polar pioneer antarctica cruise

Antarctica Explorer: Photography & Wildlife Expedition

  • Overview


    Embark on an exclusive 12-day photography-focused odyssey aboard the Polar Pioneer, purposefully designed for capturing the raw beauty of Antarctica. With a maximum capacity of just 48 guests, this intimate voyage ensures unhurried, up-close wildlife encounters and ample opportunities to frame the continent's icy landscapes. Led by seasoned expedition leaders and photography guides, you'll explore key wildlife sites on the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, all while basking in the comfort of our ice-strengthened vessel, complete with a soothing sauna. This voyage is tailored for those seeking to document the splendor of Antarctica in its most unfiltered form, promising a transformative photographic adventure.

    Duration: 12 days
    Passengers: 48 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Disembarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 0.0x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Ushuaia | Embarkation Day

      Welcome to Ushuaia, Argentina, also known by its nickname ‘The End of the World’. In the afternoon we embark on the Polar Pioneer for the expedition of a lifetime. This tough, ice-strengthened expedition vessel will be our comfortable home and base for exploring for the next 11 nights.

      After settling into your cabin there will be a full safety briefing and an introduction from the expedition team. You will meet the experts who will be your guides for the duration of your voyage who have extensive knowledge about Antarctica, the history, wildlife, and geology.

      In the afternoon we will sail through the Beagle channel. It is the perfect time to spend time out on deck wildlife watching and appreciating the magnificent landscapes of Patagonia.

    • Day 2/3 - Crossing the Drake Passage

      As we sail south we will cross the famed Drake passage that separates Antarctica from the South American continent. It is the ideal time to spend time on deck watching the dozens of wandering albatrosses that circle the ship.

      During these two days at sea, our experts will get you excited for what lies ahead with a series of lectures on the wildlife, history, and environment of Antarctica. As we cross the Antarctic convergence zone the air will chill and we will spend time on deck looking for the first icebergs and keeping a sharp lookout for whales that are frequently sighted.

      An amazing part of any Antarctica expedition is sighting the land of the 7th continent for the first time.

    • Day 4/9 - Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula

      The focus of this expedition is to spend the maximum amount of time exploring in an unhurried way which is only possible in a small group. Each day our expedition team will make decisions about where to explore based on the weather and sea ice conditions.

      We will drop anchor in remote bays framed by icy mountains. Our plan is to explore key wildlife sites on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here we will encounter penguin rookeries up close. Gentoo’s, Adleie’s and Chin Straps are all residents here. We aim to do shore landings twice a day led by our expedition leaders. We will use the Zodiacs for short cruises to explore the icy waters in an intimate way. Keep an eye out for icebergs! There are plenty here.

      The nutrient-rich icy seas are home to an abundance of wildlife including leopard, crabeater, Weddell and elephant seals, Orcas, Minke, and Humpback Whales.

      If the opportunity arises sometimes it is possible to visit a scientific research station or historical site. As with all expeditions, flexibility is a must.

      The beauty of an Antarctica cruise on Polar Pioneer is that all our guests can Zodiac cruise or visit the shore at the same time. The process of going ashore is much more efficient than a larger ship so our guests get to spend more time exploring and less time waiting.

    • Day 10/11 - At Sea

      After exploring Antarctica, we will sail north towards Ushuaia. Our expedition team will continue the educational presentations. It’s a good chance to relax, warm up in the sauna and enjoy a drink at the bar.

      The expedition leader will do a recap of the voyage and it is an opportunity to share moments and photos with your fellow explorers.

      As we approach the South American continent, if the conditions allow, there may be a possibility to sight the mystical Cape Horn before we make our way into the Beagle channel.

    • Day 12 - Ushuaia | Disembarkation Day

      In the morning we arrive back at the port of Ushuaia. After breakfast, we say our goodbyes after making new friends and sharing a wonderful adventure together.

      The above itinerary is a guide only. A part of any Antarctica cruise is the flexibility to take advantage of the weather and ice conditions. Our expedition leader will make sure you see as much as possible.

    Please consider that our voyages are expeditionary in nature. This means, that there are no concrete itineraries, your Captain and Expedition Leader will utilise their vast experience to chart the best course for your expedition depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. Mentioned highlights and wildlife cannot be guaranteed.

  • Adventure Activities


    One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages. The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.

    USD$ 950 per person

    Expedition Leader and Guide

    On this Svalbard photography tour we have an expedition leader, 2nd guide and photo expert. An aspect of our journeys is to learn about the place you are visiting. Our onboard guides are the core of what we do and will share their passion and knowledge of Svalbard throughout the trip. We offer the best guide to guest ratio available.


