An Epic Expedition to Antarctica

Two massive icebergs float in the water. The sun shines through a flat layer of clouds.

If any place can accurately be described as the last frontier, it is the intriguingly untamed, frozen land of the southernmost continent, Antarctica. Experience it for yourself on Silversea’s 18-day Ushuaia to Ushuaia Antarctica Expedition, which takes you from the tip of South America across the Drake Passage, named after the famous explorer who circumnavigated the world from 1577 to 1580. You’ll pass orcas swimming through the dark, dramatic sea before arriving at the Antarctica Peninsula, where seals float by on ice floes and penguins dot the coastline.

Along the way you’ll enjoy the comforts of life aboard Silver Explorer. Fewer than 150 passengers share the two dining venues and 12 Zodiac crafts. At the end of each day’s adventures, you’ll return to your spacious suite; 80 percent of them offer verandahs with views of the ocean and sometimes breaching whales too.

We sent AFAR Ambassador Rachel Rudwall on a recent Antarctica expedition with Silversea. To get her firsthand perspective, check out highlights of her voyage in 10 inspiring photos and her reflections on what it means to travel responsibly in Antarctica.

A cute little penguin waddles across the snow


Penguin Encounters

There are six different species of penguins in Antarctica and millions of them gather on the shoreline of the continent as the winter ice recedes—exactly when you will be exploring the continent aboard Silver Explorer. You’ll visit nesting sites of Adélie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins and will likely have the chance to witness baby chicks taking their first steps.
Silversea Expeditions



Silversea’s small luxury ships are designed for those who want to appreciate every comfort while exploring the world’s most fascinating, and often most remote, places. Silversea voyages and cruise expeditions visit over 900 destinations on all seven continents, more than any other cruise line. You’ll be transported to the most distant corners of the planet while enjoying personalized service, the renowned excellence of the ships’ restaurants, and the convenience of an all-inclusive fare that includes almost all of your onboard expenses.
A brightly lit town on the water. Tall snow-capped mountains in the distance cut across a clear night sky.

DAY 1Ushuaia

After a night in Buenos Aires, included in your fare, you’ll depart for Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego—a region named for the fires of the Yaghan people that Ferdinand Magellan saw burning when he sailed the coast. Ushuaia is now a jumble of colorful buildings between the sea and the Martial Mountains, which form a striking snowcapped backdrop.

Here you’ll board Silver Explorer, your home at sea for the next 10 days. After a safety drill, it’s time to set sail south. Behind you Tierra de Fuego, with its coastal villages and peaks soaring to heights of over 8,000 feet, will gradually recede into the distance and you’ll admire the same view of the tip of South America as did explorers and naturalists including Sir Francis Drake and Charles Darwin.
Icebergs on the water. A small speedboat sails towards a cruise ship.

DAY 2At Sea

Your first stop on your journey will be the Falkland Islands, and en route you’ll be able to take in the spectacular beauty and power of the ocean and watch for the avian species found here, far from land. You’ll also have time to explore Silver Explorer, meet your fellow guests, and attend lectures by ornithologists, marine biologists, and other experts.
A person in a red rain jacket observes hundreds of seagulls perched on rocks by the sea.

DAY 3West Point Island

Located slightly northwest of West Falkland, West Point Island is used for sheep farming and nature observations. Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins, with their distinctive black and white markings, can usually be seen in the waters near the island. Rolling moorland and steep cliffs make for great photographic opportunities, but the main attraction is the Devil’s Nose, a cliffside colony of black-browed albatrosses nesting side-by-side with feisty rockhopper penguins. Magellanic penguins and Magellanic cormorants can also be found on the island.
A small penguin hops across a beach

DAY 4Saunders Island

Saunders Island, the fourth-largest of the Falkland Islands, sits in the western portion of the archipelago. The island’s topography is unusual, being made up of three peninsulas linked by narrow necks, and three big upland areas. Today the island is run as a sheep farm, but it has historical importance as the location of the first British settlement in the Falklands. The wildlife on Saunders Island is also impressively varied.
A colorful town of small houses on the seaside. A small bright concrete pillar is seen on the tip of an archipelago in the foreground.


