Welcome to Santiago, the vibrant capital of Chile. Even with just one night here, you’ll find this city has a lot to offer besides mouth-watering merlot wine. Plazas show off lovely colonial architecture and the distinct neighbourhoods house art galleries and award-winning restaurants. A wide range of cultural venues and museums entertain and enchant while glaciers beckon at the city border. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
A panoramic 360-degree view of Santiago is one of the easiest things to recommend. At nearly 304 metres, Sky Costanera offers stunning views of the city as well as the surrounding Andes and Chilean Coastal Range. The scenery is especially spectacular at sunset. Or there’s La Chascona to visit too, one of three homes famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda had in the city. You can also stroll around the 200 stalls of bustling La Vega market and try some local chirimoya fruit.
If you really want to get to know this place, you need to come a few days early. That will also give you the opportunity to add an optional pre-programme to the amazing Atacama Desert or Chilean Patagonia.
Estimated time of departure is 18:00
See Santiago from the air in early morning light when your plane leaves for Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost port. Your polar vessel MS Fram and its crew await you here, ready to take you further south than most people ever go.
After embarking the ship and checking-in, there will be a mandatory health and safety session for everyone. Later on, you will meet some of the crew, and of course, the Expedition Team. They will be your guides, hosts and travel companions for the next three weeks. There’ll be further opportunity to get to know each of them better during the welcome dinner.
The Drake Passage is more than just the transition between Cape Horn and Antarctica. It is an ocean of emotion and anticipation. The Passage is named after the English sea captain and privateer Sir Francis Drake who discovered it by chance in 1578 when his ship was taken south by heavy winds, proving that there was open water below the southern tip of Chile.
The passage is famous for its high winds, large waves and strong currents, making it hard for the old sailing ships to sail here. But even though the water in the Drake Passage is usually rough, it can also be incredibly still. This unpredictable dual persona has resulted in the passage being nicknamed ‘The Drake Shake’ or ‘The Drake Lake’. Either way, our modern MS Fram was built for these conditions and worse, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
As we make our way south, the Expedition Team starts their lecture series to give you information about Antarctica’s wildlife, geology and history. You will learn why it’s important to wear our special boots when ashore and why we always vacuum our clothes and backpacks before every off-ship activity. Doing so will make your visit as safe and sustainable as possible, according to IAATO guidelines. You’ll also have the option of joining Citizen Science programmes to help collect data for current scientific research. Exploring Antarctica equipped with this new knowledge will make your adventure so much more interesting.
MS Fram is an explorer's dream with cutting-edge technology that makes it a match for any scenario the polar ocean can throw at it. That being said, you’ll also find it to be very comfortable and cosy. Head out onto the wide observation deck for some fresh air, maybe accompanied by birds following the ship. If you would rather enjoy the view of the horizon inside, the restaurants and the Explorer Lounge & Bar are the perfect places to do just that.
About 90% of all the ice in the world is here, in an area twice the size of Australia, and home to about 12 million penguins across seven species. But even these impressive statistics don’t do Antarctica justice. Numbers can’t capture the magnitude and magnificence of its landscapes and words fail to fully describe the sensations and emotions of seeing a colony of several thousand penguins in person. It is a special place that really does need to be experienced.
It will be late summer in Antarctica when we get here, which means fantastic sunsets and penguin chicks starting to moult into adult plumage. This is also the best time for whale watching. Imagine standing on the ship when whales breach close by, splashing saltwater high up in the air. Now imagine sitting in a kayak in an optional activity when exactly the same thing happens. Talk about your close encounters! Antarctica has the ability to make you feel tiny and great at the same time. Snow algae will also be in bloom, brushing the normally pure-white landscapes with bright pink and green hues. A wide variety of seabirds, like geese, skuas, shearwaters and possibly even albatrosses, can be seen in the skies above and on the shores below.
Our expert Expedition Team will take you ice-cruising and out for landings to get you closer to this incredible world of ice and its wildlife. We’ll spend eight days exploring Antarctica with no fixed itinerary, attempting landings at several possible sites. Having sailed these waters for so many years, we know exactly what to do and where to go. You can trust us to take you to the best places at the best time to be there. Working with or around the weather and sea ice to make the most of each day is the expedition factor. It’s what makes this an authentic adventure.
After eight unforgettable days in Antarctica, MS Fram takes you safely back across the Drake Passage. The Expedition Team will now recap experiences of the frozen continent, and you can join them in the Science Center to study water samples of wildlife at a microscopic level.
We will spend approximately two days crossing the Drake Passage, giving you plenty of time to relax and go through the mental and digital pictures that you’ve taken. If you’re feeling invigorated after the activities and landings from last week, you can work off any excess energy in the gym. Doing so will also help you work up an appetite, even more than usual, for all the delicious dishes in the restaurant. Of course, we won’t hold it against you if all you’d like to do is sit in the sauna.
When we have put the Drake Passage behind us, we arrive at Cape Horn. The tumultuous waters here are as notorious as the Drake Passage, maybe even more. Should the winds and waves relent for long enough, we will make an attempt to go ashore. It will be an accomplishment of skill and of luck if we manage to, and something to rightly boast about for years to come.
This wild and remote wonderland was once the domain of the canoe-faring indigenous people who lived, sailed and hunted in these very fjords for centuries. Admire the serenity of this maze of waterways, surrounded by islands, glaciers and steep mountains.
