Spectacular Ross Sea

From New Zealand to Argentina OR From Argentina to New Zealand
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Tour Description

Join us on this wonderful journey to the Ross Sea exploring Antarctica on a spectacular expedition. Visit Campbell Island, known for its large colony of southern royal albatrosses, explore Cape Adare and spot a beautiful adelie penguin rookery, sail along the Ross Ice Shelf and enjoy the beauty of an uninhabited volcanic island in the Bellingshausen Sea. Throughout the expedition you will see vast varieties of wildlife, including gentoo penguins, emperor penguins, kelp gulls as well as seals and whales.

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Your voyage begins in Bluff, commonly held to be New Zealand’s most southerly town. Sailing beyond the boundaries of the civilized world, you venture into the untamed regions of the far south.

Day 2
At Sea

Seabirds trail your vessel across limitless horizons toward Campbell Island.

Day 3
Campbell Island

The plan today is to visit the sub-Antarctic New Zealand Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campbell Island, enjoying its luxuriantly blooming vegetation. The fauna on Campbell Island is also a highlight, with a large and easily accessible colony of southern royal albatrosses on the main island. Breeding on the satellite islands are wandering, Campbell, grey-headed, black-browed, and light-mantled albatrosses. There are also three breeding penguin species present: eastern rockhopper, erect-crested, and yellow-eyed penguins. In the 18th century, seals in the area were hunted to extinction, but the elephant seals, fur seals, and sea lions have since recovered.

Day 4
At Sea

You now sail northwest, again followed by numerous species of seabird.

Day 5
Macquarie Island

Macca, also known as Macquarie Island, is a Tasmanian State Reserve that in 1997 became a World Heritage Site. The Australian Antarctic Division has its permanent base on this island, which Australian sealer Frederick Hasselborough discovered while searching for new sealing grounds. The fauna on Macquarie is fantastic, and there are colonies of king, gentoo, and southern rockhopper penguins – as well as almost one million breeding pairs of the endemic royal penguin. Elephant seals and various fur seal species, such as the New Zealand fur seal, are also present.

However, due to the limited availability of landing slots for Macquarie Island, we have not been able to obtain a landing permit there for 2020. Hence, this trip will not include this stop on the itinerary, and we will instead make the best possible use of this day elsewhere during the trip.

Day 6-8
At Sea

You once again enter the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. Sea birds are also prolific on this leg, during which we hope to enjoy good weather conditions.

Day 9
Balleny Islands

Your intended route is past Sturge Island in the afternoon, getting an impression of these windswept and remote islands before crossing the Antarctic Circle.

Day 10
At Sea

By now you’ve become a veteran of the high seas, if you weren’t when you started the voyage. You spend today sailing toward the Antarctic Continent.

Day 11
Cape Adare

You next attempt a landing at Cape Adare, where for the first time humans wintered on the Antarctic Continent: The Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed in here 1899, taking shelter in a hut that to this day is surrounded by the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world.

Day 12
Cape Hallett

Sailing south along the west coast of the Ross Sea, you may attempt a landing at the protected area of Cape Hallett and its large Adélie penguin rookery.

Day 13
Inexpressible Island

If sea ice permits, you land at Inexpressible Island, which has a fascinating history in connection to the less-known Northern Party of Captain Scott’s expedition. It is also home to a sizable Adélie penguin rookery. You may also head farther south toward the impressive Drygalski Ice Tongue if ice conditions prevent entry into Terra Nova Bay.

Day 14-16
At Sea Ross Island

Keeping to the Ross Sea, your aim is now to visit Ross Island. In this location you can see Mount Erebus, Mount Terror, and Mount Byrd, as well as many other famous spots that played an important role in the British expeditions of the last century: Cape Royds, where Ernest Shackleton’s cabin still stands; Cape Evans, where the cabin of Robert Falcon Scott can still be seen; and Hut Point, from which Scott and his men set out for the South Pole.

