polar pioneer south georgia and antarctica cruise

In-Depth South Georgia & Antarctica

  • Overview

    Time and light, the photographer’s most treasured attributes, feature in abundance on this inaugural voyage. Enjoy long, glorious Antarctic days bathed in springtime; retrace Shackleton’s small boat voyage across the Scotia Sea and photograph in exquisite dawn light on the wildlife-packed beaches of South Georgia. Natural history experts and polar specialists share their knowledge, kayakers enjoy extended excursions, and everyone has time to contemplate our almost unbelievable surroundings. Awarded Australian Geographic's 'Spirit of Adventure' winner in 2009, Chris Bray continues to travel the world with his camera capturing photographs and video that have been published by the likes of National Geographic, both Australian and Canadian Geographic, TIME magazine and the Discovery Channel. Join Chris in 2017 as he presents his photography masterclass series (surcharge applies) to help you capture the very best of Antarctica and South Georgia.

    Duration: 18 days
    Passengers: 54 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Punta Arenas, Chile
    Disembarkation Point: Ushuaia, Argentina
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Mandatory extra flight
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Punta Arenas; Embarkation Day

      Today you'll board our aircraft for the short, scenic flight to Puerto Williams. On arrival you'll enjoy a town tour before boarding Polar Pioneer to begin our journey to Antarctica and South Georgia.

    • Day 2/3 - Drake Crossing

      Spend the next couple of days getting familiar with our ship, your home-away-from-home, and enjoying briefings from our expedition team and our naturalist and historian. For those part of the photography masterclass, your guide will prepare you with initial workshops.

    • Day 4/7 - Antarctica Peninsula

      We cruise from the South Shetland Islands and through spectacular Gerlache Strait, passing the western flank of the Antarctic Peninsula - where you'll step foot on the continent. While cruising among the icebergs we may attempt to enter Antarctic Sound and visit some of the magnificent penguin rookeries at the northern end of the Peninsula.

    • Day 8 - Elephant Island

      We will attempt to land on wild and spectacular Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s men wintered below an upturned rowboat.

      *Weather permitting

    • Day 9/10 - Scotia Sea

      We farewell Antarctica and begin our crossing to South Georgia. You'll have time to unwind and reflect on Antarctica and prepare for the next leg of our adventure.

    • Day 11/14 - South Georgia

      Four days exploring South Georgia, investigating the network of harbours along the northern side of this wonderful island. We combine the fascination of local history with wildlife havens by visiting the old whaling station at Grytviken. Nearby are enormous penguin rookeries in St Andrews Bay, Royal Bay, Gold Harbour and Salisbury Plain, to name just a few.

    • Day 15/17 - At Sea

      If time and weather permits, we may pass Shag Rocks - the six small islands in the westernmost extremity of South Georgia - before we continue our journey towards the Falkland Islands.

    • Day 18 - Falkland Islands

      Today enjoy a stop in Port Stanley, capital of the Falklands, before cruising west-bound towards Ushuaia.

    • Day 19 - At Sea

      Back on the Scotia Sea we make our last sea crossing. As Tierra del Fuego approaches, the air becomes warmer and we may smell the scent of green, grass-covered land.

    • Day 20 - Ushuaia; Disembarkation

      During the morning we travel up the Beagle Channel to dock in Ushuaia, then transfer to our hotel or onto homeward-bound flights.

      IMPORTANT: The voyage departing 01 Dec 18 travels in the reverse. However it still embarks in Punta Arenas, Chile and disembarks in Ushuaia, Argentina.

    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

    South Georgia Alpine Crossing

    South Georgia offers a spectacular yet extreme mountain environment, which must be approached with great caution. Although the crossing does not involve any actual technical climbing, there is a steep ground crossing from the Tridents down to the Crean Glacier, as well as potential risks with crevasses.

    For the more experienced hiker or climber our South Georgia Alpine Crossing offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the chance to delve deep into some of the world’s most rugged and remote terrain.

    USD$ 2,150 per person


    All of our expeditions and itineraries offer fantastic photography experiences, however on selected expeditions we offer specialised photography workshops with our expert photography guides.


    Ski Antarctica

    NEW to our Antarctica and South Georgia expeditions, Ski Touring offers keen adventurers a chance to take on some of the world’s most incredible slopes. Experienced skiers will have the chance to enjoy day-trips to traverse across remote, snow-capped peaks to descend into pristine bays filled with floating bergs, penguin rookeries or even a breaching whale! Those interested in a multi-day ski adventure can opt to attempt Shackleton’s route across South Georgia.

    USD$ 900 per person

    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.

    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.

    South Georgia; Wildlife Mecca

    Walk amidst tens of thousands of king penguins on a single beach. Hike in the footsteps of ‘the Boss’, Sir Ernest Shackleton and hear his tale of survival.

    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 3.42.43 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
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 USD$ 1,000 per passenger.
  • Pay your 25% deposit 5 day later.
  • Final payment due 120 days prior to departure.


01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Triple public cabin, 3 x berths and shared facilities
USD$ 14,600pp
USD$ 14,600pp

Twin Public

01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Twin cabin with shared facilities
USD$ 17,900pp
USD$ 17,900pp

Twin Private Economy

01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window
USD$ 20,600pp
USD$ 20,600pp

Twin Private

01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Twin cabin, with private facilities and window
USD$ 21,700pp
USD$ 21,700pp


01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities
USD$ 23,900pp
USD$ 23,900pp
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Captain's Suite

01 Dec 2018 - 18 Dec 2018
Suite cabin with double bed, separate sitting room and private facilities
USD$ 25,400pp
USD$ 25,400pp