Expedition to Antarctica

Join the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from January 26 - February 8, 2019, as we explore Antarctica, Earth’s last frontier. 


“Everything wears an aspect of unreality,” Ernest Shackleton wrote. “Icebergs hang upside-down in the sky, the land appears as layers of silvery or golden cloud, cloud banks look like land, and icebergs masquerade as islands.” Few travelers have followed the adventuresome explorers Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott to the Antarctic. Visit this rarely seen wilderness as we sail aboard the state-of-the-art, Five-Star, Ice-Class L'AUSTRAL.

Begin with an exploration of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires before continuing south to Ushuaia, and embarking the L'AUSTRAL for your voyage to the southern continent. To enhance your Antarctic experience, our deluxe expedition ship is staffed with an expert team of naturalists who will guide you on excursions ashore. Under their direction, you will board sturdy Zodiac craft for landings on rocky shores and beaches to observe the antics of Antarctica’s bountiful wildlife. Humpback whales, leopard seals, and Adélie penguins mingle amid glimmering turquoise glaciers and sparkling icebergs. Discover the secrets of the White Continent, from the long sunrises that paint the icescape in soft shades of pink and gold, to the lingering light of the austral summer. Antarctica’s spectacular illuminations reveal the contrasts and marvels of the most unique place on Earth to those fortunate enough to visit.

Travel with alumni, friends, and participants from cosponsoring associations for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, featuring the finest accommodations, most meals, all excursions, and an optimal cruising experience. Please contact us at 866-325-8664 or travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details and to reserve your place today.

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: January 26 - February 8, 2019
Prices: Cruise tariff from $9,995  per person based upon double occupancy. Taxes are an additional $865 per person (subject to change). Internal airfare (Round trip Buenos Aires/Ushuaia) is an additional $895 per person.

A limited number of single occupancy cabins are offered in select stateroom categories for an additional premium. Please contact us to inquire about single rates and roommate/share requests.


U.S. -  January 26, 2019
Depart the U.S.

Buenos Aires, Argentina -  January 27, 2019
Arrive in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and check into the 5-star INTERCONTINENTAL BUENOS AIRES HOTEL. This evening, attend the Welcome Reception.

Buenos Aires -  January 28, 2019
Buenos Aires, birthplace of the tango, is a city of diverse and dynamic barrios (neighborhoods). See the colorful La Boca district, Monserrat’s grand public buildings and historic Plaza de Mayo, Palermo’s lavish parks, Puerto Madero’s riverfront community and the charming old quarter of San Telmo. Visit the city’s historic Recoleta Cemetery, famous for its ornate vaults and sculptures and as the final resting place of the legendary Evita Perón, the former First Lady of Argentina.

Buenos Aires/Ushuaia - January 29, 2019
This morning, fl y to remote Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, the capital of Tierra del Fuego and the gateway to Antarctica, where you will embark M.S. LE LYRIAL. This afternoon, cruisethrough the Beagle Channel, named for the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his South American voyages. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening.

Cruising Drake Passage -  January 30 to 31, 2019
Upon reaching the Antarctic Convergence, watch for breaching fin, humpback and minke whales and seabirds feeding on plankton and krill brought to the surface by the cold Antarctic currents merging with the warmer waters of the South Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The expedition team of naturalists will present insightful lectures to prepare you for your first landing in Antarctica.

Cruising Antarctica -  February 1 to 5*
The ship cruises below the 60th parallel to the outer shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula, Earth’s last frontier. Here, explore some of the world’s most pristine wilderness, where towering mountains of ice and lava create precipitous coastlines and islands, and constantly changing patterns of ice stretch as far as the eye can see. In this seemingly harsh environment, a vast array of marine wildlife flourishes, including millions of penguins, countless seabirds and thousands of seals and whales. From spectacular volcanic topography and majestic glaciers to fascinating wildlife and historic outposts, this itinerary reveals the highlights of the region for the complete Antarctic experience.

Cruise through breathtaking, glacier-lined Neumayer Channel to Port Lockroy. Originally constructed in 1944 by an eight-man team as an intelligence post for British espionage during World War II, Port Lockroy was converted into a whaling station and scientific base in the 1950s. It is nestled among glistening mountain peaks as high as 6000 feet, and the surrounding grounds are populated by blue-eyed shags and gentoo penguins. Gain insight into the lives of past explorers at the British Antarctic Survey Museum and mail a postcard stamped with an Antarctica postmark from the official British Post Office.

Just beyond Port Lockroy, the rocky shores of Jougla Point on Wiencke Island offer a rare opportunity to view the skeletal remains of an adult blue whale, and see populous colonies of gentoo penguins and kelp gulls. Flanked by sheer cliffs of towering glaciers between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island, Lemaire Channel offers views of seven majestic miles of mountains and wildlife combined with fascinating patterns of ice floes.

Call at Petermann Island, the southernmost point of your journey, and watch its thriving rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. Listen for the low rumbling of Rudolf Glacier as it calves chunks of ice into Neko Harbor, named for an early 20th -century whaling boat. The harbor is surrounded by soaring glaciers and snow-covered mountains and is one of the most dramatic and spectacular sights in Antarctica. Here, make your first “continental landing” in Antarctica. In contrast to sociable Adélie penguins, who congregate in large colonies, the leopard seal cherishes his solitude and independence.

In Paradise Bay, awesome cliffs of ice descend from the surrounding mountains into the floating iceberg-laden waters along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Named by 19th-century whalers who sought shelter in its coves, Paradise Bay is an ideal sanctuary for marine wildlife including humpback whales, crabeater seals and Cape petrels.

