This 11-day Antarctic Peninsula Including South Shetland Islands cruise is designed to optimize time in Antarctica, to experience the best of everything. Time at sea provides ample opportunities for bird-watching while searching for wandering, grey-headed, black-browed and light-mantled albatrosses; southern fulmars; and Wilson’s, cape, blue and Antarctic petrels. Visit worthwhile sites like Cuverville Island, Danco Island in the Errera Channel, Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay. Enjoy the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent.
In the South Shetland volcanic archipelago, brave new worlds like Deception Island, Neptune’s Bellows and possibly Half Moon Island. Opportunities exist to see the flooded caldera’s hot springs and visit an abandoned whaling station or active Argentine scientific research station. Zodiac cruises and kayaking expose the icy beauty of polar seas. When conditions allow, snowshoe on shore to experience quiet moments of solace in a place few humans go.
Three small research vessels operate the itinerary: 116-passenger Motor Vessel Plancius, 116-guest Motor Vessel Ortelius and 176-guest Motor Vessel Hondius.
ITINERARY IN BRIEF:
Day 1: Embark Ushuaia
Day 2: Drake Passage
Day 3: Drake Passage
Day 4: Antarctica
Day 5: Antarctica
Day 6: Antarctica
Day 7: Antarctica
Day 8: South Shetland Islands - Deception Island
Day 9: Drake Passage
Day 10: Drake Passage
Day 11: Disembark Ushuaia
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 Motor Vessel Ortelius is 10.5 knots.
Ushuaia - Embark
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.
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.
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands.
Sites you may visit include:
Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby.
Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.
Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you may get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. There are great opportunities also for kayaking and camping here, and when conditions are right, you can even snowshoe around the shore.
South Shetlands - Deception Island
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. A good hike is a possibility in this fascinating and desolate volcanic landscape.
As an alternative, you may be able to engage in activities near Half Moon Island. Here chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
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.
Crossing the Drake
Disembark - Ushuaia
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.
- Guests: 116
- Staff / Crew: 52
- Length: 90.95m
- Cruising Speed:14.5 knots
- Year Built: 1989
- Renovated: 2016
- Ice capability: Highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A)
The Motor Vessel Ortelius has six cabin categories located on three decks. Cabins range from simple affordable quadruple or double rooms to more spacious deluxe and superior cabins with view windows. All cabins are roomy outside cabins with a sink, private shower and toilet, hairdryers, desk and chair, ample storage space and a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin.
Quad cabins have 2 porthole windows, 2 upper and 2 lower berths. Also a private shower and toilet, desk and chair, hair dryer and ample storage space. Ortelius has 4 quadruple cabins #341-344 located on deck 3
Each Twin Porthole cabin has two porthole windows, private toilet and shower, two single lower berths, desk and chair, hair dryer and ample storage space. Ortelius has 27 twin porthole cabins: #334 and #339-340 located on Deck 3 and #428-439 and #445-456 on Deck 4
Ortelius has 12 twin window cabins #511-517, 522-527 located on Deck 5, approximately 183 square feet each. Each cabin has view windows, two single lower berths, private toilet and shower, desk and chair, small sofa, hair dryer and ample storage space. Deck 5 is the quietest cabin deck and has the best access to upper observation decks and the ship’s bridge
Ortelius has 2 newly renovated twin deluxe cabins #510 and #528 located on Deck 5. These cabins are corner cabins and are slightly more spacious than the normal twin window/porthole cabins. Each cabin has three view windows, two single lower berths, private toilet and shower, desk and chair, small sofa, hair dryer, refrigerator, coffee and tea maker, flatscreen TV and ample storage space. Deck 5 is the quietest cabin deck and has the best access to upper observation decks and the ship’s
Each superior cabin has a double bed with a flatscreen TV, a single sofa bed, private toilet and shower, desk and chair, refrigerator, coffee and tea maker, hair dryer and ample storage space. Ortelius has 6 superior cabins #509, 518-521 and 529 on Deck 5
- Voyage aboard the indicated 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.
- 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 programme.
- Comprehensive pre-departure material.
WHAT’S 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).
Age and Nationality
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.
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.
Currency & Payment
Refreshments from the bar and souvenirs will be charged to your cabin. The day before departure you can settle your bill with the Hotel Manager and pay by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or cash (Euro or Dollar). We do not accept cheques of any kind. The prices and standard currency on board our vessels is the Euro. Other currencies may be accepted at the discretion of the hotel manager at prevailing rates.
The electrical supply aboard the ship is 220v, 60Hz. Electrical outlets are standard European with two thick round pins. You may need a 220v/110v converter.
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.
On board our vessels we have a non-smoking policy. It is prohibited to smoke inside the ship. You can smoke in the designated smoking 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.
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 Motor Vessel Ortelius is 10.5 knots.