polar pioneer antarctica cruise

Antarctica Explorer: Photography & Wildlife Expedition

  • Overview

    Join the Polar Pioneer on a 12-day in-depth Antarctica cruise with an extended focus on wildlife viewing and photography in Antarctic peninsula. This expedition is aimed at those wanting to spend the maximum amount of unhurried time ashore observing wildlife and is suited for photographers and wildlife watchers.

    What makes this trip even more special is that our vessel takes just 48 guests, the smallest group size in Antarctica. When you are ashore you will be in a small group of just 12 guests for an intimate wildlife and photography experience. Traveling on a small expedition vessel gives us more flexibility, more time ashore and allows us to visit landing sites that the large cruise ships can’t visit.

    Voyage Currency: Please consider this voyage is priced in USD$ and the AUD$ rates shown are indicative only at today's exchange rate. You may ask us about securing your invoice in AUD$.  

    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.

  • Highlights & Activities

    The great Antarctic Safari

    No matter which itinerary you choose to undertake, you are destined to spot a wonderful array of wildlife, including sea elephants and sea lions, Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals, and Minke, killer and humpback whales and the magnificent wandering albatrosses.

    Adelie Penguins

    Adelie penguins are the most abundant of all penguin species and are there estimated to be some 5 million birds. They have been an incredibly successful species living further south than any other species and have one of the oldest continually used rookeries, which has existed for some 6,000 years.

  • Inclusions

    Photography Workshops

    Catering to both amateurs and the more experienced photographers, our onboard team of photography guides deliver photography workshops and one-on-one instruction from the deck or Zodiacs and during landings.

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Entry and landing fees while on board
    - Port taxes and charges
    - All shore excursions and lectures
    - All accommodation and meals on board

    Not included in your Expedition

    - International and domestic airfares to or from ship unless specified
    - Transfers not specified in the itinerary
    - Arrival and departure taxes
    - Visa & Passport charges
    - Baggage / cancellation / interruption and medical travel insurance
    - Mandatory waterproof gear not provided
    - Optional excursion and activity surcharges
    - Items of a personal nature such as; Beverages / Laundry / Medical expenses / Gratuities / Internet & Wifi
  • Map
    Screen shot 2017 07 04 at 5.23.35 pm
  • 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 #: 48
    Crew #: 23
    Ice Class: 1A
    Speed: 14
    Refurbished: 2000
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 1982
    Length: 71m
    Width: 13
    Draft: 4
    Tonnage: 1753
    Registry: Russia
    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 AUD$ 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
AUD$ 16,492pp
AUD$ 16,492pp
polar pioneer twin public cabin

Twin Public

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Twin cabin with shared facilities.
AUD$ 18,742pp
AUD$ 18,742pp
polar pioneer twin private cabin

Twin Private

01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window.
AUD$ 20,242pp
AUD$ 20,242pp
polar pioneer mini suite cabin


01 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities.
AUD$ 21,742pp
AUD$ 21,742pp
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.
AUD$ 23,992pp
AUD$ 23,992pp