Are you dreaming of having a white Christmas on a cruise to the ends of the earth with snow-capped peaks and penguins galore? This winter, Holland America Line is combining adventure and the holiday spirit on an epic 22-day cruise on Zaandam to Antarctica and South America’s southernmost coasts. Whether you’re drawn to the romance of Buenos Aires or the awe-inspiring landscapes of Antarctica, on this itinerary you’ll have the chance explore the world, celebrate the holidays and kick off 2020 in style.
On Dec. 18, 2019, the journey begins with an overnight at Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires. Often referred to as the “Paris of the South,” Buenos Aires is considered one of the world’s greatest cities with good reason, as it is the home of many memorable sites and architectural jewels. Take in a tango show, explore the life of Eva Peron and experience the impressive culinary scene. After Buenos Aires, sail on to Montevideo, Uruguay, and Puerto Madryn, Argentina, before reaching the Falkland Islands.
FUN FACT: Did you know that Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in the Americas?
Upon arrival at Stanley, Falkland Islands, guests will have a chance to go on their own “March of the Penguins.” Along with enjoying spectacular views, with more than 10-plus penguin and wildlife-related shore excursions, guests can immerse themselves in the unique fauna of this far-flung locale.
After exploring Stanley, the cruise travels further south to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah on the way to Antarctica. Christmas Day is spent at sea where guests can enjoy onboard activities such as singing carols by the piano, a yule log parade, watching holiday movies, listening to an international choir and/or attending a range of religious services. Dinner is a traditional holiday feast with all of the trimmings.
From Dec. 26-31, Zaandam sails on an expedition of scenic cruising through Antarctica. After a day and a half crossing the Drake Passage, which separates South America from Antarctica, the ship arrives at the “White Continent.” Zaandam will sail through the bays and islands of the Palmer Archipelago off the northern tip of the long Antarctic Peninsula, which reaches out toward South America. The surroundings are hauntingly quiet, an aspect of the continent that comes as a surprise to many first-time visitors.
Along the way, the ship’s naturalists will point out the birds — terns, petrels, and gulls — found on the coast and on small islets at stops like Dallmann Bay. As guests pass dark, rocky Cuverville Island, see some of the 6,500 pairs of gentoo penguins that make their home there, the largest known colony in the world. Continuing on to Paradise Harbor, you’ll have a chance to observe not only gentoo and chinstrap penguins but possibly humans as well: both Argentina and Chile have manned research stations here.
After celebrating New Year’s at sea the cruise will make a northward turn to Ushuaia, Argentina, before continuing up to Punta Arenas, Chile, through the Beagle Channel. Guests will then explore the stunning Chilean Fjords after cruising through the Strait of Magellan and Canal Sarmiento.
The Chilean Fjords is an area known for its desolate beauty and, not surprisingly, it’s home to many of Chile’s national parks, including Alerce Andino, Hornopirén and Vicente Pérez Rosales, as well as the Llanquihue National Reserve and the Cochamó Valley. Early Spanish explorers came here in search of the mythical City of the Caesars, whose people were believed to be rich in gold and diamonds. Though the city was never found, guests will be inspired by the scenery of this windswept, dramatic land and its unusual animal residents.
The cruise continues north to Chile with calls at Castro and Puerto Montt. After a day at sea and an incredible journey, the cruise disembarks at San Antonio (Santiago).