30 Night cruise from Bluff to Ushuaia onboard National Geographic Endurance. Includes Charter Flight from Auckland to Bluff and 1 night pre cruise accommodation in Auckland. Charter Flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and 1 night post cruise accommodation in Buenos Aires.
Exploring Antarctica in an authentic expedition style, aboard an authentic expedition ship is an incomparable experience, and your guarantee of an in-depth encounter with all its wonders. Lindblad Expedition’s pioneering polar heritage and 50 years of experience navigating polar geographies is your assurance of safe passage in one of the wildest sectors of the planet.
Day by Day Itinerary:
DAY 1: Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand
Arrive in Auckland, where we check in to our hotel. (L)
DAY 2-5: Fly to Bluff, N.Z./Embark Ship/Explore New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands
Today we fly to the town of Bluff, one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, where we embark our ship. Settle in to life aboard National Geographic Endurance and spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Located south of the New Zealand mainland in the remote Southern Ocean, these wild and beautiful islands are home to abundant and unique wildlife, with many species of birds, plants and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. The entire marine landscape here is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and considered a “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world.
Keeping a flexible weather-dependent schedule, we plan to explore several intriguing islands. Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds: the 99 recorded species include albatross, Antarctic terns and Snares crested penguins. The Auckland Islands are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with the richest flora, prolific birdlife, and an interesting human history. Conditions permitting, we cruise in Zodiacs to Enderby Island to view a large New Zealand sea lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If we are fortunate, we may see rare yellow-eyed penguins as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach (B,L,D)
DAY 6: At Sea
DAY 7-8: Macquarie Island, Australia
On these days we plan to visit Macquarie Island, the exposed crest of an undersea ridge where the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates converge. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a large variety of wildlife, including thousands of seals and millions of penguins. Four species of penguin breed here. The endemic royal penguin has a population estimated at 850,000. Gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins also breed there. And imagine landing on a single beach thronged with 150,000 pairs of king penguins—one of the world’s largest colonies! (B,L,D)
DAY 9-10: At Sea
DAY 11-18: Exploring the Ross Sea
Navigate some of the most remote regions of the planet, as you explore the Ross Sea, just like Scott, Shackleton, and Ross (the 19th-century explorer for whom this sea is named). Here, we will see the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest, and the Transantarctic Mountain Chain. Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is enormous, covering 182,000 square miles–the size of France—and the edge of the ice shelf towers as high as 200 feet above the water’s surface, with the majority of the ice below the waterline. The Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface.
Your journey to this unique part of the Antarctic waters will likely include stops at several small islands at the bottom of the world for opportunities to hike and explore via Zodiac and kayak. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see, and experience more. We’ll spot colonies of Adelie penguins, lazy seals, and majestic whales. We plan to visit Coulman Island, where we can see and photograph Emperor penguins, the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches tall and was the subject of the beloved film, March of the Penguins (B,L,D)
DAY 19-25: Exploring West Antarctica
This part of the planet is big, bold and full of adventure and magnificent scenery. The new National Geographic Endurance will be in full expedition mode, granting thrilling opportunities to crunch through thick ice and explore places few have seen. Rely on the planet’s best ice team as you probe the ice’s edge for wildlife, from seabirds to whales. Activities throughout our journey are always weather and ice dependent. Your Captain will look for spots to “park” the ship in the pack ice, allowing guests the unique thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and show-shoe hikes. Our undersea specialist captures images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice. Always interesting, it can also be pioneering in this distant part of the world. There will be time, too, to relax in the library, head up to the Bridge to scan for marine life, unwind in the sauna or Yoga Room, and of course, hear presentations from our staff. (B,L,D)
DAY 26-30: Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
With 24 hours of daylight, we have ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, the schedule throughout is flexible so that we can take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales at play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion.
We anticipate offering opportunities each day to hike, kayak among the ice floes, and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching our powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins. You’ll learn how climate change affects the penguin populations, and how best to capture images of penguins from a National Geographic photographer. Back aboard, our undersea specialist may present video from that day’s dive or show rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV. (B,L,D)
DAY 31: At Sea/Drake Passage
On our final day aboard, enjoy one last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. While crossing the legendary Drake Passage, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship. Gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 32: Ushuaia, Argentina/Disembark/Fly to Buenos Aires
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia and have an overview of the southernmost city in the world. Later, we head to the airport for our private charter flight to Buenos Aires, where we check in to the Alvear Art Hotel (or similar). (B,L)
DAY 33: Buenos Aires/Home
This morning we have an overview of the city’s Beaux-Art palaces and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. Later, we transfer to the airport for flights home.
IMPORTANT: Your expedition may be traveling over the International Date Line, so please confirm departure and arrival dates with an Expedition Specialist before booking your flights.
Please note, while prices and inclusions are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to changes in cruise line policies and pricing and due to currency fluctuations. Currency surcharges may apply. Please check details of price and inclusions at time of booking.