2018 February 7 to 17
A Gay Travel Antarctica Adventure Tour
A 10-day cruise along the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula: rugged, savage, and teeming with extensive wildlife. Sail the Beagle Channel and Drake Passage, seeing icebergs, massive mountains and ice shelves. Step onto the continent, itself, and live an explorer’s dream.
We love this helicopter-view video sent to us by our guest, Tony Russomanno, from a longer helicopter-equipped Antarctica cruise in December, 2014. Please let us know if you would like information about longer cruises to see even more of Antarctica.
Starting in Ushuaia, we head to the world’s most remote continent: Antarctica! For ten days, we’ll sail along the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, exploring the bays and trekking onto the continent, as often as possible. We’ll sail down the Beagle Channel accompanied by albatross, then head across the Drake Passage toward the mainland. Along the way, we’ll see the most stunning wilderness areas on earth, rugged and savage, teeming with extensive wildlife. We’ll watch for Weddell seals, Elephant seals and rookeries of penguins. Along the coast, we’ll see icebergs, massive mountains and ice shelves. On land we’ll explore an old whaling station on Deception Island, and perhaps take a thermal dip in the waters at Pendulum Cove. Our ship is the mv Plancius, a 120-passenger ship. This is not a private charter, but it should be a fun, friendly group from around the world. This is truly a voyage of a lifetime during which, weather and ice conditions permitting, you will encounter the ever-changing world of Antarctica.
Your experience visiting the Antarctic Peninsula 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.
Our trip starts in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world and the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Islands. For those arriving early you may want to check out a number of activities including: horseback riding, hiking, wind sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and diving. You may want to visit the nearby Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, or Lago Escondido and Fagnano (lakes). The official tour starts when we board our ship on Day 1, but we highly recommend arriving in Ushuaia at least one day before sailing to minimize risk of travel problems impacting your cruise.
Day 1: Embarking on our Great Journey!
After a leisurely day in Ushuaia to get last-minute provisions, walk over to the pier to board our ship in mid-afternoon. Our ship is a former Dutch Navy oceanographic research vessel that has been rebuilt as a comfortable passenger vessel with multiple observation decks, dining room, and private bathrooms.
Later in the afternoon we set sail and follow the Beagle Channel (Canal Beagle) into the evening.
Day 2-3: Crossing the Drake Passage
Over the next two days, we will sail across Drake Passage, where the waters of the South Atlantic and the Southern Ocean converge. Some of the birds we’ll see include Petrels (Blue, Wilson’s Storm, and Antarctic); Albatross (Wandering, Grey-Headed, Black-browed, and Light-mantled Sooty); Southern Fulmars; and Cape Pigeons. We’ll begin seeing icebergs as we near the South Shetland Islands.
Days 4-8: Antarctica!
During our days of sailing, we’ll see the Melchior, Brabant, and Anvers Islands, as well as many others. We’ll have the opportunity to see or visit diverse wildlife colonies (Gentoo Penguins, Brown and South Polar Skuas, Antarctic Terns, Dominican Gulls, Chinstrap Penguins, Adelie Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, Weddell or Crabeater Seals). We’ll glide past breathtaking scenery of myriad icebergs, deep-cut fjords, glaciers, and alpine peaks. From the deck it’s likely we’ll spot Humpback, Minke, and Fin Whales. Zodiac cruises, kayaking, and hiking excursions provide close-up wildlife viewing and a deep appreciation for the unique landscape (and icescape) of the region. Adventurous visitors may enjoy optional camping and kayaking activities (Early pre-registration is required for these activities that always sell out)!
Visiting Antarctica’s research stations, where visitors always receive a warm welcome, will allow us to learn about modern scientists’ life and work on the White Continent. One of the most prominent is the Vernadsky Research Base, founded by the British after World War II, but sold to the Ukrainian government in 1996. It has two major claims to fame. The first is that scientists here were the first to discover the hole in the ozone layer surrounding the earth. The second is the world’s southernmost bar, where visitors can get a quick swig while shopping in their gift shop for souvenirs, or getting post cards stamped with the imprint of the world’s southernmost post office. The bar was created when some bored British scientists commandeered some wood intended for a new pier to instead re-create an English pub. It still retains its original look – except that the menus are now also printed in Cyrillic.
Days 9-10: Back Across the Drake Passage
After several exhilarating days exploring the ice-covered land of Antarctica, we start our way back across the Drake Passage. We’ll again have the chance to observe a wide variety of seabirds that call this bleak region home.
