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Journey far below the equator in 2021 to discover the globe as you’ve never before seen it. From the lush, verdure lands of the Brazilian coast to the surreal tundra of Antarctica, In Polar Pursuit will bring you up close to the marvels of the Southern Hemisphere. Only the most well-traveled adventurers have seen or crossed the infamous Drake Passage – now, this is your chance to become one of them.
While traversing two continents – South America and Antarctica – and visiting six distinct nations and territories, you’ll experience Latin American culture, dance, and fine dining. As you descend polar waters aboard the 5-star Ocean Explorer in its inaugural season, you’ll bear witness to sultry urban flair and otherworldly natural marvels. View Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, watch whales and penguins flourish, see what life is like in Ushuaia, and learn how to tango in Buenos Aires. This is only the beginning. During your five days in Antarctica, you'll be guided on shore excursions by our experienced and knowledgeable Expedition Team, who will help you make unforgettable discoveries in this remote, beautiful continent.
With 35 included features and Cultural Discoveries, this trip is your chance to experience the beauty, natural topography, wildlife, and city pulse of some of the world’s southernmost locales. With memories and photographs of shimmering seascapes, panoramic mountain vistas, city skylines, and starry night skies, travel will surely never be the same again. Come with us for a luxurious adventure you will never forget.
When Eleanor Roosevelt first laid eyes on Iguassu Falls, she is famously said to have uttered, “Poor Niagara!” It’s easy to understand what overwhelmed the First Lady. This torrent of water separating Brazil and Argentina plunges over 200-foot-high cliffs in a roaring fury of water. (In fact, Iguassu translates roughly from the local Guarani into “great water.”) Judging from Ms. Roosevelt’s reaction, you’ll want to extend your expedition to view Brazil’s other breathtaking natural wonder. Explore the cataracts from both countries, getting as close to the falls as the spraying mist allows. Join us on this thrilling adventure!
Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro. Or, depart earlier for a thrilling pre-trip extension to Iguassu Falls.
Arrive in Rio
Welcome to Rio! One of South America’s most thrilling and sophisticated cities, Brazil’s capital enjoys a breathtaking setting, ringed by long crescent beaches and towering monolithic mountains. No other city compares. This afternoon, get acquainted with Rio on a city tour. You’ll conclude your day over a hearty Welcome Dinner at a typical churrascaria, a classic steakhouse for which Brazil is known.
Get an insider’s samba lesson and explore on your own
In Rio, samba is more than music. Dance, clothing, and food are all crucial to this cherished piece of cultural heritage. This morning, you’ll go behind the scenes as you learn about the beloved music and even try out a few steps! Your afternoon is free to explore more of Rio on your own. Perhaps you'll explore the city's proliferation of street art, from the largest spray-paint mural in the world on Olympic Boulevard to the multicolored mosaic of Escadaria Selarón (Selaron Steps). Or, marvel at the exteriors of landmarks such as the Museum of Tomorrow and the National Library of Brazil — the largest library in Latin America and 7th largest in the world.
Explore Rio de Janeiro, the cidade maravilhosa, and embark the Ocean Explorer
See Rio’s iconic sites up close today. Ascend to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. The 124-foot soapstone figure has an arm span of 98 feet. Then, visit the cathedral and admire its modernist design inspired by Mayan pyramids. Head from the sacred to the footloose when you next visit Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, celebrated in song and frequented by the city’s carefree party-goers. Enjoy lunch at a Rio institution — Confeitaria Colombo. The old-style café — set in a cavernous ballroom crowned with a stunning stained-glass ceiling — has been serving delicious meals and decadent desserts to local cariocas for 120 years.
This afternoon, you embark the Ocean Explorer. There’ll be time to settle in and perhaps have a drink on deck and give the breathtaking landscapes of Rio and Sugarloaf one final glimpse before you cast off on your expedition. Tonight, attend the Captain's Welcome Dinner.
