Adventure to Antarctica - Highlights of the Frozen Continent with former NASA astronaut Dr. Norm Thagard

Ushuaia - Antarctica - Ushuaia

Get ready for a rare adventure! From Ushuaia you cross the Drake Passage and sail on to an unforgettable exploration of Antarctica. Meet penguins up close and touch icebergs with your bare hands. On board there is so much to do: the Explorer room, Young Explorers Program, theme days, exciting lectures, and more, all designed to enhance your trip.

  • Join NASA Astronaut, Dr. Norm Thagard, on a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive voyage
  • Experience glaciers, nature and wildlife
  • Come ashore in Antarctica and meet penguins up close
  • Explorer room, Science center and lectures on popular topics on board + Young Explorer program for kids


Dr. Thagard is a former NASA astronaut and veteran of 5 space flights, including an incredible 115-day mission as a cosmonaut/researcher on Russian Mir-18 with liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and a historic landing at the Kennedy
Space Center.

This special cruise includes a two lectures from Dr. Thagard and viewings of a documentary about the Russian Mir-18 mission and Dr. Thagard’s training and experience as a cosmonaut/researcher on the mission. On this special voyage, Dr. Thagard shares his first-hand experiences with Hurtigruten guests.

Dr. Norm Thagard - Five Space Missions Spanning 12 Years

1983: Second flight for the Orbiter Challenger. Mission duration 147 hours.
1985: Spacelab-3 science mission aboard the Orbiter Challenger. 110 orbits of the Earth.
1989: Magellan Venus probe deployment mission aboard spacecraft Orbiter Atlantis. 64 orbits of the Earth.
1992: Payload commander on the Shuttle Discovery mission investigating the effects of microgravity. Mission duration 8 days.
1995: Cosmonaut/researcher on the Russian Mir-18 mission. 28 experiments and duration of 115 days.

Dr. Thagard is a decorated Marine Corps veteran, with 11 Air medals, flying over 163 missions in Vietnam. As a pilot, he has logged over 2,200 hours flying time – the majority in jet aircraft. After being selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1978, he trained for assignments on future Space Shuttle flights. 

A veteran of 5 space flights, he has logged over 140 days in space, performing many NASA ‘firsts’ including deployment and retrieval exercises, conducing various medical tests on physiological adaptation to space, launching the first planetary probe from the Shuttle, and serving as payload commander on the International Microgravity Laboratory-1 module for investigators from 11 countries. Most recently, Dr. Thagard was the cosmonaut/researcher for the Russian Mir-18 mission, a 115-day research-based assignment with the Russian space program.

Now, with an impressive list of graduate degrees, Medals of Commendation, books and scholarly works, Dr. Thagard shares his firsthand experiences and photos with guests on this very special voyage with Hurtigruten. 

Close Encounters with Antarctic Wildlife

Taking an expedition to Antarctica with MS Midnatsol is sure to rank among the most exciting things you’ll ever do: exploring the most remote place on earth. Join us on this adventure filled with the unparalleled highlights of Antarctica.

A Living Continent of Ice

The adventure starts as we sail the famous Drake Passage before arriving in remote Antarctica. Things quickly become even more interesting – behind every new iceberg a new highlight appears.

The goose bump factor is huge. The wildlife of Antarctica is a chapter in itself. You will see whales, meet thousands of penguins and even some seriously cute seals. And the icebergs drift by in fantastic variety, in all shapes and colors. The horizon seems endless and blue white, the oceans are full of icebergs and whales. Even more awe-inspiring, we will have our first encounters with huge colonies of penguins. Most importantly, you will explore ashore and in small craft through iceberg-rich waters to feel like a real polar explorer. 

Back on board, you’ll have fun opportunities to learn and share discoveries with family and new friends in a relaxed way. MS Midnatsol is a ship built and designed to meet the needs of modern explorers – both on and off board.  Our explorer deck is where you can meet fellow adventurers for scientific fun with our engaging Expedition Team, no matter what age you are. The media room on board shows the highlights of the day, and if you haven’t joined an excursion or landing, you can see films and photos, and share in the adventures here at the end of each day. The children check out our Young Explorers Program. All scientific content is presented in a lively, fun and easily understood manner: first class edutainment, so to speak.

So join us on a voyage to the extremes of the world, on the adventure of a lifetime.

Dr. Thagard will give two lectures to guests on the November 17 cruise:

  1. The Life and Times of Dr. Norm Thagard, NASA Astronaut
  2. The Russian Mir-18 mission, featuring a National Geographic documentary on his training and flying on the mission

Price Includes:

  • Hurtigruten expedition voyage in the cabin category of your choice on a full-board basis (daily buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, and set or buffet dinner)
  • One overnight hotel stay in Buenos Aires, including breakfast, before the voyage  
  • Transfer from hotel to airport in Bueons Aires
  • Economy-class flights between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia
  • Transfers in Ushuaia, including an orientation tour
  • Wind- and water-resistant jacket  
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary use of Muck Boot rubber boots

Not Included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities

Cruise Itinerary

This exclusive 8-day package also includes one night in Kirkenes before your voyage, and one night in Bergen after your voyage.

