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Depart home and fly overnight to Buenos Aires
Your expedition begins! Today you’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Arrive Buenos Aires
Welcome to Argentina! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and enjoy a brief orientation walk in the historic center near your hotel. This evening please join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner.
No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a little taste of the tango, so we have arranged for a pair of professional tango dancers to give a demonstration of Argentina’s most passionate dance. The tango is considered so intrinsic to the national character Argentina and Uruguay, UNESCO has designated it as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World.
Discover the best of Buenos Aires
On today’s city tour you’ll discover why Buenos Aires is considered one of the most sophisticated cities in the world. Wide boulevards reminiscent of Paris . . . opulent neobaroque, neoclassical and art nouveau architecture . . . and elegant shops and sidewalk cafés filled with fashionable patrons. You’ll see the Plaza de Mayo, the central square that is flanked by the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis; the Cabildo, which housed the town council during the colonial era; and the Casa Rosada or “Pink” House, the presidential mansion. If it seems familiar, that’s because in the 1950s, Eva Perón (“Evita”) would address the adoring crowds from its oft-photographed balcony. You’ll also see the colorful La Boca, the old Genoese neighborhood with its vividly painted houses. Passing Caminito, the famous tango street, you’ll see some of the famous milongas or tango salons, and perhaps some dancers on the street going through their paces.
The balance of your day is free. Your Vantage City Host will be happy to assist with tips, directions, and making reservations!
Discover the “sport of kings” at a polo ranch; embark the Ocean Explorer
After breakfast, you’ll ride into the countryside to visit an estancia (ranch) where riders are trained to compete in professional polo matches. The elite sport of polo was introduced to Argentina in 1875, and today the country is the world’s polo capital.
After touring the estancia, you’ll learn all about the sport’s history and the breeding of polo ponies, and enjoy a demonstration by some dashing professional players. After savoring an authentic Argentinean lunch, you’ll head back to Buenos Aires.
Arriving in town, you’ll transfer directly to the pier to embark the Ocean Explorer. Enjoy the city views as we sail down the Rio de la Plata out to the sea. There will be an informative port talk late this afternoon; then, gather with your fellow travelers for a Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Cruising the South Atlantic
Enjoy three relaxing days on board your 5-star expedition ship. Each day, your expedition team will be conducting different presentations on topics relevant to your destinations — history, geology, astronomy, ornithology, marine biology and more. You’ll also want to join them on deck for birdwatching, perhaps spotting fulmar, petrel, or even a wandering albatross, with its eleven-foot wingspan. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life — these waters frequently host southern right whales. Take advantage of your ship’s other amenities to refresh and restore yourself, perhaps visiting the sauna or enjoying a soothing massage in the spa. Looking for photo tips? Check the schedule (posted on your onboard interactive system) for the next photography workshop.
Unspoiled beauty on West Falkland Island
Where we make landfall today is entirely based on local conditions. As your ship approaches West Falkland Island, you may pass the pristine sandy beaches or sheer cliffs that are home to some of the island’s 63 avian species, such as Cobb’s wren, Falkland skua, king cormorants, ground tyrant, pipit, thrush, and more. More than a million penguins call the Falklands home, often nesting in the green tussock grass burrows.
Remember, daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses. During your visit, you might join an excursion to see penguins. Your expedition leader will help you try to spot the five main types: waddling gentoo penguins, with their orange beaks; king penguins, the largest breed which can stand 39 inches tall; black-and-white banded Magellanic; macaronis, with their orange head feathers; and rockhoppers, with their bushy heads.
East Falkland Island, a bit of Britain in the Southern Hemisphere
Today you’ll arrive on East Falkland and visit the capital, Port Stanley. With a population of about 2,100, Port Stanley is home to nearly two thirds of the Falklands’ residents. It will be the focus of today’s discovery.
Given the quaint pubs, red phone booths, and fish and chips shops, you’d think you are in rural England, except for the occasional Argentinean shop or Spanish word. One Spanish word you’ll hear often is “camp,” derived from the Spanish campo meaning countryside. Here, the Falklanders say "camp" to refer to all the land outside Stanley. Your city tour showcases some of this tiny city’s main attractions, including the Victory Green, where a mizzen mast from the SS Great Britain is displayed; the Government House; the Town Hall, which also serves as a post office, court of law, and dance hall; and the Christ Church Cathedral, the southernmost Anglican church in the world. Nearby, there is a decorative arch made of whale bones.
