Antarctica & the Ross Sea Expedition

Of the many itineraries that are part of Crystal Endeavor’s inaugural season, the Antarctica and Ross Sea Expedition is perhaps the most epic. The cruise departs from Hobart, Tasmania, on January 6, 2022, at the height of the Antarctica summer (it’s also possible to book the same itinerary, in reverse, departing from Christchurch on January 28). You’ll then follow in the paths of legendary explorers like Shackleton and Scott, including a visit to the historic “huts” on the Ross Ice Shelf used by several expeditions. With landings on glaciers and opportunities to spot penguins, whales, and other polar wildlife, you’ll experience all the highlights of the frozen continent.

Unlike those who competed for the distinction of being the first person to reach the South Pole, your journey will be in unparalleled luxury. The new polar-class Crystal Endeavor combines the state-of-the-art features of a new expedition ship with the signature amenities and gracious service that travelers expect from Crystal.


Ross Ice Shelf

Guests will explore the Ross Ice Shelf and visit the historical “huts” of the great explorers that have come before, like Scott and Shackleton, as well as McMurdo Station and Scott Base


Crystal Yacht Expeditions

Crystal Cruises has long been synonymous with luxury and flawless service. Now, with the launch of Crystal Endeavor, travelers can enjoy the same stellar experience in some of the world’s most fascinating and remote destinations. Passengers aboard the new polar-class Crystal Endeavor will enjoy the line’s unrivaled quality which extends to its expedition cruise features—small-group excursions are led by experts in their fields and a fleet of Zodiacs, submersibles, and other vessels get you even closer to the sights and wildlife of the destinations you visit. With just 100 suites, Crystal Endeavor offers an intimacy not found on larger ships while it can visit even smaller and more remote ports.

DAY 1Hobart

You’ll start your voyage to Antarctica in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. As far as Australian cities go, Hobart is one of the older ones, having been established in 1804. The city’s history is evident as you walk its streets—there are 90 buildings included in the country’s National Trust registry while Battery Point is a reminder of the peak of the area’s maritime heritage. With its location between Mt. Wellington and the Derwent River, few ports have a more beautiful setting. You may want to graze your way through the vendors who set up their stands at the lively farmers’ market on Salamanca Place before you board Crystal Endeavor.

DAYS 2 TO 5Cruising the Tasman Sea and the Southern Ocean

As one of only 200 guests on Crystal Endeavor, you have an opportunity over the next several days to experience life aboard one of the most anticipated new cruise ships in the world. The largest and most spacious expedition yacht ever constructed brings a contemporary elegance to the high seas. You may want to book a treatment at the serene Crystal Life Spa & Salon, work out at the state-of-the-art fitness center, or learn about the geology, climate, and wildlife of Antarctica with the engaging enrichment programs. As evening arrives, order a cocktail in one of the luxurious lounges, indulge in the renowned culinary creations of Nobu Matsuhisa, or enjoy special wine-makers dinners.

DAY 6Cross the Antarctic Circle

As you continue to travel south, you’ll cross an invisible line in the sea. While there is no physical marker to indicate that you are passing over the Antarctic Circle, the line at 66°33′47.3″ south of the equator is an important geographical boundary. Every place south of the circle experiences at least one 24-hour day in the summer, and also at least one 24-hour night in the winter. As you will be exploring Antarctica at the height of the continent’s summer, you’ll enjoy long days for the duration of your cruise.

DAY 7Balleny Islands

The first stop in Antarctica on the Crystal Endeavor itinerary is the Balleny Islands. This group of three islands, and a number of smaller islets, straddles the Antarctic Circle in the Ross Sea. Isolated and pristine, the uninhabited islands were discovered by English sealer John Balleny in 1839. While no humans live on the islands, the nutrient-rich waters are part of the world’s largest marine reserve. This surreal, snow-covered wonderland of glaciated, volcanic islands and ice floes is perfect for cruising, including Zodiac excursions if the weather allows. Sightings of humpback whales are common, drawn to the islands to feed on the abundant krill and plankton found here.

DAY 8Cruising the Ross Sea

As you cross the Ross Sea, you’ll enjoy another day at sea aboard Crystal Endeavor. Take advantage of the ship’s many amenities whether that means simply enjoying the ocean views from bed in your suite or heading to the gym and spa. When you are ready to eat, choose from four different dining options, including Italian at Prego and Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, under the direction of world-acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa, at Umi Uma & Sushi Bar. Or you may want to learn more about Antarctica at one of the enrichment lectures.

