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Atlantic Odyssey

AT A GLANCE

FOCUS

Bird & Wildlife Cruise:  birds, whales and dolphins, scenery, remote islands & photography

WHERE

Ushuaia (Argentina) – South Georgia – Gough & Tristan da Cunha – St Helena – Ascension  – Cape Verde.

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Polar, temperate and tropical seabirds including Penguins, Albatrosses and Petrels.  Likely species include Northern Rockhopper Penguin, Tristan & Sooty Albatrosses, Atlantic & Spectacled Petrels (40+ species of tubenose are possible) as well as island endemics such as St Helena Plover (Wirebird), Tristan Thrush, South Georgia Pipit and Gough Moorhen. Over 20 species of cetaceans and eight species of seal are also possible

CLIMATE

Polar cold via temperate to tropical.

ACCOMMODATION

170+ passenger very comfortable expedition cruise ship. All cabins with private facilities. 


Antarctica to the Tropics - the Islands of the South Atlantic

This amazing pelagic voyage returns in 2022

Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Cape Verde - a roll call of some of the most remote places on earth. Add Gough Island and the chance to land on Nightingale & Inaccessible Islands and you have one of the ultimate pelagics which was first pioneered by WildWings in 1998. 

Some of these South Atlantic islands have enormous populations of seabirds and some very special endemic landbirds.  The huge sea areas between them are ‘home’ to a great variety of albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters and prions.  Amongst the many highlights should be Spectacled Petrel, Atlantic Petrel, Northern Rockhopper Penguin and thousands of King Penguins. The ultimate ocean traveller, the Wandering Albatross, often follows the ship whilst it is in the Southern Ocean and we may even get a chance to see the greeting ceremony of these massive seabirds on their nesting grounds. 

Between 40-50 species of ‘tubenose’ have been logged on every one of the past Odysseys and for a full list of the species which have been seen on some previous voyages please see our website.  With the recent advances in seabird identification, ‘new’ species which have been added in recent years include Scopoli’s Shearwater, MacGillivray’s Prion, St Helena & Ascension Band-rumped Storm-Petrels plus Cape Verde Storm-Petrel and there is always the chance of a surprise with species such as Trinidade Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel and Salvin’s Albatross having been previously recorded.

The cetacean list for this expedition is truly exceptional and the species which have been seen previously include Blue, Humpback, Southern Right and Southern Bottlenose Whales, Shepherd’s, True’s, Arnoux’s, Gervais’ and Strap-toothed Beaked Whales plus a multitude of dolphins including Hourglass, Rough-toothed and Clymene along with the almost mythical Southern Right Whale Dolphin and Spectacled Porpoise.

These are remote islands with colourful histories that very few people have an opportunity to visit. On previous occasions, we have zodiac cruised offshore from Gough Island, seeing its two endemic land birds, the moorhen and the bunting, but even this has occasionally been eclipsed by landings on Inaccessible Island (heavy swells usually prevent getting ashore here), yielding amazing views of the diminutive and flightless Inaccessible Island Rail. The bunting on this island has now been split and is regarded as a full and endemic species. 

Successful landings have also been made on Nightingale Island in the Tristan group, where the endemic Tristan Thrush (which has been seen on Tristan itself in recent years), Nightingale Bunting and the endangered Wilkin’s (Grosbeak Bunting) are to be found. 

The opportunity to do all this is thanks to the repositioning cruise of the very comfortable, ice-strengthened ship Janssonius (174 passengers).  In the spring, she travels north from expedition cruising in the Antarctic for her summer voyages in the Arctic. You will start this trip with parkas and boots and finish in shorts and T-shirts - from the freezer to the oven in just one month. 

The Janssonius is a newly built expedition ship and all her cabins have private facilities with a porthole or window. The vessel has plenty of outside deck space and is, therefore, ideal for this expedition voyage. The opportunities for photography are excellent throughout this trip.

Now acknowledged as one of the pelagics which seabird enthusiasts cannot afford to miss, the vessel will depart from Tierra del Fuego for this epic Atlantic journey, finally ending in the Cape Verde Islands.  Flights from the Cape Verdes to the UK are via Lisbon. 

You may also be able to leave or join the voyage at St Helena if you wish as the island now has a weekly air service with Johannesburg in South Africa, with current airfares costing around £950 one way. 


Ushuaia – St Helena

Day 1: In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia and sail down the Beagle Channel where we hope to find Magellanic Penguin and Magellanic Diving Petrel. 

