Ross Sea Odyssey | Douglas Mawson | IExpedition

Ross Sea Odyssey

  • Overview

    Experience one of the most remote, historic sectors of the deep South in comfort on this exploratory expedition aboard the luxurious Douglas Mawson. Your journey begins in the subantarctic, where yellow-eyed penguins waddle through wizened rātā forests and royal albatross nest amid megaherb moors. Cross the Antarctic Circle and cruise the pack, keeping watch for emperor and Adélie penguins porpoising along the ice edge, orcas patrolling for prey, and snow petrels soaring against a backdrop of the vast Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

    Embrace the spirit of adventure as you continue along the Victoria Land Coast and into the Ross Sea, where the Antarctic Ice Sheet flows into the world’s largest floating ice shelf. These are historic waters, where the explorers of the Heroic Age staged their bold assaults on the South Geographic Pole. Hear the stories of their expeditions and attempt to land at some of their remarkably well-preserved huts.

    Expedition Highlights

    • Skirt rowdy beaches crowded with harems of New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lions to reach rātā forests where rare yellow-eyed penguins can be found. 

    • Revel in the richness of the unique Ross Sea ecosystem, part of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area and a Sylvia Earle Mission Blue “Hope Spot”. 

    • Navigate through gleaming pack ice alive with Weddell and leopard seals, Adélie and emperor penguins and whales feeding in fathomless leads. 

    • Reflect on the remarkable achievements of the Heroic Age explorers as we attempt to visit some of their beautifully preserved historic huts (conditions permitting). 

    Duration: 25 days
    Passengers: 154 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Dunedin, New Zealand
    Disembarkation Point: Dunedin, New Zealand
    Physical rating: Expedition
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Arrive Dunedin

      Arrive in Dunedin, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred with your fellow expeditioners to your assigned pre-voyage hotel. If you are already in Dunedin, we ask you to make your way to your hotel. This afternoon, visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk in the lobby to collect your luggage tags. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number. Our team will confirm details regarding your embarkation day, answer any questions and provide you with information on where to dine or purchase last minute items.

      That evening, enjoy light refreshments as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Embarkation Briefing. Afterwards, enjoy your evening in New Zealand’s southernmost city. You may like to indulge in a meal at one of Dunedin’s fine restaurants, or perhaps enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Otago harbour.

      Assigned accommodation: To be advised

    • Day 2 - Embarkation

      This morning, enjoy breakfast and check-out. Please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. By 11.00 am, take your cabin luggage to hotel reception, prior to, or at check-out. Your luggage will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance, to be placed in your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.

      Your morning is at leisure to explore Dunedin.

      Settle into your cabin, where each detail was designed with your comfort in mind. This luxurious vessel is yours to explore! As we throw the lines and set sail, join your expedition team on deck before tucking into a delicious dinner, and toast to the voyage ahead.

    • Day 3 - At Sea

      On an expedition such as this, the journey is as significant as the destination. Sea days are a wonderful opportunity to relax, meet your fellow travellers and learn about the history, environment and local wildlife in this fascinating corner of the globe.

      As you acclimatise to life on board, your expedition team is available to answer any questions you may have and offer pro-tips on photography and birdwatching. With decades of collective experience in the region, they love to share their expertise and enthusiasm with fellow travellers. Join them in the lecture room for entertaining talks and presentations to enrich your understanding of the wildlife, landscapes and historic sites we hope to encounter.

      You may like to pamper yourself with a sauna, a visit to the Wellness Centre, or work out at the onboard gym. While away the hours spotting seabirds on deck, curl up with a book in our well-equipped polar library, or chat with your fellow expeditioners at the bar.

    • Day 4/6 - New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands

      First visited by Māori navigators centuries ago, these islands are of great significance to Ngāi Tahu, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand’s South Island. Their natural beauty and astonishing biodiversity have now been recognised globally, but few have had the privilege to visit these far-flung shores, which are now yours to explore.

    • Day 7/10 - At Sea

      As Campbell Island slips over the horizon, keep watch for Campbell, Salvins and white-capped albatross, which may follow the ship to bid us farewell as we continue south.

