Endless ice shelves, superb shades of turquoise blues that glow within the hollows and crevasses of the glaciers and the most extraordinary wildlife inhabiting these lands: this remote, cold and white continent in the South is just breath-taking. Not to mention the impressive landscapes and king penguin rookeries as far as the eye can see of South Georgia or the very unique and isolated flora and fauna of Tristan da Cunha. Travelling to Antarctica, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha is a surreal experience, that fills you with happiness, inspiration and inner calm, encouraging you to enjoy life to the fullest.
In total silence, with just the ship’s bow crunching through the small bits of ice, we explore this magnificent continent with you, each trip again in awe of the rich wildlife and the beauty of the unspoilt natural environment. Not to mention the rich history of explorers that came to these lands and endured the dangers and fears on their way across the Drake Passage and the Southern seas. The remains of the lonely historic huts on the snow-covered hills tell the stories of these adventurers of the past and we, we follow their stories, curious of where Bark EUROPA will bring us on our quest for adventure.
Every southern summer, Bark EUROPA makes her way to Antarctica, across the Drake Passage and to the Antarctic Peninsula. She explores this remarkable continent with utmost respect for the astonishing nature and wildlife and we invite you to join us on our expeditions. On this last voyage of the season, the Drake Passage is a good introduction to the stormy seas we will sail in during the rest of the Cape to Cape voyage.
From nearly all corners of the world, our guests will arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. It is here where you will start your voyage to Antarctica. After signing you on to the crew list at the gate, you will be welcomed on board. You will meet your fellow travellers, a first glance at who you will share your Antarctica experience with. They will be solo travellers, friends or couples, young and old, from various countries and with different backgrounds, all united in one dream of visiting the remote wilderness of Antarctica on board EUROPA.
As with all remote places in the world, the route to our destination is long and before we arrive to Antarctica we have to cross the Drake Passage. The crossing will take approximately 4 days of sailing and during these days you will see Bark EUROPA showing off her strength and resilience. At this time, the watch system will be in full force. During your watch you will stand on look out, steer the ship and help with sail handling. Together with your fellow watch mates you will help the permanent crew with sailing the ship through heavy weather. For many on board this will be their first time on the Southern Ocean, while some will have done similar voyages before. This mix of beginners and more experienced tall ship sailors creates a learning atmosphere on board, where each person can contribute in their own way to keep the ship sailing.
The wildlife is overwhelming: the sound and smell of hundreds of penguins reaches you when we get closer to the shore, whales slowly pass by the ship and we encounter the first seals ashore. It is something out of your wildest dreams, something you looked forward to for so many months or years and now you’re here.
We will go ashore in small groups with zodiacs. Leaded by our team of guides, you will see the first penguins from up close and you will make your first hikes with as a result the sight of Bark EUROPA in a breath-taking white and icy landscape. From time to time, you perhaps need some time to take it all in, the white peaks and mountains, the rocks, whale bones, penguin highways, crevasses and glaciers. There will be plenty of time to do so, to sit back and relax and to focus on what’s in front of you.
Every day we drop and lift anchor, slowly making our way more south. We make landings, zodiac cruises and hikes to explore the fascinating nature, wildlife and history of these islands. But not only ashore we encounter wildlife. The sight of whales from the ship feeding on krill is truly spectacular. Slowly, from a safe distance we can follow these majestic animals, sometimes chased by a killer whale, sometimes feeding their calves.
After a day of zodiac cruises, landings, hikes, lunch and dinner on deck, lectures and drinks with your fellow crew mates, you might call it time for bed, but waiting a little longer is definitely worth it. The night cruises are just as spectacular. The light, with the sun just below the horizon and rays of pastel tones of pink, red and orange intermingled in the sky, could not be more beautiful.
Respect for the environment plays an important role in the philosophy of EUROPA and her crew. We hope to inspire our trainees to focus on everything that’s around them: not just a vast open ocean but a world on its own. We ask our voyage crew to listen to the sound of the ocean, the wind in our sails and to the peace and tranquillity around us in Antarctica.
We encourage our voyage crew to take care of the environment by showing them the state of the oceans, the uniqueness of this white continent and why all this needs to be kept preserved as best as we can. By conducting safe and environmentally responsible sailing voyages, we offer first-hand travel experiences to give our guests a better understanding of the destination they visit. This way we create a group of Antarctica ambassadors all over the world.
