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Trip Logs

Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands: Holiday Voyage Trip Log: December 20, 2023–January 6, 2024

Trip Logs

Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands: Holiday Voyage Trip Log: December 20, 2023–January 6, 2024

Photography by Andrew Coleman | December 19, 2023

December 22, 2023 | Ushuaia

We rose early, transferring to the airport for a charter flight to the frontier-like town of Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. The word "Ushuaia" - from the Yaghan language - means "deep bay" or "bay to background."

Upon landing, our luggage was transferred to our ship while we enjoyed lunch at a lovely hotel in Cerro Alarken Nature Reserve in Tierra del Fuego. After some time to stretch our legs in the surrounding forest, we were warmly greeted by Captain Michel Quioc and the A&K Expedition Team aboard beautiful 'Le Lyrial.'

Tired from our travels, we enjoyed a quick meal before retiring for the night. Excitement levels were high as we sailed for the White Continent, via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

December 23, 2023 | Crossing Patagonian Shelf

After a calm night at sea, we navigated the Patagonian Shelf en route to the Falkland Islands, about 300 miles off the east coast of Patagonia.

The passage played a very important - albeit risky - role in trade before the Panama Canal opened in 1914. The stormy seas and icy conditions made the rounding of Cape Horn through the Patagonian Shelf challenging for ships and crews alike, especially the sailing vessels of earlier eras.

Water and air temperatures alter sharply in the vicinity of the Antarctic Convergence Zone at 60 degrees south. It is the largest ocean current on earth, flowing around Antarctica in a clockwise direction. Thanks to gyroscopic stabilizers, our modern vessel handled these conditions with grace.

Continuing onward, our ornithologist, Dr. Patricia Silva, gave a sparkling presentation on seabirds of the Southern Ocean. Next, photography coach Andy Coleman gave tips to improve our wildlife photography skills and our resident geology expert discussed features of the Falklands and South Georgia. To our pleasure, we enjoyed sightings of albatross throughout the day. We then prepared our clothing, boots and minds for tomorrow's arrival in Port Stanley.

Ending the day, our captain introduced his senior officers and hosted a welcome dinner.

December 24, 2023 | Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands

We arrived early in Stanley - scenic capital of the rugged Falkland Islands - where the current population is under 4,000 people.

The brief, undeclared Falkland Islands War - fought between Argentina and Great Britain in 1982 - challenged its sovereignty and led to conflict. Today, a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom, its endeavors include fishing, tourism and sheep farming. Also of note, about 75% of the world's black-browed albatross population can be found on the Falkland and South Georgia Islands.

Disembarking, we explored the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust; saw the local cathedral; shopped for souvenirs; and enjoyed a local meal, such as fish and chips.

Back aboard 'Le Lyrial,' our home away from home, we observed abundant, nearby birdlife, sea lion and Commerson's dolphin. Later, we enjoyed a magnificent dinner, accompanied by caroling.

December 25, 2023 | Christmas Day at Sea

Rising on Christmas morning, we continued toward South Georgia, while our marine mammal expert discussed whale and dolphin of the cold seas. Next, our photo coach - a National Geographic alum - offered tips on capturing the region's magnificent landscapes.

To the delight of our 24 Young Explorers on board, Santa Claus arrived with one of his elves to hand out candy. Next, dancers in red dresses joined Santa for photos with the youngsters.

This afternoon, we sat down to a screening of "Seven Worlds, One Planet." Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, it highlighted how the warming global climate is impacting Antarctica. Then, our storyteller shared Roald Amundsen's incredible life story. Considered the world's greatest Polar explorer, he was the first to reach both poles; the first to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage by boat; and the first to winter in the Antarctic during the Belgian Antarctic Expedition.

December 26, 2023 | At Sea Across the Drake Passage

On a gently rolling ocean, we continued our crossing of the Scotia Sea toward South Georgia. The energetic among us joined a dancer for an early morning stretch class in the fitness room. There, large windows afford those on stationary bikes or treadmills fine bird and wildlife viewing.

Later, our ornithologist delivered another wonderful talk - this time on penguin diversity - emphasizing the species we are likely to encounter.