      Close observers may notice a subtle change in the character of the sea as we cross the Antarctic Convergence. Beyond this belt where the waters of the north and south mix, the sea surface temperature drops by about 4°C (39°F), signalling our entry into the Antarctic. This transition zone is known for its nutrient-rich waters, so keep watch for porpoising penguins, flocks of fluttering Antarctic petrels, or perhaps the more solitary snow petrel. You’re not far from the Antarctic Circle, so your first iceberg can’t be far away!

      Sea days are a great opportunity for some R & R as you digest your subantarctic experiences and prepare for the next phase of your voyage. Relax and unwind your way, perhaps meeting newfound friends at the bar, treating yourself to a sauna, or editing some images in the comfort of your cabin. And join your expedition team in the lecture room for presentations on the charismatic wildlife and extraordinary adventures that took place along the epic Antarctic coastline you are about to experience.

    • Day 11/17 - Victoria Land Coast and the Ross Sea

      It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in this storied, ice-bound sector of Antarctica. Stepping outside and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience to cherish forever.

      The Ross Sea region is a globally significant wildlife sanctuary. Its nutrient-rich waters support an astonishing array of uniquely adapted Antarctic species, including Ross Sea orcas, Antarctic petrels and South Pacific Weddell seals. It is also home to Antarctica’s largest Adélie penguin colony, and many of the largest emperor penguin colonies. The unique biodiversity of the Ross Sea has been protected within the world’s largest marine protected area since 2016.

      The human heritage of the Ross Sea coast is equally impressive. Since James Clark Ross discovered the region in 1841, countless expeditions have built base camps on scattered ice-free slivers of land, using them as staging posts for bold forays across the polar plateau. Many of them departed in a hurry, leaving artefacts, scientific equipment and sometimes entire huts behind. Today these sites are preserved as open-air museums and protected under the Antarctic Treaty System.

      Embrace the spirit of exploration as your expedition team designs your voyage from day to day, bringing decades of experience to selecting the ideal sites based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.

    • Day 18/20 - At Sea

      We leave the grandeur of the ice to the seals and penguins and head northwards, but our voyage is far from over. In the days ahead there is plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. You won’t want to miss presentations from your onboard specialists about the wonderful wildlife and rich human history of Macquarie Island.

      These days at sea also offer time and space to reflect on the emotions and special moments you’ve lived over the past few weeks. You may like to take a moment of quiet contemplation or reminisce with your fellow travellers over a cuppa (or other beverage of choice!)

      As you approach Macquarie Island keep watch for graceful grey-headed, black-browed and light-mantled albatross, which may venture from their nests to welcome their human visitors.

    • Day 21/22 - Macquarie Island

      “Penguins were in thousands on the uprising cliffs, and from rookeries near and far came an incessant din . . . seabirds of many varieties gave warning of our near approach to their nests” Douglas Mawson, 1911.

      As they sailed towards Antarctica, Mawson and his men encountered ‘an exquisite scene’. Macquarie Island (known affectionately as Macca) rises steeply from the Southern Ocean in a series of emerald summits: a beautifully fierce, elemental landscape teeming with life.

      Keep your binoculars handy because this subantarctic refuge is home to 3.5 million breeding seabirds, including no less than four species of penguin! Alongside boisterous colonies of tuxedoed kings, charming gentoos, robust rockhoppers and endemic royal penguins, you’ll find three types of fur seals and a large proportion of the world’s elephant seals. Layer up and head out on deck to experience the sound, sight (and smell!) as you approach one of the largest concentrations of life in the Southern Ocean.

      Remember to keep an eye out for Macca’s kelp forests—these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerising as their fronds sway back and forth on the water’s surface.

      In addition to being a globally recognised and protected wildlife refuge, Macquarie Island played an important role in Antarctic history. It was here, in 1911, that five men disembarked Mawson’s Aurora and established a radio relay station which would transmit the first communication from Antarctica to the outside world.

    • Day 23/24 - At Sea

      As your journey draws to a close, take some time to reflect on the experiences of the past two weeks. You may like to review your photos, jot some notes in your journal or simply relax and soak up the ambiance on board as you farewell your travel mates . . . until next time!

      We hope you become ambassadors for the great Southern Ocean, advocating for its conservation and preservation, and share your experiences with your loved ones, so they might visit and become ambassadors themselves.

    • Day 25 - Disembark Dunedin

      After breakfast, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.

      Note: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.

