Special-interest holidays worldwide
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
  • 2018-2019 departures:
    23 November 2018 (PLA22)
    09 December 2018 (OTL25)
  • Nights: 10 (9 on OTL25)
  • View Plancius 2018-2019 prices*View Ortelius 2018-2019 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 2018-2019 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
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego – nicknamed “The End of the World” – and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 & 3: At sea
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale lunge feeding in the water below. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica's natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars. Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.

Days 4 – 7 (Days 4 – 6 on OTL25): Antarctica
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. Sites you may visit include: Cuverville Island – Stabbing up between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, Cuverville houses a massive colony of gentoo penguins as well as pairs of breeding brown skuas. Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that may be found nearby. Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. You have the chance to set foot on the Continent here, and also to go for a Zodiac cruise with view of the ice-crusted alpine peaks. Paradise Bay – You may be able to walk on the Continent again at this location, or to take a Zodiac cruise in the sprawling, ice-flecked waters. Here you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales. Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. There are great opportunities for kayaking and camping here. When conditions are right, you can even snowshoe around the shore.

Day 8 (Day 7 on OTL25): South Shetlands
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There's a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune's Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with a number of kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. Wilson's storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. An alternative is Hannah Point on Livingston Island. This area is closed to visitors for part of the season, as it is a high-density wildlife area. Here you find a wide variety of gentoo and chinstrap penguins as well as southern giant petrels and elephant seals hauling out onto the beach. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Days 9 & 10 (Days 8 & 9 on OTL25): At sea
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you're again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 11 (Day 10 on OTL25): Ushuaia
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It's now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

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.