- Visit Antarctica, a rugged, rarely visited, and beautiful continent
- Spot diverse wildlife, from a chinstrap penguin colony to humpback whales
- Make landfall on several occasions and hike to a fantastic viewpoint
- Cross the Antarctic Circle for more exploration and wildlife viewing opportunities
- Stay aboard a comfortable ship with private cabins and bathrooms
A visit to Antarctica sits near the top of many bucket lists, and REI's Extended Classic adventure cruise to the White Continent is the ideal way to check this item off. Kayaking, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and even a polar plunge are a few of the activities we can partake in to truly experience this magnificent continent.
Our Extended Classic Voyage goes beyond the typical cruise, crossing the Antarctic Circle for a journey that even fewer travelers ever experience. Here, we'll take in more staggering scenery and wildlife. Naturalist guides accompany us all along the way, and each night we return aboard our comfortable ship.
REI Adventures shares non-exclusive departures with our travel partner, Quark Expeditions.
- Day 1 - Our journey starts in Ushuaia, Argentina.
- Day 2 - Embarkation Day! Sail down the historic Beagle Channel.
- Days 3-4 - Crossing the Drake Passage, hope for calm waters.
- Days 5-8 - Explore South Shetland and the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Days 9-10 - Cross The Antarctic Circle and toast with champagne.
- Days 11-12 - Spot wildlife and learn more about this area from our guides.
- Days 13-14 - Return via the Drake Passage to Ushuaia.
- Day 15 - Disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Our journey starts in Ushuaia, Argentina.
You will begin your journey in Ushuaia, a small, but bustling port town at the tip of South America. This Argentinean town is an ideal gateway for you to explore the southern extent of Patagonia while preparing for your adventure ahead. Get active in the mountains or enjoy some hand crafted chocolate in town. This evening meet some of your fellow travelers at the orientation briefing.
Day 2 - Embarkation Day! Sail down the historic Beagle Channel.
The Beagle Channel sets you on your way as the ship sails in the late afternoon. The channel opens up to the vastness of the southern ocean, where your next land sighting will be along the Antarctic Peninsula. Named after the famed ship in which Charles Darwin voyaged, the channel presents many great photo opportunities to capture sea birds hovering overhead.
Days 3-4 - Crossing the Drake Passage, hope for calm waters.
The waters of the Drake Passage are unpredictable, so hope for clear skies and a calm ocean. You'll have plenty of time to stare out at the sea, get to know your fellow shipmates and chat with your Expedition Team.
Time over these two days will be spent preparing for the exciting days ahead, with numerous educational and informative lectures from your Expedition Team. You'll learn about everything from safety procedures to the history of whaling in Antarctica.
Days 5-8 - Explore South Shetland and the Antarctic Peninsula.
With the Drake Passage left in our wake, we make a final approach to Antarctica. Get your cameras ready, as the continent's coastline will make its first appearance, signaling the start of your adventure in the realm of the Antarctic. You'll see plentiful icebergs floating by and be fixated on the surface of the ocean as curious whales spout and breach before your eyes.
As exciting as it can be from onboard the ship, your true exploration occurs when you disembark and set foot on the great continent. There are several potential landing sites we may visit, including Neko Harbor, Orne Harbor or Paradise Bay. While weather dictates which specific landing sites we can visit, each one presents a new collection of wildlife and natural attractions.
Your days will be busy spotting wildlife and being mesmerized by the beauty of Antarctica. Watching penguins waddling on the beach and listening to the crackling and crumbling sounds of icebergs and glaciers will become your daily entertainment, while kayaking with whales and camping in Antarctica are a couple of optional activities available on selected voyages.
Days 9-10 - Cross The Antarctic Circle and toast with champagne.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Peninsula do not reach this far south, which is officially noted at 66° 33' S. You and your shipmates will celebrate in style with a well-earned glass of champagne! Make a toast and take pride in knowing you've made it to a part of the world still visited by very few people.
Days 11-12 - Spot wildlife and learn more about this area from our guides.
By now, your knowledge of Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins will be matched by your ability to differentiate between a leopard, fur or Weddell seal. Terms like 'bergy bits' and pancake ice will seem normal too, yet there are still many tales to be told. As you head back towards the Drake, Zodiac excursions will continue to fill your days, while the Expedition Team will help fill in any blanks that remain in your newly acquired knowledge of the Antarctic.
Days 13-14 - Return via the Drake Passage to Ushuaia.
Re-crossing the Drake, Antarctica fades away and you'll be left with a collection of memories to last a lifetime. Excited conversations with your newfound friends will make the time passing the Drake Passage fly by, independent of weather and sea conditions. Your Expedition Team will round up their series of lectures as well, perhaps with a slideshow of some of the great landing sites and wildlife you've visited over the course of your voyage.
Day 15 - Disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Today you'll say goodbye to your Expedition Team and your fellow travelers. You'll disembark in the morning so that you may catch your homeward bound flights. Outbound flights should not be scheduled until after noon.
Please note: The 14 day itinerary on the Sea Spirit spends one less day exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.
Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
One night of pre-expedition hotel accommodation with breakfast, (the number of guests per room is the same as cabin occupancy on the ship. Due to limited availability, travelers who reserve a suite on board are accommodated in standard rooms at the hotel.), shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping, all meals on board, all shore landings per the daily program, leadership throughout the voyage including shore landings and other activities, photographic journal on DVD documenting the voyage, a pair of waterproof boots for the duration of the voyage, an official Quark Expeditions parka to keep, hair dryer and bathrobes in each cabin, a group transfer upon disembarkation in Ushuaia to the airport, all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program, Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of $100,000 per person.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; supplement for single hotel accommodations; baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar and beverage charges and telecommunications charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for those who have served you aboard (guidelines will be provided).
