polar pioneer south georgia cruise

South Georgia Explorer: Photography & Wildlife Expedition

  • Overview

    Embark on a 15-day odyssey with the Polar Pioneer, an expedition designed for the passionate wildlife observer and photography enthusiast, delving deep into the heart of South Georgia's untamed splendor. As the ship accommodates just 48 guests, each landing provides an intimate, unfiltered connection with the island's remarkable wildlife. Picture yourself among a small group of 12, your senses immersed in the sights, sounds, and scents of this extraordinary sanctuary. With our nimble expedition vessel, we access remote coastal sites off-limits to larger ships, offering an exclusive encounter with South Georgia's awe-inspiring nature.


    • Unprecedented time ashore for in-depth wildlife observation and photography.
    • Explore iconic sites like Saint Andrews Bay, Salisbury Plain, and Gold Harbour.
    • Hone your photography skills in the field guided by seasoned experts.
    • Travel in comfort on an intimate, ice-strengthened expedition vessel.
    • Witness the vibrant tapestry of South Georgia's wildlife, from king penguins and elephant seals to albatrosses and fur seals.
    • Capture the untamed beauty of South Georgia's landscapes, both from the ship and onshore, with countless photographic opportunities.
    • Led by adept expedition leaders and photography guides, ensuring a curated experience.
    • Small group dynamics ensure an exclusive and personalized adventure, with just 48 guests on board and 12 on each shore excursion.
    Duration: 15 days
    Passengers: 48 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Falkland Islands
    Disembarkation Point: Falkland Islands
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 0.0x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Falkland Islands

      In the afternoon we embark Polar Pioneer in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands ready for an adventure of a lifetime. The Falkland Islands are accessible by flights from Chile and the UK (flights not included). A transfer bus will take you from Mount Pleasant Airport to the harbour for embarkation. We will depart late afternoon and set sail towards South Georgia. We highly recommend extending your stay before or after our expedition. Falkland Islands Holidays offer tailor-made itineraries for all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re into birdwatching, photography, war history, fishing, or simply want to explore the wildlife, community, geography, and hospitality of the islands, they have the perfect itinerary for you.

    • Day 2/3 - Sailing to South Georgia

      As we sail across the Scotia sea towards South Georgia we will spend time on deck looking out for wildlife. Wandering Albatrosses often follow the ship. In the water it is possible to see whales and Orcas. During the sea days our guiding team will do lectures on the wildlife, history and geology of South Georgia. In the afternoon of day 3 we will sight South Georgia for the first time.

    • Day 4/7 - Exploring South Georgia

      The plan is to sail along the entire coast of South Georgia and to make landings on all the days. The main focuses of this expedition is to visit as many wildlife sites as possible. South Georgia is home to 450,000 king penguins offering some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. We aim to visit key penguin breeding colonies at St Andrew’s Bay, Salisbury Plain and Gold Harbour. An advantage of a longer trip allows is that it allows us a much larger weather to visit different sites.

    • Day 8/12 - Exploring South Georgia

      Other landing sites could include Prion Island to see nesting albatrosses, a site that is only accessible to ships carrying under 50 guests. Cooper Bay on the islands south is home to Macaroni penguins living in the tussock grass. Alongside wildlife, South Georgia is home to fascinating history and we will visit Grytviken, a former whaling station on South Georgia and home to the grave of explorer Ernest Shackleton. We also plan to explore the Drygalski fjord home to some of the islands most breathtaking landscapes.

    • Day 13/14 - At Sea towards the Falkland Islands

      As we sail towards the Falkland Islands our guiding team will do a series of lectures to finish off our exciting adventure. The final 2 sailing days offers a chance to relax onboard, take a sauna and share stories from the expedition with fellow guests.

    • Day 15 - Falkland Islands: Disembarkation Day

      On safe arrival in Port Stanley we will disembark after breakfast on the final day.

      * You will need to organise your own flight back to South America.

      **The above itinerary is a guide only. A part of any expedition is the flexibility to take advantage of the weather conditions which are highly variable in South Georgia. Our expedition team will make sure you see as much a 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

    Zodiac Landing Craft for Shore Landings

    Shore landings are the essence of every expedition and your guides will take you exploring on a daily basis. The vessel is equipped with landing craft that can be used to reach remote beaches so you can experience the wilderness firsthand.


    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
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  • 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
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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

24 Feb 2024 - 09 Mar 2024
Triple public cabin, 3 x berths and shared facilities
USD$ 13,995pp
USD$ 13,995pp
polar pioneer twin public cabin

Twin Public

24 Feb 2024 - 09 Mar 2024
Twin cabin with shared facilities.
USD$ 15,795pp
USD$ 15,795pp
polar pioneer twin private cabin

Twin Private

24 Feb 2024 - 09 Mar 2024
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window.
USD$ 16,995pp
USD$ 16,995pp
polar pioneer mini suite cabin


24 Feb 2024 - 09 Mar 2024
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities.
USD$ 17,995pp
USD$ 17,995pp
polar pioneer owner's suite cabin

Owner's Suite

24 Feb 2024 - 09 Mar 2024
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities.
USD$ 18,995pp
USD$ 18,995pp