Antarctica 15-day Cruise – Crossing the 66º Circle Expedition
Updated July 27, 2016 / João Leitão / No Comments / Filed in: Antarctica 🇦🇶 / Reading time 4 minutes
Traveling the least explored of the continents on board of a cruise ship is a dream for many.
Antarctica is a continent located in the southernmost tip of the globe, which contains the South Pole.
To easily distinguish the geography between the South Pole and North Pole, is simple:
The North Pole is water surrounded by continents, while the South Pole is a continent surrounded by water.
I traveled the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands during 15 days, leaving the Argentine city of Ushuaia across the Drake Passage, down to 68°11 S 67°00 W in Stonington Island, beyond the Antarctic Circle.
My Antarctica Expedition was on board of the Ocean Diamond, a ship prepared for the ice, which has hundreds of trips both in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
During the Antarctica Cruise I visited many places around the Peninsula region and also the South Shetland Islands. The trip itself was wonderful, exceeding all kinds of expectations.
Stunning scenery and indeed an adventure expedition. Besides land incursions and several trips by speedboat across the continent, I still had 15 days of learning about Antarctica. A board the ship, I had daily lectures and conferences to develop knowledge about Antarctica, its geology, history, flora and fauna.
Besides the team of experts, on board the Antarctica Cruise I yet had the pleasure to have been traveling in the company of Falcon Scott (grandson of explorer Robert Falcon Scott) and Jonathan Shackleton (cousin of the explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton).
⛴ Itinerary of 15 days Antarctica Cruise
🌐 Antarctic Circle
During the Antarctica expedition I crossed beyond the 66º South ie, the imaginary line that enters the so-called Antarctic Circle. The southern most I went was down to 68º in Stonington Island, southeast of Adelaide Island in Marguerite Bay.
At the exact moment crossing 66º, around 5:30 am, there were 2 large icebergs floating through the Southern Ocean, just aside the ship. Amazing.
The best time to take cruise to Antarctica is during the Antarctic summer months, ie during the months of December, January and February. Before or after these dates is a little out of season to have good weather and see many animals.
🐋 Animals in Antarctica
I love animals, and during this 15 day Antarctica Cruise I saw many beautiful wild animals in their natural habitat.
My favorite are leopard seals, but whales and all sorts of penguins are also amazing.
During the trip to Antarctica I was fortunate enough to be able to spot all these animals:
Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella), Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga), Leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii), Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus), Snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea), Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica), Antarctic prion (Pachyptila desolata) and killer whale (Orcinus orca). Now you have some photos of the animals in Antarctica.
⛴ On board of Ocean Diamond cruise ship
My trip to Antarctica was on board of the ship 124 m / 406 ft length Ocean Diamond. This ship is operated by Quark Expeditions to make trips both in the Arctic and Antarctica. The cruise ship departed from Ushuaia in February 2014. The original tour I bought to Quark Expeditions was the 15 Days Crossing the Circle Southern Expedition. But since the first day is in Ushuaia, and I was there already, my trip only really started the next day. I got a Last Minute Cruise to Antarctica in Ushuaia one week before departure.
Ocean Diamond is an Eco cruise ship that offers certified Carbon Neutral voyages. Although it takes 189 passengers, you don’t really feel there’s that much people on board. It’s actually not that much people really, comparing to other huge cruise ships carrying 4000 people. On board of Ocean Diamond there’s one restaurant, one souvenir ship, the biggest floating polar library in the World, a theater-style auditorium, a clinic with licensed doctor and a Gym Center. Now you have some photos of the ship’s different decks.