The Antarctic Peninsula is Antarctica mainland's northernmost part, located at the base of the Southern Hemisphere. It is the largest, most prominent peninsula in Antarctica, extending 800 mi (1300 km) from a line between Cape Adams in the Weddell Sea and a point on mainland located south of Eklund Islands. Under the ice sheet covering it, the Antarctic Peninsula consists of bedrock islands, separated by deep channels. The bottoms of these channels lie at depths substantially below current sea level and are joined by a grounded ice sheet. South America's southernmost tip, Tierra del Fuego, lies just about 620 mi (1000 km) away across the Drake Passage.
(map credit Swoop Antarctica)
The Antarctic Peninsula is dotted with research stations. This territory is part of disputed claims by the UK, Argentina, and Chile. None of the claims, however, has international recognition. Under the Antarctic Treaty System, respective countries don't attempt to enforce their claims. Argentina has the most personnel and bases stationed on the Antarctic Peninsula. Tourism to this destination started in the 1950s and most ship-based tourists depart from Ushuaia Argentina.
In May 2019, Members of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) met in Cape Town (South Africa) and unanimously voted in mandatory measures in order to prevent whale strikes in Antarctic waters. The new measures instruct IAATO members to commit to either 10-knots (18,5 kph / 11,5 mph) cruising speed limit within Antarctic Peninsula's geofenced time-area or one extra watchman on the Wheelhouse (Navigation Bridge) to record and monitor whale sightings (during whale mitigation training voyages). These measures are compulsory and took effect on July 1, 2019. Antarctica's cruising season officially starts in October.
The most visited cruise regions combined with Antarctic Peninsula destinations are South Georgia Island (British Antarctic Territory), Falkland Islands UK (Islas Malvinas), South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands (including King Goerge Island), cruising in the Ross Sea and Weddell Sea (to access the South Pole), scenic cruising through Beagle Channel (Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, South America).
Most Antarctic itineraries include stops at Port Stanley (East Falkland Island), Neko Harbor and Paradise Bay (both in Graham Land, Antarctic Peninsula), Port Lockroy (on Wiencke Island). In South Georgia, polar cruise ships usually stop at Stromness, Grytviken, Gold Harbour, St Andrew's Bay, Newark Bay, King Haakon Bay.
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