snow hill island antarctica emperor penguins

Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill

  • Overview

    Driven by a true expeditionary spirit—and guided by years of polar expertise—our team sailed past masses of dense ice and thick, tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea to experience the legendary rookery, which now numbers 8,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins. Today, Snow Hill Island is one of the most exclusive wildlife viewing experiences on the planet. We invite you—almost two decades after our milestone visit of 2004—to embrace the thrill of the search as we once again set out to visit to the emperor penguins at Snow Hill Island. 

    Experience a true polar quest as we journey on our new ship, Ultramarine, which is equipped with two twin-engine helicopters that will fly guests to the vicinity of this rarely-visited rookery, whereupon they will walk across the thick sea ice to stand within metres of the most coveted penguin species on the planet. Anticipate scenes reminiscent of “March of the Penguins” and BBC’s “Frozen Planet.” Just imagine the penguins tobogganing across the ice towards the sea. Such wildlife moments are too precious for words!

    Duration: 14 days
    Passengers: 199 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Disembarkation Point: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Physical rating: Expedition
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Buenos Aires | Arrival Day

      Upon arriving in this fascinating city, known for its architecture and rich European heritage, you will independently transfer to your group hotel (pre-expedition hotel night included in mandatory transfer package).

    • Day 2 - Fly to Ushuaia | Embarkation Day

      After an early breakfast at the hotel, your group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to a central downtown location to enjoy time on your own to explore quaint Ushuaia—the world’s southernmost city—before making your way to the pier. After a late afternoon embarkation, you will sail along the historic Beagle Channel, which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Enjoy the air of anticipation as you depart—the next land you see will be the Antarctic!

    • Day 3/4 - Crossing the Drake Passage

      The unpredictable and exciting Drake Passage, which lies at the confluence of the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, is an adventure unto itself. While being well taken care of by our expert onboard staff and expedition team, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze out at the expansive ocean waters, photograph seabirds as they swoop around the ship, and get to know your Expedition Team and fellow travelers.

    • Day 5 - Navigating into the Weddell Sea

      Onboard presentations by world-respected experts will enrich your polar quest, conveying what it was like a century ago for the brave polar heroes who embraced the unknown. You’ll also learn more about the ice-dwelling emperor penguins.

    • Day 6/10 - Weddell Sea and the Quest to Land at Snow Hill

      The journey toward Snow Hill Island will put you in explorer mode as the captain and Expedition Leader keep you updated through weather briefings, meteorological and sea ice condition reports. The thickness of ice will determine how close Ultramarine can get to Snow Hill Island, then our twin-engine helicopters will take over.

      Like summitting a mountain from base camp, parties will set out from Ultramarine towards the emperor penguin colony. Their adventure begins with an extended helicopter transfer that will reveal a landscape of snow-capped peaks and apartment-building-sized tabular icebergs. The rookery itself is located on the sea ice off the south coast of Snow Hill Island and the landing will be as close to the penguins as possible, yet at a safe distance to avoid disturbing the birds. Upon landing, your party will walk across the ice to the fabled emperor penguin colony. The wind. The ice beneath your feet. Walking next to paths in the snow carved by penguins that came before. And then there are the incredible sounds of the penguins in the distance as you march toward one of the rarest wildlife opportunities on the planet: the colony of thousands and thousands of rarely-seen emperor penguins.

      The goal of the expedition is to get every guest to the remote rookery once. The Expedition Team and special experts will be close by to answer your questions and ensure you take in everything there is to see. You’ll observe close up how the emperor penguins behave as a tight-knit community, how they care for their young, and how they body surf across the ice in a way that can only be described as quirky yet efficient. The helicopter expedition in search of the emperor colony might just be the adventure of a lifetime

      And while at base on Ultramarine with your attentive Expedition Team, you’ll be immersed each day in the polar experience of the Weddell Sea. Daily activities will include Zodiac cruising among the icebergs, adventuring and learning while atop the ice, paddle-on-top kayaking, or working with our team to observe the weather forecasting and ship operations up close.

