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Penguins at the Weddell Sea

Remote Weddell Sea Explorer

Roundtrip Ushuaia - Example 28 Day Cruise aboard Ortelius
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Explore the Weddell Sea on this 28-Day Remote Expedition Roundtrip Ushuaia aboard the MV Ortelius. Start your trip in Ushuaia en route to South Georgia, where you will follow in the footsteps of legendary polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and his ship, Endurance. This island is home to an abundance of wildlife, including king penguins and albatross. Explore the Weddell Sea, where massive tabular icebergs are formed by the continent's floating ice sheets. The Weddell Sea is known for having the clearest water of any sea on Earth. You have the opportunity to take part in zodiac cruises and potentially make ice landings, allowing you to experience the stunning landscapes and unique photo opportunities that this region is famous for. Your trip will come full circle as you return via Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his crew were stranded for months. This island is home to a variety of wildlife, including chinstrap penguins and fur seals, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of polar exploration.
Seabirds at the Weddell SeaPenguins at the Weddell SeaSeals resting on grass at the Weddell SeaSeabirds on a grasslands at the Weddell SeaA seal in the grass at the Weddell SeaPenguins at the Weddell Sea
Highlights
  • Explore the Weddell Sea and the formation of massive tabular icebergs
  • Discover the abundance of wildlife on South Georgia Island
  • Follow the footsteps of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton on Elephant Island
  • Observe the wildlife on Elephant Island, chinstrap penguins and fur seals
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ushuaia | Embark

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Day 2-3: Antarctic Convergence | South Georgia 

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Enroute to South Georgia, you now cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.

Day 4-6: South Georgia Journey

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Explore the South Georgia Maritime Zone, one of the largest protected waters in the world, we sail past the Shag Rocks. These impressive rocks lay 240km (150 miles) west of South Georgia and are home to several thousand South Georgia shags. The area around the rocks is known for its abundance of larger marine mammals, which feed on this comparatively shallow area of the South Georgia Ridge.

After reaching South Georgia, have the chance to visit some of the following sites:

Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7). From January on, the breeding adults have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Enjoy witnessing the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any birds in the world.

Fortuna Bay – A beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. Here you may also have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Explore the South Georgia Maritime Zone, one of the largest protected waters in the world, we sail past the Shag Rocks. These impressive rocks lay 240km (150 miles) west of South Georgia and are home to several thousand South Georgia shags. The area around the rocks is known for its abundance of larger marine mammals, which feed on this comparatively shallow area of the South Georgia Ridge.

After reaching South Georgia, have the chance to visit some of the following sites:

Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7). From January on, the breeding adults have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Enjoy witnessing the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any bird in the world.

Fortuna Bay – A beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. Here you may also have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.

Day 7-8: Sea Days

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Like Shackleton in December 1914 on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition, leave South Georgia and aim for the South Sandwich Islands and the Weddell Sea. There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds trailing the vessel south.

Day 9: South Sandwich Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Go on a Zodiac cruise among the amazing scenery of this active volcanic area. Passing between Thule and Cook Islands will be one of the trip’s many highlights and will make an everlasting impression. There is a good chance you’ll encounter humpbacks and minke whales in this area. On and around the islands, you also have the chance to spot brown skuas, a chinstrap or Adélie penguins, and several species of albatross: grey-headed, black-browed, and wandering.

Day 10-12: Southward bound

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Sail toward the Antarctic continent in the direction of Queen Maud Land and Neuschwabenland (New Swabia) on the northeast side of the Weddell Sea.

Day 13-14: Neuschwabenland | New Swabia

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Your first destination in Antarctica is New Swabia, between 20°E and 10°W in Queen Maud Land. This area was explored by Germany during the third German Antarctic Expedition of 1938 – 1939, led by Alfred Ritscher. The purpose was to find an area in Antarctica for a German whaling station and scout a possible location for a naval base. In an attempt to claim the region, Nazi flags were placed on the sea ice along the coastal locations. Survey flights also airdropped aluminum arrows with swastikas.

Day 15-23: Deep inside the Weddell Sea - Filchner, Ronne and Larsen Ice shelves

  • Ship
  • 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners
Sail deep into the Weddell Sea, to spot crabeater, leopard, or Weddell seals. and emperor penguins. Humpback, orca, and minke whales are also present in this area, along with various birdlife.

