Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin

Ortelius Cruise Ship
Ortelius
120 Passengers

Your unique chance to be part of a true expedition voyage! The Emperor Penguin rookery (ca. 4,000 breeding pairs) is situated south of Snow Hill Island. Although we will probably not be able to reach that far south through the ice (less than 50% chance based on our voyages in the last three seasons), the idea is mainly to situate ourselves in or between the Antarctic Sound and James Ross Island, close to the ice-edge and observe the emperor penguins on their way to the open water. We will use our helicopters in our attempts to search for individual emperor penguins, to make scenic flights and to make helicopter landings in places otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

Please Note: If ice-conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice, we will reschedule our voyage and offer ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (as carried out successfully in 2013) at approx. 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin Rookery. If we succeed, this will be a fascinating and a once-in-a lifetime experience. Although we made attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012 - 2015, we only succeeded in 2013 and 2015; therefore the chances to reach Snow Hill Island are indeed around 50 %. Weather and ice conditions dictate the success of this adventure.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Embarkation and departure from Ushuaia
Days 2 & 3 At Sea
Days 4 to 7 Weddell Sea
Day 8 Deception Island
Days 9 & 10 At Sea
Day 11 Arrival in Ushuaia and disembark

Day 1 — Embarkation and departure from Ushuaia

In the afternoon we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 & 3 — At Sea

During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up-welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering Albatrosses, Grey-headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Albatrosses, Cape Petrels, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels.

Days 4 to 7 — Weddell Sea

A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.

We will sail into the Weddell Sea and, if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

During these days we use the ship and the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we have had a high success rate in locating emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us – possible helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

Possible landing sites are, for example, Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbled boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is completed with thousands of Adélie penguins nesting on the slopes, with a few Gentoo’s mixed in for fun.

Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound is an area only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstone, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual Emperor Penguins and Adélie Penguins on the ice floes; Cape-, Snow, and Giant Petrels fly high in the sky while Kelp Gulls, skuas and Wilson’s Storm Petrels scavenge down below us. The landscape is dominated by jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice drop onto the slopes below.

A beautiful helicopter flight over huge blue icebergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors.

If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adélie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.

On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for Emperor Penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie.

Day 8 — Deception Island

In the morning we will sail to Deception Island where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. From there we depart into the Drake Passage around noon.

Days 9 & 10 — At Sea

In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.

Day 11 — Arrival in Ushuaia and disembark

We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.

Alternate Days 5 & 6 — If the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice (less than 50% chance)

Days 5 & 6 — Alternative program:
The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor Penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favorable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor Penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors Penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor Penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates 2016-2017
Quad
Porthole
Triple
Porthole
Twin
Porthole
Twin
Window
Twin Deluxe
Superior
Helicopter
Fee
$12,150 $13,250 $14,550 $15,350 $16,200Full$17,950  
$11,550 $12,800 $13,550 $14,150 $14,800 $16,150Limited 
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
$6,500 $7,300Full$7,900 $8,400 $8,900Full$9,650Full 
$13,200 $14,600 $15,950 $16,950Limited$17,800Full$19,400  
Camp, Kayak
$7,950Full$8,950Full$9,650Full$10,250Full$10,850Full$11,850Full 
$25,700 $27,900 $32,750 $33,850 $35,550 $37,300Limited 
Save 10% on Quad, Triple & Porthole
(Prices in Red) Expires May 1st 2016
$25,700$23,130$27,900$25,110$32,750$29,475$33,850 $35,550Full$37,300  
Photography, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950Full$9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single Supplement for twin cabins is 1.7 times the twin rate.

Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Activities fees:
  Kayaking - $465 (min 4, max 14 kayakers)
  Camping - $180 (min 8, max 30 campers)
  Snowshoe - No charge but sign up required
  Photography workshop - $500 (min 4, max 14)

Nov 27th, Jan 13th & Feb 15th voyages include helicopters.

There is always a possibility of an added fuel surcharge if marine oil prices raise significantly.

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates 2017-2018
Quad
Porthole
Triple
Porthole
Twin
Porthole
Twin
Window
Twin Deluxe
Superior
Helicopter
Fee
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
$11,550 $12,800 $13,550 $14,150 $14,800 $15,600  
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
$7,200 $8,100 $8,800 $9,350 $9,900 $10,700  
$13,200 $14,600 $15,950 $16,950 $17,800 $19,400  
Camp, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
Camp, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
Camp, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
$14,250 $15,650 $16,900 $17,900 $18,900 $20,800  
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
Kayak
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,250 $10,850 $11,850  
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Single Supplement is 1.7 times the standard rate. We can pair you with another person of the same gender in Twin Deluxe and below cabins without the Single Supplement pricing.  Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required. Airfare is not included in these prices.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Camping - $180 per night, max 30 people
Kayaking - $465 per trip, max 14 people
Snowshoe - No charge but sign up required

Activities are Free for the “Basecamp Plancius” voyages (incl. Camping, Kayaking, Snowshoeing/Hiking, Mountaineering & Photography Workshop)

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

DeckPlan_Ortelius

   Superior
2 windows (minimum) • 1 double bed • 1 single (sofa) bed • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Flatscreen TV • Refrigerator • Coffee & tea maker • Hair dryer • Ample storage space
   Twin Deluxe
3 windows • 2 lower berths • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Small sofa • Flatscreen TV • Refrigerator • Coffee & tea maker • Hair dryer • Ample storage space
   Twin Window
2 windows • 2 lower berths • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Small sofa • Hair dryer • Ample storage space
   Twin Porthole
2 portholes • 2 lower berths • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Hair dryer • Ample storage space
   Triple Porthole
2 portholes • 1 upper / lower berth + 1 single lower berth • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Hair dryer • Ample storage space
   Quadruple Porthole
2 portholes • 2 upper / lower berths • Private shower & toilet • Desk & chair • Hair dryer • Ample storage space