      A particularly enriching component of your voyage will be the bespoke educational programs tailored specifically for this expedition that offer both traditional (lecture format) and hands-on opportunities for learning about this fascinating region. Each day our polar experts, who include penguin scientists, biologists and polar historians, will present on various aspects of emperor penguins and their behaviors, ice formations such as the tabular icebergs which you’ll see from the deck of your ship, and the experiences of polar explorers who braved the Weddell Sea over a century ago. Or you might, on one of these days, decide to take the polar plunge, or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Then again, maybe you’ll enjoy a little pampering. If so, you can choose from Ultramarine’s excellent onboard amenities, including the spa, sauna and fitness room.

      The emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill is the goal of this expedition. However, if weather or ice conditions prevent us from visiting the colony or shorten the duration of our visit, we may explore some of these other sites. Your possible landings in Antarctica will take place on the eastern side of the Peninsula, which is an extension of the Transantarctic Mountains and is the most northern stretch of Antarctic land.

      Brown Bluff
      An immense cliff of volcanic rock, towers 2,225 feet (678 meters) over rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins, some of which will be incubating their eggs.

      Devil Island
      The Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04 discovered the narrow island, which is 1 mile (1.6 km) long and has a low summit at each end.

      Hope Bay
      Three members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901-04) spent the winter in a hut on the shores of Hope Bay. The hut is located close to the jetty of Esperanza Station, an Argentine research station.

      Paulet Island
      Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large Adélie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone that rises 1,158 feet (353 meters), the island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to penguins, you may be interested in visiting a historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04. A cross marks the gravesite of crew member Ole Wennersgaard.

      Seymour Island
      Northeast of Snow Hill Island is a smaller island that was originally mistaken for a cape. Seymour Island is significant for fossil finds and for the remains of the KT Boundary, which marks the transition between the Cretaceous Period (dinosaurs and reptiles) and the Tertiary Period (mammals) of geological times. This era is known for the mass extinction of many forms of life, including dinosaurs.

    • Day 11/13 - At sea towards Ushuaia

      The journey back across the Drake Passage provides a final opportunity to enjoy the invigorating Southern Ocean air. Spend time on the deck watching for seabirds and scouting for whales, enjoy presentations by your Expedition Team, and celebrate the experiences you've shared getting off the beaten track in the remarkable world of Antarctica.

    • Day 14 - Ushuaia | Disembarkation Day

      You will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark after breakfast. The mandatory transfer package includes a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park for a taste of Patagonia, after which you’ll transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.

    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 elusive Emperor penguin

    March to the Emperor Penguins
    Imagine coming within several feet of chicks so young they’re huddling with their parents. Watch in awe as these extraordinary creatures toboggan across the ice on their way to the ocean to dive for food. If you’re lucky, some may even approach you!

    Helicopter Overflight

    If the opportunities allows, you will be privileged to fly in one of our two helicopters in search of Snow Hill Island and the elusive Emperor penguins in this region. It is a remarkable and unforgettable experience seeing Antarctic from the air.

  • Inclusions
    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Emergency evacuation insurance up to USD$100 000 per person
    - A limited amount of beer and wine
    - Complimentary on board polar boots
    - Zodiac and land excursions with our expert expedition team
    - On board Gratuities
    - All meals including tea & coffee
    - Expedition jacket
    - Accommodation while on board
    - Service taxes and port charges
    - Photographic journal of your expedition
    - All shore excursions and lectures in the itinerary

    Not included in your Expedition

    - International airfare
    - Passport and Visa expenses
    - Travel insurance (mandatory)
    - Personal laundry
    - Internet and Wifi expenses
    - Gratuities
  • Map
    Snow hill
  • Gallery
  • Vessel

    One of the newest ships in the polar fleet, Ultramarine, is designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, to discover new places, and to immerse you in the best the region has to offer.

    Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, Ultramarine offers the most robust portfolio of adventure activities in the industry, the most spacious suites in its category, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships its size. It also features an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards.

    With all this and more, Ultramarine is set to deliver the ultimate polar expedition experience.

