Sub Antarctic Adventure Of The Decade: Russian Icebreaker Expedition

Are you an “Island Ticker?”

“Island Tickers” are travelers with a burning desire to visit islands on which no one else has stepped foot. If inspired by this aspiration, nab one of the four remaining available cabins on a Heritage Expedition’s Russian research icebreaker (approximately 3-star) sailing on November 8 – December 2, 2012 from Western Australia to two of the most remote islands on the planet.


Cut through the icy waters to Heard andMcDonald Islandsterra incognita.  Deep in the South Indian Ocean, these two protected World Heritage sites, a mere 1,010 sea miles north of Antarctica, are rarely visited, and not at all for the past decade. Travel trophy of a lifetime.

Wild! Heard Island boasts no ports and no harbors. Zodiac access only. In addition to its beginning-of-the-world astonishing beauty, expect two active volcanoes, tens of thousands of Southern Elephant Seals (biggies with really big noses), Antarctic and Sub Antarctic Fur Seals, predatory Leopard Seals, the rarer, slender and pale Crabeater, the plentiful Weddell Seal, and the rare, small, sort-of-sexy Ross Seals famous for their trilling and siren-like sounds.

A bird paradise too: Penguins are the most populous: King, Gentoo, Macaroni and Eastern Rockhoppers; plus three species of albatross, and burrowing petrels.


Who’s onboard?  In addition to other daring “island tickers,” Rodney Russ, owner- founder of New Zealand-based Heritage Expeditions with 25 years of experience under his windbreaker. Lively professional staff, hands-on photographers, two Australian Geographic lecturers and some top birders.  Lectures. Library.

How: Fly to Perth in Western Australia, then drive about half an hour to the port of Fremantle. Return to the port of Albany on the southern coast.

  • Average age: around 60.
  • The sea: rough
  • Grub: Family-style “hearty” cooking.
  • Gear: layers to protect from single-digit Centigrade cold.
  • They provide brand-new waterproof gear.
  • Mandatory: evacuation insurance
  • E-mail: Amazingly, yes.
  • Price: $16,000 pp.

Click: or write to the general manager, Dave Bowen:



Penguin Lookouts: Five Top Stops

Small expedition ship cruises make penguin viewing a breeze. To see masses of these sturdy, remarkably tough guys, fully decked out in tuxedoes 24/7, is a thrilling sight.  Low-impact small ships are designed for comfort and carry only 49 to 149 guests max. Their ice-strengthened hulls can navigate in and around the ice and deep into protected coves and bays. Onboard, expedition leaders present penguin life and lore in fascinating programs and during shore excursions. And depending on the cruise, guests can often ski, camp, snowshoe and kayak among these friendly creatures.

There are 17 species of penguin, most of which live in the Southern Hemisphere, home base to six stellar species: the Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor, Gentoo, King and Macaroni.  “The dream of encountering penguins, most marvelous creatures, in their natural wild habitat is the holy grail of wildlife adventures,” says Todd Smith, pioneer, founder and director AdventureSmith Explorations.  His is an active travel company that matches up adventure-seeking travelers with the right expedition ship and itinerary –intimate, boutique ships that may be under the radar of most travel searches. Think of AdventureSmith as a for penguin lovers.

Smith’s hit parade of five top stops are:

  1. Patagonia: The 128-guest Via Australis operates September through April to view the Megallanic Penguins live in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego region.
  2. Antarctica – Expedition cruises in the Ross Sea from Australia to New Zealand’s Sub Antarctic Islands, reveal huge congregations of a variety of penguin species in some of the most remote regions of the planet. Know any of these islands: the Snares, Stewart, Antipodes, Campbell and/or Macquarie?  NO?  Good.  Sign up fast for the 5-star, 106 passenger MV Orion.
  3. Antarctic Peninsula – Weddell Sea: A wide variety of small ships departing from Ushuaia, Argentina (affectionately known as “fin del mundo”) carry 49-149 guests, and offer many programs from easy cruising to extremely active expeditions that include hiking, kayaking, skiing and even camping. For penguin purists, there is a specialty cruise where helicopters fly guests from the ship (100-passenger M/V Ortelius)  to see Emperor Penguins at home.
  4. Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Penguin is the only species to live north of the equator in the wild. A small population of less than 1,000 couples inhabits mostly the Fernandina and Isabela Islands.
  5. South Georgia and Falkland Islands: The remote archipelagos here are home to a variety of species in vast colonies numbering in the millions.  Entire hillsides and beaches may be covered with nesting penguins rearing their young. Spectacular 20 and 24-day expeditions are available with experienced Antarctic teams.

Multi-award winning (including National Geo’s 50 Trips of a Lifetime), California-based AdventureSmith Explorations is the global leader in adventure cruise vacations. For a dazzling array of trips click: Or phone: 800-728-2875