Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters

Searching for the Elusive Emperor Penguins

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters
Cruise route
Title: Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters
Dates:
Tripcode: OTL22-19
Duration: 10 nights
Ship: m/v Ortelius
Embarkation: Ushuaia
Disembarkation: Ushuaia
Language: English speaking voyage
Summary: Download cruise info in PDF
More about: Antarctica cruises
Antarctic Peninsula cruises
South Shetland Islands cruises
Weddell Sea cruises
 
Itinerary

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. Average cruising speed of m/v Ortelius is 10.5 knots. If ice conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice, you have the chance for ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (roughly 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin rookery). If successful, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But please remember that nature writes the final itinerary out here: Attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during the voyages of 2012 – 17 did not always succeed. In 2013 and November 2017 conditions were favorable to land by helicopter on Snow Hill Island and to visit the emperor penguin rookery.

Day 1: End of the world, start of a journey

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: Path of the polar explorers

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you 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 – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life 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 you might see.

Day 4 - 7: Entering Antarctica

You may sail into the Weddell Sea via the Antarctic Sound. Here huge tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. During this part of the cruise, the search is on for emperor penguins. Using both the vessel and helicopters, there’s a good chance you’ll find them. You might also enjoy scenic flights, and if conditions allow, helicopter landings in locations otherwise out of reach this time of year.   
 
Helicopter flights are a true trip changer, and may include: 
 
The west slopes of the Antarctic Sound – The western side of this area is only rarely seen from the air, though the landscape is truly worth the flight: Layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers, icebergs, and pack-ice extend as far as the eye can see. There are often individual emperor penguins and Adélie penguins on the ice floes, as well as kelp gulls, skuas, and various breeds of petrel. Jagged mountain peaks stab through the snow, and enormous walls of ice lie shattered on the slopes below.
 
Duse Bay – A soaring helicopter flight may deposit you on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking this bay. There’s still a lot of snow and ice this time of year, but much of the walk in this location is over frost-shattered rock covered with lichen of all shapes and colors. 
 
Seymour Island – This is where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 4 wintered under harrowing polar conditions. Sedimentary rock, fossils, and expansive views define this location. 
 
If conditions allow for deeper ventures into the Weddell Sea, Zodiac trips may include:
 
Devil Island – Home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, this island offers a magnificent vantage point for hikers willing to foot it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes forms a waterfall dropping from the cliffs close to Cape Well-met.
 
Brown Bluff – Maybe the most scenic location in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent:  sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice. A large Adélie penguin rookery lives here, with gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels also to be found. 
 
Gourdin Island – Chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie penguins love this island, which is yet another landing option for your continuing Antarctic adventure. 
 
Esperanza Base – This Argentine research station, which operates year-round and is one of only two civilian settlements in Antarctica, could serve as an alternative landing site.

Day 8: Drake via Deception Island

In the morning, you sail to Deception Island for the last landing of the voyage, either at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Day 9 - 10: Familiar seas, familiar friends

Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 11: There and back again

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Day 5 - 6: (Alternate program if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice – less than 50 % probability)

Helicopters provide an advantage in reaching the emperor penguin colony, but nature makes the rules in Antarctica. If conditions are favourable, you’ll spend the first two days at the penguin rookery. The helicopter operation takes a full day, and the flight duration is approximately 15 minutes. Each helicopter can accommodate 4 – 6 passengers per flight, and the landing site is carefully chosen so that the penguins are not disturbed. Upon arrival to the site, it is about a 45-minute walk to the rookery. Please keep in mind that you are in the world’s most remote area: There are no guarantees. Conditions may change rapidly, which can have a profound impact on our helicopter operations. It is important to understand and respect this. Safety is our greatest concern, and no compromises can be made.

m/v Ortelius

Fortified for both poles of the planet, the ice-strengthened Ortelius is thoroughly outfitted to provide you an up-close experience of the Arctic and Antarctic. Full ship info >>

Cabins & Prices

Quadruple Porthole

Windows Windows Info Info
  • 2 portholes
  • 2 upper / lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info Info Info
Sharing berth
11350 USD

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Complete cabin
45400 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Triple Porthole

Windows Windows Info Info
  • 2 portholes
  • 1 upper / lower berth + 1 single lower berth
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info Info
Sharing berth
12150 USD

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Info Info Info
Complete cabin
36450 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Twin Porthole, deck 4

Windows Windows Info Info
  • 2 portholes
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
12950 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
22015 USD

Price for the complete cabin occupied by 1 person (1.7x the shared rate).

Info Info
Complete cabin
25900 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Twin Porthole deck 3

Windows Windows Info Info
  • 2 portholes
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
12950 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
22015 USD

Price for the complete cabin occupied by 1 person (1.7x the shared rate).

Info Info
Complete cabin
25900 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Twin Window

Windows Windows Info Info
  • 2 windows
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
13550 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
23035 USD

Price for the complete cabin occupied by 1 person (1.7x the shared rate).

Info Info
Complete cabin
27100 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Twin Deluxe

Windows Windows Windows Info Info
  • 3 windows
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Small sofa
  • Refrigerator
  • Coffee & tea maker
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
14100 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
23970 USD

Price for the complete cabin occupied by 1 person (1.7x the shared rate).

Info Info
Complete cabin
28200 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.

Superior

Windows Windows Info
  • 2 windows (minimum)
  • 1 double bed
  • 1 single (sofa) bed
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Refrigerator
  • Coffee & tea maker
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info
Single cabin
25330 USD

Price for the complete cabin occupied by 1 person (1.7x the shared rate).

Info Info
Complete cabin
29800 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.