Weddell Sea – Emperor Penguin Voyage

11 Days/10 Nights

From $9,250 per person

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Overview

This itinerary includes a visit to one of nature’s most fascinating spectacles, the Emperor Penguin rookery south of Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea. You will travel from the ship by helicopter to an area near the rookery, and walk for 45 minutes to observe the penguins in their natural state. If the weather cooperates, there will be time to visit Half Moon Island to witness Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins, and for a landing at Pendulum Cove on Deception Island.

Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 10 nights (10 nights aboard the Ortelius), and 29 meals (10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 10 dinners).

Best Time to Go: November-March.

Destinations: Argentina and Antarctica.

Interests: Adventure, Expedition Cruising, and Wildlife Viewing.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Note: A typical itinerary to the Weddell Sea is illustrated below. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. If ice-conditions are favorable and the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice, we will reschedule our voyage and offer ship-to-shore helicopter transfers to Snow Hill Island (as carried out successfully in 2013) at approx. 45 minutes walking distance from the emperor penguin Rookery. If we succeed, this will be a fascinating and a once-in-a lifetime experience. However, we made attempts to reach Snow Hill Island during our voyages in 2012, 2013 and 2014. We only succeeded in 2013; therefore the chances to reach Snow Hill Island are indeed less than 50 %.

In the afternoon (4:00-5:00 PM), we embark in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel, and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening. Overnight aboard the ship. (D)

Note: We advise all passengers to plan to arrive in Ushuaia one night before the cruise departure.

During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area, we may see 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. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

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

We will sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us to sail further, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

During these days we use the helicopters in our attempts to find individual Emperor Penguins. During our previous voyages we were always able to locate emperors. We will also offer scenic flights and – if the conditions allow us – helicopter landings on tabular ice-bergs and locations otherwise inaccessible so early in the season.

Possible landing sites is for example Brown Bluff, probably the most scenic spot in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. With steep canyon walls and tumbling boulders, an ice-cap looming above, beautiful volcanic creations and the scene is complete with thousands of adelie penguins nesting on the slopes, and a few gentoos mixed in for fun.

Helicopter flights are a great contribution to the voyage, for example on the west side of the Antarctic Sound, an area usually only rarely seen from the air. The scenery is stunning with landscapes of layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers tumbling into the sea and ice-bergs and pack-ice as far as the eye can see. We can observe individual emperor penguins and adelie 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 down below us. The landscape is dominated by Jagged mountains pierced through the ice-caps and walls of ice dropped onto the slopes below.

A beautiful helicopter flight over huge blue ice bergs and fast ice can also be made close to View Point in Duse Bay. We land on a rocky hillock close to an old refuge hut overlooking the bay. There will be 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.

If the ice-situation allows us to go further into the Weddell Sea area, we will visit Devil Island and Vega Island with a large colony of Adelie Penguins and a magnificent view for those hikers who can make it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes provides spectacular waterfall from the cliffs close to point ‘Well-Met’. Further south, we may also visit Seymour Island, where many fossils can be found.

On our way north through the Antarctic Sound we might pay a visit to the Argentinean station Esperanza on the Antarctic Continent. We will still look out for emperor penguins on the ice-floes. In the afternoon we may visit Gourdin Island, with three penguin species; chinstraps, gentoo and adelies. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

** Alternative program for Day 5-6 if the route to Snow Hill Island is free of multi-year pack-ice (less than 50 % chance):

The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the Emperor penguin colony, but the itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice and weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable, we intend to spend the first two days in the Emperor penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration takes approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will make sure that the Emperors penguins are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. Therefore, after arrival, the passengers continue their expedition on foot. After a walk of approx. 45 minutes, passengers will experience an amazing rendezvous with the magnificent Emperor penguins. Keep in mind that we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, having its impact on the helicopter operation and passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.

In the morning we plan to visit Half Moon Island where we can see Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins, various other bird-species and Southern Elephant Seals and Weddell seals. Early in the afternoon we will sail to Deception where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum cove. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

On our way north, we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark (8:30-9:00 AM). You will be transferred to the airport in Ushuaia for your return flight to your final destination. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Itinerary Map

Weddell Sea - Emperor Penguin Voyage Itinerary Map

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double Triple
Quad Cabin $9,250 $9,250 $9,250
Triple Porthole $10,250 $10,250 $10,250
Twin Porthole $18,445 $10,850 n/a
Twin Window $20,145 $11,850 n/a
Twin Deluxe $20,145 $11,850 n/a
Suite $21,250 $12,500 n/a
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.

Notes:

  1. The above prices are valid until November 15, 2017.
  2. The single supplement is 1.7 times the Twin price.
  3. Singles willing to share a cabin pay the Twin/Triple/Quad price.

Departure Date

November 15, 2017.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
  • Accommodations on board the M/V Ortelius.
  • Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed).
  • All meals scheduled on board, including snacks, coffee, and tea.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
  • Zodiac expeditions conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
  • Use of rubber boots.
  • Evening briefings and lectures.

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Domestic airfare.
  • Hotel nights before/after the cruise.
  • Transfers to/from the vessel before/after the cruise.
  • Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
  • Gratuities to ship crew and guides (Suggested $8-10/per/day for the naturalist guides and crew).
  • Bar, gifts, and personal items.
  • Travel insurance.

We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance and to make these arrangements for you.

Accommodations

Antarctica

Ortelius, Antarctica Cruise Ship

Ortelius

Additional Details

Group Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis.

Elevations: N/a.

Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a valid passport (for the duration of your visit) and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Australian and Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee of $100 and $75 respectively (subject to change without notice due to currency fluctuations or other reasons) online, and must show proof of payment prior to arrival. The reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens has been suspended until further notice. For citizens of Australia, this fee covers unlimited entries to Argentina for 10 years, while citizens of Canada are charged the fee every time they enter the country (or $150 for multiple visits within five years). The fee can be paid online at ProvinciaNet.com.ar. You will need to register in order to make the payment. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the embassy of Argentina in their country before traveling.

Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan. The operator of the ship requires that you purchase Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance (minimum recommended amount is $100,000).

To Book This Trip: Call or email us to confirm the availability of this ship for your desired dates of travel.  For reservations made more than 90 days prior to departure, the required deposit is between $2,400 and $3,000 per person, and may be higher for single passengers. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.