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! An Emperor penguin rookery (ca. 4,000 breeding pairs) is located just south of Snow Hill Island. This trip aims to utilize our helicopter capability on Ortelius to try to optimize the chance of seeing Emperor penguins in this area. Ice conditions are very challenging here and experience has shown that we can encounter both heavy ice conditions that may prevent us from entering the Weddell Sea, or indeed ice that has broken up and started to melt earlier than normally expected at the rookery itself. The general idea is to situate ourselves in or between the Antarctic Sound and James Clark Ross Island, close to the ice-edge, and find 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 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. However, we attempted to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012-16. We only succeeded to reach an area from where the Emperor penguin rookery could be reached by helicopter in 2013, 2015, and 2016 and only in 2013 did the ice conditions allow for a nice landing by helicopter and hence a successful visit to the Emperor rookery.

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 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 see Wandering albatrosses, Grey-headed albatrosses, Black-browed albatrosses, Light-mantled albatrosses, Cape petrels, Southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, Blue petrels and Antarctic petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs.

Days 4 to 7 — Weddell Sea

A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only. The expedition leader on board will determine the final itinerary.

We hope sail into the Weddell Sea via the Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs will 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 may also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us – possible helicopter landings in locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage and may include:
The western side of the Antarctic Sound, an area only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and icebergs 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 below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains piercing through the ice caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.

A beautiful helicopter flight over huge icebergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We may land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will still be 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.

Seymour Island just north of Snow Hill Island is the place where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition from 1901-04 overwintered under miraculous circumstances. The sedimentary rocks include a large array of fossils and some spectacular views.

We may also make use of our flotilla of Zodiacs on board if the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area. Opportunities for Zodiac activities are very good and may include places like: Devil Island, near Vega Island, which is home to 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 waterfalls from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’.

Brown Bluff is yet another stunning place on the continent and home to a large Adelié penguin rookery, Gentoo penguins, and nesting Snow petrels. Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie is yet another option for great adventure. The Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic continent may also be an option to visit.

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

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Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips

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Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
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Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
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Camp, Kayak
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$14,2501 Berth$15,650 $16,900 $17,900Full$18,9001 Berth$20,800 
Camp, Kayak
Free Camping & Kayaking on this Departure
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Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
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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.

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates 2018-2019
Quad
Porthole
Triple
Porthole
Twin
Porthole
Twin
Window
Twin Deluxe
Superior
$5,600Limited$6,300 $6,800 $7,250 $7,650 $8,350 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,100 $10,850 $11,700 
$11,400Limited$12,300Full$13,200 $13,700Full$14,400Full$15,200Full
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,100 $10,850 $11,700 
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
$6,5001 Berth$7,300 $7,900 $8,400 $8,900 $9,600 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$8,250 $9,250 $9,950 $10,500 $11,250 $11,950Limited
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$8,2501 Berth$9,250Full$9,950 $10,500 $11,250 $11,950 
Camp, Kayak
$7,950Full$8,950Full$9,650Full$10,100Full$10,850Full$11,700Full
Camp, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,100 $10,850 $11,700 
$14,250 $15,550 $16,950 $17,700 $19,100 $20,500 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950 $8,950 $9,650 $10,100 $10,850 $11,700 
Whale Watching Voyage
$8,300 $9,250 $10,200 $10,750 $11,500 $12,400 
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)

Nov 18th voyage includes helicopters.

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