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Island Holidays
Established 1987

Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands

Explore the High Antarctic

Whalers Bay

Locations in this tour typically include: Ushuaia • Beagle Channel • Drake Passage • Cuverville Island • Danco Island • Neko Harbour • Paradise Bay • Lemaire Channel • Petermann Island • Vernadsky Station • Goudier Island (Port Lockroy, Jougla Point) • South Shetland Islands (Deception Island, Half Moon Island) • Drake Passage • Ushuaia;

Route map

Antarctic Peninsula South Shetlands Route

The above route/s is/are representative for this cruise and may not exactly match the itinerary of every departure available. Please check the PDF itinerary download/s for the exact route/s.

Key facts

  • Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
  • Antarctic expedition cruise with specialist expedition leaders
  • 2017-2018 departures:
    06 December 2017 (OTL24)
    20 February 2018 (OTL30)
  • Nights: 10 (11 on OTL30)
  • View Ortelius 2017-2018 prices*
  • All departures:
  • Departs: Ushuaia
  • Tour leader: Oceanwide Expeditions
  • Deposit: 20%
  • * Please note that the prices quoted are for cruise only and do not include flights or hotel accommodation. We will arrange your flights and any accommodation but as fares and rates are subject to change, prices are quoted on request.
  • Antarctic Peninsula South Shetlands 2017-2018 detailed itinerary

The ships

M/v Ortelius was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was originally named Marina Svetaeva, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. Read more about Ortelius

M/v Ortelius

M/v Plancius started her life in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named “Hr. Ms. Tydeman”. In June 2004, the vessel was taken out of active service and was purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions in December 2006. The vessel was completely rebuilt in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). Read more about Plancius

M/v Plancius

Your itinerary

Please note that the itinerary below is representative and may not be that of all cruises listed under the same title, since they can vary slightly in their route, duration, destinations or activities and can be different from year to year. Note also that during the cruise the programme may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. Please check the PDF itinerary downloads above for the precise itinerary and route of your chosen season and departure date.

Day 1: Ushuaia
In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 & 3: At sea
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.

Days 4 - 7 (OTL24 only): Antarctica
We will sail directly to "High Antarctica", passing the Melchior Islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. On Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Danco Island, we will find a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. If we land on Danco Island we can observe Gentoo Penguins and possibly Weddell and Crabeater Seals. In Neko Harbour we will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. We enjoy the landscape surrounded by alpine peaks during zodiac cruises. In Paradise Bay again with its myriad icebergs, we have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent again. We shall have the opportunity for a zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing water way. In this area we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. We sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to Pléneau and Petermann Island where we can find Adélie Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. In this area there are good chances to encounter Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. Further south we may visit the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, where we will receive a warm welcome from the station crew. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to get a chance to visit the old British research station, now living museum and post office at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer a landing on Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. This area offers excellent opportunities for kayaking and camping. When the snow conditions allow we use snowshoes on regular landings which vastly improves mobility and safety in heavy snow conditions.

Days 4 - 8 (OTL30 only): Antarctica
We will arrive in the heart of the Western Antarctic Peninsula where we will spend five days of exploring the best sites around. Sailing past the Melchior islands into the Gerlache Strait we will be surrounded by spectacular scenery any which way you look. Steep mountains and endless glaciers covering the land. We will aim for the southern Gerlache Strait where we intend to start our adventures in and around the stunning Errera Channel and Andvord Bay. Neko Harbour is a continental landing with nice dive opportunities set in the most amazing scenery as well as being home to a sizeable Gentoo penguin rookery. The adequately named Paradise Bay offers great opportunities for our activities with excellent chances for a variety of wildlife. Equally spectacular is the Neumayer Channel and the area around Port Lockroy, the British Antarctic base A which is now a living museum. We navigate through the famous Lemaire Channel as we venture south to explore the area around Pléneau Island and Petermann Island. Here we find great opportunities for our activities in a setting of icebergs and with a good chance to encounter Leopard seals. Further north we venture into Wilhelmina Bay where Humpback whales are often found feeding and we locate the wreck of the whaling factory ship Guvernøren, which burned and founded on the rocks in 1915. The wreck is almost submerged and offers some cool wreck diving in an unusual setting.

Day 8 (Day 9 on OTL30): South Shetlands
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. In Deception Island, our ship braves into the entrance of the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater, which opens into the sea creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively, we may aim for Half Moon Island for our last stop of the trip. The island is located off the north east coast of the much larger Livingston Island. Here we find a Chinstrap penguin rookery and often Weddell seals hauled out on land. Around noon, we depart for the Drake Passage.

Days 9 & 10 (Days 10 & 11 on OTL30): At sea
On our way north we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.

Day 11 (Day 12 on OTL30): Ushuaia
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.

Disclaimer: This itinerary is dependent on sea and ice conditions. The final itinerary will be decided by the ship's captain and your Expedition Leader to maximize opportunities.