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The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) and is therefore suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice as well as loose multi-year pack ice. Ortelius can accommodate up to 116-123 passengers and has an abundance of open-deck spaces. It is manned by 22 highly experienced nautical crew members, 19 hotel staff, eight expedition specialists (one expedition leader, one assistant, and six lecturer-guides), and one doctor.
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Porthole air conditioned cabin for four people with a private shower and toilet, desk and chair, flatscreen TV and plenty of storage.
A porthole air conditioned triple room suitable for 3 people. Featuring a private bathroom, desk and chair, flatscreen TV and plenty of storage space.
Twin air conditioned porthole cabin wirh a private bathroom, desk and chair, flatscreen TV and plenty of storage space.
Twin window air conditioned cabin with private bathroom, desk and chair, flatscreen TV and plenty of storage space.
Twin Deluxe option with an extra window, coffee and tea maker and a small sofa.
1 Double bed and 1 single sofa bed suitable for a couple. Featuring a tea and coffee maker, flatscreen TV and private bathroom.
2 cabin with portholes on lower berths, with private shower & toilet, desk and chair's, flatscreen TV, Telephone & Wifi (supplemented), hair dryer, ample storage space.
Route Description - Ross Sea
Sail to the southern parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, Peter I Island, the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas into the Ross Sea. Visiting the Ross Ice-shelf, Dry Valleys, McMurdo Station, Campbell Island, Enderby Island and the historic huts of Scott and Shackleton.
Day 1: End of the world, start of a journey
Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is 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 mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
Day 2 – 3: Path of the polar explorers
Over the next two 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. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too. 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 4: Through the Pendleton Strait
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 5 – 6: Sailing the Bellingshausen Sea
From the peninsula you head toward the open sea, your course set for Peter I Island.
Day 7: A rare glimpse of 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 8 – 14: Sights of the 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 15 – 17: The epic 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 18 – 20: Highlights of the Ross Sea
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 21 – 22: Exploring the inexpressible
Sailing north along the west coast of the Ross Sea, you pass the Drygalski Ice Tongue and Terra Nova Bay. If ice conditions allow, you then 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 large Adélie penguin rookery. Should sea ice prevent entry into Terra Nova Bay, you may head farther north to the protected area of Cape Hallett and its own Adélie rookery.
Day 23: The residents of 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 24: Ross Sea to the Southern Ocean
Sailing through the sea ice at the entrance of the Ross Sea, you start your journey north through the Southern Ocean. The goal is to set a course for the Balleny Islands, depending on weather conditions.
Day 25: The windswept 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 26 – 29: Sailing among the seabirds
You once again enter the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. Seabirds are prolific on this leg, during which we hope to enjoy good weather conditions.
Day 30: Campbell Island’s bounteous birdlife
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 31: Enderby Island albatrosses, penguins, and shags
Another jewel in the crown of the New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands is Enderby Island.
Part of the Auckland Islands, Enderby offers a vast variety of birdlife, including potential sea sightings of white-capped albatrosses, Buller’s albatrosses, and a number of other tubenoses.
On Enderby Island you might also see yellow-eyed penguins, Auckland teals, and perhaps even rare and endemic Auckland shags.
Day 32: Once more to the Southern Ocean
Take in the vast horizons of your final sea day before you reach New Zealand.
Day 33: Porting in New Zealand
Every adventure, no matter how sublime, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand, and return home with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
Route Description - Antarctic Peninsula – Polar Circle, Deep South Discovery and whale watching voyage
Whale watching voyage - 13 nights
Day 1: End of the World, Start of a Journey
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.
Day 2 - 3: Path of the Polar Explorers
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 blasting up sea spray. 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.
Day 4 – 5: Enter the Antarctic
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. Then on to Cuverville Island, stabbing up between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. On Cuverville lives a massive colony of gentoo penguins as well as pairs of breeding brown skuas. Neko Harbour, the next stop, affords you the first chance to step onto the Antarctic Continent itself – an epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. During the following stop at Paradise Bay, you may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in its sprawling, ice-flecked water before sailing on to the Lemaire Channel.
Day 6 – 8: Through the Gullet
After a comfortable night of sailing, you wake among the many islands south of Lemaire Channel. You are now near the Antarctic Circle. At this point a voyage through the aptly named Gullet – a narrow but picturesque channel between Adelaide Island and the Continent – is possible if the ice isn’t too thick. You can explore this area either from the prow of the ship or the edge of a Zodiac, getting the closest possible contact with the terrain as you venture southward. You might also circumnavigate Pourquoi Pas Island, named after the ship of the famous French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot. This location is known for its tight fjords and lofty, glacier-crowded mountains. On Horseshoe Island is the former British Base Y, a remnant of the 1950s that is now unmanned, though still equipped with almost all the technology it had while in service. Stonington Island is home to the former US East Base and British Base E, which was occupied until 1975. If a stop here is possible, it marks the southernmost landing site of the trip – 68° south. From there your road turns north again, through the Gunnel Channel into Hanusse Bay, with its countless icebergs – and a good chance of spotting whales.
Day 9 – 11: Whales of Wilhelmina Bay
You are near the Antarctic Circle again, cutting north through the countless ice floes of Crystal Sound. Humpback whale sightings are likely, and your approach to the Fish Islands offers the possibility of a Zodiac cruise or even a landing. Whatever the case, the scenery is beyond compare in this area. There may also be more Adélie penguins congregating among the icebergs nearby. If you’re a bird lover, Petermann and Pléneau Islands provide a great variety of avian life as well as Zodiac cruises among icebergs that are popular leopard seal and crabeater seal hangouts. Minke whales, humpbacks, and gentoo penguins also love to frequent this “hot spot” of Antarctic activity. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Day 12 – 13: Familiar Seas, Familiar Friends
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 14: There and Back Again
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.
Day 6 – 8: (Alternate program if the route to the south of Crystal Sound/Hanusse Bay is blocked by ice)
You may take a course around the western side of Adelaide Island to reach Marguerite Bay. Should ice conditions also not allow this approach, you may continue the program by exploring the Antarctic Peninsula in and around the Penola and Gerlache Straits.