Ross Sea

Explore one of Antarctica’s most iconic regions


Currently we do not have any Ross Sea cruises available.

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Ross Sea blog

The Eight Albatrosses of Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic

Whether you’re bound for Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic, or some combination of both, this entry will give you all the important albatross info as well as where these birds can best be found.

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Ross Sea customer story

Explorers in the Ice - Ross Sea Antarctica

Although I’ve been to the Peninsula many times, the opportunity to experience the Ross Sea and its historical sites for the first time was very exciting.

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Ross Sea cruise reviews

by Ellen Tanger
This was my best trip ever.
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by Logan Varanese
The Gray Seal is cool Read full review
by David Pinion
I loved every second. The ship, the crew, the expedition team, fellow travellers. To visit the expedition huts was a dream come true. The wildlife was incredible and the scenery awe inspiring. I'll be back!!
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by Karin Schutte
This Ross Sea trip was breathtaking beautiful! And we learned a lot during the lectures on board. Walking on the snow after a zodiac-ride, seeing the historic huts or wildlife, is great. Flying with helicopters over icebergs, fjords and glaciers...wonderful and feeling like 007! We saw many penguins, seals and pods of orca's. Thank you crew, staff and employees of Ortelius, our ship'family' was unique!
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by Annette Schmitz
A real expedition with a very nice and very competent Expedition Crew. Overwhelming experiences with nature and wild live. Great helicopter flights and extreme tasty food that made possible, that I got two kilos of weight more (Danke Heinz). Thank you all! Read full review
by Liliana Echevarria
Celebrating my 7th continent in MV Ortelius with a very experienced and knowledgeable staff and crew made this 33-day expedition one of the top vacations of a lifetime!
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Ross Sea FAQ

The Ross Sea in Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Earth. Due to heavy pack-ice cover for the biggest part of the year it is off the beaten tourist track of Antarctica. Only the strongest ice-strengthened ships are able to penetrate this high-Antarctic region.

The rewards are obvious; the Ross Sea possesses an abundant Antarctic wildlife, amazing scenery and exceptional artefacts from historic Antarctic expeditions. Some of the highlights are: huge colonies of Emperor and Adélie Penguins, Mount Erebus, the Ross Ice-shelf, the Dry Valleys, McMurdo Station, Cape Evans (hut of Scott) and Cape Royds (hut of Shackleton).

As the Ross Sea is under the direct influence of the harsh Antarctic continental climate, temperatures are on the average low, around 1ºC (34ºF). In February – March, at the end of the Austral summer, temperatures can even drop slightly below zero. Strong katabatic winds can occur at any time though and may have an influence on the programme.

Please note: pack-ice is formed in the Ross Sea early in the winter season and can stay there until late summer. Although we do expect to be able to penetrate into the Ross Sea, nature does not give us a guarantee. Pack-ice is unpredictable and may prevent our ships from completing the planned itinerary.

As it can be cold in the Ross Sea warm clothing is essential. Waterproof trousers and jacket against wind, rain and salt spray coming into the zodiac. Furthermore thermal underwear, fleece jackets, warm gloves and a warm hat are essential. Rubber-boots for the landings are also needed but are provided on board.

There are no harbours in the Ross Sea. Landings are carried out by zodiac and helicopter.

The Ross Sea is located between the Marie Bryd Land and Victoria Land in the Southern Ocean. This deep bay is part of the Antarctica region, and it is near the Amundsen Sea. During an expedition cruise to the Ross Sea, you will see several islands and land masses. New Zealand has placed a claim on all of this land. However, most of the non-Commonwealth nations do not recognize New Zealand’s claim to any of the land formations within the Ross Sea.  

The Ross Sea is relatively shallow, and it accounts for up an area that is approximately 960,000 square km (370,000 square miles). In many areas, the Ross Sea does not extend down more than 300 meters (985 feet) to the sea floor, but the southwestern section reaches a depth of 914 meters (3,000 feet). New Zealand has placed a claim on all of this land. However, most of the non-Commonwealth nations do not recognize New Zealand’s claim to any of the land formations within the Ross Sea.

Captain James Clark Ross commanded the first two ships (HMS Erebus and HMS Terror) to enter the frigid waters of the Ross Sea. Though he did not succeed in his mission to reach the magnetic South Pole during this 1839 - 1843 expedition, he did chart the Ross Sea and discover the Ross Ice Shelf. You can see both of these amazing Antarctic attractions on our Ross Sea cruises, which include the use of helicopters. 


Ross Sea weather

While temperatures during the Antarctic winter months can drop as low as around -50°C, you can expect slightly more comfortable temperatures around -10°C - 0°C during your Ross Sea cruise.

If you’re wondering what clothing to bring, don’t worry, we have you covered. Follow this link and scroll about one third of the way down the page to get all sorts of clothing guidelines and tips.

Facts about the Ross Sea

  • A colossal squid measuring longer than 10 metres and weighing almost 500 kilograms was found in the Ross Sea in 2007.
  • All the islands found within the limits of the Ross Sea have been claimed by New Zealand, although most countries don’t bother to recognise the claims.
  • The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest such shelf on Earth. At approximately 472,000 km2 it is roughly the size of Spain. It soars anywhere between 15 and 60 metres high and extends nearly 800 kilometres along the shoreline.
  • The Ross Sea is named after Captain James Clark Ross who mapped the area in the 1841.
  • Since the Ross Sea is the open waterway closest to the actual South Pole it has become the launching spot of many exploration expeditions that went on to journey inland.
  • The Ross Ice Shelf was the mother to what was quite possibly the biggest iceberg ever. The iceberg broke off of the shelf in the year 2000, measuring 295 km at its longest point and 37 km at its widest. Altogether it boasted a surface area of about 11,000 km2.
  • Wildlife flourishes despite the harsh cold of the waters. Some of the fish found in the Ross Sea have antifreeze in their veins to keep them from freezing solid.

Travel to the Ross Sea

Travel to the Ross Sea and experience one of the most pristine untouched landscapes left in the world. Your Ross Sea expedition will be full of activities that let you take in the rugged and clean beauty of the area – hike the shores of Antarctica, visiti historical sites from the Golden Age of Exploration like the huts of explorers Shackleton and Scott, and enjoy unique helicopter flights to the Dry Valleys and the Ross Ice Shelf.

Your Ross Sea trip will also introduce you to a surprising abundance of wildlife. Go bird watching on the lookout for albatrosses and Petrels. Cruise along the shores in a Zodiac and say hello to seals and a variety of whales. Your Ross Sea holiday even lets you take helicopter rides to gain the maximum of everything in this spectacular place.