Days 2-4: At sea in the Drake Passage.  An excellent selection of seabirds can be found including Kerguelen, Blue, Soft-plumaged and White-chinned Petrels, Wandering, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Petrels, Antarctic Fulmars plus Slender-billed and Antarctic Prions.  These southern waters will also be the best chance for true Antarctic specialities such as Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins, perhaps Antarctic Petrel. 

Days 5-7: We have three days scheduled on the amazing Subantarctic island of South Georgia and hope to visit the abandoned whaling settlement at Grytviken, the King Penguin colony at Salisbury Plain and the breeding Wandering Albatrosses on Prion Island.  Other possibilities include zodiac cruising a Macaroni Penguin colony and landings at St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbour, with thousands of King Penguins and stunning snow-capped peaks as an amazing backdrop.  

We can expect to see the endemic South Georgia Pintail and South Georgia Pipit as well as Gentoo Penguins, Southern Elephant Seals and Antarctic Fur Seals.

Days 8-11: In the westerlies we should have a good tailwind and on both sides of the Antarctic Convergence will observe a great variety of Antarctic and Subantarctic seabirds.  Many of the seabirds seen previously will still be with us and the possibilities including Grey-backed, Black-bellied and White-bellied Storm-Petrels, Fairy Prion, Atlantic, Grey and Great-winged Petrels, Great and Sooty Shearwaters, Common and South Georgian Diving Petrels, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels plus up to eight species of albatross (Wandering, Tristan, Grey-headed, Black-browed, Sooty, Light-mantled Sooty, Shy and Atlantic Yellow-nosed). Our first Spectacled Petrels should also be encountered, along with Subantarctic Little Shearwaters. 

Day 12: We will head for Gough Island, a World Heritage Site, which is a remote and spectacular home to millions of breeding seabirds.  Landings are not permitted, but subject to weather conditions, we plan to zodiac cruise close to the shore and look for the endemic Gough Moorhen and Gough Bunting plus Northern Rockhopper Penguins and the distinctive local form of Subantarctic Fur Seal. 


Days 13-16: In the Tristan da Cunha archipelago we plan to call at the settlement of Edinburgh in the north-western corner of the main island. We have allowed two reserve days for bad weather, which is very common here.  Often regarded as the remotest inhabited island in the world, Tristan now has hardly any birds of its own left, due to rats and cats, so we also plan to visit nearby Nightingale Island (weather and landing conditions permitting) where hundreds of thousands of Great Shearwaters nest. Tristan Thrushes and Tristan Buntings should also be hopping around our feet and the much scarcer Grosbeak Bunting can be found. We hope to also encounter Atlantic Yellow-nosed and Sooty Albatrosses plus more Northern Rockhopper Penguins. 

We hope to also gain permission to visit Inaccessible Island (weather and landing conditions permitting) with its endemic rail and bunting.

NB: The actual weather and local sea conditions in the last few years mean that the chances of landing in the Tristan archipelago is currently less than 50%. Due to local laws, landings cannot even be attempted on Nightingale or Inaccessible until you have been ashore at the settlement first. 

Days 17-20: At sea again, we now enter subtropical waters with their own seabirds and dolphins.  We will soon leave many of the southern seabird behind with Spectacled Petrels usually being the last to disappear. New species should include Band-rumped Storm-Petrel and the bat-like Bulwer’s Petrel, whilst flying fish definitely add a tropical edge. Expect calmer seas and balmier days.

Days 21-23: St. Helena is another island where many endemic species have become extinct and just eleven land bird species now breed here, nine of which are introduced.  The most important is the endemic Wirebird (or St Helena Plover), a small thin-legged plover which we should find in fields in the centre of the island.  White Terns nest all along the coast and in the trees in the small community of Jamestown.  Red-billed Tropicbirds and noddies fly around our vessel at anchor, whilst Pantropical Spotted Dolphins can often be seen, occasionally leaping several metres into the air and then spinning back into the water. 

The WildWings group sometimes also takes a short cruise in a local boat for dolphins and breeding seabirds.  Many also go on an optional full-day tour which visits some of the sites from the period when Napoleon was exiled on this remote island.  Optional dinners ashore in local restaurants are also highly recommended.

St Helena to Cape Verde

Days 24-25: At sea in the infamous ‘doldrums’ with more lazy balmy days. Cory’s Shearwaters and Sooty Terns should start to appear and we often encounter Sperm Whales on this leg.

