A true adventure, the Weddell Sea cruise sets out to explore the range of the emperor penguins near Snow Hill Island. We visit the area via helicopter and see a variety of other birds and penguins including Adélies and gentoos. Helicopters provide an advantage in reaching the emperor penguin colony, but nature makes the rules in Antarctica. Our itinerary will vary depending on the weather and ice pack.
Experience the bird's-eye-view of the magnificent scenery of the Antarctic wilderness with ship-to-shore helicopter transfers
Vie for the rare chance to see the famed emperor penguin rookery south of Snow Hill Island, numbering around 4,000 breeding pairs
Enjoy an enriching program of lectures by noted naturalists and by an expert Antarctic expedition team both on the ship and on the shore with guided hikes and snowshoeing excursions
Begin the journey on Tierra del Fuego in the small resort town of Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on the planet, nicknamed "The End of the World." Board your ship, settle into your cabin, and then sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
Begin a two-day voyage across the 600 mile gateway to the white continent of Antarctic: the Drakes Passage. Experience sights encountered by the great polar explorers who first charted these regions. The Drake is considered by many polar travelers as a rite of passage everyone must experience before enjoying the boundless natural wonders of Antarctica. Layers of cold seawater from the south and relatively warm seawater from the north collide to form powerful eddies. When paired with strong winds, common to this area, the Drake Passage has earned its reputation as one of Earth's roughest waterways and greatest adventures.
Pass the Antarctic Convergence - Antarctica's natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas - into the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. En route, enjoy a program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff. The wealth of Drake Passage wildlife will give you no shortage of animals to gaze at. Keep an eye out for albatrosses like the wandering, grey-headed, black-browed, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses. Thick with plankton, the seas support populations of humpback, orca, minkie, and fin whales.
Sail into the Weddell Sea via the iceberg-dotted Antarctic Sound toward the eastern Antarctic Peninsula. Search for emperor penguins from vantage points on the vessel and from helicopters. Expert guides lead all excursions and decide where to go and what to do each day depending on conditions.
Continue into the Weddell Sea. Leave the ship for helicopter flights, weather permitting. Enjoy breath-taking views of the layered sandstones, lava flows, glaciers, icebergs, and pack-ice extending as far as the eye can see. Zodiac to Devil Island, home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, and a magnificent vantage point for hikers at the top of the hill.
Watch for Emperor Penguins on a sail further south, ice and weather permitting. Visit Seymour Island, where the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901 wintered, and home to sedimentary rock formations, fossils, and expansive views. Take a zodiac ride to Gourdin Island, where Chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie penguins can be found.
Continue north, watching for whales, penguins, and sea birds. Zodiac to Brown Bluff, perhaps the most scenic location in the northern tip of the Antarctic Continent, with its sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, and beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice. Enjoy viewing the large Adélie penguin rookery, also home to gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels. Make way toward Deception Island.
Awake in the South Shetland Islands archipelago and sail into the volcanic caldera of the crescent-shaped Deception Island through its narrow entrance, Neptune's Bellows. Admire the surrounding cliffs and spectacular mountain peaks towering above. Landing at either Pendulum Cove or Whalers Bay, explore abandoned whaling station ruins including bleached whalebones, wooden barrels and other artefacts from 20th century whale hunters. Although the wildlife inside the caldera is not that abundant, several bird species breed on the caldera cliffs. Deception Island is not totally covered by ice, offering many walking opportunities. If conditions are right, hike to "Neptune's Window" and high up onto the rim of the crater, and experience what it's like to be "at the top" of the bottom of the world.
Begin the 2-day journey back to Ushuaia across Drakes Passage. En route, watch for migratory sea birds Antarctic Petrels, Southern Giant Petrel, shags, skuas, and gulls. Expert ornithologists and keen birders are there to point out the different species on on-board lectures will help you with birdlife knowledge.
Cross the Drake, greeted by a vast array of seabirds and whales. Take advantage of the day to rest and reflect on the extraordinary journey of the days past. Cap off the trip with a sail past Cape Horn on the way into Ushuaia, weather permitting.
This morning disembark and transfer to the airport. We strongly recommend booking flights no earlier than 12:00 pm to account for possible delays getting back to port.
Over 30 years offering polar voyages we have built strong relationships with polar outfitters and ships that cruise the 7th continent.
We choose ships and operators that maintain a high level of commitment to safety, people, value, quality, environment, well-being, and customer service.
MT Sobek's Polar Value Promise means that we offer in-house services to help plan and execute you polar adventure for no added cost.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Expert polar interpretation and presentations, professional navigation through Antarctic waters, and up-close wildlife experiences on shore and by Zodiac. Optional kayaking for a fee.
Ortelius is an ice-strengthened and well-appointed polar expedition ship that offers a comfortable and safe way to explore Antarctica.
Antarctica is unpredictable. There may be days of warm sunshine, but be prepared for wind, rain, and snow. Daytime temperatures are 20-32F.
There may be rough sea conditions while crossing the Drake Passage, but the rough conditions are still usually tolerable. We recommend consulting your doctor or bringing seasickness medication.
Large variety of options at buffet breakfasts and lunches. Dinners include plated entrée choices (including vegetarian) appetizers, and desserts. Full-bar onboard payable with onboard account.
Trips to Antarctica embody the expedition experience. All activities, including the helicopter ride, are dependent on the weather, sea conditions, and ice pack. The farther south we go, the more sea ice we are likely to encounter and the change in weather occur more rapidly. We recommend packing your adventurous spirit!
These services are not included. Guests will make their way to the ship in Ushuaia on Day 1 and services end on disembarkation on Day 11.
The Ortelius cabins are configured in quadruple, triple, twin and superior layouts. Pricing varies by cabin type. Inquire with our Regional Specialists for details.
Besides the chance to see Emperor Penguins, there's an array of other wildlife in Antarctica to get excited about! Adelie penguin, Chinstrap Penguin, Gentoo Penguin, Killer Whales, Humpbacks, minke whales, leopard seals, Weddell seal, Crabeater seals. Not to mention the amazing birdlife such as Skuas, petrels, albatross, shags, Sheathbills, and Sternidea - be sure to bring a good pair of binoculars!
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
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MT Sobel Guest
"I have traveled extensively around the world. The experience with MT Sobek was by far the best I have ever had. Thank you for such excellence."
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