Our trips are scheduled to take advantage of the Antarctica summer. Daytime temperatures may vary between 25° to 45°F and if the sun is shining, it can get warmer. Daylight lasts 20 hours per day!
To confirm reservations on an Antarctic cruise, a deposit of 20% is required at time of booking. Final payment is due 130 days prior to departure. Prices and payments are in U.S. dollars. Deposits and payments for pre-expedition and post-expedition services are specific to each item, and are explained and communicated at time of purchase.
All requests for cancellations must be received in writing. Cancellations received up to 180 days prior to departure are refunded less an administrative fee of $1000 per person. If cancellation is received between 179 and 121 days prior to departure, the deposit is forfeited. Please note that for cancellations received within 120 days prior to departure, all deposits and tariffs are forfeited. If cancellation occurs within the 120-day period and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately. For these and other reasons mentioned below, you are strongly encouraged to obtain trip cancellation insurance. Prices quoted are based on group participation and no refunds will be made for any part of the program in which you choose not to participate, including kayaking, camping, skiing, or mountaineering (if applicable and which, at the discretion of the Captain and Expedition Leader, may or may not be utilized). It is understood that refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the services for any reason whatsoever.
This policy is different than the general cancellation policy published in our current travel catalog and is strictly adhered to.
If any trip must be delayed due to bad weather, cancelled or delayed transportation, sickness or any other situation for which REI Adventures catalog information cannot make provisions, all costs incurred during such delays must be borne by trip members.
The trip is rated easy to moderate . During most shore landings, trip participants will have the opportunity to walk for short distances (less than 1 mile) while visiting penguin rookeries and exploring the landscape. Dependent on location, walks may involve crossing snowfields or bare, rocky terrain. Individuals prone to motion sickness should carry appropriate remedies as high seas may be encountered while crossing the Drake Passage.
A valid passport is required for travel to South America. A visa is not required for travel to Antarctica. Extensions may require visas when traveling to additional South American countries.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Antarctica Cruise – Extended Classic Voyage Gear List
WeatherThe weather in the Antarctica is known for its extreme variability. Although heavy rainfall is unusual, strong winds are fairly common and can greatly affect your comfort during shore landings. Average temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula during the summer months range approximately: 23°-41°F.
- Expedition parka for yours to keep
- Equipment for all Further Adventures options
- Waterproof rubber boots on loan for shore landings
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- Duffel bag or soft-sided suitcase (2 maximum)
- Daypack or fanny pack to carry your camera, water bottle, extra clothing during shore landings
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable, side-zip pants are highly recommended
- Heavyweight fleece top or wool sweater
- Midweight fleece top
- Midweight fleece pants
- Midweight thermal underwear tops and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Casual shirts/pants for use aboard ship and Ushuaia
- Hiking socks (for use during shore landings under boots)
- Casual socks
- Comfortable shoes (also for use aboard ship; non-slip soles are best!)
- Wool or fleece hat
- Wool or fleece gloves
- Heavier, ski-type gloves
- One-quart water bottle (to stay hydrated during shore landings)
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Electrical adapter plug
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit/toiletries
- Small personal first-aid kit
- Camera, memory cards, spare batteries and charger
- Small binoculars
- Favorite energy snacks
- Motion sickness remedies
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
Things to Consider
- Wind chill can be a significant feature of this trip. When the wind is constant, you can be robbed of body heat quickly. Adequate wind/raingear is vital!
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene®, MTS® and Thermax®.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- The dress code on board the ship is strictly casual, in the expedition spirit. There is no need to dress formally for meals.
- A few large zip-lock or waterproof bags are useful to keep camera equipment dry while riding in the Zodiac and during wet shore landings.
- Bring more memory cards/batteries than you think you will need. Extra supplies will be difficult to purchase or unavailable once the trip begins. It is not unusual for participants to shoot double the amount of photos then they normally would. Cold temperatures quickly eat up battery power. Carry batteries close to your body to keep them warm and bring plenty of spares.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.
Passengers who have sailed with Quark Expeditions in the past are entitled to a 5% discount on all sailings. REI Adventures honors most Quark discounts and promotions.
If you opt to join us for two (or more) consecutive expeditions we will be pleased to offer a 6% discount off the second expedition (and any additional consecutive expeditions).
Select sailings qualify for early booking discounts and/or air credit. Call our office for more details.
Dates & Prices:
|Antarctica Cruise – Extended Classic Voyage|
|Jan 15-28, 2014||14||$8,795||$12,395||$17,895||$12,995||$17,895||$16,595||$21,595|
|Feb 22 - Mar 8, 2014||15||$6,995||$10,395||$14,895||$10,995||$14,895||$13,995||$18,595|
|Jan 7-21, 2015||15||$9,995||$12,995||$17,995||$13,995||$17,995||$16,995||$18,995|
|Feb 16 - Mar 02, 2014||15||$11,395||$12,795||$13,995||$15,495||$18,495||$20,595||$24,995|
|Feb 8-20, 2015||13||$9,295||$11,295||$12,295||$13,295||$14,295||$15,295||$17,295|
An option for kayaking is available on all departures.
Additional optional activities vary by departure; call us for details.