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A young seal warms itself on the ice

Weddell Sea - Antarctic Discoverer - Base Camp Ortelius

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Ortelius
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Take part in this unique 12-day expedition cruise aboard the Ortelius where your ship becomes the base camp for Antarctic adventures. These endeavors, which go beyond normal Antarctica shore programs, are provided throughout the duration of your voyage and include mountaineering, hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, camping, and extended zodiac excursions. Depending on the ice conditions, this cruise takes you into the Weddell Sea to explore James Clark Ross Island and Devil Island, both rarely visited sites in the Antarctic. Also discover the volcanic islands of the South Shetlands where there is a wide variety of flora and fauna including penguins, seals and more. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Embark in Ushuaia
Days 2-3 : Across the Drake Passage
Days 4-8 : Antarctica | Weddell Sea
Day 9 : South Shetland Islands
Days 10-11 : At Sea
Day 12 : Ushuaia | Disembark


  • Discover rarely visited islands in the Weddell Sea
  • Kayak past giant icebergs and along icy coastlines
  • Observe a myriad of seabirds on Deception Island and in the Drake Crossing
  • Explore the geology, flora, and fauna of the South Shetland Islands



Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

A young seal warms itself on the ice Spot the Minke whale Stunning views from your zodiac cruise Penguins Sea kayaking in Antarctica

Day 1 Embark in Ushuaia

In the afternoon, embark in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. Sail through this scenic waterway of the Beagle Channel during the evening.

Day 2-3 Across the Drake Passage

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
During these two days, sail across the Drake Passage. When crossing the Antarctic Convergence, arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone, where you may meet many species of seabirds including the wandering albatross, grey-headed albatross, black-browed albatross, light-mantled sooty albatross, Cape pigeon, southern fulmar, Wilson's storm petrel, blue petrel and Antarctic petrel.

Day 4-8 Antarctica | Weddell Sea

  • Ship
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Sail directly into the Weddell Sea through the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs announce your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Hope to visit Paulet Island with a huge number of Adélie penguins and Brown Bluff where you may set foot on the Continent. On Dundee Island, reach the uninhabited Argentinean Petrel station with the large aircraft hangar and a myriad of Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals along the coast line. There are excellent chances for a long glacier hike and kayaking along the ice-filled shore line. Further into the Weddell Sea on the north-eastern most Antarctic Peninsula there are a wide range of options depending on the ice conditions. James Clark Ross Island offers a number of rarely visited places that can be explored by kayakers, hikers, and mountaineers alike. Camping sites are decided based on prevailing ice and weather conditions. Devil Island has a large Adélie penguin rookery and some stunning views of Erebus and Terror Gulf, while Snow Hill Island offers spectacular sedimentary rocks and tell tales of incredible Antarctic exploration in the early 20th century. The Weddell Sea is prone to difficult ice conditions and it demands an open and adventurous mind to embark on this journey into the wild Weddell Sea.

*Alternate itinerary in case of adverse ice conditions in Weddell Sea
If the ship is prevented from penetrating into the northeastern-most Weddell Sea due to adverse sea ice conditions, aim at exploring the Antarctic Sound on day 4 and from there venture further southwest into the spectacular west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Departure into the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia in this case will not include South Shetlands but be via the Melchior Islands between Brabant Islands and Anvers Island on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Day 9 South Shetland Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins and southern giant petrels. In Deception Island your ship braves into the entrance of the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater which opens into the sea creating a natural harbor for the ship. Here, find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape petrels and many kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively, land at Hannah Point on Livingston Island. The area is closed off to visitors for part of the season as it is a high density wildlife area with species such as chinstrap penguins, gentoo penguins, and southern elephant seals. Around noon depart for the Drake Passage.

Day 10-11 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
On your way north, be again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.

Day 12 Ushuaia | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Arrive in the morning and disembark in Ushuaia.


Per person starting at
Twin porthole cabin
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Quadruple Porthole
4 quadruple cabins with bunk beds and private facilities (these can also be used as triple or twin cabins). Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin
Triple Porthole Cabin
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Triple Porthole
2 triple cabins with bunk beds and private facilities. These cabins are spacious with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin.
Twin Porthole on the Ortelius
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Twin Porthole
23 twin cabins with portholes, private toilet and shower and 2 single lower berths. Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin.
Twin Window on the Ortelius
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Twin Window
10 twin cabins with windows, private toilet and shower and 2 single lower berths. Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin
Twin Deluxe on the Ortelius
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Twin Deluxe
6 superior cabins with double beds, private toilet and shower and a separate day room. Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin
Superior Suite on the Ortelius
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1 suite with a double bed, private toilet and shower and a separate day room. Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin.


- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double occupancy.
- Cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.7 times the double occupancy rate.
- Due to the extreme nature of itinerary destinations, travel insurance is mandatory for all cruises aboard the Ortelius - including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance.

A Basecamp itinerary to the Antarctic Peninsula is illustrated above. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites, and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. 

Fares include:
- Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
- Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes aboard the Ortelius
- Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia
- Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation)
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
- Comprehensive pre-departure material

Not included:
- Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights
- Pre- and post land arrangements
- Passport and visa expenses
- Government arrival and departure taxes
- Meals ashore
- Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory)
- Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided)

Please Note:
It is agreed that if world fuel prices will reach or exceed $120 USD per Barrel Brent 90 days prior to departure the Ortelius reserves the right to levy a fuel surcharge of $25 USD per passenger per night.


  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Jenna F

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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