Antarctic Semi-Circumnavigation

from £23182 31 nights | Jan - Feb Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Jan - Feb


Join a spectacular expedition to the rarely navigated waters of the remote Ross Sea. Witness wildlife and soak up scenery that precious few have ever experienced before. Emerge yourself in history, as you set foot on lands made famous by legendary stories of expedition heroes of the past. Fly over tricky terrain and land in otherwise unreachable locations using on-board helicopters that open up another world of adventures.


  • Encounter playful penguins including gentoos, Adélies and rockhoppers.
  • Hover towards otherwise inaccessible highlights, using on board helicopters.
  • Learn of legends as you trace the steps of Amundsen, Shackleton and Scott.
  • Sail the seas between the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand.

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1 Embarkation in Ushuaia
In the afternoon, embark in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. It is located on the banks of the Beagle Channel and it is through this scenic waterway that you will sail for the rest of the evening.
Days 2-3 at sea
While crossing the infamous Drake Passage, keep your eyes open for hungry albatross which often follow in the ship’s wake. You will also have the chance to learn about some of the landscapes, wildlife and legends that will feature in the days to come.
Day 4 Lemaire Channel and Pléneau Island
Arrive in the Antarctic Peninsula and sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel, before landing on Pléneau Island, where fur seals can often be seen hauled out on the beaches. Gentoo penguins, kelp gulls and south polar skuas can also be seen here. Pléneau Island was first charted by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05. The leader, Jean-Baptiste Charcot named the island after his photographer Paul Pléneau.

Later, visit Petermann Island with colonies of Adélie and gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. Petermann Island was named after the German geographer August Petermann, a member of a German Expedition in 1873-74.
Day 5 Prospect Point
Sailing south through the Penola Strait, arrive at the Fish Islands. The small islands lying east of Flouder Island are called the Minnows, first charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (1934-37). You may observe Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags among myriads of large icebergs. If conditions permit, you can set foot on the Antarctic continent for the first time in the stunning setting of Prospect Point.
Days 6-7 Bellingshausen Sea
Set sail again through the Bellingshausen Sea, where you may see the first pack-ice of the journey.
Day 8 Peter I Island
Peter I Island is an uninhabited volcanic island (19 kilometres long) in the Bellingshausen Sea. It was discovered by Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1821 and was named after the Russian Tsar Peter I. It is claimed by Norway but is very rarely visited by passenger vessels due to its exposed nature. If weather conditions allow, an attempted helicopter landing on the glaciated northern part of the island will be made.
Days 9-14 Amundsen Sea and emperor penguins
Sail through the Amundsen Sea along and through the outer fringes of the pack-ice, taking advantage of the Antarctic coastal current. The journey is lively and sightings of single straggling emperor penguins, groups of seals on ice-floes, and orca and minke whales are possible.
Day 15 Ross Sea
Approach the Ross Ice Shelf, a vast mass of land-ice, with a front 30 metres high. In the Bay of Whales at the eastern side of the shelf, close to Roosevelt Island (named by the American aviator Richard E. Byrd in 1934 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt), Roald Amundsen set off on his expedition to the South Pole, where he finally arrived on 14 December 1911. If possible, an attempt will be made to make a helicopter landing somewhere on the shelf.
Day 16 Sailing along the Ross Ice Shelf
Sit out on deck and observe the awesome spectacle of the ice shelf as you cruise by.
Days 17-21 Ross Sea
Visit Ross Island, a huge expanse of highly elevated terrain, guarded by Mount Erebus, Mount Terror and Mount Byrd. Here you will explore the famous spots which played such an important role in the dramatic British expeditions of the last century. With luck, you will be able to see Cape Royds with the cabin of Ernest Shackleton, Cape Evans with the cabin of Robert Falcon Scott and Hut Point, from which Scott and his men set out for the South Pole.