DAY 10Cape Hallett and Cape Roget

Some 60 miles south of Cape Adare, Cape Hallett is home to another significant colony of Adélie penguins, as well as springtails and south polar skuas. For scientists the area is of special interest for its plant life, which is rare in Antarctica. Here 18 different species of lichens and five different mosses have been recorded. Immediately to the north of Cape Hallett, Cape Roget is home to an emperor penguin rookery.

DAY 11Terra Nova Bay

As Crystal Endeavor arrives in iceberg-dotted Terra Nova Bay, the Antarctica mainland beckons. While other stops earlier in this journey called on offshore islands, today, weather permitting, you’ll be able to walk on the continent itself. Nestled along the coast of Victoria Land between Cape Washington and the Drygalski Ice Tongue, a massive glacier that flows out into the ocean, the bay hosts a few scientific stations, including Italy’s Zucchelli Station, known for its research on marine biology, oceanography, and seismology. Adélie and emperor penguins as well as Weddell seals can often be spotted in the bay.

DAYS 12 TO 14Ross Island

You’ll spend the next three days off of Ross Island, home to the largest scientific station in Antarctica, McMurdo Station. Measuring 950 square miles, Ross Island sits off of the coast of Antarctica although it is connected to the mainland by a permanent ice sheet. The island is formed by four volcanoes: the world’s southernmost active volcano, Erebus, which rises to an impressive height of 12,448 feet, and three dormant ones: Mount Terror, Mount Terra Nova, and Mount Bird. Each day, weather permitting, excursions on Zodiacs led by naturalists from Crystal Endeavor’s enrichment team will provide opportunities to explore the island’s coast.

DAY 15Marble Point/Dry Valleys Region

Marble Point on the coast of Victoria Land is not included on many Antarctica cruises, but with its commitment to taking travelers to even the most remote corners of the world, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises includes it on this itinerary. The United States operates a research station here along with a helicopter refueling station. You’ll board a flight for the McMurdo Dry Valleys, a region that resembles Mars more than it does Earth. The “dry” in the valleys’ name reflects that this is a polar desert, receiving almost no snow or other precipitation. No plant or animal life has been found here beyond the smallest bacteria. It’s a rare opportunity to experience a destination with some of the world’s harshest climactic conditions.

DAY 16Cruising the Ross Ice Shelf

Scientific phenomena and other curiosities abound on and around the world’s largest ice shelf, responsible for stabilizing the Antarctic Ice Sheet; where certain fish species swim upside down and icebergs are formed in tubes. The Ross Ice Shelf has captivated explorers and researchers for centuries, from Amundsen and Scott to today’s multidisciplinary scientists who tirelessly study its stability. You’ll be able to survey this massive wonder during helicopter expeditions, weather permitting, and see what few other travelers ever have.

DAY 17Coulman Island

Your last stop in Antarctica before you begin the journey back to civilization is Coulman Island, named by the explorer James Clark Ross for his father-in-law. The island in the Ross Sea, off the coast of northern Victoria Land, provides insights into Antarctica’s geologic history. Its picturesque landscape of mountains and cliffs dappled with snow is actually a complex of shield volcanoes, massive dome-shaped formations built of lava flows. Its most notable feature is the three-mile-wide, 2,300-foot-deep caldera on the southern end of the island. Coulman’s untouched terrain hosts a large colony of emperor penguins.

DAYS 18 TO 21Cruising the Ross Sea

You’ll have three more days at sea aboard Crystal Endeavor as you sail from Antarctica to New Zealand. Our suggestion is that you use this time to exchange favorite photos of icebergs and penguins, or at least email addresses, with new friends you have made on board the ship. You also have three more days to take advantage of the experts who lead the ship’s enrichment programs to get answers to all your questions about how icebergs calve or the migratory patterns of Antarctic seabirds.

DAY 22Christchurch

You’ll arrive today in your final stop, Christchurch, often described as the most English of New Zealand’s cities. Founded in 1856 on the banks of the Avon River, Christchurch is the oldest established city in the country and is dotted with a number of late-19th century neo-Gothic buildings. The area offers more than tea and crumpets, however, and today Christchurch is also a gateway to many of the active adventures on the South Island. You can follow your finger sandwiches with some bungee jumping if you’d like.