If ice is blocking the way but weather conditions are favorable, you may use the helicopters to land in one or more spots in this area. The American scientific base of McMurdo Station and New Zealand’s Scott Base are other possible locations you might visit. From McMurdo Station you could also make a 10-km hike (6 miles) to Castle Rock, where there are great views across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole. Additionally, you may make a helicopter landing in Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys, where conditions are closer to Mars than anywhere else on Earth.

Day 17-18
At Sea Ross Ice Shelf

The next goal is to enter the Ross Sea from the east, venturing south toward the Bay of Whales and close to Roosevelt Island (named in 1934 by the American aviator Richard E. Byrd for President Franklin D. Roosevelt). The Bay of Whales is part of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf in the world, and is constantly changing with the receding ice masses. Large icebergs are present here, along with great wildlife opportunities. Roald Amundsen gained access to the shelf en route to the South Pole, which he reached on December 14, 1911. Also, the Japanese explore Nobu Shirase had his camp in this area in 1912, at Kainan Bay. You may make a helicopter landing on the ice shelf if conditions allow. During this part of the voyage, we will also cross the International Date Line.

Day 19-25
Amundsen Sea

You then sail through the Amundsen Sea, moving along and through the outer fringes of the pack ice. Ice conditions are never the same from year to year, though we aim to take advantage of the opportunities that arise if sea ice is present. Emperor penguins, groups of seals lounging on the ice floes, orca and minke whales along the ice edge, and different species of fulmarine petrels are possible sights in this area.

Day 26
Peter I Island

Known as Peter I Øy in Norwegian, this is an uninhabited volcanic island in the Bellingshausen Sea. It was discovered by Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1821 and named after Peter the Great of Russia. The island is claimed by Norway and considered its own territory, though it is rarely visited by passenger vessels due to its exposed nature. If weather and ice conditions allow, you may enjoy a helicopter landing on the glaciated northern part of the island. This is a unique chance to land on one of the most remote islands in the world.

Day 27-28
Bellingshausen Sea

You now sail across Bellingshausen Sea, bound for the Antarctic Peninsula.

Day 29
Antarctic Peninsula

You arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula near the Antarctic Circle in the afternoon. If sea ice allows it, you can then continue through Pendleton Strait and attempt a landing at the rarely visited southern tip of Renaud Island. Here you have the opportunity to see the first Adélie penguins of the trip as well as enjoy spectacular views of the icebergs in this surreal, snow-swept environment.

Day 30-32
Drake Passage

Over the following 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. 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.

Day 33

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, reputed to be the southernmost town in the world, and return home with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Day 1

Embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel.

Day 2-3
Drake Passage

Crossing Drake passage

Day 4-5
Antarctic Peninsula

In the Antarctic Peninsula we plan to visit Detaille Island. Detaille Island was discovered by the French expedition of Charcot (1903-05) and named for a shareholder in the Magellan Whaling Company. From 1956 till 1959, The British Antarctic Survey had their “Station W” located on Detaille Island. Alternatively we may visit the Fish Islands just north of the Antarctic Circle. The small islands lying east of Flouder Island are called the Minnows, first charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (1934-37) of John Rymill. Adélie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags breed on the islands among myriads of large icebergs. We may set foot on the Continent for the first time in the stunning setting of Prospect Point. We will land on Pléneau Island, where fur seals may haul-out on the beaches. Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas are confirmed breeders. Pléneau Island was first charted by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05 of Jean-Baptiste Charcot and was named after his expedition’s photographer Paul Pléneau. We will also visit Petermann Island with colonies of Adélie and Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. Petermann Island was named after the German geographer August Petermann who was a member of a German Expedition in 1873-74.

Day 6-7
Bellingshausen Sea

En-route to the Peter I Island

Day 8
Peter I Island: Helicopter landing attempt

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 and considered a territory on its own. It is very rarely visited by passenger vessels due to the exposed nature of the place. If the weather conditions allow, we are likely to attempt a helicopter landing on the glaciated northern part of the island.