With our clothing, boots and life jackets ready for the day, our Young Explorers enjoyed a knot-tying demonstration by naturalist and military veteran Russ Manning. Then, our storyteller discussed Shackleton's life, delving into the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the 'Endurance.' Even our Captain was in attendance.

This evening, as we passed South Georgia's Shag Rocks, we saw thousands of shag and whale. Meanwhile, a huge iceberg was spotted off the starboard bow. The lucky guest who saw it first won a bottle of Champagne.

Capping the day, we gathered in the theater after dinner, where our dancers performed a tribute to the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin.

December 27, 2023 | Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

Sir Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean successfully completed the first crossing of South Georgia in May 1916, one of the greatest survival feats ever.

As we toured Salisbury Plain by Zodiac early today, variable weather alternated from overcast skies to sunshine and snow. The long beach was punctuated by thousands of fur seal and king penguin. Just beyond the wildlife, glaciers and snow-capped mountains inspired awe.

Back aboard 'Le Lyrial,' we continued to Fortuna Bay, where we marveled at thousands of nursing, wrestling and lounging fur seal, as well as king penguin marching on the beach.

Disembarking, we walked inland to view a colony of 60,000 breeding pairs of king penguin. Experiencing sensory overload, we marveled at this spectacular day.

December 28, 2023 | Grytviken and Stromness

Amid a mix of rain and sunshine, we arrived in the hamlet of Grytviken, a former whaling station.

Once on land, we set off on a scenic hike. Pausing, we visited the South Georgia Museum, which houses a replica of the 22-foot James Caird lifeboat. The vessel's daring, 800-mile journey - undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions - resulted in the rescue of those stranded during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. Continuing onward, we visited a nearby cemetery, where Shackleton was laid to rest in 1922.

Over lunch, 'Le Lyrial' repositioned to the abandoned Stromness Whaling Station. Whaling activities began in 1907 when the bay was first used as an anchorage for a floating factory ship. Adding further context, our resident geologist noted the chevron-fold of nearby rocks. From there, we ascended the magnificent valley to view the waterfall Shackleton, Crean and Worsley descended using a 50-foot rope. From this vantage point, we took in sublime views, as well as sightings of fur and elephant seal and king and gentoo penguin.

After an incredible day - one beyond our wildest imaginations - we continued overnight toward Drygalski Fjord in southern South Georgia.

December 29, 2023 | Drygalski Fjord

We made our way to Drygalski Fjord overnight. With epic mountains and magnificent blue glaciers calving into the sea, it’s one of South Georgia's most spectacular landscapes. It also sits above an important geological fault line.

On the southern side, mountains consist of basalt and lava from underwater volcanic activity. On the northern shore — once part of the continent Gondwana — are some of the Southern Ocean’s oldest rocks.

As we approached the fjord, we were met with a stark change in conditions. Extremely cold and windy, snow impeded visibility. As a result, we couldn’t venture out by Zodiac. Our expert Expedition Team sprang into action, ensuring we never wanted for wonder.

Throughout the day, were graced with sightings of wandering albatross. Featuring the longest wingspan of any living bird, in a year they can circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times — a 75,000-mile journey. Paired for life, albatross can live up to 80 years.

Amid plentiful, towering glaciers, our Young Explorers were entertained with stories, while adults attended a talk on the cryosphere and its impact on wildlife during the Ice Age.

After lunch, ‘Le Lyrial’ passed a massive tabular iceberg, allowing us to view it at close range. Thankful to witness this extraordinary phenomenon firsthand, we marveled at the behemoth while our geologist explained features along its length. We were amazed to learn the glacier creates its own micro-climate and fog banks.

Concluding the day’s programming, our marine mammal expert lent insight into the Southern Ocean’s resident seal and sea lion. Before bed, we turned our clocks back an hour from GMT-2 to GMT-3 and Marco Polo Club members enjoyed a cocktail party, hosted by A&K.

December 30, 2023 | At Sea to Elephant Island

With the time change, many guests and crew members enjoyed an extra hour of sleep. Others embraced the early light and peacefulness of a morning at sea.

