Hurtigruten, an industry leader in expedition cruising known for its once-in-a-lifetime voyages, is offering an all-inclusive package with all of the trimmings for the Christmas season. Hurtigruten’s festive 21-Day Christmas and New Years - Antarctica cruise-tour, departing December 19, 2009 celebrates the holiday season with traditional Norwegian Christmas breakfasts and dinners, onboard musicians, Christmas carols and a Santa Claus laden with gifts -- all against a backdrop of stunning Antarctic landscapes. Prices for the trip start at $9,848 per person, double, and include round-trip airfare from JFK or Miami to Buenos Aires, all meals onboard, the services of expert naturalist guides, noted guest lecturers, PolarCirkel boat landings, pre- and post-cruise nights in Buenos Aires and port fees. This offer can be booked using Hurtigruten's interest-free "Layaway Getaway" monthly payment plan.
From the sight of blue whales and orcas feeding mere feet from the world's most deluxe exploration ship, MS Fram, and penguin populations whose individual rookeries number in the tens of thousands, to the sheer magnitude of the gleaming icebergs inhabiting the icy Antarctic waters, guests are given a rare view of the vast and mysterious wilderness of the White Continent.
Travelers depart Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, aboard the 318-berth, ice-rated MS Fram and sail to the Falklands, an archipelago consisting of more than 740 islands and a breeding ground for millions of seabirds, as well as home to King and other penguin species. In South Georgia, passengers disembark at the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken and visit the South Georgia Museum, a treasure trove of the island’s culture; Cooper Bay, known for its Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins; and the cemetery, where young Elephant seal pups, King and Gentoo penguins and timid Pintail ducks are likely to be spotted. The ship then takes guests by the Washington Strait and Coronation Island, the largest of the South Orkney Islands in the Scotia Sea, before setting course towards Elephant Island and Antarctica.
A broad range of landfall opportunities await in Antarctica – Cuverville Island, with the largest known colony of Gentoo penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula; Whaler's Bay with its warm springs and black volcanic sand; Paradise Harbor and its stunning views of snowy peaks, ice cliffs and sculpted bergs; the Antarctic Sound, where mile-long icebergs can be seen; Brown Bluff, frequented by Weddell seals; and just a few. As the MS Fram sails through the Drake Passage, guests can enjoy a view of Cape Horn, South America’s southernmost point, while learning about the region from expert onboard lecturers. The ship disembarks at Ushuaia and guests fly onto Buenos Aires, where they are free to go off on their own or take optional excursions such as the guided city tour, exploring popular areas from the designer boutiques of trendy Palermo to the cobblestone streets and colorful wooden houses of the “Old Town.”
Air add-ons is available from dozens of North American gateways. Airline fuel surcharges and taxes, and gratuities are additional. For those interested in a similar cruise at a later date, Hurtigruten also offers the 22-Day Antarctica/ South Georgia Falklands & Malvinas cruise departing in February.