During our visit to Antarctica we strictly adhere to the regulations of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). This organisation was founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica. As part of IAATO, we follow their procedures and guidelines for expedition cruising in remote and delicate areas with great care.
At the end of each voyage we hope that you, as our guest, will be overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, be inspired by the vastness of the seas and have a better understanding of the importance to keep Antarctica and the oceans as majestic and pristine for many future generations to come.
After approximately one week, it is time to leave this Antarctic paradise. We have to cross over 1000 nautical miles to arrive in South Georgia. The watch system will be in use again and some might need some time to get used to the rhythm of the seas again. This Southern Ocean is infamous for its roughness, hence the names ‘roaring forties’, ‘furious fifties’ and ‘screaming sixties’ corresponding with the degrees of latitude.
This Cape to Cape expedition is therefore definitely a real sailing trip, with more than half of the voyage days as sailing days. During these many sailing days, you will experience all the aspects of the seaman’s life. Nature decides the daily work on board and it forces you to adjust to it. You will learn how to sail a square rigger and when the weather allows: to enjoy the lecture program put together by our guides and crew. During these talks you will learn more about the various bird species, the history of the area we visit, glaciology, meteorology and how to make the best pictures of everything we will encounter. After approximately seven days of sailing, the first silhouette of land will appear in the distance. On the horizon we see the ice-covered mountains of the Sub Antarctic island South Georgia.
When we reach South Georgia we will anchor in different bays every day. Surrounded by mountains, glaciers, beaches and steep cliffs, inhabited by albatrosses and thousands of penguins, including the King Penguin, we will make landings, hikes and follow the stories of the heroic pole traveler Ernest Shackleton.
This island is a remote and spectacular oasis in the Southern Ocean and offers one of the best wildlife spectacles on earth. The helm grass on the coast of South Georgia provides ideal shelter for Fur Seals and Elephant Seals and the King Penguin rookeries are spread all over the beaches and lower slopes of the mountainous landscape. Perhaps we will also see the wandering albatross nesting colonies or visit the derelict whaling stations of past times and of course we will also follow the path of Shackleton and drink a glass of whiskey at his grave.
The island is well known for its changeable weather and harsh conditions and therefore the chances for landings ashore are highly dependent on weather and sea conditions. Nevertheless, we will make the most of our visit and try to make landings on different sites, mixing activities themed on history, wildlife, glaciology and geology.
After one week in South Georgia, we will head our bow into the open waters once more. Even more than during the previous weeks, the wind will determine our course. As far as our eyes can see, we will be surrounded by water and it will stay like that for about 12 days.
On our way we cross the Antarctic Converge Zone again, leave the Southern Ocean behind us and start sailing the South Atlantic. We will sail through the furious fifties to the roaring forties, where the winds usually blow continuously. This keeps the watches active, helping the permanent crew steering the ship, taking away and furling the sails.
After almost two weeks of sailing, the outlines of a group of volcanic islands will appear: the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. Here, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, lives a small community on top of an active volcano. We hope to be lucky enough to land this special group of islands. However, the harbor is in no way protected from the elements, the ocean swells and strong winds. Some seasons hardly any ship is able to land. Should the weather be in our favor, we hope to enjoy a visit to Tristan’s local community.
Long hikes up to the volcanic crater, fishing with a local fisherman or playing golf on their ‘world’s most remote golf course’, the islanders are always making us feel very welcome. The archipelago’s extreme isolation has led to a very unique plant and wildlife community. Many species are endemic, meaning there are only found on these islands.
After our short break in Tristan, the final leg of this long voyage is a beautiful sail of about 12 days to Cape Town. Our progress will depend once more on the weather’s mood and we have to cover about 1510 nautical miles to our final destination. One last time the watch system will be back in place and together with your watch mates you will help our lady EUROPA ride these untamed seas. During your time on lookout, or while steering the ship you have some time to absorb everything we have experienced, to let it all settle in. This final leg is there to enjoy life at sea to the fullest and feel the spirit of explorers of the past.
After all those weeks of solitary on the oceans, other ships will appear on the horizon when we get closer to Cape Town. The Table Mountain will appear and we will arrive in the port of Cape Town. Time to say goodbye to the ship that has been your home for the last couple of weeks. You can be certain that you leave Bark EUROPA with new-found friends and memories that last a lifetime.