Earnest Shackleton, whose exploration of Antarctica is considered one of history’s greatest survival stories, is the focus of Hurtigruten’s 19-day “Shackleton’s Antarctica,” one of five Antarctica adventure voyages offered at 10% to 20% off regular fares if booked by May 31, 2010. This amounts to a savings of $512 to $3,673 per person.
For those who need a bit more time to plan, all but the 19-day sailings will be offered with a 10% reduction for bookings through July 31. The 13- to 19-day itineraries, priced after the discount at $6,468 to $16,047 per person, double (higher fares are for suites), include a night in Buenos Aires before and after the cruise, all meals on board, the services of expert guides, lectures and PolarCirkel boat landings. This offer can be combined with Repeater Discounts — 10% savings for passengers who sailed on any Hurtigruten ship in the past three years.
These once-in-a-lifetime voyages explore the vast and mysterious wilderness of the White Continent, the coldest, driest and windiest destination on earth, replete with gleaming icebergs, blue whales and orcas feeding mere feet from the ships, and penguin populations whose individual rookeries number in the tens of thousands. The 19-day “Shackleton’s Antarctica,” departing Nov. 1, follows much of the same path as Shackleton’s original Endurance Expedition of 1914. It navigates the western-most outposts of the Falkland Islands and visits whaling stations and beautiful Drygalski Fjord on South Georgia Island before heading to Antarctica. Discounted fares are $6,672 to $12,327 per person, double. An itinerary of 17 days — “Shackleton’s Christmas” — follows a similar route, departing Dec. 17, and celebrates Christmas during the voyage with traditional carols, festive meals, Santa Claus visits and a New Year’s gala. This celebratory cruise is priced from $8,161 to $16,047 during the promotion.
The 15-day “Chilean Fjords & Antarctica” heads off to areas inaccessible to many other cruise ships as the MS Fram is both ice-rated and built to a size that allows passage close to shore. Besides spending nearly six days in the White Continent, passengers sail for four days along the stunningly scenic Tierra del Fuego and Chilean Fjords, visiting Diego Ramirez and its numerous sea bird nesting sites, the desolate Cape Horn, picturesque Puerto Williams, and Punta Arenas – an historical center of trade and culture. Discounted fares are $6,468 to $11,494; departures are Nov. 19 and Dec. 3.
For guests with a bit less time and wishing to focus solely on Antarctica, Hurtigruten has two 13-day options, both of which spend nine days exploring the White Continent: “Weddell Sea Adventure” and “Polar Circle Quest.” The “Weddell Sea Adventure,” departing Jan 20, 2011, follows much of the same route as the Swedish Antarctica Expedition of 1901-04, venturing as far into the northern region of the sea as possible and visiting some of the same historical sites including James Ross Island and Snow Hill Island, where expedition leader Otto Nordenskjöld and five colleagues spent two winters. The “Polar Circle Quest,” departing Feb. 1 and 13, 2011, heads to the rarely visited Marguerite Bay, home to the only known breeding colony of emperor penguins on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Although the Marguerite Bay rookery is specially protected for environmental reasons and cannot be entered, guests are able to get close to the emperors nearby. Other highlights include visits to Deception Island, Lemaire Channel and Cuckerville Island, home to the continent’s largest known population of Gentoo penguins. Both itineraries are promotion priced from $6,753 to $12,673.
The 12,700-ton, eight-deck MS Fram, designed specifically for cruising Arctic and Antarctic waters and for easy loading of its PolarCirkel excursion boats, accommodates 318 guests in suites and staterooms, boasts a restaurant, two bars, panoramic lounges, library, Internet café, conference rooms, work-out room with saunas and two glass-screened heated outdoor whirlpools, as well as a friendly and well-informed crew ready to offer assistance and suggestions when asked. Suites include seating areas, some with two rooms, TV, mini-bar, queen-size beds and numerous bonuses including include a free bottle of champagne, two free shore excursions, complimentary wine with lunch or dinner and a free round of mini bar use.
Additional information on all of these adventures, as well as brochures and reservations, can be obtained from travel agents or Hurtigruten’s visitor-friendly web site, www.hurtigruten.us; or by phone: (800) 323-7436; fax (888) 524-2145; 24-hour number for brochures, (800) 582-0835.