ortelius weddell sea antarctica cruise

Weddell Sea - In search of Emperor Penguins with Helicopters

  • Overview
    This is an unique chance to be part of a true expedition voyage. The Emperor Penguin rookery is situated south of Snow Hill Island. Although we will probably not be able to reach that far through the ice (less than 50 % chance based on our voyages in the last three seasons), the idea is mainly to situate ourselves in or between the Antarctic Sound and James Ross Island, close to the ice-edge and observe the emperor penguins on their way to the open water. We will use our helicopters in our attempts to search for individual Emperor Penguins.
    Duration: 11 days
    Passengers: 116 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Disembarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.7x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Ushuaia; Embarkation Day

      In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

      IMPORTANT; If ice-conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice, we will reschedule our voyage and offer ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (as carried out successfully in 2013) at approx. 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin Rookery. If we succeed, this will be a fascinating and a once-in-a lifetime experience. However, we made attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012 - 15. We only succeeded in 2013 and 2015; therefore the chances to reach Snow Hill Island are indeed around 50 %. Weather and ice conditions dictate the success of this adventure.

    • Day 2/3 - En-route to the Antarctic Peninsula

      During these two days we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may meet Wandering Albatrosses, Grey-headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light-mantled Albatrosses, Cape Petrels, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels.

    • Day 4/7 - The Weddell Sea

      A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.

      We will sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

      During these days we use the ship and the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we have had a high success rate in locating emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us – possible helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

      Possible landing sites is for example Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbled boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is complete with thousands of Adélie penguins nesting on the slopes. A few Gentoo’s is mixed in for fun.

      Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area usually only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual Emperor Penguins and Adélie Penguins on the ice floes; Cape-, Snow, and Giant Petrels fly high in the sky while Kelp Gulls, skuas and Wilson’s Storm Petrels scavenge down below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.

      A beautiful helicopter flight over huge icebergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors.

      If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adélie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.

      On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for Emperor Penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie.

      Alternative program (Day 5 - 6) if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice (less than 50 % chance):
      The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor Penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor Penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors Penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor Penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.

    • Day 8 - Deception Island

      In the morning we will sail to Deception Island where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. From there we depart into the Drake Passage around noon.

    • Day 9/10 - At sea en-route to Ushuaia

      In the Drake Passage we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.

    • Day 11 - Ushuaia; Disembarkation

      We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.

      IMPORTANT; If ice-conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice, we will reschedule our voyage and offer ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (as carried out successfully in 2013) at approx. 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin Rookery. If we succeed, this will be a fascinating and a once-in-a lifetime experience. However, we made attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012 - 15. We only succeeded in 2013 and 2015; therefore the chances to reach Snow Hill Island are indeed around 50 %. Weather and ice conditions dictate the success of this adventure.

    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

    Helicopter Tours

    Helicopter tours offer you a perspective of Antarctica afforded to only a handful of explorers each season. This expedition will provide you with an entirely new perspective of this incredible continent as you fly in search of Emperor penguins.

    Included

    The Weddell Sea

    A unique region of the Antarctic Peninsula and often little visited by expedition vessels. On the western coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, it is here the many of the icebergs which roam the the Peninsula calve. The Weddell Sea region of Antarctica is home to huge glaciers and tabular icebergs, if natural beauty, landscapes and geology excite you, then our Weddell Sea voyages are definitely worth considering.

    The region is rich in history, your expedition will visit historical sites and your expedition team will share with you the many stories of a bygone era of exploration in the region.

    Shoot to your shutter's content!

    For aspiring photographers, the best time to shoot the Antarctic landscape is definitely October, November and March. At these times the sun is much lower in the sky and thus creates beautiful twilight hues and shadows, which contrast the landscape magnificently.

    Of course, if it is wildlife and Antarctica’s babies you are hoping to shoot, then January and February are the best times. Alternatively, consider an early season South Georgia & Antarctica expedition for the best of wildlife and photo opportunities in Antarctica.

    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

    All meals on board

    Onboard your expedition all meals are included and prepared by our chefs. Meals are prepared to a restaurant standard and to cater for most diet requirements.

    All Zodiac excursions

    During the course of your expedition, you will have direct access to our onboard expedition team. Our expedition team members are a wealth of information, they have backgrounds in exploration or science based backgrounds. Our teams will usually comprise of naturalists, historians, geologists and ornithologists.

    Your expedition team members will expertly guide you off the ship and provide you with firsthand knowledge about the geology and wildlife of the region. Back onboard the vessel, team members hold lectures about their studies or the wildlife that was seen during the course of the day.

    Helicopter Tours

    Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area rarely seen from the air, we will search for Emperor Penguins. (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed)

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - pre-departure information
    - Expedition boots & Snowshoes
    - During voyages Weddell Sea voyages: ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed) are free of charge.
    - Ushuaia transfer to port
    - All shore excursions and lectures
    - All accommodation and meals on board

    Not included in your Expedition

    - Gratuities
    - Expenses of personal nature including; Laundry / Bar / Beverages / Internet & Wifi
    - Mandatory waterproof gear not provided
    - Baggage / cancellation / interruption and medical travel insurance
    - Government arrival and departure taxes
    - Passport & Visa expenses
    - Pre and post-cruise arrangements
    - Any airfare (whether on itinerary or charter flights)
  • Map
    Screen shot 2017 07 04 at 5.26.16 pm
  • Gallery
  • Vessel

    ORTELIUS

    “Ortelius” was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named “Marina Svetaeva”, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel is re-flagged and renamed “Ortelius”. “Ortelius” is classed by Lloyd’s Register in London and flies the Cyprus flag. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. “Ortelius” is a great expedition vessel for 116 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces. The vessel is manned by 22 highly experienced international nautical crew, 19 international hotel crew, 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader, 1 assistant expedition leader and 6 guides/lecturers), and 1 doctor. Ortelius offers a comfortable hotel standard, with a u-shaped, a bar and a lecture room. Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 116 on the “Ortelius”, flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. “Ortelius” carries 10 zodiacs. The zodiac engines are 60hp Yamaha.

    Features & Facilities
    • Comfotable hotel standard
    • Bar
    • Lecture Room
    • Spacious Observation Decks
    • Open Bridge
    • Helipad
    • Small gym
    • Internet/Wifi
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 3
    Guests #: 116
    Crew #: 52
    Ice Class: 1A
    Speed: 12
    Refurbished:
    Technical Specs
    Year built:
    Length: 91m
    Width: 17
    Draft:
    Tonnage: 4575
    Registry: Cyprus
    Elec Outlets: 220V / 2 Round Pin
Check Voyage Dates, Pricing and Availability
All available dates

Quad Cabin

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
An excellent cabin choice for single travellers or families of 4
USD 11,400pp
USD 11,400pp

Triple Cabin

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
An excellent cabin choice for single travellers or families of 3
USD 12,300pp
USD 12,300pp

Twin Porthole

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
Twin private cabin with porthole
USD 13,200pp
USD 13,200pp

Twin Window

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
Twin private cabin with window
USD 13,700pp
USD 13,700pp

Twin Deluxe

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
Private corner cabin with private facilities
USD 14,400pp
USD 14,400pp

Superior

18 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
Superior suite cabin with excellent positioning
USD 15,200pp
USD 15,200pp