Christmas in Antarctica & the Weddell Sea 2019 (Akademik Ioffe)

Christmas in Antarctica & the Weddell Sea 2019 (Akademik Ioffe)

From USD $10,895


After many years of careful planning, we are excited to feature this unique journey for the very first time. This expedition combines many of the classic and well-known locations along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Yet it also adds a genuine sense of exploration as we enter the icy realms of the Weddell Sea, situated on the less-visited eastern side of the peninsula. It is here the big icebergs roam. The flat-topped tabular bergs, some the size of whole city blocks – break off the vast ice tongues far to the south before drifting north on the ocean currents.

The Weddell Sea is home to astonishing wildlife colonies that dwarf those found in other regions. At Brown Bluff, on Paulet Island, and in the Danger Islands, it is possible to visit colonies with more than 100,000 nesting Adelie penguins. This is one of nature’s most amazing sights. A known emperor penguin rookery at Snow Hill Island means that we have our best possible chance of encountering the largest of Antarctica’s penguins while exploring in this region. Rich history is found at every turn adding to the experience.

This voyage provides our most in depth exploration of the Weddell Sea, at the optimal time of the season for weather and ice navigation. If you are seeking a voyage which provides a sense of the ‘wild and unknown’ and of ‘true exploration’ – this may well be the trip you’ve been looking for. It’s not a bad place to celebrate the ultimate white Christmas either!

Trip Name
Christmas in Antarctica & the Weddell Sea 2019 (Akademik Ioffe)
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 117 metres Passenger Capacity: 96 Built: 1989 Stability and Strength. Our ship was purpose built to conduct sensitive hydro-acoustic research and science in the polar regions. The original design brief dictated that the vessel offers a very high level of stability. This is achieved through a sophisticated internal trimming system, controlled via a series of gyroscopic sensors around the vessel. This stability feature is something you will greatly appreciate should you encounter less than ideal sailing conditions. Maneuverable, Quiet and Fast. With both bow and stern thrusters and twin reversible propellers, the ship can spin on its own axis – greatly assisting embarkation of the zodiacs in windy conditions. You will notice there is little – if any – ambient noise or vibration, which makes for a quiet ship. The ship is fast, with a top speed of 14.5 knots in open water. Unmatched stability, coupled with superior speed allows for more time at your destination (rather than ‘at sea’) and more flexibility with itinerary planning – a critical factor in polar waters where ice and weather conditions sometimes dictate our daily itinerary. Superb Design and Layout. Throughout the ship there are spaces ideally suited to every need. Spacious outer decks provide 360 degree views of the stunning polar landscapes – as well as a great place for an outdoor barbecue, which usually happens once on every voyage. Inside there are comfortable presentation spaces for lectures and film screenings and there’s a multimedia computer lab with several large screen workstations where guests can download and back up photos. Six Different Cabin Categories. All cabins feature outside windows allowing ample natural light to filter in. Cabins all have lower berths (some triple share cabins have one upper/lower bunk scenario and feature port holes). Akademik Ioffe carries a maximum of just 96 guests – making for true, small-ship expedition cruising. This is particularly important in Antarctica where visitor guidelines dictate that no more than 100 people can be on shore at any one time. We fall under this limit and that equals maximum time ashore at all locations. Ships carrying more than 100 guests compromise your time ashore. Enjoy Great Dining? So do we. The exciting schedule of onshore excursions, zodiac cruises and onboard activities are guaranteed to work up a serious appetite. Although the ship operates in some of the most remote locations in the world, you can expect an exceptional variety of tasty meals, prepared by a team of professional international chefs. Breakfasts are usually buffet style. Lunches offer a great choice of light meals - as well as more substantial options for those who are hungry - and each evening there is a hearty three-course meal offering both variety and choice. There’s also an excellent wine list featuring a range of international wines. You can get a cup of tea or coffee at any time of the day or night and we always offer afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits. Guests with dietary restrictions or special meal requirements are also well catered for. Join us on the Bridge. There is an open-bridge policy and guests are welcome to meet the navigating crew at virtually any time of day; there’s always something to learn from the officers on watch and the bridge is one of the best places on the ship for spotting whales and sea birds. Operational Safety. There are no compromises here. The expedition staff and crew onboard Akademik Ioffe have the deepest respect for changeable weather in the polar regions and the varying sea and ice conditions. That respect is apparent in every decision made throughout the voyage. The ship carries the most extensive inventory of safety equipment on all excursions and require leaders to undergo vigorous and effective safety training programs. Your expedition team are well prepared, so you can relax and enjoy your voyage. Relax — You're on Holiday. The ship also features a Finnish dry-heat sauna, a plunge pool, a hot water Jacuzzi, a small gymnasium and day spa with massage therapist. An expedition gear package is included. An expedition cruise requires a fair bit of planning and some special items of clothing and equipment are needed. You will have use of an expedition wet weather gear package free of charge, which includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants as well as insulated, comfortable rubber boots designed for extended walking. A set of expedition binoculars and a walking pole are also available for the duration of your voyage. This saves you buying expensive items you may only ever use once and eliminates the need to carry such cumbersome gear all the way to the ship. If you do have your own gear, of course you are welcome to bring it. Make sure it is wind and waterproof. 


Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia,in southern Argentina. We gather at our central meeting pointand transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. Aftersettling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet ourexpedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the airas we enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, boundfor Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
We chart a southerly course for Antarctica. This stretch ofthe South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcasesan abundance of wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds ofseabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels andsmaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we makeour way south. Photographing these magnificent birds takespatience and skill and our photography expert will be on handto show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on thebridge and learn about the operations of our modern researchvessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate uswith a series of presentations about the environment, the wildlifeand history of the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.As we approach the coastline of Antarctica, we anticipate anincrease in whale sightings.
We awaken today, and the magnificent snowy peaks ofcontinental Antarctica are laid out before us. Arriving intoAntarctic waters via the Bismark Strait, we aim for some of ourfavourite landing sites today. Anvers Island is one of the largestof the off-shore ‘barrier’ islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. Thereare several outstanding sites here and neighbouring WienckeIsland, such as Damoy Point, or Port Lockroy. These locationsprovide us with our first opportunity to venture on shore, andcruise in the Zodiacs. A short transit across the Gerlache Straitbrings us along the actual continental landmass of Antarctica. Ashore landing at Paradise Harbour will be a highlight for many –as you step foot on the continent proper, for the first time.An Argentine refuge is located here and the nearby hike upa snow-covered hill provides staggering views. Iceberg filledwaters, surrounded by the towering peaks of the continentwill leave even the most jaded traveller lost for words. If theice conditions allow, Zodiac cruising or sea-kayaking into thenearby ice ‘cathedral’ of Skontorp Cove is another memorableexperience. On a still day, the dark water reflects the giganticglaciers throwing a magical light over this ethereal scene.We navigate in a northerly direction along the Gerlache Straitovernight. This is an important whale migration corridor andwith the long hours of twilight at this time of the season, weencourage you to be on the bridge looking for the tell-tale blowsof the migrating pods of humbacks and minkes. We may evencatch a glimpse of the resident orca pod that inhabit this stretchof water.By morning we have reached several other favoured locationsin the northern Gerlache. Places such as Cierva Cove orMikkelson Harbour allow for some great excursions on shoreand in the Zodiacs. There are substantial penguin rookerieslocated here and it’s a good place to look for leopard seals onthe icefloes. The remote Spert Islands provide a fascinatinglesson in geology. The island group is criss-crossed by narrowchannels and coves and cruising in the Zodiacs or sea kayakinghere is a real thrill. Seabirds nest on the cliffs above, while sealscan be found resting along the shoreline. We usually encounterwhales in this vicinity. We continue our journey and by morning,will have arrived in the South Shetland Islands.Sunrise over Livingston Island is a sight to behold as themountains are a blaze of colour as we arrive into the SouthShetlands. We enter the McFarlane Strait with an objectiveof Half Moon Island, or nearby Yankee Harbour. Arriving onshore, a sizeable rookery of chinstrap penguins act as a verynoisy welcoming committee and we hope to observe our firstsubstantial elephant seal colony here. Additional locations wemay visit include Fort Point on nearby Greenwich Island withits pebble covered isthmus – a popular location for resting furseals. After a busy day in the South Shetlands, excitement is inthe air as we set sail for Antarctic Sound – the gateway to theWeddell Sea.
Arriving into the Weddell Sea is a humbling experience. Wenotice an increase in the huge, flat-topped tabular icebergsin this vicinity. We always anticipate exciting ice navigation inthe Weddell Sea and watching the Captain and Officers atwork is a lesson in skilled seamanship. The Weddell Sea isrich in history. The early Swedish explorer – Otto Nordenskjoldand companions spent several years here in a remarkable yetlittle-known tale of survival. Just over a decade later, Sir ErnestShackleton and the survival of his crew from the Imperial TransAntarcticExpedition (HMS Endurance), in 1914-17, grabbed theimagination of the entire world. To this day, Shackleton’s journeyremains one of the great tales of polar exploration and survival.The region is home to immense colonies of the smallest ofAntarctica’s penguin species – the Adelie. In locations suchas Paulet Island, Brown Bluff, Gourdin Island and the DangerIslands, these rookeries are home to as many as 100,000nesting penguins. If ice conditions permit, we push southtowards the fabled location of Snow Hill Island. A knownemperor penguin rookery can be found here. While the largestof Antarctica’s penguins nest far from the shoreline, all eyes arepeeled on the waters and icefloes as we hope to view thesesuperb penguins coming and going from their rookery.Our adventure is far from over and we have an exciting dayplanned with possible shore landings on Vega Island, which ishome to some of the most fascinating palaeontology found inall of Antarctica. Fossils here tell the story of Gondwanaland, ofgiant penguins and other dinosaur species and early plant lifeon Earth. Brown Bluff and d’Urville Monument are other landingpossibilities in the area. We celebrate our exploration of theWeddell Sea this evening, enjoying a fine Christmas celebrationon board the ship commencing our journey home.
As we make our way back to South America, the educationalpresentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining andmemorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join ourphotography experts in the multimedia room and downloadand back up your precious images. If weather conditionsallow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabledstretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration andearly navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderfulexpedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel inearly evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by theCaptain of the ship.
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is timeto say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests willbe transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flightshome. It will be possible to connect to flights through to BuenosAires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy anight in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights ofPatagonia.
Day 7 - Please Note:
Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at thetime of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leadercontinually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weatherand ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a largenumber of outstanding landing sites and Zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavyice may hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $10,895Triple Share
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $13,495Twin Semi Private
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $14,795Twin Private
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $15,995Superior
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $17,495Shakleton Suite
16-12-201928-12-2019USD $19,895One Ocean Suite


    • Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, Zodiac cruising and from the ship
    • In-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea regions
    • Rich history, stunning scenery, huge icebergs and vast penguin rookeries
    • Learn about the environment, wildlife and ecology of Antarctica from polar experts