    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

    Sea Kayaking

    Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica, the Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you. In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg. Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit.

    USD$ 1,330 per person
  • Inclusions
    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Dunedin on Day 1.
    - Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
    - Comprehensive pre-departure information.
    - Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage.
    - One 3-in-1 waterproof, polar expedition jacket.
    - Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
    - Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team.
    - All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
    - Captain’s Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
    - Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
    - All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
    - Onboard accommodation during voyage, including daily cabin service.
    - All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary

    Not included in your Expedition

    - All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges.
    - Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges.
    - Hotel accommodation and meals – unless specified in the itinerary.
    - Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges.
    - Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges.
    - Airport arrival or departure taxes.
    - Transfers – unless specified in the itinerary.
    - International or domestic flights – unless specified in the itinerary
  • Map
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  • Gallery
  • Vessel

    Named after the legendary Australian geologist and explorer, the new small ship embodies Mawson’s pioneering spirit and is designed for global discovery. Featuring the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW® and purpose-built with enhanced sustainability features, it takes on average 154 adventurers to the world’s wildest places in smooth, quiet comfort. It boasts the most extensive range of cabins yet, including a range of single cabins.

    Features & Facilities
    • Highly qualified and experienced expedition team and international crew.
    • The Douglas Mawson is at the cutting edge of nautical technology: robust and powerful - the ultimate base camp for off-ship adventures.
    • The latest Ulstein X-BOW® hull allows the ship to pierce through waves to maintain speed of travel thus offering faster, more comfortable travel, lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
    • All cabins feature twin or king bedding, with single cabins featuring single bed configuration and private bathrooms. 79% of cabins include a private balcony. Over 58 interconnecting Balcony Staterooms. Two cabins can accommodate a third person (triple and single share on request).
    • Observation lounge and viewing platforms offer spectacular panoramic views of scenery and wildlife.
    • Purpose-built activity preparation areas including two Zodiac embarkation areas for fast and safe transition off the ship as you embark on multiple daily excursions.
    • State-of-the-art lecture theatre, Citizen Science Centre and library. In between landings, enjoy our jacuzzis and pool or experience our gym & sauna.
    • With huge windows and superb views to the front of the ship, the library or the atrium lounge is the perfect place to sit with a drink and watch for wildlife or admire impressive scenery.
    • Starlink Wi-Fi - Free
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating:
    Guests #: 154
    Crew #: 23
    Ice Class: A1 Ice Class
    Speed: 12
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 2025
    Length: 104m
    Width: 18
    Draft: 5
    Tonnage: 8500
    Registry: Madeira, Portugal
    Elec Outlets:
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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.
aurora stateroom triple douglas mawson

Aurora Stateroom Triple

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Porthole window • Closet space • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 31,495pp
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aurora stateroom twin douglas mawson

Aurora Stateroom Twin

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Porthole window • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 32,395pp
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aurora stateroom superior douglas mawson

Aurora Stateroom Superior

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • French balcony • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 34,195pp
USD$ 29,066pp
balcony stateroom category c douglas mawson

Balcony Stateroom Category C

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 35,195pp
USD$ 29,916pp
balcony stateroom category b douglas mawson

Balcony Stateroom Category B

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 36,995pp
USD$ 31,446pp
aurora stateroom single douglas mawson

Aurora Stateroom Single

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Porthole window • Closet space • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 37,895pp
USD$ 32,211pp
balcony stateroom category a douglas mawson

Balcony Stateroom Category A

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 39,795pp
USD$ 33,826pp
aurora stateroom superior single douglas mawson

Aurora Stateroom Superior Single

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Porthole window • Closet space • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 41,595pp
USD$ 35,356pp
balcony stateroom superior douglas mawson

Balcony Stateroom Superior

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite (wheelchair accessible) • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 43,495pp
USD$ 36,971pp
junior suite douglas mawson

Junior Suite

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Separate lounge area • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 54,595pp
USD$ 46,406pp
captain’s suite douglas mawson

Captain’s Suite

16 Jan 2026 - 09 Feb 2026
• Private en-suite • Full size window • Private balcony • Closet space • Separate lounge area • Desk area • Room-controlled thermostat • Room safe • 42" flat-screen TV • Mini bar
USD$ 64,695pp
USD$ 54,991pp