Deception Island is actually the rim of a massive dormant volcano crater that encircles a caldera known as Port Foster, where the ship enters through dramatic Neptune’s Bellows, a sublime harbor ringed by snowcapped peaks and sheer cliffs.

In Pendulum Cove, see the steaming, geothermally heated waters of the Antarctic. Observe the amazing colony of tens of thousands of chinstrap penguins at Baily Head. Then walk along the black sand beaches of Telefon Bay to nearby craters, which offer fascinating insight into the volcanic activity that created the island and played a pivotal role in the natural history of the region. One of the smallest but most beautiful of the South Shetland Islands,

Half Moon Island is a crescent-shaped isle known for its craggy volcanic rock formations and tranquil lagoons. It is also the site of Cámara Station, a base monitored by Argentine biologists studying regional wildlife. Here, observe the antics of the island’s colony of chinstrap penguins and enjoy the lingering twilight of the Antarctic summer. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception.

*Please note that the ship’s cruising pattern and positionings are dependent on weather,ice and sea conditions and are subject to change.

Cruising Drake Passage -  February 6, 2019
Relax and reflect on board as the ship turns north and crosses the Drake Passage. Enjoy lively, informative discussions with the ship’s naturalists. Watch for endangered albatross and the many different species of petrels as you cruise across the Antarctic Convergence.

Ushuaia, Argentina/Buenos Aires - February 7, 2019
Disembark and fly to Buenos Aires.

Continue on the Iguazú Falls Post-Program Option with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, or depart for the U.S.

February 8, 2019- Arrive in the U.S.

Iguazú Falls Post-Program Option - February 7 - 11, 2019
he UNESCO World Heritage site of Iguazú Falls, one of the most incredible wonders of nature along the Brazil-Argentina frontier, features more than 275 spectacular waterfalls cascading from heights of 270 feet through the breathtaking virgin rainforest. Walk among the Argentine Falls and admire magnificent panoramic views of Devil’s Gorge, the highest of the falls. The lush jungle setting of Parque das Aves is a nature lover’s paradise as it is home to more than 350 species of birds,66 varieties of mammals and amind-boggling array of reptiles, fish,butterflies and flora. This three-night Post-Program Option features one night of accommodations in the deluxe INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL BUENOS AIRES and two nights in the deluxe SHERATON IGUAZÚ RESORT & SPA. Buenos Aires round-trip airfare is included.
Post-Program Option is available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.


  • Unique, 14-day itinerary .
  • Exclusively chartered Five-Star, ice-class ship.
  • Early Booking Savings!
  • Nine-night cruise on a Five-Star ship to the world’s last great frontier.
  • Limited number of ships cruising to Antarctica.
  • Two nights included in vibrant Buenos Aires.
  • A rare destination of majestic coastal scenery, penguins, whales and more.
  • Zodiac excursions led by expert naturalist guides.
  • Lectures aboard ship on natural wonders and wildlife.
  • Complimentary wine and beer are included with dinner.
  • Post-Program Option to spectacular Iguazú Falls.

ACTIVITY LEVEL:      Very Active
The carefully planned excursions offered on this cruise are designed to highlight as much of the destination and important sights while in port. While ashore in Antarctica, the terrain is rugged, and therefore, a fair amount of walking on uneven and/or slippery terrain is to be expected. This is an expedition-type cruise involving shore landings by Zodiac inflatable landing crafts. Passengers must be able to negotiate a steep gangway and get in and out of the Zodiac inflatable landing crafts with minimal assistance.  

Five-Star, Ice-Class Ship, State-of-the-Art Design
The highly acclaimed, specially chartered L'AUSTRAL, launched in 2011, represents the newest generation of Five-Star small ships, featuring only 110 Suites and Staterooms and distinctive French sophistication.

Located in a pedestrian area of Buenos Aires, the 5-star Intercontinental Buenos Aires Hotel offers a sundeck, an indoor heated pool and a tennis court. This hotel is situated 550 meters away from Plaza de Mayo, Cabildo and Recoleta. The hotel is set 350 meters away from Mayo Avenue, Florida Pedestrian Street and The Obelisk of Buenos Aires. 

Included Features:

In Buenos Aires, Argentina-

  • Two nights in the deluxe INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL BUENOS AIRES, and breakfast each morning.
  • Welcome Reception.
  • City tour featuring the popular neighborhoods of Palermo, Monserrat, La Boca, Puerto Madero and San Telmo, and visit to the historic Recoleta Cemetery.

On board the Five-Star L'AUSTRAL-

  • Nine nights round trip Ushuaia, Argentina, cruising to Antarctica’s Half Moon Island, Deception Island, Paradise Bay, Neko Harbor, Port Lockroy, Wiencke Island, Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island and Brown Bluff, conditions permitting.
  • Spacious, Five-Star, ocean-view Suite and Stateroom accommodations, each with a private bathroom.
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • All meals aboard the ship—continental breakfast, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and dinner—throughout the cruise, featuring fine international and regional cuisine, served at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the cruise.
  • Complimentary wifi throughout the ship (satellite reception permitting).
  • Exploration by Zodiac landing craft, accompanied by an expert naturalist from the expedition team.
  • Shore landings to explore Antarctica’s diverse wildlife habitats, including major penguin rookeries.
  • Onboard expedition team of naturalists who provide a series of lectures about local wildlife and landscapes.
  •  Polar-grade red parka for each guest to keep.


  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s).
  • All excursions and visits, as outlined in the Included Features, with experienced local guides.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on included excursions and transfers.
  • Hospitality desk in the hotel and aboard ship.
  • The services of an experienced team of Professional Travel Directors throughout the program.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.

Not included:
Airfare (internal program air and international air); Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.