Day 11: Back to Mainland South America
Our journey ends with early morning arrival in Ushuaia Harbor. A mid-morning transfer will be provided to Ushuaia Airport for flights around noon or later, or you can stay in downtown Ushuaia to begin your next adventure.
Price includes: Shared accommodations aboard our Expedition ship; All meals on board the ship; Expedition leaders and lecturers; All shore excursions by Zodiac boat; Lectures, videos, slide and film shows; Free use of rubber boots for shore landings; Opportunity for kayaking and/or camping on the ice for a night, subject to availability (for additional charge); Resident on-board medical officer; Transfer from ship to Ushuaia Airport on morning of disembarkation; HE Travel tour director (pending minimum participation) and assistance from local guides; Assistance with flights and extra nights in Buenos Aires or Ushuaia available upon request; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare to and from Ushuaia (we strongly suggest arriving at least one day, and preferably two days before sailing and departing 12:00 noon or later on final tour day); Visa, entry fee and passport fees (US, Canadian and Australian citizens must pay a Reciprocity Fee BEFORE departure from home; citizens of most other countries do not need visas); Airport departure taxes; Transfers from Ushuaia Airport to hotel and from hotel in Ushuaia to ship; Hotel nights in Ushuaia, Buenos Aires or other locations in Argentina; Warm weather clothing other than rubber boots that the ship loans while on board; Alcoholic drinks; Personal items such as laundry, telephone calls, and gratuities; FUEL SURCHARGE: Oceanwide Expeditions reserves the right to levy a fuel surcharge if world fuel prices are significantly higher than budgeted when cruise prices were put in place.
Optional 2018 Tour Choices (all subject to availability):
$7175 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy private use of a double occupancy berth) – Please note that your deposit will be an additional $1000.
$1600 per person Upgrade cost for Shared Superior Cabin
$9895 Upgrade cost for Superior Cabin, single occupancy
$200 per person Camping for one night on the ice (subject to availability and weather, but must be reserved in advance)
$485 per person Guided Kayak excursion for 3-4 hours (subject to availability and weather, but must be reserved in advance)
(-$2300) for passengers willing to stay in a four-berth cabin.
(-$600) for passengers willing to stay in a twin porthole (rather than twin window) room.
“Respect of one another within the group was wonderful. Not only did I go to the remote land of Antarctica, we were given lectures on the Antarctic Ocean, glaciers, icebergs, whales, penguins, geology and the movement the tectonic plates. We would go kayaking and boating in the morning and evening, camping and some jumped in the Polar Plunge!” Travelling to Antarctica was on my bucket list and … [HE Travel] did a perfect job organizing the entire trip! The guide, Charly, was wonderful and it was a pleasure to explore Antarctica with a friendly group that I look forward to staying in touch with. I am looking forward to another adventure with HE Travel again!” — Rome O. New York, NY
“Outstanding experience! Great folks and excursions offered something I could never have imagined. This trip far exceeded my expectations – great people and adventure.”— Dan Greenwood, Red Bank, NJ
“My trip to Antarctica exceeded all of my expectations! It truly was a magical experience.”— Marc Heft, New York, NY
So are most of the people who travel with us. You do not need to pay extra to travel by yourself. Prices are per-person, and the single supplement applies only if you’d like a room by yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
The cruise starts and ends in the southernmost city in the world, the Beagle Channel port of Ushuaia, Argentina and the cruise dates are the date that the ship departs from Ushuaia and the date it returns to the port.
We strongly urge you to arrive in Ushuaia one or two days before the tour starts, since it is nearly impossible to catch up to the cruise if you miss the sailing. There is lots to do around Ushuaia in your extra time.
Most travelers will fly between their home airport and Buenos Aires (the international airport is EZE). Aerolineas Argentinas, American Airlines and LAN Argentina fly non-stop between Miami and Buenos Aires several times a week, and various other North American and European carriers fly to Buenos Aires from other hub airports. Most flights between North America and Argentina are overnight in both directions, but there are now a handful of morning departures from each end.
Within Argentina, all travelers will need to fly the four-hour flight between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, at the southern tip of the country. At this time, Aerolineas Argentinas is the main airline flying this route, but LanArgentina flies this route once or twice a day.
Anyone visiting Iguazu Falls before the cruise will also need to reserve the two-hour flight between Buenos Aires and Iguazu.
Flights are not included in the tour package, but we would be happy to assist with flights, and we can often obtain lower ticket prices than can be obtained elsewhere, especially for Business Class international flights.