If ice blocks the ship’s access, but weather conditions are otherwise favourable, the helicopters will be able to offer landings in one or more highlights in this area. You may also visit the US-station McMurdo and Scott Base - the New Zealand equivalent. From McMurdo Station it is sometimes possible to take a substantial 10 km hike to Castle Rock where you will have a great view across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole. The helicopter will also land in Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys, where conditions are the closest you can get to those on the surface of Mars, anywhere on Earth.
Days 22-23 Drygalski Ice Tongue and Terra Nova Bay
Sailing northward along the west coast of the Ross Sea, pass by the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the Italian Mario Zucchelli Station in Terra Nova Bay. Should the ice prevent the ship from entering Terra Nova Bay you may continue further north where you will find the specially protected area of Cape Hallet with a large Adélie penguin rookery.
Day 24 Cape Adare
Land at Cape Adare where people, for the very first time, wintered on the Antarctic continent. The hut where the Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed in 1899 is surrounded by the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the World.
Days 25-29 At sea en-route to Campbell Island
The ship will work its way through the sea-ice at the entrance of the Ross Sea and start the long journey north through the Southern Ocean. Depending on weather conditions the captain may opt to set a course sailing by Scott Island.
Day 30 Campbell Island
Visit the sub-Antarctic New Zealand Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campbell Island, with its abundance of luxuriant, blooming vegetation. The fauna here is fantastic with a large and easily accessible colony of southern royal albatross on the main island and breeding wandering, Campbell, grey-headed, black-browed, and lightmantled albatross on the satellite islands. Three penguin species - eastern rockhopper, erect-crested and yellow-eyed - also breed here. In the 18th century seals were hunted to extinction, but since their re-introduction, populations of elephant seals, fur seals and sea lions have recovered.
Day 31 at sea en-route to Bluff
At sea en-route to Bluff, New Zealand
Day 32 Disembark in Bluff, New Zealand
Arrive in Bluff where you depart for your homebound journey.

Please Note
This voyage will cross the International Date Line meaning a day will be lost or gained depending on your direction of travel. It is therefore essential that you take this in to consideration when organising flights or ground arrangements at the end of your journey.

NB All voyage itineraries are intended as a guideline only - embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy of expedition travel. Actual routes and landings will be dependent on weather, sea and ice conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential in the polar regions!

It must be kept in mind that you will be in one of the world’s most remote areas and there are no guarantees regarding wildlife sightings, landing sites or helicopter flight times and durations. Conditions may change rapidly, creating the need for an alteration in plans at any time and it is essential that passengers understand and accept this. Safety is the greatest concern and no compromises can be made.

Accommodation Options

M/V Ortelius

  • Grade:
  • Type: Expedition Ship

Explore the wonders of the Polar regions aboard this 116…

Prices & Dates

2019/20 season

Prices are per person, based on a twin cabin - please contact us for details of quad, triple, single and superior cabins.

Departure DateDurationVesselPrices from
13 Jan 2020 32 days M/V Ortelius £23,182
15 Feb 2020* 32 days M/V Ortelius £23,182

* This departure will operate in reverse, with embarkion in Bluff and disembarkation in Ushuaia

Please Note: This voyage will cross the International Date Line meaning a day will be lost or gained depending on your direction of travel. It is therefore essential that you take this in to consideration when organising flights or ground arrangements at the end of your journey.

Inclusions and exclusions

M/V Ortelius

Includes: Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage • Leadership throughout the voyage by an experienced Expedition Leader, including shore landings and other activities • All shore landings per the daily program • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program • Ship to shore or sightseeing helicopter excursions (dependant on weather conditions and other factors - no specified number of trips or amount of time spent in helicopter is guaranteed) • Formal and informal presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program • Comprehensive pre-departure material • Loan of rubber boots during voyage

Excludes: Return airfares from the UK • Admission fees to local attractions • Any additional pre or post voyage accommodation/land arrangements • Additional airport or airline security charges • Passport and visa expenses (we will be pleased to advise you on any necessary documentation, however this is passengers' own responsibility) • Government arrival and departure taxes • Excess baggage charges • Alcoholic and soft drinks, telecommunication charges, laundry costs and other charges of a personal nature • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for Hospitality Team members, ship’s crew and Expedition Team members (guidelines will be provided) • Travel insurance

We would be pleased to quote for the best available airfares and comprehensive travel insurance to suit your specific holiday requirements.


Antarctica 2018/19: Big savings aboard the M/V Ortelius & M/V Plancius

Book by 01 Aug 2018
Book now for savings on the journey of a lifetime…

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