November, 2018 - February, 2019

Departure port Buenos Aires
Day 1
Day 1_Buenos Aires.jpg

Cultural and Cool

Location : Buenos Aires

This adventure starts with an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, the bustling capital of Argentina. We offer an optional city tour in the afternoon. Spend the evening at your leisure and discover ´Paris of South America´ for yourself.

Day 2
Day 2_Ushuaia.jpg

Tierra del Fuego

Location : Buenos Aires/Ushuaia

Fly to Ushuaia, where MS Midnatsol awaits. Once on board, we kick off our journey with a welcome-on-board dinner.

Day 3-4
Day 3-4_At sea.jpg

Crossing the Drake Passage

Location : Drake Passage

Prepare yourself for Antarctica as we cross the infamous Drake Passage, and trust us - it will overwhelm you! MS Midnatsol is designed especially to bring polar exploration to all ages and learning levels. As we cruise south, we start our ´Young Explorers Antarctica´ classes. There will also be several lectures on the environment around us; films about Antarctica and the Explorer room will be buzzing with activity. This will be the heart of the expedition community, where we gather for talks, recaps and spontaneous events, mingle and share stories.

Day 5-10
Day 5-10_Antarctica.jpg

Antarctica … Another world!

Location : Antarctica

You are now in one of the most remote areas on Earth! There have been spectacular photo opportunities so far, but Antarctica itself is in a whole different category. Come ashore to explore the breath taking Antarctic scenery and to come close to penguins and seals. You will feel like a real explorer from the moment you set foot on the endless expanse of snow and ice. From the deck there will be ample opportunities to sight whales. Enjoy close encounters with wildlife and glaciers, old whaling stations and relics. Trust us when we say that every second of this journey has something new to offer. One of the highlights of the South Shetlands is Deception Island. When we sail into the natural harbor of this volcanic island, you will see an abandoned whaling station known as Hektor and a derelict British base. We are certain you will enjoy a visit to Half Moon Island, a staggeringly photogenic island blessed with some of the most beautiful Antarctic scenery imaginable, or Yankee Harbor, with its large colony of Gentoo penguins, estimated to be 4,000 breeding pairs. Cuverville Island is home to another of the largest known colonies of Gentoo penguins. Neko Harbor is beautifully located in the innermost part of Andvord Bay. Paradise Harbor got its descriptive name from the whalers during the last century. Wilhelmina Bay has stunning scenery and is often called ´Whale-mina Bay,´ because of the large number of humpback whales spotted here in December. We have planned plenty of activities to make you experience Antarctica in the best way. This might mean that one day you will go ashore to see penguins and hear the crackling noise of glaciers. Next day, you get to feel the salt and wind as you cruise between the sea ice, looking for leopard seals taking a snooze on the ice. Third day, kayaking or a longer hike or walk. Back on board we also have activities that will satisfy a whole range of interests in the explorer room. The on-board photographer will show you the basics of expedition photography. Join gatherings where the various members of the expedition team recount the day’s activities, make presentations, and the expedition leader discusses the next day’s plan. These gatherings are great opportunities for sharing and shared memory making and mingling with the expedition community. For our younger guests we have designed the Young Explorers Program. This program is a scientific introduction to biology, history, wildlife and learning more about navigation with lectures, field trips and visits to the science center. Trust us when we say that no expedition day with MS Midnatsol in Antarctica will be the same – or boring!

Day 11-12
Day 11-12_Drake passage.jpg

Heading Back to Civilization

Location : Drake Passage

After exploring this exhilarating continent, we set course back to civilization. Spend the day at sea recapping your experiences, having fun in the explorer room or just relaxing on deck.

Day 13
Day 13_ Buenos Aires.jpg

The End of the Adventure

Location : Ushuaia/Buenos Aires

Sadly, every adventure must come to an end. It is time to say goodbye to the crew and all your new friends when we reach Ushuaia. We transfer you to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. If you haven't had enough adventures, you have the possibility to extend your stay and enjoy our optional post expedition programs.

November, 2018 - February, 2019

Location Ushuaia/Buenos Aires
Your Ship


Challenge your inner explorer and experience everything that Antarctica has to offer with our diverse range of optional excursions.


Explore the untouched landscape and wildlife on the awe-inspiring continent of Antarctica.

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Flight Packages

Flight Packages

Please contact us if you want to add on a flight between the US to Ushuaia or fly from the US to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires, and vice versa, to take advantage of our flight package and pre and post program in Buenos Aires. Our arrival package from the US to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires includes an overnight stay in a hotel in Buenos Aires with breakfast and transfers. Our arrival package from the US to Ushuaia includes an orientation tour and transfer from the airport to the ship. Our departure package from Ushuaia to the US via Buenos Aires includes an overnight hotel stay in Buenos Aires with breakfast and transfers. Our departure package from Ushuaia to the US includes a transfer from the ship to the airport.