DAY 5Stanley

Tiny Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, seems in many ways like a British village fallen out of the sky. Many homes are painted in bright colors, adding visual appeal to this distant outpost. Not far offshore, the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, is one of the many vessels remaining as silent testimonials to the region’s frequent harsh weather conditions. The islands, also known by their Spanish name of Islas Malvinas, are home to more tuxedo-clad inhabitants of the penguin variety than human residents.
A large floating glacier as seen from a boat

DAYS 6 AND 7Sail to South Georgia

The next two days give you time to bask in life aboard Silver Explorer. You likely will want to take advantage of the lecture series covering the natural and human histories of Antarctica. The expedition team is comprised of experts from a variety of backgrounds and their entertaining presentations, rich with images and videos gathered over the length of their long careers, typically spark thoughtful discussions. There are also less cerebral activities to choose from: wine tastings, spa treatments, or borrowing a DVD from the library to watch in your suite.
People in red jackets walk through a black sand beach covered in penguins. A rainbow stretches over a glacier nestled in snowy mountains

DAYS 8 TO 10South Georgia

South Georgia is a breathtaking destination of towering snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers, and low-lying grasslands that attract an astounding concentration of wildlife. It is possible to find southern fur seals, southern elephant seals, and a variety of albatross species including black-browed, light-mantled sooty, gray-headed and the spectacular wandering albatross, plus thousands of King and Macaroni penguins. South Georgia is also linked to many of the early Antarctic explorers, and it’s possible to visit sites associated with those expeditions.
People in red jackets huddle around the front of a boat to look at a glacier

DAYS 11 AND 12Antarctic Sound

Enjoy these days at sea as a perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. Whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones, or simply enjoying a good book—perhaps a tale of one of the expeditions to reach the South Pole—sea days are the perfect balance to others spent exploring the sites of the frozen continent.
Red jacketed sailors take a dinghy on a choppy ocean back to a cruise ship.

DAY 13Elephant Island

Awesome glaciers flecked with pink algae can be seen approaching Elephant Island—so named either for its elephant-like appearance or for sightings of elephant seals here. Elephant Island is home to several chinstrap penguin rookeries, as well as 2,000-year-old moss colonies. Weddell seals and Macaroni penguins can also be spotted. In 1916, when Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the crew was stranded here for more than four months finding shelter under two upturned lifeboats on the spit of land Shackleton’s men named “Point Wild.”
Birds fly over a rocky coastline. Snow covers sleek mountainous terrain in the distance

DAYS 14 AND 15Antarctic Peninsula

Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals and the iconic penguins. The Antarctic Peninsula—the portion of the continent closest to South America—has a human history of almost 200 years, with explorers, sealers, whalers, and scientists arriving first to then eventually be followed by intrepid visitors like you coming to experience this pristine and remote wilderness.
A seagull flies over the ocean

DAYS 16 AND 17Cross the Drake Passage

The Drake Passage has been described as a conveyor belt of storms traveling west from the Atlantic into the Pacific. With no major landmasses to slow their progress, the result can be a wild journey with waves exceeding 40 feet.

Somewhere along the passage, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence, also known as the South Polar Frontal Zone, the boundary that marks the end of the relatively closed eco-system of Antarctica. Here, where the cooler waters of the polar ocean meet the warmer ones flowing down from more temperate latitudes, the small shrimp known as krill rise to the surface. And, as you will discover on your journey, where there are krill, there are birds too. Albatross, sooty shearwaters, and petrels fill the air in the wake of the ship. Make sure to bring your binoculars and camera to the deck.
A cruise ships docks at a port


DAY 18Arrive in Ushaia

After breakfast this morning, you’ll bid final goodbyes to your fellow guests and crew before you disembark for Ushuaia and then a transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires.
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