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Penguins and passengers

Ross Sea Antarctic Odyssey

Example 33 Day Cruise aboard Ortelius
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This is your ultimate chance to sail to the southern parts of the Antarctic peninsula, Peter I Island, the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas into the Ross Sea, visiting Shackleton’s and Scott’s huts, Mc Murdo Station, the Dry Valleys and Campbell Island Island. This 32-day voyage offers opportunities to explore Antarctica by air with transfers to and from the ship in helicopters. Aboard the ice-class vessel, Ortelius, be prepared for true emotion and unforgettable memories on this Antarctic cruise.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark
Days 2-4 : At Sea
Day 5 : Antarctic Peninsula
Day 6 : Polar Circle | Fish Islands
Days 7-8 : Bellingshausen Sea
Day 9 : Peter I Island
Days 10-15 : Amundsen Sea
Day 16 : Ross Ice Shelf
Day 17 : At Sea
Days 18-22 : Ross Sea
Days 23-24 : West Coast of Ross Sea
Day 25 : Cape Adare
Days 26-30 : At Sea
Day 31 : Campbell Island
Day 32 : At Sea
Day 33 : Disembark | Bluff, New Zealand


  • Sail along the floating mass of land-ice known as the Ross Ice Shelf
  • Visit the United States' research center, McMurdo Station
  • See the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world at Cape Adare
  • Follow the routes of Scott, Ross, Amundsen and Shackleton



Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Penguins and passengers Zodiac divers getting ready Surfacing Humpback Whales An old iceberg Albatross in the arctic.

Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina | Embark

In the afternoon, embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Day 2-4 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Cross the Drake Passage.

Day 5 Antarctic Peninsula

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in the Antarctic Peninsula and sail in the early morning through the spectacular Lemaire Channel and land on Pléneau Island, where fur seals may haul-out on the beaches. Gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and south polar skuas are confirmed breeders. Pléneau Island was first charted by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05 of Jean-Baptiste Charcot and was named after his expedition’s photographer Paul Pléneau. Also visit Petermann Island with colonies of Adélie and gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. Petermann Island was named after the German geographer August Petermann, who was a member of a German Expedition in 1873-74.

Day 6 Polar Circle | Fish Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sailing south through the Penola Strait, cross the Polar Circle and arrive at the Fish Islands. The small islands lying east of Flouder Island are called the Minnows, first charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (1934-37) of John Rymill. Observe Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags among myriads of large icebergs. Perhaps set foot on the Continent for the first time in the stunning setting of Prospect Point.

Day 7-8 Bellingshausen Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Cross Bellingshausen Sea, where you may see your first pack-ice.

Day 9 Peter I Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Peter I Island (or in Norwegian Peter I Øy) is an uninhabited volcanic island (19 kilometers long) in the Bellingshausen Sea. It was discovered by Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1821 and was named after the Russian Tsar Peter I. It is claimed by Norway and considered a territory on its own. It is very rarely visited by passenger vessels due to the exposed nature of the place. If the weather conditions allow, attempt a helicopter landing on the glaciated northern part of the island.

Day 10-15 Amundsen Sea

  • Ship
  • 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
These days sail through the Amundsen Sea along and through the outer fringes of the pack-ice, while your ship takes advantage of the west-going Antarctic coastal current. The sailing along and through the ice is very lively, with sightings of single straggling emperor penguins, groups of seals on ice-floes, and also orcas and minke whales along the ice-edge, often accompanied by different species of fulmarine petrels.

Day 16 Ross Ice Shelf

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Approach the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating mass of land-ice, with a front of 30 meters high. In the Bay of Whales at the eastern side of the shelf, close to Roosevelt Island (named by the American aviator Richard E. Byrd in 1934 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt), Roald Amundsen gained access to the shelf and ventured to the South Pole, where he finally arrived on 14 December 1911. Also the Japanese explorer Nobu Shirase had his camp in this area at Kainan Bay in 1912. Attempt a helicopter landing on the Ross Ice Shelf if conditions allow for it.

Day 17 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sail along the Ross Ice Shelf to the west.

Day 18-22 Ross Sea

  • Ship
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
In the Ross Sea your captain intends to visit Ross Island, guarded by Mount Erebus, Mount Terror, and Mount Byrd with all the famous spots which played such an important role in the dramatic British expeditions of the last century, such as Cape Royds with the cabin of Ernest Shackleton. The goal is to visit Cape Evans with the cabin of Robert Falcon Scott; from Hut Point Scott and his men set out for the South Pole. Further attempts will be made to visit the US-station McMurdo and Scott Base (New Zealand). If ice and weather conditions are favorable, the helicopters will be used to offer landings.

From McMurdo Station a substantial 10 km hike to Castle Rock may be offered, with great views across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole. Land by helicopter in Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys. The conditions here are the closest you get to the conditions on Mars anywhere on Planet Earth!

Day 23-24 West Coast of Ross Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Sailing northward along the west coast of the Ross Sea, pass by the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the Italian Mario Zucchelli Station in Terra Nova Bay. Should the ice prevent the ship from entering Terra Nova Bay, you may progress further north to find the specially protected area of Cape Hallet with a large Adélie penguin rookery.

Day 25 Cape Adare

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cape Adare is the place where people for the very first time wintered on the Antarctic Continent. The hut where the Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed in 1899 is surrounded by the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world.

Day 26-30 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Work your way through the sea-ice at the entrance of the Ross Sea and start the journey north through the Southern Ocean. Depending on weather conditions, you may opt to set a course sailing by Scott Island.

Day 31 Campbell Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Campbell Island is a sub-Antarctic New Zealand Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a luxuriant and blooming vegetation. The fauna on Campbell Island is fantastic with a large and easily accessible colony of southern royal albatrosses on the main island and breeding wandering, Campbell, greyheaded, black-browed, and light-mantled albatrosses on the satellite islands. Three penguin species breed here - eastern rockhopper, erect-crested, and yellow-eyed penguins. In the 18th century seals were hunted to extinction, but elephant seals, fur seals, and sea lions have recovered.

Day 32 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During this sea day make your way to Bluff, New Zealand.

Day 33 Disembark | Bluff, New Zealand

  • 1 Breakfast
Arrive in Bluff near Invercargill (New Zealand) where passengers depart for their homebound journey.



Save 5%
Polar Savings - Book before September 1, 2019 and save 5% per person. Contact us for details.
Applies to all upcoming departures.

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 lower birth twin 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.
- 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.

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)

Helicopter Transfers:
These departures will transfer passengers ashore by zodiac. But, the two helicopters onboard will be operated in certain areas where zodiacs can not be used. Potential candidates for helicopter transfers are Cape Evans (hut of Scott), Cape Royds (hut of Shackleton), Ross Ice Shelf at Bay of Whales, Peter I Island, and the Dry Valleys. In theory the goal is five helicopter based landings, but a specific amount of helicopter time can not be predicted. No guarantees can be given and in no event will claims be accepted.

Please note: It is agreed that if world fuel prices will reach or exceed US $120 per Barrel Brent 90 days prior to departure the Ortelius reserves the right to levy a fuel surcharge of US $400 per passenger.
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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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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