There are many options available to you when you want to visit the Antarctica. All cruises with the Antarctic Ocean as a destination explore the Antarctic Peninsula. The cruises are usually lasting for about a fortnight. The Peninsula destination is one of the most sought after among the Antarctic cruises. An expedition ship will take about two days’ voyage from Ushuaia in the Tierra del Fuego province of Argentina. This is the southernmost city in the world. You cross the Drake Passage to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
There are many cruise operators that you can select from. The Antarctica cruises are offered by many tour operators such as Polar Cruises, Travel Wild, Aurora Expeditions, Victory Cruises, Southern Explorations, Oceanwide Expeditions and Princess Cruises.
The Antarctic Peninsula has a mountain range that stretches across eight hundred miles. There is plenty of opportunity to see a large range of wildlife in the Antarctic. During this voyage, you can learn about Antarctic’s natural history with presentations that are done onboard. You can watch for whales and also will be able to see squadrons of albatrosses and sea gulls along the route. You will come across many icebergs before you reach the White Continent.
When you land on the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula, you can visit the research facilities and many other historical locations. The winter part of the cruise calendar allows you to see much birdlife, particularly the courting and the mating of the penguins in their colonies.
There are seventeen species of penguins and they are grouped into three families. They are brush-tail, king or emperor and crested. Six of these seventeen species are found in the Antarctic. They are the Rockhoppers, Macaronis, Gentoos, Adelies, Chinstraps and Kings which are also known as Emperors.
Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins come to the shores to feed their young. February is the best time of the year to see many marine mammals with crab eater seals on the frozen sea water masses. Colonies of Rockhopper penguins are the highlight of any cruise to this peninsula. It is also a marvellous sight when you see the Emperor penguins on the Snow Hill Island in the Antarctica. Here, you can find a colony of almost four thousand breeding pairs of Emperor penguins in the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea goes so far into the Southern Antarctic Ocean that it is under the direct effect of the cold. It is bordered to the south by the Larsen Ice Shelves. It was first explored by a British sealer by the name of James Weddell in 1823.
Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguins in the world. They stand around three feet tall and weigh about hundred pounds. They are known as the deepest diving birds in the world. They even plunge to depths of over one thousand five hundred feet. They are also capable of staying under water for as long as twenty minutes. They will breed in the harshest conditions. They lay their eggs when the temperatures are even seventy five below zero Fahrenheit.
Snow Hill Island is situated at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. You can reach this place only by the help of icebreakers or helicopters. Kapitan Khlebnikov is the world famous cruising icebreaker. It is the only working unit that is available to the eco-travellers and is capable of reaching Snow Hill Island in the Antarctica. This powerful ship smashes its way through the world of icy wildlife while you are snug and warm with comfortable accommodation and delicious meals onboard. You can even take a helicopter ride from the peninsula to the colony of Emperor penguins to witness them as they march back and forth to feed their chicks.
The Emperor penguin colonies are usually surrounded by huge icebergs. Sometimes, you may find it difficult to see the penguins from even a distance of a couple of hundreds of meters. Scientific explorers from the British Antarctic Survey are trying to identify penguin colonies from space by the help of satellite waves.
When the weather permits, you will be able to see the glow of the twilight on the icebergs and it is a majestic sight. Experiencing the presence of the Emperor penguins will definitely become your priority on the Antarctic expeditions. These specialty trips to Snow Hill Island operate from late October to end of November. This is perfect time to witness the extra ordinary breeding cycle of these penguins in the winter. They hatch in July and August. Between February and September, the ice at the colony is a little too soft for a cruise to the Snow Hill Island.