polar pioneer south georgia and antarctica cruise

South Georgia and Antarctic Odyssey

  • Overview
    Summer comes to South Georgia’s remote, untamed landscape like a freight train. Famed for its abandoned whaling stations and Shackleton’s heroic journey, South Georgia is home to millions of fur seals and penguins, wallows of elephant seals, and nesting albatross. We arrive at the breeding cycle peak, as chicks become juveniles, parents shuttle fish and seal pups thrill with mock charges. Retracing Shackleton’s boat voyage, we visit Elephant Island before continuing south along the Antarctic Peninsula. Days remain long, and filled with humpback and minke whales, penguins and leopard seals, historic sites and scientific stations.
    Duration: 18 days
    Passengers: 54 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Disembarkation Point: Punta Arenas, Chile
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Mandatory extra flight
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Ushuaia; Embarkation Day

      Our voyage starts from Ushuaia (Argentina). You will board the ship in the afternoon and meet your fellow expeditioners. A select group of only 50 people with whom you will experience this great adventure.

      *Please ensure that you arrive in Ushuaia at least 1-day prior to embarkation.

    • Day 2/3 - Drake Passage

      After we exit the Beagle Channel we find ourselves on the open ocean for a 2-day crossing of the Drake Passage. During our sea voyage you might see albatrosses and storm petrels flying alongside the ship, so it's always worth having a look outside.

      Drake Passage offers excellent bird watching from the outer decks or the warm bridge. Our expedition team presents Zodiac and environmental briefings, and enlightening talks on Antarctica. Keen eyes watch for icebergs, penguins, seals and cormorants as we approach our first landing in the South Shetland Islands.

    • Day 4/7 - Antarctic Peninsula

      Once we arrive in the calmer waters off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, we will generally plan landings and zodiac excursions two times a day. Sometimes we cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, watch whales that are feeding near the surface or go ashore for a hike and a close encounter with penguins. In between landings our expert team will share their knowledgeable lectures on wildlife, geology, history and geography of the Antarctic Peninsula.

      Places we might visit include islands of the coast of Antarctica as well as locations on the continent itself. Like Paradise Harbour, a protected bay surrounded by magnificent mountain peaks and spectacular glaciers. The wildlife-rich Half Moon Island, where a large Chinstrap penguin rookery lives between basaltic turrets coloured by yellow and orange lichens. Volcanic Deception Island with black beaches and steam rising from hot springs along the shore. And the famous Lemaire Channel where the water is often so still that it perfectly reflects the high cliffs that rise on both sides of the ice-packed channel. Throughout our voyage we'll keep an eye out for wildlife, as leopard seals, whales and penguins may show themselves at any time!

    • Day 8 - Elephant Island

      Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s men wintered beneath their upturned boats. With luck and weather permitting we will go ashore to pay tribute to these hardy souls.

      *Weather permitting

    • Day 9/10 - Crossing towards South Georgia

      We leave the white continent behind us and set course to the north east. Our voyage from Antarctica to South Georgia will take 2 to 3 days. During our crossing we might stop at the South Orkney Islands for a visit to the Argentine scientific station Orcadas Base, before we sail the final stretch to South Georgia. During the days at sea you will again have the chance to see different types of sea birds and also whales that might pop up close to the ship.

    • Day 11/14 - South Georgia

      South Georgia is a tiny island in the Southern Ocean, one of the most isolated places on our planet. A steep mountain range traces the spine of this long, narrow island, creating a breathtaking backdrop when wildlife watching and photographing.

      Unlike Antarctica, where hardly any remnants of human activity can be found, South Georgia has a long and turbulent history of human interference. In Grytviken, the Elephant Seals sleep amidst the ruins of the buildings of the old whaling factory. The famous polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was laid to rest at Grytviken where we can pay respect to the ‘Boss’ as he was called. As we explore South Georgia, we will have the opportunity to reflect on Shackleton’s epic journey with his ship the ‘Endurance’ which was recently found in the Weddell Sea where it sank in 1915.
      Places we might visit:

      St. Andrews Bay - The sandy black beach is a resting place for hundreds of Elephant seals that haul out on the shore to moult. Behind the beach, the sight, sound and smell of thousands of King penguins at different stages of their breeding cycle will be overwhelming. The glacial river that runs into the sea here will be alive with penguin chicks and Elephant seal pups testing their aquatic skills. If we lift our gaze from the wildlife for a moment, we will glimpse the snow-capped peaks of some of the world's most spectacular mountains and glaciers.

