The Antarctic Peninsula is part of the Antarctic Continent and is the southern continuation of the mountain chain that runs from North America through South America into the Scotia Sea. Here it continues as a mainly sub-marine ridge, the Scotia Ridge, until it comes above sea-level at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula consists of an 800 kilometres (500 mile) long mountain chain, the highest peaks rising to approximately 2,800 metres (9,186 feet), and numerous off-lying islands. The Peninsula offers the most dramatic scenery and biggest variety of wildlife in Antarctica. Visitors are easily overcome by sensory overload by the huge amount of ice-bergs, glaciers, high mountains and the abundant and tame wildlife.
The history of discovery runs parallel to that of the South Shetland Islands. Here, exploitation was again the major force behind the early explorations. Nowadays the Antarctic Peninsula is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which has been signed by 46 countries. The signatory parties have agreed to abstain for 50 years from recognizing, disputing, or establishing territorial sovereignty claims. The parties also agreed to set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and banned military activity on the continent.
Antarctica can boast several records with relation to climate. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on earth. Although the Antarctic Peninsula is part of the continent it does not show these extremes. During the Austral summer temperatures as high as 15°C (59°F) have been recorded at the west side of the peninsula, however, the average temperature is around 2°C (36°F). Although blue skies and calm weather are common in the sheltered bays and channels, cold katabatic winds, caused by cold air accelerating under gravity from icecaps and glaciers, pick-up quickly and form a strong opponent for the Antarctic traveller.
M/v "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 5 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds). The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
During this Antarctic dive expedition you may observe penguins from under the surface as well as sea-lions and perhaps even leopard seals. The Falkland islands are rich with krill (which is consumed by many species) and therefore interesting for finding marine wildlife. The dive sites will vary from shallow ice diving, diving along a wall, from a beach or from the zodiac. The maximum depth is around 20 meters / 60 feet. The combination of sunlight and the often extraordinary formations of ice, causes an overwhelming, ever-changing spectre of colours, with a fantastic variety of shades and brilliance.
NOTE: Prices and itinerary have some variations depending on the date of cruise. Please contact BFirst Travel for specific information.