Ortelius at Torellneset, Spitsbergen, July Ortelius with Helicopter, Ross Sea Ortelius in pack ice, Spitsbergen Scroll down

History of Ortelius

“Ortelius” was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named “Marina Svetaeva”, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel is re-flagged and renamed “Ortelius”. “Ortelius” is classed by Lloyd’s Register in London and flies the Cyprus flag. As Plancius, Ortelius was a Dutch / Flemish cartographer. Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598) published the first modern world atlas, theTheatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World in 1570. At that time, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed.

Perfect for any expedition

The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. “Ortelius” is a great expedition vessel for 116 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces. The vessel is manned by 22 highly experienced international nautical crew, 19 international hotel crew, 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader, 1 assistant expedition leader and 6 guides/lecturers), and 1 doctor.

Ortelius: a vessel with comfort and character

”Ortelius” offers a comfortable hotel standard, with a u-shaped, a bar and a lecture room. Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 116 on the “Ortelius”, flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. “Ortelius” carries 10 zodiacs. The zodiac engines are 60hp Yamaha.

Age range & nationality

View from the Ortelius


Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s - with a majority usually from 45 - 65. Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.

Dress code

In keeping with our expeditions atmosphere, dress on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities. Keep in mind that much of the spectacular scenery can be appreciated from deck, which can be slippery. Bring sturdy shoes with no-slip soles and make sure the parka is never far away in case of the call "Whales!" comes over the loudspeaker and you have to dash outside. Wear layers since it is comfortably warm aboard the ship - and often cold on deck.

View from the main deck


The customary gratuity to the ship's service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage which is divided among the crew. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US$8 to US$10 per person per day. It is better for the crew, if you can give them cash US Dollar.

Non-smoking policy

On board our vessels we have a non-smoking policy. It is prohibited to smoke inside the ship. You can smoke in the designated areas. Please respect the wishes of non-smokers.

Your physical condition

You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.

Ideal for

  • Exploring remote locations
  • Maneuvering through pack ice
  • Bird watching
  • Helicopter landings


Passengers:116 in 53 cabins

Staff & crew:50

Length:90.95 meters

Breadth:17.20 meters

Draft:5.4 meters

Ice class:UL1 (Equivalent to 1A)

Displacement:4090 tonnes

Propulsion:6 ZL 40/48 SULZER

Speed:14.5 knots maximum

Deck plans and downloads

Ortelius, ship details (.pdf) Ortelius, deck plan (.pdf)

Cabins & public areas

Quadruple Porthole
Triple Porthole
Twin Porthole

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Overall rating based on 71 votes

by Arnold MEDBURY on Arctic


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Mark Mussared

The Round-Svalbard Expedition was excellent. As the on board information puts it, Ortelius is basic but very comfortable and very well equipped. Her crew were extremely friendly and accommodating, and the food...

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Felix Hulliger
Norden, volle Kraft voraus!
by Felix Hulliger on Arctic

Das Erlebte und Gesehene hat sich so summiert, dass ich einige Wochen brauche, um die Spitzbergenumrundung zu verarbeiten. Spitzbergen ist Natur pur. Eisbären aus 15 Meter Entfernung zu bestaunen - da kommt...

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Iveta Balazova
Bezaubernde Spitzbergen
by Iveta Balazova on Arctic

WOW. Es war eine fantastische, atemberaubende und zugleich unbeschreiblich faszinierende Expeditionsreise. Die mächtigen Massen von Schnee, die die Gletscher bilden, klares kaltes Wasser, das ich unbedingt...

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Michaela Soost
by Michaela Soost on Arctic

Tolle Reise mit einigen Höhepunkten. Eisbären im Packeis, Wanderungen in der kargen Tundra, Walrosse, Gletscher und jede Menge Vogelarten. Ein super Expeditions-Team war für Fragen jederzeit offen....

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Peter Prokosch

Having led several tours with Oceanwide around Svalbard and this time as LT&C-Study-Tour with 16 LT&C members on board, I can congratulate Oceanwide again for a wonderful and high professional trip. All...

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