Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina
Arrive in the energetic port city of Buenos Aires and transfer to your luxury hotel, with time to relax and enjoy the amenities of the beautiful Park Hyatt. This evening, meet with fellow guests for a welcome cocktail reception.
Buenos Aires | Lively Port City
The gateway to Argentina for centuries, Buenos Aires has long brought portenos (locals) into its boundaries. Although reminiscent of a European city, the spirit of Buenos Aires is evident in its diverse local neighborhoods. Experience it firsthand, choosing from a selection of included excursions. Opt to explore the city on a guided tour complete with a tango demonstration; spend the day at a traditional estancia (ranch), where you pause for an authentic lunch; or dive into a burgeoning art scene on a guided tour focused on Buenos Aires street art. Enjoy time at leisure this evening.
Ushuaia | Gateway to Antarctica
Fly to the southernmost city in the world, the charming port town of Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). On arrival, enjoy a nature walk (time permitting) and a gourmet lunch. This afternoon, transfer to your ship and settle in for your first night on board. Wander the decks to become acquainted with the ship, relax in the lounge and mingle with fellow guests in anticipation of your voyage. From your private balcony or the outside decks, take in views as you cruise the beautiful Beagle Channel before heading out to sea.
Cruising the Drake Passage | Epic Passage
The first part of your adventure at sea and toward extraordinary Antarctica begins with a voyage across the storied Drake Passage, which functioned as an important trade route in the 19th and 20th centuries. Spanning 600 miles of open ocean, this passage is also the place where the humid, subpolar conditions of Tierra del Fuego meet with the frigid, polar reaches of Antarctica — and where the voluminous Antarctic Circumpolar Current presses from west to east. Notorious for its squalls, the Drake Passage once made for an unpredictable voyage; today, the stabilizer-equipped 'Le Lyrial' commands these waters comfortably. As you travel on your remarkable luxury cruiser, enjoy life on board as well as several university-caliber lectures every day — all part of the intriguing, ongoing conversations you have throughout your cruise with A&K's Expedition Team and enrichment experts. Topics span marine biology, photography and history — the last of which is especially fascinating on this special, one-time-only expedition celebrating Antarctica's discovery. After lunch, join your naturalists on deck to spot pelagic seabirds, which may include the wandering albatross and smaller storm petrels in their element. Later in the evening, look forward to a briefing in the theater on the next day's itinerary followed by dinner at your choice of restaurants.
Antarctica | In the Wake of Nathaniel Palmer
First sightings of the Antarctic Peninsula are moving, surreal and unforgettable, especially on the 200th anniversary year of an expedition led by Nathaniel Palmer, the young sealer who, on November 18, 1820, became the first American explorer to discover mainland Antarctica. Share in the excitement of this historic moment as the Antarctic's offshore islands appear on the horizon. Your lecture program becomes especially poignant with an inspired team of A&K experts and guest lecturers shedding light on Palmer's voyages and the significance of his discovery. It sets the stage for inspiring daily landings along the Peninsula, all of which are carefully designed by your Captain and Expedition Team. Excursions via Zodiacs (sturdy inflatable boats) are also piloted by expert naturalist guides, joined by groups of no more than 10 guests and often accompanied by your lecturers.
The year 1820 was significant not only for Palmer but also for Russian explorer Admiral Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and the British Royal Navy's Captain Edward Bransfield, who also made claims regarding the discovery of Antarctica. This special-edition voyage focuses on key historical areas at the center of these expeditions. Your Captain and Expedition Team carefully plan your active, curated itinerary, which is dependent on weather, sea, ice and wildlife conditions. With that in mind, daily excursions may include exploration of the following areas:
South Shetland Islands: Remarkable history, amazing geological features and abundant wildlife define these islands offshore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Island visits may include Livingston, Half-Moon and Deception, where you may cruise into this flooded caldera to explore geothermal black sand beaches and abandoned whaling stations. You may also visit Anvers Island and Palmer Station, where you enjoy an exciting, behind-the-scenes look at the science happening there now.
Danco Coast: Bordering the South Shetland Islands along the Antarctic continent, the Danco Coast is famed for its scenic, jaw-dropping waterways. From the comfort of 'Le Lyrial,' you may sail through the Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay and photogenic Lemaire Channel. Landings may include Neko Harbour, Cuverville Island and Wilhelmina Bay.
Antarctic Circle: Conditions permitting, you may cruise beyond the Antarctic Circle at 66°34'S 65°44'W, along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. You may also sail to the protected waters of mountainous Marguerite Bay; handwritten journals suggest that Palmer reached this far southern region on later expeditions. Landings may occur on Adelaide Island, which was discovered by British Explorer John Biscoe. You may also visit the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) station at Rothera.
After mornings discovering the White Continent's rare and remarkable treasures from the shore to terra firma, return to 'Le Lyrial' for lunch. Enjoy time to relax and observe the surrounding abundance of wildlife, searching for everything from humpback whales and porpoising penguins to Antarctic and imperial shags. By afternoon, set out for the day's second excursion, which may include hiking on spectacular beaches teeming with braying gentoo penguins, or circumnavigating colossal icebergs that serve as floating homes to seals. After days of adventure, look forward to comfortable evenings aboard your luxury cruiser, sipping cocktails in the Panoramic Lounge before your choice of a buffet or elegant dinner. At night, recap the day's discoveries with your Expedition Team, enjoy entertainment in the theater, and chat with fellow guests in one of 'Le Lyrial's' lounges, ever on the lookout for late-night wildlife appearances just off deck.
Cruising the Drake Passage | Reflective Return
You may still be catching your breath over the awe and inspiration discovered in Antarctica as 'Le Lyrial' turns around to begin the voyage back to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. The ship's return through the Drake Passage affords the perfect opportunity for peaceful reflection, and more conversations and lectures with A&K experts on Antarctica's spectacular environment. You may also enjoy more time with newfound friends in the common spaces of 'Le Lyrial,' or quiet relaxation in the comfort of your cabin. The Drake Passage is a rich source of krill, which fuels the heart of Antarctic food webs and draws wildlife at every turn. Your Expedition Team continues to call you out on deck to witness everything from humpback whales frolicking and bubble-net feeding to the gorgeous black-browed albatross and the wandering albatross, a rare prize for bird lovers known for its remarkable wingspan, which can be as wide as 12 feet.
'Le Lyrial' docks at Ushuaia this morning. After breakfast, bid farewell to your crew and fellow guests before disembarking. Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires, where you connect to your international flight home.
Note: This cruise includes regular Zodiac boat excursions, walks over uneven terrain and optional, challenging hikes. Due to the nature of expedition cruising, this itinerary is subject to change and is for guidance purpose only.