You’ll spend two days cruising towards South Georgia Island. Take this time to enjoy your ship, perhaps taking in a movie, take in a treatment at the spa, simply curling up with a book from the library, or warming up with a soak in the hot tub or a trip to the sauna. On the way, your Expedition Team will offer fascinating workshops and presentations about the region’s geology, glaciology, biodiversity, and history.
One story you are likely to learn is that of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led three British Antarctic expeditions. On his final one, his ship Endurance was trapped in ice, and sank. After camping on ice floes for more than two months, the crew escaped by boat to Elephant Island. From here, Shackleton led a daring open boat, six-man mission 720 miles across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia Island, where they were able to organize a rescue. All 22 of the crew members back on Elephant Island were saved.
South Georgia Island
You’ll have three days to explore the unique history and natural splendor South Georgia, whose biodiversity is so rich it is known as the “Serengeti of the Southern Ocean.” Although South Georgia is within the Antarctic ecosystem, it is outside the limit of sea ice. As a result, tens of thousands of breeding penguins, seals, and seabirds may be seen here.
During your stay, your expedition team will lead various excursions by Zodiac landing craft and on foot, taking you to observe fascinating wildlife and to admire the unspoiled scenery of hanging glaciers, cliffs, and scenic lagoons. South Georgia is home to over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant seal pups alongside their mothers, plus a huge colony of king penguins, and wandering albatrosses in their nesting grounds.
You will also visit the South Georgia Museum, a whaling museum that also details the island’s maritime and natural history, as well as the 1982 Falklands War. Also featured are the Norwegian seaman’s church, former whaling stations, and the grave of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in Grytviken. Weather permitting, you might hike over part of the trail that Shackleton followed on his brave journey across rugged mountains to find help for his men.
Cruising the Scotia Sea and Southern Ocean to Antarctica
You’ll cruise for two days in southwesterly course across the Scotia Sea, into the Southern or Antarctic Ocean. Here is where the cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters, creating a nutrient-rich environment for several species of whales, seals, and seabirds. Once we have crossed the Antarctic Convergence, you will notice that the air becomes crisper and colder.
Spend five unforgettable days in Antarctica, the “White Continent”
Prepare to witness the most unspoiled, sublime terrain on Earth — and to cross another continent off your bucket list. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent, containing 90 percent of all of the ice on Earth. Nonetheless, it is classified as a desert because so little moisture falls from the sky. Believe it or not, the Sahara desert gets twice as much rain each year!
You will be exploring here during the austral summer, the most temperate time of year. But because conditions vary from place to place, our captain will adjust our landings as the adventure progresses. You’ll set foot on the South Shetlands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula, venturing ashore every day for naturalist-led expeditions via our versatile Zodiac boats. Wherever our explorations lead us, you can look forward to encountering penguin refuges, floating icebergs, paradisiacal bays and quiet, wildlife-rich sounds, international research bases, and even an active caldera!
Please note: Remember, daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses.
Cross the Drake Passage
This legendary body of water connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, stretching for about 600 miles from the tip of South America to Antarctica. Though it is the most direct route between the continents, it can also have some of the planet’s most turbulent seas. You never know whether your crossing will be a “Drake Shake” (rough journey), or a “Drake Lake” (calm sailing). Either way, it is quite literally a “rite of passage” for all Antarctic explorers and your onboard expedition team will keep your spirits up with some fun and fascinating activities, plus whale watching and birdwatching from the deck.
Leisure time in Ushuaia, then fly to Buenos Aires
After breakfast, you’ll disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina, the “City at the End of the World.” This former penal colony is now a charming gateway between the wildernesses of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. You’ll have time to take in the views of the snowcapped Andes and Beagle Channel, where Darwin made some of his evolutionary discoveries; and to poke around the town’s shops and cafés. From here you’ll transfer to the airport and fly back to Buenos Aires. Tonight, you’ll toast your milestone adventure at a Farewell Dinner at a Buenos Aires restaurant.
Flights from Buenos Aires typically depart late in the evening, so you’ve got another day to take in the wonders of the city on your own.
Later, you’ll transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. Or, if you’ve selected our optional post-trip extension, stay on for two more nights in Iguassu Falls.
Please note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.
Important: Daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.