Day 9-14
Amundsen Sea

These days we sail through the Amundsen Sea along and through the outer fringes of the pack-ice, while we take advantage of the west-going Antarctic coastal current. The sailing along and through the ice is very lively, with sightings of single straggling Emperor Penguins, groups of seals on ice-floes, and also Orca's and Minke Whales along the ice-edge, often accompanied by different species of fulmarine petrels.

Day 15-16
Ross Ice Shelf

Sail along the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating mass of land-ice, with a front 30 meters 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 gained access to the Shelf and ventured to the South Pole, where he finally arrived on 14 December 1911. Also the Japanese explore Nobu Shirase had his camp in this area at Kainan Bay in 1912. We intend to attempt a helicopter landing on the Ross Ice Shelf if conditions allow for it.

Day 17-21
Cape Evans

In the Ross Sea we intend to visit Ross Island, guarded by Mount Erebus, Mount Terror and Mount Byrd with all the famous spots which played such an important role in the dramatic British expeditions of the last century such as Cape Royds with the cabin of Ernest Shackleton. We also intend to visit Cape Evans with the cabin of Robert Falcon Scott; from Hut Point, Scott and his men set out for the South Pole. We will make further
attempts to visit the US-station McMurdo and Scott Base - the New Zealand equivalent. If ice blocks the entrance and weather conditions are otherwise favourable, we have the option to use the helicopters to offer landings in one or more places. From McMurdo Station we may offer a substantial 10 km hike to Castle Rock were we will have a great view across the Ross Ice Shelf toward the South Pole. We will land in by Helicopter in Taylor Valley, one of the Dry Valleys. The conditions here are the closest you can get to the conditions on Mars from planet Earth.

Day 22-23
The Ross Sea

In the south, we find Terra Nova Bay where we aim to stop at the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the Italian Mario Zucchelli Station if the ice conditions allow. Further north along the west coast of the Ross Sea, we may attempt a landing at the specially protected area of Cape Hallet with a large adélie penguin rookery.

Day 24
Cape Adare

Cape Adare is the place where people for the very first time wintered on the Antarctic Continent. The hut where the Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed in 1899 is surrounded by a large colony of adélie penguins, which are now in autumn molt.

Day 25-29
At Sea

Sailing North from the Ross Sea we may opt to set a course sailing by Scott Island depending on the weather forecast.

Day 30
Campbell Island

We plan to visit the sub-Antarctic New Zealand Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campbell Island, with a luxuriant and blooming vegetation. The fauna on Campbell Island is fantastic with a large and easily accessible colony of southern royal albatrosses on the main island and breeding wandering, campbell, grey-headed, black-browed, and light-mantled albatrosses on the satellite islands. Also three penguin species, eastern rockhopper, erect-crested and yellow-eyed penguins breed here. In the 18th century seals were hunted to extinction, but elephant seals, fur seals and sea lions have recovered.

Day 31
At Sea

En-route to Bluff, New Zealand

Day 32

Disembark m/v Ortelius in Bluff, New Zealand

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • Included Copy 20 All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Included Copy 7 Meals ashore.
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Included Copy 20 Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Included Copy 20 Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Included Copy 20 Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed)
  • Included Copy 20 Group transfer from Kelvin Hotel in Invercargill to the vessel in Bluff.
  • Included Copy 20 Group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
  • Included Copy 20 All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • Included Copy 20 Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Included Copy 7 Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
  • Included Copy 7 Pre- and post- land arrangements.
  • Included Copy 7 Passport and visa expenses.
  • Included Copy 7 Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Included Copy 7 Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory).
  • Included Copy 7 Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and
  • Included Copy 7 The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (gu
M/V Ortelius | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

106 Passengers


  • Included Onland excursions
  • Included Zodiac cruises
  • Included Helicopter flight above the Ross Sea and Ice Shelf
  • Included Onboard lectures about nature
Click here for dates & prices

33 days

Price from

$27,500 USD

Per person, sharing

Based On Lowest Cabin

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