Since nearly everyone will need to take a long flight to Buenos Aires, then a 4-hour flight to Ushuaia, we encourage you to consider spending at least a day or two in Argentina’s vibrant capital while you are passing through. You may also want to take a few more days and take in the amazing waterfalls of Iguazu Falls. Please contact us if you’d like suggestions about how best to plan extra time to explore more of Argentina.
Antarctica is a challenging and remote destination. You should be physically fit and ready to deal with uncertain weather and seas, able to hike comfortably and able to deal with extremes in temperature. Please note that the sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula typically takes about 48 hours in each direction across rough seas with storms and swells. Consult your physician regarding using a patch or other methods to counteract motion sickness.
There are several cabin types on this ship. We are holding several TWIN PRIVATE WINDOW cabins for our group, with upgrades to Superior and reductions for Twin Porthole and Quad cabins available on request. These are current prices per person based on double occupancy. Please note that for guests asking us to match them with a roommate or roommates to share a cabin, roommates are matched by gender, but may or may not be traveling as part of the HE Travel group.
These are 2018 prices per person based on double occupancy.
Single occupancy is available by paying 1.7 times the double occupancy per person rate for any cabin category, so:
The following cancellation policy applies for cruises on the mv Plancius. This policy supercedes the standard HE Travel cancellation schedule for tours operated by HE Travel.
We strongly recommend purchasing cancellation and interruption insurance for this cruise to protect your financial investment.
Our cruise offers an exciting ‘open air’ camping option, providing an intensive experience of the Antarctic wilderness for a limited number of participants. The camping is on the Antarctic Peninsula or nearby islands. The camping group will be taken ashore after dinner, and returns to the ship just before breakfast. We’ll be ashore up to 10 hours, but it will never get completely dark during December-February cruises.
Polar sleeping bags and sleeping mattresses will keep campers dry, warm and comfortable during the night in the open air of Antarctica. Depending on the weather, you will have the option of sleeping in a 3-person tent or using individual waterproof, breathable bivouac bags (lightweight alternative to tents) to sleep under the open sky.
Our Basecamp cruises include one night on the ice for all interested participants, at no additional charge. For other cruises, one night on the ice can be reserved in advance (subject to availability), but the expedition team will offer more camping occasions when the ship will remain close to shore overnight and weather conditions permit. On shore a camp will be made in a place where wildlife will not be disturbed.
According to international regulations we are not allowed to take stoves, fuel nor food ashore, in order to prevent the spreading of diseases and seeds of alien plant species. (The exception is that our guides are able to carry emergency rations and survival gear, drinking water and medical supplies.) Toilet facilities are extremely limited since everything must be taken back to the ship. Details will be sent to those who select this option. Upon departure everything that was carried ashore must be returned to the ship.
Please note that camping is always subject to weather, local site and environmental regulations.
Our tour director on a recent cruise said: “Camping on the Antarctic Continent is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’ve never tried winter camping, this will definitely be a unique experience in many ways. (In December) there was daylight for about 20 hours, with a dusk-like darkness for the other 4 hours.
You have the choice of sleeping under the sky (no stars) or in tents. Most folks on a clear night choose to sleep out in the open providing it is not too windy.
The ship provides all the necessary equipment to provide comfort – a warm sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. The excursion starts after dinner and you will be back on the ship before breakfast time the next morning. There is nothing quite like the stillness and sheer beauty of a night out in the Antarctic wilderness. It’s a special experience and one you will remember forever.”
Our cruise is during the Antarctic summer, and our ship of course is always sailing on open water. This means that daytime temperatures average just above freezing, and it usually does not get too much colder during the short nights. Extreme high and low temperatures are very rare during the summer season.
However, the region we visit still has some of the most unpredictable weather on earth. On any given day you may observe a heavy snowfall, bright sunshine, and a heavy rainfall, and wind chills can feel very cold when the frequent heavy winds blow in.
For this reason, having thin warm long underwear (top and bottom), waterproof outer pants, a waterproof jacket with a hood, warm gloves or mittens, and a scarf around your neck are all recommended. Having all of these options will give you the flexibility and confidence to join every shore excursion or Zodiac ride, in any weather conditions. With these you can enjoy hiking amongst the penguins even while walking through snow and slush during a heavy downpour. Polarized sunglasses can also reduce the glare when you are walking on ice and snow under a bright sun.
For all the travelers whose phone is their camera, be sure to have at least a zip-lock bag for wet conditions, and ideally a strap as well.
For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174