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: OTL23-18
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. (Even so, remember that nature writes the final itinerary out here: Attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during the voyages of 2012 – 16 did not always succeed. Only in 2013 did conditions allow for ice landings by helicopter and a completed visit to the 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, 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 scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.

Day 2 - 3: Path of the Polar Explorers

Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale blasting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars . Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.

Day 4 - 7: Enter the Antarctic

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: 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 and 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 the bay. There is still a lot of snow and ice, but much of the walk on the Antarctic is over frost-shattered rock covered with lichen of all shapes and colors. Seymour Island – Here’s where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 4 wintered under harrowing circumstances. Sedimentary rock, fossils, and great 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 view 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 like this place, yet another option for your continuing Antarctic adventure. Esperanza Base – This Argentine research station may be another landing site.

Day 8: Last Landing

In the morning, you sail to Deception Island for the last landing of the voyage – 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 a great advantage in reaching the emperor penguin colony, but nature rules the itinerary. If conditions are favorable, you spend the first two days at the penguin rookery. The helicopter operation takes a full day, and the flight duration approximately 15 minutes. Each helicopter can accommodate 4 – 6 passengers per flight. The landing site is carefully chosen, making sure the emperor penguins are not disturbed. Upon arrival, you can continue on foot. After a walk of about 45 minutes, you encounter the emperor penguins, one of the Antarctic’s prime wildlife attractions. 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 helicopter operations. Please understand and respect this. Safety is the 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info Info Info
Sharing berth
11400 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info Info Info Info
Complete cabin
45600 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info Info
Sharing berth
12300 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info Info Info
Complete cabin
36900 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
13200 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
22440 USD

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

Info Info
Complete cabin
26400 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
13200 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
22440 USD

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

Info Info
Complete cabin
26400 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
13700 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
23290 USD

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

Info Info
Complete cabin
27400 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
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info Info
Sharing berth
14400 USD

Share your cabin with others for the best price

Info
Single cabin
24480 USD

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

Info Info
Complete cabin
28800 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
  • Refrigerator
  • Coffee & tea maker
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
Info
Single cabin
25840 USD

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

Info Info
Complete cabin
30400 USD

Price for the complete cabin, fully occupied.