If we have time on the day, and the weather is in our favour, we might launch small explorer boats to take you on a scenic cruise of the fjords or to a possible landing site. Still, the fjords can also be enjoyed out on deck while looking for wildlife like Magellanic penguins and maybe even elephant seals along the coastline. Dolphins and – if lucky – several species of whales can sometimes be spotted in the waters too.
Located at the opening of Última Esperanza Sound, the city of Puerto Natales was founded in 1911 as a port for the sheep industry. Today, it is seen by most as an entry point to Torres del Paine National Park, famous for an impressive three-pronged mountain peak which can appear a shade of blue when the light is right. As such, ‘Paine’ (pronounced pie-nay) means ‘blue’ in the native Tehuelche language while ‘Torres’ is Spanish for ‘towers’.
We offer a popular optional excursion to this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which usually gets booked up fast. You can also spend time enjoying the chilled-out vibe of Puerto Natales itself. Over at the waterfront, views across the fjord towards the mountains make for great photos, especially with various monuments and sculptures in the foreground. The old pier, bereft of the wooden boards and now just a series of posts in the water, is particularly popular and features on many postcard shots representing Puerto Natales. A growing range of bars, cafés and restaurants cater to the international hiking crowd, giving you plenty of options to wine and dine ashore.
At the end of a deep fjord surrounded by mountains, we arrive at the village of Puerto Edén in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. With no roads to speak of and only accessible by sea, a village doesn’t get much more isolated than this. To get around, you must walk on the pedestrian boardwalks that connect the houses and shops of the 250 people living here. Your umbrella or raincoat will likely also be put to good use seeing as Puerto Edén has one of the highest rates of rain in the world.
The 15 remaining full-blooded members of the indigenous Kawéskar people settled in Puerto Edén late into the 20th century. They make a living fishing and weaving wicker baskets that they sell to passing passenger ships. The once-nomadic seafaring tribe used to travel in canoes that were 8 to 9 meters long, capable of transporting an entire family and their dog!
Your expedition cruise continues north through the fabled waters of Patagonia. It is thought that when Magellan sailed here in 1520 on his circumnavigation of the earth, he and his crew somehow imagined the natives to be giants of up to 5 metres in height. He therefore named them ‘Patagons’ after a related literary character in a Spanish novel popular at the time. While the natives were slightly taller than most Europeans then, they were far from giants. The name, however, stuck and thus was the region introduced to the world as Patagonia. Today, it is famed more for the beautiful Andean seascape rather than the alleged giants, even though you might actually spot another species of giant swimming and breaching in the water. There are still interesting lectures to attend and engaging Citizen Science projects to continue in the Science Center.
Castro is the capital of Chiloé Island and seems to have something for everyone. One of the first things you’ll notice are the characteristic and colourful wooden palafitos houses mounted on stilts along the water’s edge. There are also a number of arts and crafts stores here which make it a good place for souvenir shopping. For more bargains and a glimpse into the day-to-day life here, Feria Campesina Yumbel is a busy market selling all sorts of household goods and groceries.
Another highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Iglesia San Francisco, a church that was built in 1567 when the city was first founded. If you are interested in art, the Museum of Modern Art of Chiloé is well worth a visit. There are a lot of great local snacks to try here too, so a light breakfast on the ship is a good idea, leaving room for churros and empanadas with sweet and savoury fillings.
Your expedition cruise is coming to an end, but it is not over yet. We recommend making the most of your remaining time on MS Fram, whether you prefer scouting for more birds and wildlife out on deck, talking to your new friends or enjoying your favourite drink in the Explorer Lounge & Bar. The Expedition Team will recap the highlights of your cruise and keep you active in lectures and science projects.
Estimated time of arrival is 08:00
When we dock at Valparaíso, your expedition cruise will come to an end. If you have the time, we recommend spending a few extra days to explore this eccentric city. The city’s many funiculars have been declared one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures, bringing you up to colourful hill-top neighbourhoods for panoramas over the Pacific. If you want more adventure before going home, we recommend a Post-Programme to Easter Island, famous for its mysterious statues of giant heads and a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Whether you stay on or head home, saying goodbye to the ship, the Captain, crew, Expedition Team and fellow explorers will likely be tinged with sadness. The three weeks you will have spent together exploring the fabled continent of Antarctica, then up through Patagonia and its fabulous fjords, won’t be easily forgotten.
We hope you’ll remember your voyage with us as one of your all-time greatest expeditions. May it provide many fond memories and inspire you to continue to view the natural world with wonder and respect, and to do whatever we can to protect it.
Included in your voyage
- Overnight in Santiago de Chile before the expedition cruise, including breakfast
- Flight in economy class between Santiago de Chile and Punta Arenas
- Transfer from the hotel in Santiago de Chile to Santiago de Chile airport before the expedition cruise
- Transfer between Punta Arenas airport and the ship, including orientation tour and lunchbox
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
- À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
- Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
- Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
- Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
- Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna, indoor gym
- Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come
- Escorted landings with small expedition boats while in Antarctica
- Loan of boots, trekking poles and all equipment for activities
- Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings
Not included in your voyage
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
- No gratuities expected
|Year of refurbishment||2020|
|Ship yard||Fincantieri, Italy|
|Passenger capacity||318 (200 in Antarctica)|
|Gross tonnage||11 647 T|
The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions.
Sailing with MS Fram
- Practical Information: Expedition Cruises with MS Fram
- Meet our Expedition Team
- Landing sites in Antarctica