Australis’ Darwin Cruises

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Close encounters with penguins on an Australis sailing.
Close encounters with penguins on an Australis sailing.

Australis, an expedition cruise company sailing on 3- and 4-night cruises between Ushuaia, Argentina and Puerto Arenas, Chile, has a magical routing: the Strait of Magellan, Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and other places down in far-flung Tierra del Fuego that reverberate with adventure and history. Its 2-ship fleet, the 210-passenger Stella Australis and the 136-passenger Via Australis, navigate a sinuous network of channels framed by blue glaciers and islands where penguins waddle about on land while seals—and even whales—frolic in waters charted by famous explorers and maritime pioneers.

Among those was Charles Darwin, who sailed there around the tip of South America aboard the HMS Beagle. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Darwin’s first landfall in Walaia Bay, Australis will offer two special Darwin Cruises aboard the Stella Australis. Expert scientists and historians will be on board to highlight Darwin’s landing points and the scientific discoveries he made from his voyages.

On Jan. 21, 2015, the ship leaves Ushuaia for the 3-night Darwin Cruise, sailing to Cape Horn National Park and Wulaia Bay, Agostini Sound and the cold rainforest of Aguila Glacier, Magdalena Island with its penguin colonies, and Punta Arenas. Cruise costs range from $1,895 to $3,338 pp.

The 4-night Darwin Cruise on the Stella Australis departs Jan. 24 from Punta Arenas, following a route that includes Ainsworth Bay—elephant seals here—and penguins at home in Tuckers Islets, Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley before docking in Ushuaia. Prices range from $2,298 to $4,054 pp dbl.

These two cruises will be offered again in 2016, with departure dates scheduled for Jan. 23 (four nights) and Jan. 27 (three nights).

A cruise aboard the Australis fleet is an all-inclusive experience including sea transportation, shore excursions in Zodiacs, onboard entertainment, all meals and an open bar. Passengers enjoy local Chilean and Argentinean wines, as well as fine dining on international dishes and varied regional fare.

Jorge Rodrigues, market manager for North America, points out that for the overall season, Australis cruises have always been promoted as a 4-night trip from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia or a 3-night trip from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. “We are now marketing a 7-night roundtrip from Ushuaia, which is expected to appeal to passengers from the U.S. for whom the shorter cruise can seem a long way to go.” Rates for the high season start at $3,781 and $2,959 for the low season.

Also with the U.S. traveler in mind, Australis partners with several top-of-the-line lodges in and around Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park—The Singular, Remota, explora and Las Torres—to offer a total experience of discovering more of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. For instance, in Chile, a sea-land package includes a 3-night cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas aboard the Via Australis and three nights at Las Torres Hotel, sited on Estancia Cerro Negro and offering such features as a spa and stables housing 150 horses. Las Torres guests, accommodated in comfy rooms, experience many activities in Torres del Paine National Park. The package with the cruise, all meals and drinks, transfers, the Estancia Cerro Negro Experience, park tickets and activities, is priced from $2,890 pp dbl.

The cruise and hotel combo also applies to Argentina where, for instance, a new 9-night package, priced from $3,633 pp dbl, includes a 3-night cruise aboard the Via Australis, as well as three nights in a superior suite at the Eolo estancia near El Calafate and three nights in Ushuaia at Los Cauquenes Resort & Spa in a Canal room.

For more information, call (877) 678-3772; or visit