It is hard to put into words the sheer grandeur of an Antarctic landscape. This most southern of continents, this desert of ice, is so unique and rare to man’s experience, that even the most dramatic of photographs pale into insignificance when one is confronted by the sheer magnitude, beauty and wonder of the landscape. Enormous icebergs rise from the sea, hillsides are covered with thousands of penguins and seals bask on icebergs dotted in the ocean; the sights, sounds and emotions will stay with you forever. When these scenic marvels are combined with an incredible astronomical phenomenon, the total solar eclipse, we have something very special.
For most travellers Antarctica is a once in a lifetime visit, it is therefore important that the trip should be as rewarding as possible and the MS Hebridean Sky is the perfect vessel both in terms of the educational opportunities on board and the number of occasions to go ashore. Antarctica is to be experienced, not just to be seen, and we believe the only way to do this is on board a small ship.
Whilst an undoubted highlight of the cruise is the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse, there is much more included to occupy us. The timing of the eclipse coincides with what is regarded as spring in Antarctica as the pack ice begins to melt. This is the mating season for penguins and other species and you can observe their spectacular displays of courtship ritual, nest building and such antics as stone stealing. This is also the time when fur seals claim their breeding territories.
In addition to the Antarctic Peninsula, we have also included magnificent South Georgia where you will experience one of the world’s natural wonders, the ‘Alps in mid-ocean’, offering remarkable concentrations of wildlife against a backdrop of glaciers and snow-covered mountains. Hugging the coast to the wildest reaches of the island we will land on beaches alive with rampaging fur seals, somnolent elephant seals and truly astonishing numbers of king penguins. We have three days of exploration in this unique animal paradise and using the Zodiacs we will aim to land each day allowing you the optimum time ashore to experience this rich animal kingdom. We also spend time on the Falkland Islands, a truly enchanting place with a unique character and staggering wildlife. This is the last sanctuary of the elegant albatross which soars gracefully against the blue sky, with colonies of elephant seals basking at the foot of vertiginous cliffs. In between our landings and while at sea, you can pass the time on deck looking for wildlife, attend the series of lectures by members of the expedition team and simply relax on board.