A group of penguins walk across the ice and snow in antarctica, as seen from the weddell sea voyage cruise
A zodiac full of passengers from the weddell sea emperor penguin voyage cruise motors up to an iceberg in antarctica
Looking out from the side of the adventure cruise ship with weddell sea emperor penguin voyage toward the ocean and icebergs in antarctica
An orca crests through the ocean and swims in antarctica, as seen from the weddell sea emperor penguin voyage luxury cruise ship
A helicopter lands on a pad surrounded by ice in antarctica, as part of an expedition with weddell sea emperor penguin voyage luxury cruise
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Polar Regions Antarctica Cruise

Weddell Sea—Emperor Penguin Voyage

The Weddell Sea—Emperor Penguin Voyage is one of the most spectacular Antarctic adventures around. This 11-day expedition cruises aboard the 108-passenger ship M/V Ortelius and offers the unique experience of close emperor penguin encounters at their more secluded rookeries via exciting helicopter rides. Finish the voyage passing through the South Shetland Islands. 

An emperor penguin rookery is situated south of Snow Hill Island, below Hope Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula and James Ross Island. The captain will do the utmost to position the vessel close enough to Snow Hill Island in order to enable ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to approximately 45-minute walks to the emperor penguin rookeries. 

Hope to see the western side of the Antarctic Sound, an area only rarely seen from the air with stunning landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and icebergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. Observe individual emperor penguins and adélie penguins on the ice floes; cape, snow, and giant petrels flying overhead; and kelp gulls, skuas and Wilson’s storm petrels scavenging below. Walk over frost-shattered rocks covered in fascinating lichen and visit Seymour Island, where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition from 1901-04 overwintered under miraculous circumstances.

Within the 11-day itinerary, the Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage reserves four days to visit the emperor penguin rookeries by helicopter. Note that this expedition may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. This is a true Antarctic expedition, so flexibility is paramount.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Antarctica cruises.



Itinerary

Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage Itinerary

This 11-day expedition cruise aboard the 108-passenger ship M/V Ortelius offers the unique opportunity to attempt to see the emperor penguin colony in Antarctica.

Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin cruise route map.
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Day 1
Embark Ushuaia, Argentina

In the afternoon, embark in the small resort town of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, nicknamed “The End of the World.” Sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

dinner

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Days 2 - 3
Drake Passage

During these two days on the Drake Passage, enjoy some of the same experiences encountered by the great polar explorers who first chartered 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—the ship is in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Watch for changing marine and avian life, including possible sightings of 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.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 4 - 7
Weddell Sea

A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, as the final itinerary will be determined by the expedition leader on board.

Sail into the Weddell Sea via the Antarctic Sound, where huge tabular icebergs welcome the ship’s arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. During these days, use the ship and helicopters in attempt to find individual emperor penguins. When conditions allow, enjoy scenic flights and possible helicopter landings in locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage and may include the following: The western side of the Antarctic Sound is an area only rarely seen from the air with stunning landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea, icebergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. Observe individual emperor penguins and adélie penguins on the ice floes; cape, snow and giant petrels fly high in the sky while kelp gulls, skuas and Wilson’s storm petrels scavenge below. The landscape is dominated by jagged mountains piercing through ice caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below. The helicopter may land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking Duse Bay. There’s still a lot of snow and ice but much of the intended walk on the Antarctic continent will be over a beautiful frost-shattered rock, almost entirely covered with the most fascinating lichen of all shapes and colors. Seymour Island just north of Snow Hill Island is the place where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition from 1901-04 overwintered under miraculous circumstances. The sedimentary rocks include a large array of fossils and afford some spectacular views.

If ice conditions allow, venture farther into the Weddell Sea area by Zodiac to places like Devil Island, near Vega Island, which is home to a large colony of adélie penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides a spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point Well-Met. Brown Bluff is yet another stunning place on the continent and home to a large adélie penguin rookery, gentoo penguins, and nesting snow petrels. Gourdin Island, with three penguin species (chinstrap, gentoo and adélie) is yet another option for adventure. Visiting the Argentinean research station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent may also be an option.

If the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack ice (less than 50% chance), then an alternative itinerary may be chosen by the onboard expedition team for days 5-6, using helicopters (4-6 guests per flight) to hopefully gain access to an emperor penguin colony. The helicopter operation will take a full day, with flight duration approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter landing point will be carefully chosen to ensure the emperor penguins are not disturbed. Upon arrival, passengers walk approximately 45 minutes to reach the rookery.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Deception Island

In the morning, sail to Deception Island for the last landing of the voyage at Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay. From here, depart when weather and sea conditions on the Drake Passage are predicted as favorable.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 9 - 10
Drake Passage

On the way north, a vast array of seabirds follow the ship while crossing the Drake Passage.

Accommodations

Ortelius

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Disembark Ushuaia, Argentina

Arrive in the morning and disembark in Ushuaia.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

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 program; comprehensive pre-departure material; ship-to-shore helicopter transfers, with no specific helicopter time guaranteed.

Exclusions

Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights (scheduled helicopter rides included); pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel in Ushuaia; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (mandatory); optional activities; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Weddell Sea—Emperor Penguin Voyage begins and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina (USH). Embarkation time is between 4:00 and 5:00pm on day of departure. We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues.The ship sails around 6:00pm on day of departure. Disembarkation is after breakfast on final day between 8:30 and 9:00am. Plan flights to depart Ushuaia anytime after noon on the final day. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Hiking:

Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours roundtrip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna.

Helicopters:

The Weddell Sea—Emperor Penguin Voyage includes helicopter rides via a minimum of two onboard helicopters that each carry 4-6 pasengers per flight. If the conditions are favorable, there exist added special helicopter rides to see emperor penguin rookeries. The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support the goal to reach the scheduled landing sites, that otherwise are inaccessible; other times you observe from the sky. But, these voyages are operated in the world’s most remote areas, ruled by the forces of nature. Providing the conditions, such as but not limited to ice and weather conditions, are suitable, the captain of the vessel will position the vessel at a safe and (for the helicopters and helicopter pilots) feasible distance from the intended landing site. Every passenger who participates in those mentioned voyages, understands and accepts that no guarantees can be given, including a specific amount of helicopter time. For further information contact AdventureSmith Explorations.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at 1.7x the per-person Twin or Superior listed rates. Single travelers wishing to book on a “sharing basis” may do so at no additional cost in Twin, Triple or Quadruple categories upon availability.

Families & Children

Upon request, children under 16 years old traveling with parents may receive 40% discount in Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents/adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents/adults). Some voyages may be excluded.

Travel Insurance

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $100,000 per person. Trip cancellation insurance is optional but highly recommended. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditions, wildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Antarctica expedition. Visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Nov 19 - Nov 29, 2020
Ortelius • 11 days
From $11500USD
Per Person
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Nov 14 - Nov 24, 2021
Ortelius • 11 days
From $11300USD
Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Ortelius

The 108-guest M/V Ortelius is an ice-strengthened small ship designed for polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica. She offers passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program to spend as much time ashore as possible.

Testimonial

Hear It from Travelers Who Have Explored with Us

"This is an Extraordinary Trip"

This is an extraordinary trip and travelers have to be prepared for the unexpected and the guarantee of success in reaching the emperor penguins.

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Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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Weddell Sea—Emperor Penguin Voyage

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