this trip right for you
Although our ice strengthened ships are big and sturdy, Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings. Please be prepared with medications to combat this. There is also a doctor on-board should you need further assistance.
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Antarctic are freezing. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognised sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are equally as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The on-board library and educational lectures are ideal ways for keeping entertained.
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations for this voyage but some may be required or recommended for countries you are visiting enroute to Antarctica.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
The waters of the Drake Passage can be some of the roughest seas in the world, although at other times they are so smooth that it is referred to as the 'Drake Lake'! Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board. It is wise to carry an extra week’s supply of prescription medications just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
Food and dietary requirements
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage via your online Polar forms. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need.
Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. this shoud make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
We recommend you allow US$100 per person for meals not included in the itinerary
SPENDING IN ANTARCTICA
The US Dollar is the standard currency on board. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover Card and American Express are accepted on board for settling your shipboard account.
At the time designated in the shipboard program, please give the Hotel Manager the credit card you would like to use for all your incidental expenses. An account will be opened for your cabin for purchases aboard ship. This will include bar services, laundry, postage, and communication charges. A ‘chit’ system will operate for on board payments. You will sign for any bar, wine, communication charges, laundry, etc. An account for payment will be presented to you on the final day of the voyage. Final payment can be made using cash, travellers’ checks or major credit cards. Personal cheques are not accepted on board. If you are sharing a cabin and would like separate accounts, you must advise the Hotel Manager.
It is wise to travel with sufficient cash to pay for incidentals such as shipboard items on the last day of the voyage, airport taxes and taxi transfers.
In Antarctica, there are limited opportunities to spend money other than on the ship. If you are visiting the Falklands, it is advisable to have Pounds Sterling or US dollars to spend while in Stanley. Argentinean Pesos are not accepted. Please note there are no ATM’s on the Falkland Islands. For trips to the Peninsula, you may visit Port Lockroy which is a small museum and has a souvenir shop.
The voyage fare does not include the customary, optional gratuity which is divided between the ships' crew, and hospitality staff. We suggest US$13 - US$15 per day as a guide. Any tip for the Expedition Team is extra to this and is at your discretion. Gratuities can be added to your onboard account at the end of the voyage or paid in cash on board. Full details will be provided before you settle your onboard account.
Argentina currency information:
The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentinean peso (ARS).
In Buenos Aires and all large towns in Argentina, cash can be drawn from ATMs in local currency. This can either be drawn on credit with Visa or MasterCard or directly from your savings account if it is linked into the Cirrus or Maestro network. Look for ATMs displaying either Cirrus, Maestro, Plus, Visa or MasterCard symbols. Although this is a very convenient and safe form of receiving local currency it is not always available when you most need it so you should still have a back-up supply in US dollar traveller’s cheques and US dollars cash (you will be charged a small fee to change these into local currency). Please note that many ATM machines will only accept 4-digit PIN numbers. If you have a PIN number of more than 4 digits you should contact your bank and obtain a new number.
The currency of the Falkland Islands is the Falkland pound (FKP)
Currency exchange and cash are available at the bank in Stanley. Sterling traveller's cheques, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Stanley. English pound sterling is often accepted but Argentinian pesos are not generally accepted or welcome.
The currency of South Georgia is the British pound (GBP).
Most countries have airport departure and security taxes. These are generally now added to the cost of your flight ticket and will be quoted to you when you are arranging your flights. However, there is a departure tax of 28 pesos (or US$8) payable when leaving Ushuaia and this must be paid in cash at the airport. From Buenos Aires International airport, in addition to a number of taxes built into your airline ticket, there is also an additional tax now payable in cash at the airport.
If you are on a Fly/Cruise voyage, there is a US$15 departure tax when leaving Punta Arenas for King George Island and for any flights out of the Falkland Islands, there is a US$32 departure tax. These amounts will be added onto your ship board account for settlement before the end of your voyage.
What to take
The Antarctic Peninsula has relatively mild weather conditions when compared to the rest of the continent. As a result, you should not need to make many expensive specialist gear purchases, although you do need good wet weather pants and warm clothing. Wet weather jacket and boots are supplied on board the ship.
The dress code on board is relaxed and casual and you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly – a whale sighting or seals on a nearby ice-floe nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing - a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items - and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday. Laundry facilities are available on board the ship. A more detailed packing list is provided in the pre departure information from the ship operator, Quark which will be provided to you after booking.
Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes
Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets
Spare passport photos
Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
Money belt (for travelling en route)
Small first-aid kit
Ecologically friendly laundry soap
Daypack (lightweight and waterproof)
Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
Electrical adapter plug
Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection)
Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)
Refillable water bottle
Phrase book (if travelling en route to ship)
Gloves (2 pairs minimum)
Hat that covers ears
Scarf or other face protection
Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger)
Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions)
Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship)
Thermal underwear (silk or polypropylene)
Cotton turtlenecks and t-shirts
Camera and spare film and batteries (or recharge for digital cameras)
Plastic bags with zippers for carrying film, etc
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we and our partners are doing well and what could be done better. It allows us to suggest improvements for future travellers.
BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below:
Quark: 1 647 449 5303
Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in . How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:
* Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.
* Consider offsetting your flights too.
* Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.
* Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.
* Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.
* Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.
* Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.
* Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.
* Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.
Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.
As a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Quark Expeditions are supporters of responsible tourism that mitigates the impact of our shore landings on the landscape or wildlife. Quark was the first operator to offer inclusive Carbon Neutral voyages on the Ocean Diamond. By doing so we have enhanced our commitment to ecological sensitivity and to minimising our impact on the areas we visit including:
• Having our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor.
• Conforming to all international regulations/policies governing disposal of waste at sea.
• Serving only sustainable seafood.
• Using only eco-friendly laundry chemicals and room amenities.
• Removing disposable water bottles from the ships.
• Making all our voyages virtually paperless by 2014 and having any paper used be 100% recyclable.
IAATO members also operate according to established rules of conduct, which, while you travel with us, we ask you to respect. A copy of the IAATO guidelines will be provided prior to travel and staff will brief all passengers prior to the first landing.
Your voyage fare includes Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person. However, it is essential that you have comprehensive personal travel insurance in addition to this to cover all other eventualities.
Your fellow travellers
On your voyage, you will be travelling with up to 198 other people (depending on which ship you are on). The ships are spacious with ample deck space and public areas so it is always possible to find a spot to yourself to enjoy the scenery and some solitude. On excursions, you will travel in a zodiac with up to 10 guests on each boat. Polar travel attracts travellers of all nationalities and meeting people from other countries is one of the pleasures of life on board. The voyages will be conducted in English and clients who do not speak English will need to travel with someone able to translate for safety reasons. Some voyages may have large non English speaking groups travelling with translators so you may find that announcements are translated for their benefit and presentations may be given separately in their own language.
Single occupancy is available in most cabin categories for 1.7 or 2 times the twin berth price (dependent on which cabin category). Some ships have designated single occupancy cabins. Single travellers wishing to share will be matched with another solo traveller of the same sex. Please note that it is not possible to share with a stranger in all cabin types. Please speak to a consultant for full details.
No two Polar voyages are the same and this is part of the excitement of travelling in these remote regions. Weather, ice conditions and wildlife will all affect where your ship is able to access, and most importantly, where your Expedition Team think you will get the best possible experience from your trip. On board, daily updates are given to advise what the specific itinerary will be for the next day based on local conditions. Published itineraries cannot be guaranteed but an amazing voyage full of adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences is guaranteed.