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Paradise Harbour (also known as Paradise Bay) for its beauty, is a wide bay and natural harbor on the West Antarctic Peninsula. Paradise Harbor is another of Antarctica's most visited areas, "zodiac cruising" on the ubiquitous small inflatable craft (zodiacs) that ferry everyone around in Antarctica is very popular. There are many icebergs that calve off the glacier at the harbor's head, these provide an fascinating infinite variety of shapes and shades of blue. The name was first applied by whalers operating in the vicinity and was in use by 1920. Glaciated mountains and ice cliffs surround and protect the harbour, and together with the icebergs, they help to make for a breathtaking panorama. Paradise Bay, is a wide embayment behind Lemaire and Bryde Islands in Antarctica, indenting the west coast of Graham Land between Duthiers and Leniz Points. The name was first applied by whalers operating in the vicinity and was in use by 1920. It is one of only two harbors used for cruise ships to stop on the continent; the other is Neko Harbour. Argentina's Almirante Brown Antarctic Base stands on the coast of the bay, as does Chile's González Videla Antarctic Base.

Almirante Brown Antarctic Base
Argentina's 'Almirante Brown Antarctic Base' stands on the coast of the bay, which was burned in 1984 in a fire set by the physician who didn't want to stay another winter at the base.The base was built in 1950 by the Argentinian government. It was meant to house around 15 researchers. From 1964 until its destruction, it was used mainly for biological research.The base has now been partially rebuilt from ruins, but is occupied only in the summer season. The Argentinian base became a noted tourist attraction, and a port of call for antarctic cruises.
 
In 1950 a shelter was erected near the Chilean Base to honour Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, the first head of state to visit the Antarctic. The shelter constitutes a representative example of pre-IGY activity in Antarctica. It has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 30), following a proposal by Chile to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Next cruise destination was to Gonzales Videla where is the  Chilean research station. A supply for cruise ship, complete with helicopter, was anchored nearby. If you are luck enough humpback whales may give you quite a show as you sail north.
It's the coldest and windiest place on earth, cut off from civilisation by Drake's Passage, 1,000km (621 miles) of treacherous sea that would strike fear into the hearts of sailors in days gone by.
 
Yet the White Continent has also become one of the must-see destinations for adventurous tourists keen to tick off the last continent and see the vast wilderness that has spawned so many famous explorers over the past 100 years - including Amundsen, Cook and Shackleton.
 
It's a land of snow-capped mountains, dramatic rock formations and ice fjords, so cold that no plant life can exist and only a few birds and mammals survive. In summer, from November to March, there are floating icebergs the size of six-storey buildings; come winter the sea freezes into a layer up to two metres thick, effectively doubling the size of the continent.
 
Tourists can visit the White Continent on exploration-style cruise ships that sail around the Antarctic Peninsula, stopping at key sights so passengers can visit colonies of penguins, have a dip in the volcano-heated waters off Pendulum Cove in Deception Island or take a boat ride around giant icebergs in inflatable Zodiacs.
 
Typically, Antarctic cruises leave and return to Ushuaia, at the southern-most tip of Argentina, for 10-night cruises that visit all the top spots, although there are longer cruises that also visit the Falkland Islands.
 
As well as Deception Island, there are often landings on King George Island, home to elephant seals, Adélie and chinstrap penguins, skuas, petrels and other birds, and Paradise Bay, where gentoo penguins live surrounded by imposing mountains and creeping glaciers.
Antarctica is the most remote place on earth; a frozen world more than 50 times the size of the UK that spends half the year in total darkness.
 
Sightseeing:
Sightseeing in Antarctica is not like visiting a big city or ancient monument. There are no restaurants or bars, no souvenir shops - although some scientists set up stalls for visiting tourists, selling maps and home-drawn pictures - and no old relics to see.
Antarctica is all about scenery and wildlife, which is carefully protected to make sure the natural splendour of the region isn't compromised. Only 100 passengers are allowed on land at a time, and then only for a limited period, sometimes just an hour, depending on the size of the ship.
Cruise ships have set itineraries, but Antarctica's weather is notorious, changing from glorious sunshine to a complete white-out in seconds, from clear water to thick ice floes in minutes, so captains navigate according to the conditions.
 
Highlights
Leopard seal resting on an ice floeIce floes also provide a floating resting spot for various seals and penguins that you may be able to view at close quarters if they aren't scared off by the boat coming up close. If you're lucky, you may see some whales swimming around too.
Landings are not always made, but the glaciers and mountains reflect beautifully in the water and the serenity of the area is a highlight for many visitors - not for nothing did it earn its name.
Home to terns, petrels, cormorants, seals, penguins, and whales.When the glaciers aren't calving, the waters in the bay area quite calm, as is true in the spectacular Lemaire Channel, and they reflect the mountains and ice cliffs beautifully.
It is one of the harbours used for cruise ships to stop on the continent. More and more visitor ships stop for the views here.
Take a dip in the thermal waters on Deception Island. The island you see today was formed by a volcanic eruption, which caused its peak to explode and left a huge caldera (crater) inside the island. The volcano is still active - the last eruption was 1991-92. Marine animals stay away from the caldera because
the water is too warm but huge numbers of penguins live on the rocks.
 
Look out for penguins at Half-Moon Island. It's only 2-km (1.3-miles) long, but the island has some dramatic rock formations, multi-coloured lichens and a large population of chinstrap penguins, which nest on the wind-swept outcrops of rock. Whales are often spotted patrolling the shores.
 
Be on deck for a scenic cruise through the Lemaire Channel, a narrow passage -1,600m (5,249ft) at its widest point - separating the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. The channel is often nicknamed Kodak Gap because the scenery is so stunning: steep cliffs, mountain peaks, icebergs, as well as the chance to spot minke or humpback whales.
 
Walk among the world's southernmost colony of gentoo penguins on Petermann Island. Ships reach the island through the Lemaire Channel provided the latter is not blocked with icebergs. The 2-km (1.6-mile) long island is also home to a colony of Adélie penguins.
 
Get kitted out in coats, boots and hats for a landing in Paradise Harbour, one of the most aptly-named places in Antarctica, with glaciated mountains and ice cliffs affording protection to the harbour. Most cruise ships take passengers ashore here, to walk amid the gentoo penguin colony.
 
Have cameras at the ready for a cruise through the Gerlache Strait. The strait separates the Palmer Archipelago from the Antarctic Peninsula and is a popular spot with visiting cruise ships as it's a favourite hangout for humpback and minke whales, chinstrap penguins and leopard seals.
 
See the light with the halo phenomenon. Halo displays occur frequently in Antarctica and are an atmospheric happening caused by the refraction of light by ice crystals. They are particularly bright when they form in diamond dust. The most common halo shows as a rainbow circle around the sun, sometimes with a secondary circle around it.
 
See Elephant Island, where 21 of Sir Ernest Shackleton's crew lived for four months in 1916 while their leader went for help. The crew lived under an upturned boat, surviving on seal blubber, never knowing if help would arrive. The island is named for its large colony of elephant seals, but also has a large colony of penguins.
 
Cruise Transfers
Landings are made at Deception Island, Paradise Harbour and Half-Moon Island - all by inflatable Zodiacs (there are no piers or terminals in the Antarctic) - and most cruise ships also sail down 'iceberg alley' (so named for the giant 'bergs that line the route), through the Gerlache Strait and Lemaire Channel. Most cruisers go to Elephant Island.



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