    Features & Facilities
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 5
    Guests #: 199
    Crew #: 140
    Ice Class: PC6
    Speed: 16
    Refurbished:
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 2021
    Length: 128m
    Width: 22
    Draft: 5
    Tonnage: 13500
    Registry:
    Elec Outlets:
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.
ultramarine antarctica explorer triple cabin

Explorer Triple

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 3, and approximately 285 sq. ft. (26.5 m2). This suite is perfect for guests traveling solo who want to share their experience with other like-minded travelers of the same gender, or for groups of three traveling together. Featuring three separate single beds, and amenities for each of the three guests. Features: three single beds (two of which can be combined into a double bed), sitting area, picture window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors
AUD$ 42,700pp
AUD$ 42,700pp
ultramarine antarctica explorer suite cabin

Explorer Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 3, and approximately 285 sq. ft. (26.5 m2). These suites are perfect for people traveling together or solo guests looking to share with like-minded individuals. This suite maximizes interior living space while still offering guests the opportunity to stay connected to the outdoors. Our entry-level twin suites are the largest available on a ship of this class. Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, picture window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
AUD$ 51,500pp
AUD$ 51,500pp
Book now btn
Book Now
ultramarine antarctica balcony suite cabin

Balcony Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Decks 4 and 6, with approximately 226 sq. ft. (21 m2) of indoor living space, and a 52 sq. ft. (4.8 m2) balcony, this entry-level balcony suite is one of the largest available on a ship of this class. This suite is perfect for guests who are looking for both indoor and outdoor living spaces. There are four connecting suites in this category, making this an excellent option for families or groups wanting to stay connected to each other during their expedition. Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
AUD$ 57,400pp
AUD$ 57,400pp
Book now btn
Book Now
ultramarine antarctica deluxe balcony suite cabin

Deluxe Balcony Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Decks 4 and 6, with approximately 299 sq. ft. (27.8 m2) of indoor living space, and a 70 sq. ft. (6.5 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting a larger living space, full bathroom, and a substantial balcony. Deluxe Balcony Suites are the first suite type to offer additional privacy in the bathroom with an enclosed toilet, a full bath and shower to make it easier for guests to get ready together in the morning. Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
AUD$ 66,200pp
AUD$ 66,200pp
Book now btn
Book Now
ultramarine antarctica solo panoroma cabin

Solo Panorama

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 6, and approximately 132 sq. ft. (12.3 m2). This suite is perfect for solo guests who appreciate privacy and want to wake up to sweeping views from the comfort of their bed. These are the only solo suites with floor-to-ceiling windows available onboard any ship in its class. Features: single bed, floor-to-ceiling window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors
AUD$ 67,700pp
AUD$ 67,700pp
ultramarine antarctica terrace suite cabin

Terrace Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 6, with approximately 350 sq. ft. (32.5 m2) of indoor living space, and a 100 sq. ft. (9.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting generous interiors with a wide layout and the largest balconies on the ship. Centrally located on Deck 6, guests will enjoy minimal movement and motion from the comfort of these suites. Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private extra-wide balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
AUD$ 70,600pp
AUD$ 70,600pp
ultramarine antarctica penthouse suite cabin

Penthouse Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
The only suite category to be located on Deck 7, with approximately 369 sq. ft. (34.3 m2) of indoor living space, and a 67 sq. ft. (6.2 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting to wake up to unobstructed polar views from the warmth and comfort of their bed onboard the ship. These suites offer the best of everything—views, spacious interiors, full bathrooms and generous balcony sizes—as well as easy access to the wellness centre. Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
AUD$ 75,000pp
AUD$ 75,000pp
Book now btn
Book Now
ultramarine antarctica owner's suite cabin

Owner's Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 6, with approximately 446 sq. ft. (41.4 m2) of indoor living space and a 46.3 sq. ft. (4.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests who want it all. A large, luxurious suite featuring a private bedroom, full bathroom, powder room, and two separate living spaces. This suite is perfect for families or couples who want all the comforts of home onboard the ship. Features: one double or two single beds in a private bedroom with walk-in closet, sitting area with sofa bed and additional closet, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors and separate powder room.
AUD$ 89,700pp
AUD$ 89,700pp
ultramarine antarctica ultra suite cabin

Ultra Suite

12 Nov 2023 - 25 Nov 2023
Located on Deck 6, with approximately 563 sq. ft. (52.3m2) of interior living space, and a 46 sq. ft. (4.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests who want to travel without compromise. Our largest and most luxurious suite features the most sleeping, entertainment and storage space onboard the ship. It is perfect for families or travelers who want all the comforts of home onboard the ship. Features: one double or two single beds in a private bedroom with walk-in closet, sitting area with sofa bed and additional walk-in hallway closet, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors and separate powder room.
AUD$ 97,100pp
AUD$ 97,100pp