Darwin theme cruises on board the Via Australis

Passengers will follow the naturalist’s trail through the Chilean fjords.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
2009 is a year of two Darwin anniversaries: the birth of the British naturalist 200 years ago, on February 12, 1809, and the publication of his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species at age 50. Charles Darwin began his career with a five-year round-the-world survey cruise on board the HMS Beagle, after which he traveled little. He spent two years of that cruise, during which he developed his theory of evolution, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Next month, the Chile-based Cruceros Australis expedition cruise line that regularly disembarks its passengers in several of the places that the naturalist visited in the 1830s, will be offering special cruise lectures on his life before, during and after the voyage of the Beagle. On October 10 the Via Australis leaves Ushuaia for Punta Arenas on a three-night cruise that goes to Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay on Navarino Island, the Piloto and Nena glaciers at the end of a beautiful fjord, and Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan.
The return cruise from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia on October 13 lasts four nights and calls at Ainsworth Bay, Tucker’s Islet, the Pía glacier, Glacier Alley, Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay. The cost varies according to the cabin and whether the season is promotional, low, high or special (Christmas and New Years). Hence the least expensive cabin can cost from US$840 to US$1,930 and the most expensive one from US$1,359 to US$2,500 for three nights, and US$1,120 to US$2,590 and US$1,800 to US$3,340, respectively, for four nights. The first Australis fjords cruise of the season leaves Punta Arenas on September 19 and the last one departs from Ushuaia on April 14, 2010.
In December 2007 I did a cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas on board the Mare Australis, and found my cabin and the ship comfortable, the crew helpful and attentive, the landings and zodiac excursion well organized, the on-board lectures interesting, the food great and the itinerary fantastic – the best means of transport possible between the two cities. For more info, see http://www.australis.com/.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mare Australis passengers enjoy looking at the Piloto y Nena glaciers. Bonnie Tucker.