Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Hurtigruten's Array Of Diverse And Rarely Visited Ports Offer Unique Insight Into Antarctica's Natural Wonders, Wildlife And History

Hurtigruten invites guests to discover the chinstrap penguins on Half Moon Island, the ring-shaped volcanic caldera of Deception Island, the splendor of Paradise Bay and the British history of Port Lockroy - among other, less visited ports - on seven Antarctic itineraries during the 2011-2012 season. The once-in-a-lifetime voyages delve into the unspoiled wilderness of the "White Continent" as the deluxe expedition ship MS Fram traverses the still waters of Lemaire Channel, and navigates between the building-sized icebergs of the Antarctic Sound. The 12- to 20-day expedition voyages - with departures available from Nov. 3, 2011 to Feb. 23, 2012 - include "Shackleton's Antarctica," which follows in the historical sailings of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and "Chilean Fjords & Antarctica," a voyage that takes in Tierra del Fuego. Fares range from $6,190 to $17,105 per person, double; higher rates are for suites.

Lectures from experts such as ornithologist Manuel Marin, and Rudolph Thomann, a conservationist with a PhD in Natural Sciences, lend greater understanding of the varied aspects of Antarctica's highlights, while a selection of optional excursions, including pre- or post-cruise packages visiting Machu Picchu or the Iguazu Falls, allow guests to customize their adventures. Aside from the ports that are popular on many Antarctica itineraries, Hurtigruten also includes a range of rarely visited options, weather dependent:

• Yankee Harbour: a natural safe haven for sailors in the South Shetland Islands, this former base of operations for early sealers is home to nearly 4,000 pairs of Gentoo penguins, known for the white stripe across the top of their heads.

• Neko Harbour: hidden away in Andvord Bay between the mountains and glacier walls of the peninsula, the harbor is home to an Argentine refuge hut and a Gentoo penguin colony - and is one of the rare ports where ships may land.

• Petermann Island: situated in the breathtaking Penola Straight, a 7km wide channel noted for its icebergs and killer whales, the island offers guests the chance to whale watch and has unbeatable views of the Antarctic Peninsula.

• Wilhelmina Bay: a choice feeding ground for whales and seals, the bay is a perfect venue for views of these two Antarctic animals.

• Brown Bluff: at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, this former volcanic bluff, named for the towering 2,450-foot cliff that dominates its landscape, is home to penguins, kelp gulls and cape petrels - with Weddell seals a common visitor.

• Cuverville Island: located in the Errera Channel, the island affords travelers views of a Gentoo penguin colony - the largest in the peninsula - nesting ashore as the ship navigates between icebergs.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen as well as year round along Norway's coast and Europe in the spring and fall. The company's fleet of 12 intimate ships, carrying 100 to 646 passengers, allows passengers to enjoy unique destinations in a relaxed atmosphere. 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: (877) 301-3117; fax (888) 524-2145; for brochures (800) 582-0835, 24 hours a day.