      Godthul - Imagine indented bays lined with bleached whalebones, teeming with Fur seals and penguin chicks waiting for their parents. Here you have the opportunity to clamber through the tussock to a spectacular plateau offering magnificent views across the island and the waters beyond. A careful descent leads us to a magnificent Macaroni penguin rookery.

      Prion Island - We will aim to visit Prion Island where we can sit quietly to see serene albatrosses sitting proudly on their eggs or watch their cute downy chicks. We may be blessed by the performance of an intimate courtship dance, or may witness a youngster being lovingly fed. We might see adolescents exercising their wide wing spans, trying to launch themselves into the air, as they realise that mum and dad will no longer feed them and they must leave the island in search of food.

      Salisbury Plain - With around 60.000 pairs of King Penguins, Salisbury Plain is home to the second largest colony in the world. No surprise is has been the focus of countless nature documentaries throughout the years. It is one of our favourite sites on South Georgia, even though landing here is not always possible since the area is not sheltered from the large ocean swells.

    • Day 15/17 - At Sea

      Keeping watch for the kelp-skirted Shag Rocks, we cross the Scotia Sea, entertained by our expert naturalist and historian.

    • Day 18 - Disembarkation in Stanley | Disebmarkation Day

      Our adventure ends in Stanley, the tiny capital of the Falklands. This village-size town has a lot to explore along its' sheltered harbour. From here you can make your way home or extend your journey with a few more days on the islands.

      Note: Please ensure your flight is organised back to South America.

    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 unique ways to experience Antarctica and the Arctic.

    The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic 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$ 1,350 per person


    Camping has become our most popular optional activity.

    We provide all the equipment you need to experience – albeit it in a more comfortable and civilised fashion – the feelings of the early Antarctic explorers. There really is no better way to witness the stunning silence and array of colours of an Antarctic night sky.

    USD$ 150 per person


    Snowshoeing makes walking up gentle slopes and across Antarctica’s soft, powdery snow a breeze, allowing you to explore places others struggle to reach in boots alone. Armed with your very own set of snowshoes and ski poles, you’ll be led by our expert guides who will provide all the instruction you need. Snowshoeing is an excellent way to ascend to some of Antarctica’s best vantage points, stretch the legs and take in the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Snowshoeing is the perfect activity for everyone, with no previous experience required. Join in on the fun and discover a different slice of Antarctica!

    USD$ 250 per person

    Christmas &/or New Year voyage

    Celebrate your New Years' Eve under the midnight sun in Antarctica.

    South Georgia; Wildlife Mecca

    One of the true wildlife experiences on our planet, often the wildlife displays here are referred to as the greatest on Earth. Set amongst awe inspiring scenery and home to King penguins, Wondering albatross and Elephant seals, it’s hard to imagine how early pioneers survived in this harsh landscape.

    Fly/Cruise voyage

    Our Fly/Cruise programs an excellent choice to navigate the Drake Passage quickly. This expedition comprises of 1 or 2 charter flights across the Drake Passage, so you need not worry about crossing the passage by sea. These expeditions are great options and often allow for an increased amount of time around the continent.

  • Inclusions


    On board you will be provided with expedition boots and a highquality wind and waterproof expedition jacket

    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.

    Charter Flight

    Your expedition on board the Greg Mortimer includes a charter flight to/from the ship.

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Entry and landing fees while on board
    - Port taxes and charges
    - Professionally produced voyage journal
    - Comprehensive pre-departure information
    - All shore excursions and lectures
    - All accommodation and meals on board

    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
    Screen shot 2017 07 05 at 3.42.25 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 #: 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
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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.


27 Dec 2017 - 13 Jan 2018
Triple public cabin, 3 x berths and shared facilities
USD$ 15,300pp
USD$ 15,300pp

Twin Public

27 Dec 2017 - 13 Jan 2018
Twin cabin with shared facilities
USD$ 18,500pp
USD$ 18,500pp

Twin Private

27 Dec 2017 - 13 Jan 2018
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window
USD$ 22,200pp
USD$ 22,200pp
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27 Dec 2017 - 13 Jan 2018
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities
USD$ 24,500pp
USD$ 24,500pp

Captain's Suite

27 Dec 2017 - 13 Jan 2018
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities
USD$ 25,800pp
USD$ 25,800pp