The small, bustling port town of Ushuaia, at the southernmost tip of South America, is the gateway for your Antarctic adventure. Here, surrounded by sea and mountains at the “end of the world,” you can explore southern Patagonia, hiking in the nearby national park, exploring the museums, or savoring tapas or a hot chocolate at one of the town’s many restaurants or cafés.
As the ship sets sail in the late afternoon, you will begin your Antarctic journey, passing through the Beagle Channel, which 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 and seals and sea lions lounging on land.
The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies and a calm ocean. You’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the sea, spotting and snapping shots of seabirds swooping around the ship, and get to know your fellow travelers and chat with your Expedition Team. You will spend this time preparing for the exciting days ahead, with numerous educational and informative lectures presented by your Expedition Team. During these sea days, you’ll have the chance to learn tips for photographing Antarctica, which can be a challenge, given its stark scenery (think: dramatic whites and darks and very little gray) and abundant light, which comes from all directions, reflecting off the snow and water. Whether you’re an amateur or hobbyist, your on-board experts will share tricks for making the most of your camera, such as using filters, bracketing exposures, framing icebergs and glaciers, capturing wildlife shots on land and sea, and shooting from the unique perspective of a Zodiac or kayak.
With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make our approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready as the 7th continent’s coastline makes its first appearance, signaling the start of your adventure in the realm of the Antarctic. As plentiful floating icebergs pass by, you can put your newfound photographic skills to work. Icebergs come in all shapes and sizes, each uniquely shaped by its journey through the sea, but to truly capture their vast scale, you’ll need to create a sense of proportion, playing with angles and framing the bergs against their background. If you’re lucky, eyes fixated on the ocean surface, you may also have the chance to snap shots of curious whales as they spout and breach before us. As exciting as it can be on the ship’s bridge and deck, with landscapes and scenery changing from moment to moment (photographers will want to capture everything!), your true exploration occurs when you disembark and set foot on the White Continent. There are several potential landing sites that we may visit, including Neko Harbour, Cuverville Island or Paradise Harbour. Although weather dictates which specific landing sites we can visit, each one presents a new collection of wildlife and natural attractions. Your days will be busy spotting wildlife and being mesmerized by the beauty of Antarctica. Watching penguins waddling on the beach will become your daily entertainment, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture the perfect portrait or, better yet, shoot them playfully interacting with one another. Listening to the crackling and crumbling of icebergs and glaciers will make for an eerie soundtrack as you try to capture their dazzling beauty.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula do not reach this far south, which is officially noted at 66°33´ S. If conditions allow us to cross this famed line, you and your shipmates will celebrate in style with a well-earned glass of champagne! Make a toast and take pride in knowing you’ve made it to a part of the world visited by very few people.
By now, your knowledge of Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins will be matched by your ability to differentiate between a leopard, fur or Weddell seal. Terms like bergy bits and pancake ice will seem normal, yet there are still many tales to be told and photos to be shot. As you head north, Zodiac excursions will fill your days, allowing you to explore and photograph lesser-seen areas of the 7th continent, from intimate perspectives you won’t experience from the ship. Your Expedition Team will continue offering presentations while giving you time to reflect on everything you’ve experienced. Don’t forget to take a moment to pause and simply take in all you’re experiencing.
As you recross the Drake, Antarctica fades away, leaving you with a collection of memories to last a lifetime. Excited conversations and the chance to share your favorite photos with your newfound friends will make the crossing fly by, regardless of the weather and sea conditions. Your Expedition Team will round up its series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of the great landing sites and wildlife you’ve witnessed over the course of your voyage, or by providing tips on how to improve your already-stunning photographs in postproduction.
Today, you’ll have lots of time to bid farewell to your shipmates and Expedition Team, disembarking after breakfast to catch your homeward flights.