Kicking things off today was a talk on Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who attempted to reach the South Pole in 1902. However, his party turned back due to ill health and sub-zero conditions. Scott and his crew later reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912 — only to learn explorer Roald Amundsen beat them to it.

Next came a fascinating talk on the adaptations of Antarctic organisms, including their ability to remain “comfortably cold.” In the afternoon, we watched James Balog’s poignant, timely documentary, Chasing Ice, a multi-year chronicle of the planet's rapidly melting glaciers.

Guests on deck observed the sea alongside naturalists, seeing hourglass dolphin; a beautiful sooty albatross; and plenty of Cape petrel, Antarctic prion and fulmar.

Journeying onward toward Elephant Island, the Captain opened the ship’s bridge, offering a behind-the-scenes peek at our floating home. We also enjoyed a discussion on penguin ecology and evolution; sampled a variety of Nordic gravlax; and explored the complex breeding cycle of king penguin. Then, our photo coach gave tips on photographing a chaotic penguin colony.

December 31, 2023 | Elephant Island

We rose to calm, glassy seas and an immersive talk on Antarctica — the highest, driest, coldest, windiest continent on earth. Next up was an enlightening discussion on Antarctic ice.

By afternoon, we arrived at mountainous, ice-covered Elephant Island, a significant place located 150 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula. After their ship sank in the Weddell Sea, 22 members of Shackleton’s Endurance crew landed on this unforgiving island. There, they lived beneath two upturned lifeboats while awaiting rescue.

Mindful of this auspicious, historical place, we set out by Zodiac, observing chinstrap penguin, a leopard seal and the breathtaking Furness Glacier.

This evening, JD Massyn recited Herbert Ponting's poem, “The Sleeping Bag,” and we sang “Frankie Wildo,” a song about the men left in the care of Frank Wild on Elephant Island. Professional dancers then put on a lively show. Matching their energy, we danced into the New Year. It was a fine, festive way to end 2023.

January 1, 2024 | Penguin Island and Admiralty Bay

Despite last night’s late-night revelry, we got up early for a landing on Penguin Island. Marked by the soaring cone of Deacon Peak, most of the island is surrounded by low cliffs, with a crater lake to the northeast.

Amid wonderful conditions, we breathed in fresh air and walked up the mountain’s northern face, which slopes gently down to the landing beach. With our blood pumping, we made our way back along the beach, viewing elephant seal and all three brushtail penguin species. The local chinstrap colony provided endless delight, particularly the little, grey chicks.

Although we planned to explore Turret Point on King George Island, the swell and a dearth of wildlife prompted a change in course. We boarded our Zodiacs, setting out for Admiralty Bay between Demay Point and Martins Head instead.

Donning our sunglasses and sunblock, bright sunshine warmed us and illuminated massive glaciers and shimmering ice fields.

Before returning to ‘Le Lyrial,’ we observed Peru’s Machu Picchu station. Established in 1989, it houses 28 seasonal researchers, who study Antarctica’s geology, climatology and biology. Although there are no scheduled flights to Antarctica, medical evacuations are possible from this island, as are charter flights that allow travellers to avoid crossing the Drake Passage by boat.

January 2, 2024 | South Shetland Islands

The sea was calm as 'Le Lyrial' anchored off ice-covered Snow Island in the South Shetlands. Although the skies were clear, it certainly was cold outside. We bundled up, putting on another layer, along with gloves and face coverings.

We then went ashore at President Head, welcomed by dozens of elephant seal. Having weaned their adorable, large-eyed pups, females set out to sea to rebuild their strength; young males jostled on the beach; and a lone Weddell seal displayed her beautiful chest markings. As we observed them, our geologist pointed out fossils, much to our delight.

Back aboard 'Le Lyrial,' we continued to barren, horseshoe-shaped Deception Island, the exposed part of an active shield volcano. Featuring volcanic slopes, steaming beaches and ash-layered glaciers, its large, flooded caldera opens to the sea through a narrow channel at Neptune's Bellows, forming a sheltered harbor.