    Climate Compensated

    Caring for the environment is what we do. For Svalbard cruises we plant trees in Greenland to offset the emissions. As a member of AECO, we follow strict guidelines to ensure minimal disturbance to wildlife and natural sites.

  • Inclusions
    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Rubber boots for shore landings and hiking (select adventures)
    - Services of an expedition leader and guide (customary tips not included)
    - Shore landings by Zodiac landing craft a detailed in the itinerary
    - Accommodation in warm, comfortable cabins with all bedding and towels provided.
    - Education on reducing your carbon footprint
    - Transfers between your hotel and ship on arrival and departure (select adventures)
    - Comprehensive joining instructions, with a complete packing list.
    - Local assistance in planning your pre and post-adventure activities and accommodation.
    - Transfers between your hotel and ship on arrival (select adventures).
    - Connect with like-minded travellers on your adventure before setting out in our Facebook group.
    - A complimentary alcoholic beverage (such as Mine 3 Beer from the world’s most northernmost brewery) is included with dinner on some adventures, with additional drinks available for purchase.
    - On the day of embarkation, an evening meal is included and on the day of disembarkation, breakfast is provided.

    Not included in your Expedition

    - Items of a personal nature such as; Beverages / Laundry / Medical expenses / Gratuities / Internet & Wifi
    - Optional excursion and activity surcharges
    - Visa & Passport charges
    - Transfers not specified in the itinerary
    - International and domestic airfares to or from ship unless specified
    - Arrival and departure taxes
    - Mandatory waterproof gear not provided
    - Baggage / cancellation / interruption and medical travel insurance
  • Map
    Screenshot 2023 08 24 at 14.49.36
  • Gallery
  • Vessel


    The legendary MV Polar Pioneer is a strong, capable veteran expedition ship loved by guests and expedition leaders for her capability in ice and her small size with a proven track record exploring the remote polar regions over the last 19 seasons.

    Her new Scandinavian owners are currently doing an extensive refit upgrading her to today’s standards and she will be ready for the 2022 Arctic season. 

    She benefits from taking just 48 guests on an authentic expedition adventure free from the crowds of larger vessels. All guests can fit in the Zodiacs at the same time ensuring there is no waiting to go ashore and all guests can explore at the same time.

    The MV Polar Pioneer was built in Finland in 1982, and the ship was originally an ice-strengthened research vessel with ice class 1A Super, which is perfect for navigation in polar regions with heavy sea ice.

    She can transit open water crossings with ease and comfort due to the integrated dynamic water ballast system, which guarantees a great reduction of rolling in heavy seas. Her ingenious stability system works marvellously also during the zodiac’s loading/unloading operations or while sitting at anchor. As a result, the Polar Pioneer is one of the most stable vessels currently in operations in the Polar regions.


     Why We Love Polar Pioneer

    • True polar expedition vessel – tough design with highest ice-class capable of exploring in ice (something most ships can’t do)
    • Smallest group size in Antarctica and South Georgia
    • Access landing sites larger ships cannot reach
    • Room for all guests in Zodiacs – No waiting time to go ashore
    • Takes just 48 guests – Intimate experience with the natural environment
      Sauna – Warm up after a day in the cold
    • Newly refurbished vessel – Enjoy comfortable cabins, bar, and saloon
    • Open Bridge – Enjoy the views from the best place on board
    • Authentic Expedition Experience – Only possible on a small ship
    Features & Facilities
    • Basic accommodation
    • Lounge bar
    • Spacious viewing platforms and decks
    • Presentation room
    • Sauna
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 3
    Guests #: 52
    Crew #: 20
    Ice Class: 1A
    Speed: 14
    Refurbished: 2000
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 1982
    Length: 71m
    Width: 13
    Draft: 4
    Tonnage: 1753
    Registry: Cyprus
    Elec Outlets: 220V / 2 Round Pin
Check Voyage Dates, Pricing and Availability
All available dates
Ready to book your expedition?

We understand that the trip of a lifetime takes planning, so we make the financial commitments easy to manage.

  • Confirm your booking today with just USD$ 1,000 per passenger.
  • Pay your 25% deposit 5 day later.
  • Final payment due 120 days prior to departure.
polar pioneer triple cabin

Triple Porthole

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Triple public cabin, 3 x berths and shared facilities
USD$ 11,490pp
USD$ 11,490pp
polar pioneer twin public cabin

Twin Public

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Twin cabin with shared facilities.
USD$ 12,870pp
USD$ 12,870pp
polar pioneer twin private cabin

Twin Private

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window.
USD$ 13,790pp
USD$ 13,790pp
polar pioneer mini suite cabin


01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities.
USD$ 14,790pp
USD$ 14,790pp
polar pioneer owner's suite cabin

Owner's Suite

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities.
USD$ 15,990pp
USD$ 15,990pp