This 16-day Antarctica expedition cruise roundtrip Ushuaia aboard MV Ortelius follows Adrien de Gerlache's Belgian Antarctic Expedition aboard the Belgica, exploring the rarely visited Bellingshausen Sea, Marguerite Bay, and Alexander Island beyond the Antarctic Circle. You'll observe exotic wildlife, including whales, orcas, and various seal and penguin species while witnessing the rare aurora australis, which will be more active around the 2025 equinoxes. To maximize your chances, you'll travel below the Antarctic Circle during periods of little moonlight, and you'll also observe Southern Hemisphere stars and celestial objects.
Explore the Bellingshausen Sea, Marguerite Bay, and Alexander Island
Observe wildlife, including whales, orcas, and seal and penguin species
Witness the rare Aurora Australis, more active around the 2025 equinoxes
Travel below the Antarctic Circle during periods of little moonlight
Follow the footsteps of Adrien de Gerlache's Belgian Antarctic Expedition
The 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.
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale spouting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does marine life change, but avian life also changes too. Wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels are a few of the birds to see.
Arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula near the Antarctic Circle in the afternoon. If sea ice allows it, you can then continue through Pendleton Strait and attempt a landing at the rarely visited southern tip of Renaud Island. Here you have the opportunity to see the first Adélie penguins of the trip as well as enjoy spectacular views of the icebergs in this surreal, snow-swept environment.
In the afternoon we sail to the Fish Islands and encounter one of the southernmost Adélie penguin and blue-eyed shag colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula.
Spending the night in the area of Crystal Sound the scenery will leave you staying up until the small hours, there is a chance to see Orca, Humpback and Minke Whale in this area.
Detaille Island – Make a landing at an abandoned British research station here, taking in the island’s lofty position and imposing glaciers scenery.
Sail through The Gullet, one of the most impressive narrow channels in the Antarctic, with towering mountains on either side, birds following the ship, and playful penguins and seals frolicking in the water as we sail through this very special part of the journey. If ice conditions allow we will also carry out a landing or cruise in the afternoon.
Discovered and charted by the famous explorer Charcot, Pourquoi Pas offers a pleasant landing on a rocky beach against the backdrop of the mighty Moider Glacier. A gentle walk from the landing site provides an impressive view, while Antarctic furs and seals relaxing behind the beach are a nice addition to the wildlife we’ve encountered on this voyage.
After lunch, head toward Horseshoe Island, named for its distinctive shape. An abandoned research station provides an insight into the early days of scientific research, and original artifacts show how different life was in those pioneering days. The hut is set among some of the most beautiful scenery in Antarctica, with views over the mountains and snow of Pourquoi Pas Island as well as Horseshoe Island’s mountain range. This is a photographic landing in many senses. Two old wooden boats even remain at the landing site as if waiting for their final launch.
Provided ice and weather conditions allow, head toward Antarctica’s ice shelves (the George IV and Wilkins). Here we hope to show you the scale of these vast cliffs and expanses of ice that will dwarf us and our ship. A range of Antarctic wildlife like humpback whales, fur seals, Adélie penguins, and maybe even one or more Ross’ seals may appear.
Jenny Island will give another aspect to your Antarctic experience, offering raised beaches, hanging glaciers, and moss carpets. The island is also popular with wildlife: Terns, skuas, elephant seals, leopard seals, and Adélie penguins are all regular visitors.
A landing at Leonie Island will take your breath away. There is also the possibility to take a hike to the peak of the island, giving you a dramatic panorama of Marguerite Bay and Adelaide Island.
Lagoon island is the most northern island of the Leonie Islands group, also discovered and charted by Jean-Baptiste Charcot. This low laying island will provide a stark contrast to the previous days with its gently sloped beaches and flat areas to explore. The wildlife here will varies depending on snow cover. If there is little snow the ground is almost desert-like in appearance.
The Mikkelsen Islands offer a spectacular Zodiac cruise where we hope to encounter up to five Antarctic seal species. We may also see some beautiful birdlife, such as giant petrels and Adélie penguins.
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.
- 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.
For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.
15 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 15 Dinners
15 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)
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
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.
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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!