Days 26-27: Ascension Island is a dry volcanic island with a moist and richly vegetated hilltop known as Green Mountain. We plan to zodiac cruise Boatswain Bird Island, an offshore stack where thousands of endemic Ascension Frigatebirds hang in the air and Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies along with White-tailed Tropicbirds compete for breeding space. 

Since the last of the feral cats have been removed, some seabirds are now returning to nest on the main island again and the Sooty Tern colony can hold up to one million breeding pairs when the birds are present. 

After dark, we hope to witness the amazing spectacle of the female Atlantic Green Turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. 

Days: 28-31: At sea crossing the Equator and potentially encountering King Neptune! Seabirds to look out for now include Boyd’s and Cape Verde Shearwaters, Fea’s Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel plus tropical dolphins and some of the slightly larger cetaceans such as Melon-headed Whale and False Killer Whale.  

Day: 32: Cape Verdes is where our odyssey will end at the small city of Praia on Santiago Island. There is normally  an optional land birding excursion for Cape Verde Warbler, Iago Sparrow and Alexander’s Swift plus more before the trip concludes. 

NB: As applies to all expedition cruises, the exact sea itinerary and landings will be subject to weather, local conditions and government permissions. 


Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

2022

The Atlantic Odyssey

Leader: Ship’s Expedition Team 

Dates:    24th March – 15th April (Ushuaia – St Helena)
Vessel: Janssonius

All cabins with private facilities

£5960         Quad berths (upper and lower) - porthole
£6740         Triple berths (upper and lower)-porthole
£7400         Twin share – (lower berths) - porthole  
£7790         Twin share – (lower berths) - window
£8260         Twin share deluxe (lower berths) - window
£8870         Double share superior (double bed) - window
£9,400        Double share junior suite (double bed) - window
£10,830      Double share grand suite (double bed) – window, balcony

___________________________________________

Dates:      15th April – 24th April (St Helena – Praia, Cape Verdes) 

£1520      Quad berths (upper and lower) - porthole  
£1700      Triple berths (upper and lower)-porthole  
£1960      Twin share – (lower berths) - porthole                                                                £2050      Twin share – (lower berths) - window 
£2180      Twin share deluxe (lower berths) - window                                 
£2350      Double share superior (double bed) – window
£2,520     Double share junior suite (double bed) - window
£2,910      Double share grand suite (double bed) – window, balcony


Single cabins x 1.7 of twin share price 

All prices per person.

Deposit 20%

Based on £1 = Euros 1.15. 

Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, tea and coffee, zodiac cruises and landings, port taxes and landing fees, specified shore excursions, lectures and services of expedition team, pre-tour information pack and bird and mammal checklist. 

Price excludes: Flights (UK – Ushuaia from c.£875, Praia – UK from c.£350), vessel fuel surcharges if applicable, pre-cruise hotel night in Ushuaia, gratuities (suggested US$10 a day on board ship), transfers, travel insurance, optional birding excursions in Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego National Park: cost c.£150) and Praia, other drinks and items of a personal nature.

 

Previous trip reports and species lists can be found on the trip report tab of the website or are available from us.


The opportunity to do all this is thanks to the annual repositioning cruise of the very comfortable, ice-strengthened Plancius (114 passengers).  In the spring she travels north from her expedition cruising in the Antarctic to her summer cruising in the Arctic. You will start this trip with parkas and boots and finish in shorts and T-shirts - from the freezer to the oven in just one month. The Plancius is a specially converted expedition ship and all her cabins have private facilities with a porthole or window. Suitable rubber boots for the many wet landings on this trip will be provided for your use onboard too. The vessel has outside deck space at all levels, and facing in all directions and is therefore ideal for this expedition voyage.

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    ‘The voyage surpassed my expectations, and was extremely good. Simon Cook was very likable and all the guides very good’ 

    Atlantic Odyssey - D.B. May 2015

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    “Absolutely Superb”

    Atlantic Odyssey 2016 - S.G. April 2016

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    “Simon Cook has been the perfect tour guide, he could spot and recognise things with his naked eye and I could hardly find in my binoculars – and I consider myself an experienced birder. Congratulations for having him onboard"

    O.N. - Atlantic Odyssey - April 2009

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    “I saw 40 tubenoses on the Atlantic Odyssey – fantastic!”

    R.P May 2013 - Atlantic Odyssey - April 2009

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