Ice conditions in the Weddell Sea vary seasonally. We will encounter a vast nautical wilderness of sea, and while heading to high latitudes (far south) will enjoy the raw beauty and power that makes Antarctica so special. It will become apparent why it took so long to discover the Great White Continent and how tough it must have been for Shackleton’s expedition.

Circle the Brunt Ice Shelf and along the Luitpold Coast, discovered and named during the second German Antarctic expedition (1911 – 1912) of Wilhelm Filchner. If conditions allow,  Zodiac cruises can be arranged, and possibly an ice floe landing.

Head west toward the Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf before changing course north, following the coast along the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula and Larsen Ice Shelf. This brings you close to the spot where Shackleton’s vessel Endurance was trapped in pack ice during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-17), drifting toward the Antarctic Peninsula before ultimately sinking. In an exciting conclusion to this story, the wreck was discovered on March 5, 2022, the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s burial, after 107 years below the Weddell Sea waves. While you can’t get close to the discovery site due to packed ice, you will be in the area where the ship was trapped and abandoned. There are colonies of 6,500 emperor penguins nearby, so you hope to see one or more in this area.

In the Antarctic Peninsula, enter the area of Erebus and Terror Gulf. Far-wandering emperor penguins often perch on Snow Hill Island’s numerous ice floes, possibly offering you another opportunity to spot these emblematic creatures. If conditions allow, you may attempt a landing on James Ross Island.

Day 24: Brown Bluff and Kinnes Cove

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Land at one of the most scenic locations in the northern Antarctic Continent, with a large Adélie penguin rookery, gentoo penguins, and nesting snow petrels also to be found. Sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, and beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice make Brown Bluff a truly unforgettable location. Across the Antarctic Sound is Kinnes Cove,see the nearby Madder Cliffs with their subtle red coloration as well as possible gentoo penguins.

Day 25: Legendary Elephant Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This is the starting point from which Shackleton left to find help for his stranded crew. Using only a small lifeboat, the James Caird, he and five of his men sailed to South Georgia, then walked 36 hours to Stromness. It’s hard not to marvel at how they accomplished that herculean feat.

Twenty-two members of his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition, were stranded on Elephant Island after their vessel Endurance sank in the Weddell Sea. It took four and a half months to complete the legendary rescue.

Conditions on Elephant Island are severe. The coastline is mostly made up of vertical rock and ice cliffs highly exposed to the elements. If possible,  take the Zodiacs to Point Wild, where the marooned members of Shackleton’s expedition miraculously managed to survive.

Day 26-27: Familiar seas, familiar friends

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
This cruise is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake,  a vast array of seabirds greets the traveler. 

Day 28: There and back again | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Ship/Hotel

Ortelius

M/V Ortelius Reception Area
M/V Ortelius at Torellneset, Spitsbergen
The bar and observation lounge aboard the Ortelius.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$24,700
M/V Ortelius Quadruple Porthole
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Quadruple Porthole
4 quadruple cabins with 2 portholes, 2 upper / lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, Ample storage space.
M/V Ortelius Triple Porthole
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Triple 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
Twin Porthole on the Ortelius
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Twin Porthole
23 twin cabins with 2 portholes, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
Twin Window on the Ortelius
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Twin Window
10 twin cabins with 2 windows, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
M/v Ortelius Twin Deluxe
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Twin Deluxe
6 superior cabins with 3 windows, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Small sofa, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
M/V Ortelius Superior Cabin
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Superior
1 suite with 2 windows (minimum), 1 double bed, 1 single (sofa) bed, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, ample storage space.

Notes

- 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.
- Children between the ages of 3-15 will be discounted 40% in triple or quad cabins, one child per cabin.
- 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.
Included
  • 27 Breakfasts, 26 Lunches, 27 Dinners
  • 27 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All Miscellaneous Service Taxes and Port Charges Throughout the Program
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  •  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)
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Pre- and Post Land Arrangements
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • Meals ashore
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • Medical travel insurance, including emergency medical attention and evacuation coverage with a minimum of $100,000 of evacuation coverage is required.
  • Parkas are not provided on your cruise. Please bring your own windproof, waterproof, insulated parka with you. You will want to make sure it is roomy enough to fit warm layers underneath. Click here for information about parka rental.

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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