Traverse Ilha Grande: Island penitentiary turned lush paradise
Arrive this morning on the lush shores of Ilha Grande, or Big Island, the largest of a breathtaking archipelago of 360 islands dotting the Bay of Kings. Together, along with Paraty, Ilha Grande was named a new UNESCO World Heritage Site for 2019. Once home to a prison and leprosarium, this largely unspoiled paradise — free of vehicles and other signs of civilization — is today ringed by sand beaches and blanketed in Atlantic forest and palms. You’ll join your guide for a walk into Abraão Village, stopping at the San Sebastian church. Then, follow the footpaths into the woodlands of the state park, hearing tales of the island’s buccaneer days and its once-prosperous coffee and sugar barons as you pass through the ruins of what was once a leprosarium and then the Cândido Mendes high-security prison, before it closed in 1994. Keep your eyes and ears open for howler monkeys, sloths, and countless birds. There’ll be time for a refreshing swim at Black Beach in the natural pools of an aqueduct.
After lunch, learn what cultural and historic treasures await during an onboard lecture. Enjoy the afternoon poolside or pampering yourself with a spa treatment. Dinner tonight is on board, featuring a festive Brazilian show to set the mood for this expedition!
Explore the soul-stirring polar environment on a world-class kayaking adventure! You’ll join forces with our knowledgeable Expedition Leaders who will guide you to places where Zodiac boats can’t reach so you can experience the jaw-dropping landscapes and wildlife up-close — and in a unique and responsible way. Kayaks hold two individuals and tours typically take place in calm and protected waters. This optional tour is perfect for adventurous adults who possess the appropriate physical fitness; previous kayaking experience is a plus. Morning and afternoon kayaking sessions are offered each day of expedition based on weather and sea conditions. This is a small-group adventure that you’ll remember forever!
Please note: This optional tour is available for pre-booking only. Reservations close 30 days prior to departure.
Discover the colonial treasures of Paraty
Step back in time today when you explore Paraty, a remarkably preserved Portuguese colonial town along Brazil’s lush, green coastal corridor, and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with Ilha Grande). Once a port for the export of gold to the Old World, Paraty enjoys a stunning setting surrounded by tropical islands and soaring mountains. Your walking tour along narrow cobbled lanes leads you into its heart. Admire original 18th-century architectural gems, including the 1722 Church of the Santa Rita de Cassia and the colonial mansion that hosts the House of Culture, which provides a fascinating chronicle of the town’s role in Brazil’s past. Pause to peruse charming boutiques and art galleries as you explore, perhaps meeting some artists in residence.
As you sail on to your next destination after lunch on board, gain more insight into Brazil’s fertile coast during a lecture from one of our onboard experts.
Encounter the vibrant urban center of Santos
Today, enjoy a glimpse of one of Brazil’s major urban centers. Built on the prosperity of the coffee industry, today Santos is home to the largest beachfront garden in the world. A city tour reveals its cosmopolitan air and rich history. Visit the Coffee Museum, located in a former palace. Stop by the Museum of the Santos Football Club, proud to have called Pelé its star player for 18 years. And explore the aquarium, Brazil’s largest.
Another onboard lecture today uncovers more of the region’s fascinating history and rich culture.
Witness Camboriú’s natural and cultural splendors
One of Brazil’s most popular resort towns welcomes you today. Locals come to Camboriú for the beaches, the lively culture, and the vistas of steep slopes draping down to the sea. To get a bird’s-eye view of it all, you’ll embark on an ecological tour and board the city’s famous teleférico, or cable car, to the Atlantic Forest Station. Take a walk into these magnificent hilltop woods with an interpretive guide, with ample opportunities to take in stunning panoramas. Your cable car continues to Laranjeiras Beach. Feel free to bring your suit along; there are changing rooms here if you’d like to go for a swim.
More Brazilian history and culture stimulates your mind and your curiosity during an onboard lecture this afternoon. This evening, enjoy another divine meal prepared by your chef.
Spend a day at sea along the Brazilian coast
The indulgent amenities of the Ocean Explorer are yours as you continue your expedition along Brazil’s Costa Verde, or Green Coast. Perhaps you’ll treat yourself to the spa. And you’re sure to find the observation lounge the ideal spot for reflection and looking for seabirds as you ply the waters of the Atlantic. You’ll turn your attention again to Brazil’s colorful culture and history during an onboard lecture today.