Continuing onward, we entered small Whalers Bay on the east side of Port Foster. While we took in spectacular views from Neptune's Window, a leopard seal frolicked on the beach. Strolling around the long-abandoned whaling station and the British Antarctic Survey station, we tried to imagine what life was like for the whalers a century ago.

Recapping the day, we discussed giant petrel and elephant seal. After dinner, we played trivia, excited about tomorrow's adventures amid the Antarctic Peninsula.

January 3, 2024 | Neko Harbour

Today revealed classic Antarctic landscapes, from falling snow to icebergs and glaciers in every direction. We arrived at Danco Island, within the spellbinding, narrow Errera Channel.

After learning a large pod of orca was nearby, we watched the magnificent creatures. Seeing babies breaching and males with six-foot-high dorsal fins, it's clear all were at home in their freezing environment.

In the afternoon, with snow gently falling, we explored Neko Harbour with its icebergs, penguin colonies and calving glaciers. Returning to 'Le Lyrial,' we paused to toast our incredible journey to the White Continent. This evening, we continued northward toward Ushuaia, enjoying an entertaining talent show en route.

January 4, 2024 | Crossing the Drake Passage

We made our way onward, crossing the Drake Passage while our naturalist, Russ Manning - a British Antarctic Survey base commander - gave an illuminating talk about his experiences in Antarctica. Next, we learned about the dangers of longline fishing and the preservation of Antarctica's albatross and petrel population.

Commemorating our journey, we then viewed photos from fellow travellers and sat down to afternoon tea with macarons.

In the evening, we donned fine attire to attend a festive gala dinner, during which our Captain introduced the staff aboard 'Le Lyrial.' Much revelry took place afterward, including karaoke and dancing in the lounge.

January 5, 2024 | Crossing the Drake Passage

It was a slow, relaxed start to the day on a calm ocean. While continuing northward to the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, we enjoyed a geology talk. After returning our boots and trousers, we watched a video created by our vessel’s videographer and rather reluctantly packed our bags for tomorrow’s onward flights.

Reflecting on our journey, it has been a momentous experience for every one of us fortunate enough to partake in this unforgettable adventure.

Wildlife Sightings on This Journey


  • King Penguin
  • Gentoo Penguin
  • Adelie Penguin
  • Chinstrap Penguin
  • Macaroni Penguin
  • Magellanic Penguin
  • Southern Royal Albatross
  • Wandering Albatross
  • Black-browed Albatross
  • Grey-headed Albatross
  • Light-mantled Albatross
  • Southern Giant Petrel
  • Northern Giant Petrel
  • White-chinned Petrel
  • Cape (Pintado) Petrel
  • Snow Petrel
  • Southern Fulmar
  • Great Shearwater
  • Sooty shearwater
  • Blue Petrel
  • Prion sp.
  • Antarctic Prion
  • Black-bellied Storm-petrel
  • Grey-backed Storm-petrel
  • Wilson's Storm-petrel
  • Diving-petrel sp.
  • Blue eyed-shag
  • Rock Shag
  • Chilean Skua
  • Brown Skua
  • South Polar Skua
  • South American Tern
  • Antarctic Tern
  • Dolphin Gull
  • Brown-hooded Gull
  • Kelp Gull
  • Kelp Goose
  • Upland Goose
  • Flightless Steamer-duck
  • Patagonian Crested Duck
  • South Georgia Pintail
  • Turkey vulture
  • Chimango Caracara
  • Black-crowned Night-heron
  • Blackish Oystercatcher
  • Magellanic Oystercatcher
  • Snowy Sheathbill
  • Correndera Pipit
  • South Georgia Pipit
  • Dark-faced Ground-tyrant
  • Austral Thrush
  • Long-tailed Meadowlark
  • White-bridled Finch
  • Black-chinned Siskin


  • Fin Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Long-finned pilot whale
  • Commerson´s Dolphin
  • Peale's Dolphin
  • Dusky Dolphin
  • Weddell Seal
  • Leopard Seal
  • Southern Elephant Seal
  • Antarctic fur seal
  • Southern sea lion

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