Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin

Ortelius Cruise Ship
Ortelius
116 Passengers
Adventure Options

Experience the bird’s-eye-view of Antarctica! Our helicopter capability on m/v Ortelius gives you the rare chance to see the famed emperor penguin rookery south of Snow Hill Island, numbering around 4,000 breeding pairs. Heavy ice may prevent entrance to this area from the Weddell Sea, and ice at the rookery itself might break up and start to melt earlier than expected. With this in mind, the aim is to stop the vessel between the Antarctic Sound and James Clark Ross Island, close to the ice edge, and find emperor penguins on their way to open water. The thrilling helicopter flights make this search possible, enabling you to land in locations otherwise inaccessible this 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, you have the chance for ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (roughly 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin rookery). If successful, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But please remember that nature writes the final itinerary out here: Attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during the voyages of 2012 – 16 did not always succeed. Only in 2013 did conditions allow for ice landings by helicopter and a completed visit to the 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

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Days 2 & 3 — At Sea

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. Wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds you might see.

Days 4 to 7 — Weddell Sea

You may sail into the Weddell Sea via the Antarctic Sound. Here huge tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. During this part of the cruise, the search is on for emperor penguins. Using both the vessel and helicopters, there’s a good chance you’ll find them. You might also enjoy scenic flights, and if conditions allow, helicopter landings in locations otherwise out of reach this time of year.   
 
Helicopter flights are a true trip changer, and may include:
 
The west slopes of the Antarctic Sound – The western side of this area is only rarely seen from the air, though the landscape is truly worth the flight: Layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers, icebergs, and pack-ice extend as far as the eye can see. There are often individual emperor penguins and Adélie penguins on the ice floes, as well as kelp gulls, skuas, and various breeds of petrel. Jagged mountain peaks stab through the snow, and enormous walls of ice lie shattered on the slopes below.
 
Duse Bay – A soaring helicopter flight may deposit you on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking this bay. There’s still a lot of snow and ice this time of year, but much of the walk in this location is over frost-shattered rock covered with lichen of all shapes and colors.
 
Seymour Island – This is where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 4 wintered under harrowing polar conditions. Sedimentary rock, fossils, and expansive views define this location.
 
If conditions allow for deeper ventures into the Weddell Sea, Zodiac trips may include:
 
Devil Island – Home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, this island offers a magnificent vantage point for hikers willing to foot it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes forms a waterfall dropping from the cliffs close to Cape Well-met.
 
Brown Bluff – Maybe the most scenic location in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent:  sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice. A large Adélie penguin rookery lives here, with gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels also to be found.
 
Gourdin Island – Chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie penguins love this island, which is yet another landing option for your continuing Antarctic adventure.
 
Esperanza Base – This Argentine research station, which operates year-round and is one of only two civilian settlements in Antarctica, could serve as an alternative landing site.

Day 8 — Deception Island

In the morning, you sail to Deception Island for the last landing of the voyage, either at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay.

Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Days 9 & 10 — At Sea

Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 11 — Arrival in Ushuaia and disembark

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

Alternate Days 5 & 6 — (Alternate program)

If the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice – less than 50% probability:

Helicopters provide an advantage in reaching the emperor penguin colony, but nature makes the rules in Antarctica. If conditions are favorable, you’ll spend the first two days at the penguin rookery. The helicopter operation takes a full day, and the flight duration is approximately 15 minutes. Each helicopter can accommodate 4 – 6 passengers per flight, and the landing site is carefully chosen so that the penguins are not disturbed. Upon arrival to the site, it is about a 45-minute walk to the rookery. Please keep in mind that you are in the world’s most remote area: There are no guarantees. Conditions may change rapidly, which can have a profound impact on our helicopter operations. It is important to understand and respect this. Safety is our greatest concern, and no compromises can be made.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
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Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
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Rates Antarctica 2018-19
Quad
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Twin
Porthole
Twin
Window
Twin Deluxe
Superior
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$5,600$3,650Limited$6,300$4,100Full$6,800$4,400Limited$7,250$4,700Limited$7,650$4,950Full$8,350$5,450Limited
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950Full$8,950Full$9,6501 Berth$10,100Limited$10,850Full$11,700Full
$11,4001 Berth$12,300Full$13,200Full$13,700Full$14,400Full$15,200Full
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,950Full$8,950Full$9,650Full$10,100Full$10,850Full$11,700Full
Camp, Kayak, Snowshoe
$6,500Full$7,300Full$7,900Limited$8,400Limited$8,900 $9,600 
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$8,250Full$9,250Full$9,950Full$10,500Full$11,250Full$11,950Full
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$8,250Full$9,250Full$9,950Full$10,500Full$11,250Full$11,950Full
Camp, Kayak
$7,950Full$8,950Full$9,650Full$10,100Full$10,850Full$11,700Full
$14,250Full$15,550 $16,950Limited$17,700Full$19,1001 Berth$20,500Limited
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak
All Activities Free on Basecamp Trips
$7,9501 Berth$8,950Full$9,650 $10,100 $10,850Full$11,700Limited
Whale Watching Voyage
$8,3001 Berth$9,250Full$10,200 $10,750Limited$11,500Full$12,400 
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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 Ortelius” voyages (incl. Camping, Kayaking, Snowshoeing/Hiking, Mountaineering & Photography Workshop)

Nov 18th voyage includes helicopters.

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 Antarctica 2019-20
Quad
Porthole
Triple
Porthole
Twin
Porthole
Twin
Window
Twin Deluxe
Superior
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
Free camping, kayaking, snowshoe/hiking, mountaineering, photo workshop.
$7,9501 Berth$8,950 $9,850 $10,250 $10,900 $11,800 
$11,350Limited$12,1501 Berth$12,950 $13,550 $14,1001 Berth$14,900Limited
Camp, Mountaineering, Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
Free camping, kayaking, snowshoe/hiking, mountaineering, photo workshop.
$7,950Full$8,9501 Berth$9,850 $10,250Full$10,900Full$11,800 
$13,350Limited$14,600 $16,200 $16,950 $18,100 $19,450 
Camp, Kayak
$7,950 $8,950Full$9,850 $10,250 $10,900 $11,800 
$27,500Limited$29,900 $34,700 $35,900Limited$37,7001 Berth$39,700Limited
$27,500Limited$29,900 $34,700 $35,900 $37,700 $39,700 
$8,500Limited$9,550 $10,450 $10,950 $11,700 $12,500Limited
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 travelers can chose between "single occupancy" at a supplement
of 1,7 x the Twin or Superior cabin rate , or "sharing basis" in Twin, Triple
or Quadruple category at no additional cost.

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 - $190 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” voyages (incl. Camping, Kayaking, Snowshoeing/Hiking, Mountaineering & Photography Workshop)

Nov 14th, Jan 13th & Feb 16th voyages include 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