Enjoy Rio Grande’s rich arts culture
Dock this morning in one of Brazil’s most important maritime ports, and host to what some believe is the longest uninterrupted beach in world, the Praia do Cassino, at about 160 miles long. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1737; this gem is often overlooked by cruise lines. And that’s a shame, as you’ll discover during a city tour. On your walking tour, admire some of its elegant historic buildings, including the neoclassical Alfandega Customs House and the Baroque Cathedral São Pedro. At the Museum of Sacred Art in the Chapel of San Francisco, view a collection left by the Jesuits, the area’s first European settlers. At the Praça Tamandare, admire some of the city’s beloved public sculptures. A stop at the Oceanographic Museum rounds out your enriching tour.
This afternoon, enjoy another fascinating lecture on board.
Sail coastal Brazil
Treat yourself to more of your ship’s amenities as you cruise Brazil’s lush coast. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our library or enjoy a soothing massage at the spa. The time is yours! As you approach Uruguay, our onboard lecturer continues to astonish you and our chefs will continue to amaze you with their culinary expertise.
Experience Punta del Este’s opulent lifestyle
Often compared to Miami and Cannes for its resort style and well-heeled visitors, Punta del Este is the jewel of Uruguay at the wide mouth of the Río de la Plata. Head into this posh resort town and set out on a scenic panoramic tour through tony residential neighborhoods and past stunning beaches. Stop to visit Casapueblo, the self-built curvilinear home and studio of the late artist Carlos Paez Vilaró perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic. A picturesque coastal road leads you back to the pier.
After your Punta del Este explorations, learn about more cultural treasures of Uruguay during an onboard lecture.
Uncover the international spirit of Montevideo
Around breakfast time, arrive in Montevideo, consistently ranked at the top of “quality of life” lists among Latin American cities. Get acquainted with the vibrant and sophisticated cultural capital on a far-reaching city tour that takes in the major monuments, parks, and gardens. At Independence Square, begin a walking tour that features the cathedral, City Hall, the Government House, and the renowned Solis Theater. Then, drive along the celebrated 18 de Julio Avenue, stopping to view the Legislative Palace, built with 52 types of local marble and 12 different kinds of wood. Continue to El Prado, an elegant neighborhood of sprawling botanical gardens and colonial mansions. At the Plaza Virgilio, enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring on your own. Perhaps you’ll walk to Plaza Cagancha and make a stop at Mercado de los Artesanos, the Craftsmen Market, to pick out a souvenir amid the swirl of local art and handcrafted goods. Alternatively, your onboard Concierge may help you set up a tour catered to your interests. This evening, be delighted by a dance show on board!
See Colonia del Sacramento’s UNESCO treasures
Visit the oldest city in Uruguay today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento, spread on a small peninsula on the Río de la Plata. A rich Spanish and Portuguese past whispers from its remarkably preserved colonial buildings. As you stroll its cobbled streets, stop to view the Matriz Church; the Calle de los Suspiros, or Street of Sighs, named for its breathtaking historic authenticity; the Puerta del Campo city gate; and the Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo.
A final captivating talk on board ship rounds out our lecture series.
Experience Buenos Aires and its European flair
Wake up early for your last sunrise on board and enjoy the scenery and downtown skyline as we enter Buenos Aires, the sultry capital of Argentina.
This richly cosmopolitan city feels a lot like Europe — graced with splendid architecture and a hint of glamour. But its spirit is distinctly Argentine. A city tour reveals its most magnificent sites. Visit the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, La Boca — a neighborhood full of colorfully painted homes — and the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis. After lunch at a traditional restaurant, you’ll have the afternoon and evening free to pursue your own interests.
Cruise 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.
Revel in West Falkland Island’s unspoiled beauty
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.
Discover 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.
Sail the South Atlantic
You’ll spend two days cruising towards South Georgia Island. Take this time to enjoy your ship, perhaps taking in a movie, joining a fitness class, dancing in the lounge, or simply curling up with a book from the library. 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.
Explore 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.
Cruise 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.
Enjoy 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.
After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
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: 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.