Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands are some of the last truly unspoilt regions of the world. The mysterious White Continent, with its multi-coloured ice caps, glistening glaciers and towering snow-capped mountains, offers unparalleled scenery and photographic opportunities. Enormous numbers of penguins, whales, seals and seabirds congregate in the food-rich waters along the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic shores.
Our small, specially designed expedition ships journey south, taking full advantage of the long hours of daylight during the austral summer, their ice-strengthened hulls allowing us to navigate safely through the pack ice and narrow waterways. Our zodiac excursions, guided by foremost Antarctic experts, offer the freedom to explore remote locations and observe Antarctica's abundant wildlife.
South Georgia itinerary:
Passengers embark the ship in Ushuaia / Argentina to set sail to South Georgia.
Days 2 - 5:
At sea - On our way to South Georgia we are followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Southern Atlantic.
Days 6 - 12:
South Georgia - An exciting expedition with two adventure options: the normal sea voyage for “sea explorers” (with zodiac excursions and hiking options) and a land expedition for “ski explorers”. The sea explorers will explore the coastlines of the Island while at the same time the ski explorers will attempt to traverse the Island on a self supplied ski trek from the South coast (King Haakon Bay) to the North coast (Fortuna Bay) in 4 days.
Ski trek across South Georgia (only during voyage PLA20): A group of up to 12 ski explorers and 2-3 mountain guides will attempt to traverse on an unsupported and self supplied trek across the island with skis hauling pulkas (sledges). The skiers will cover a total distance of 40 km retracing sections of the historic Shackleton route, which he covered in 36 hours.
On arrival day at King Haakon Bay, the expedition members will spend their first night further inland. The expedition will then embark on their trek across alpine passes and glaciers aiming for reunion with the ship at Fortuna or Stromness Bay. After both expeditions have rejoined, all passengers will then continue to enjoy the latter part of the South Georgia cruise itinerary.
Sea voyage: The sea explorers who remain on board will say their goodbyes to the skiers at Pegotty Bluff, the historic camp site. It was from there on the 19th May 1916 that Shackleton, Crean and Worsley set off across the Island to Stromness in a 36 hours marathon trek. The same day, Plancius, will stop over at Cape Rosa, where we intend to make a landing. Shackleton’s James Caird landed at Cape Rosa after an epic 16 days voyage from Elephant Island. Truly a historic day!
The ship will be positioned around the Northwest corner of South Georgia. One of the highlights is the visit to Prion Island, where we will witness the breeding efforts of the huge Wandering Albatross and enjoy watching their displays. At Salisbury Plain, the second largest King Penguin colony in South Georgia, we will also see elephant seals.
In Fortuna Bay, the ship will most likely re-unite with the ski explorers. The beaches are inhabited by King Penguins and seals. We might even see reindeer! Both, sea explorers and ski explorers can follow the final section of Shackleton’s route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling village.
At Grytviken we will also see an abandoned whaling village, where King Penguins now walk in the streets and seals have taken over the buildings. At Grytviken we’ll also offer a visit to the Whaling History Museum as well as to Shackleton’s grave near by.
During the next few days the expedition will explore the beaches of Ocean Harbour, Godthul, Cobblers Cover, Gold Harbour, Drygalski Fjord, Larsen Harbour, Cooper Bay, St. Andrews Bay,Possession Bay, Right Whale Bay and Elsehul. The sites that we visit give us a good opportunity to see a wide spectrum of landscapes and wildlife, like King and Macaroni Penguins, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Fur Seals, Elephant Seals and the introduced reindeer.
Drygalski Fjord is a great scenic place for zodiac cruising. There will be opportunities for walkers in the group to hike at Godthul and Gold Harbour hikes will be guided and vary in length with approx. 2 – 4 hours, 5 – 10 km. All hiking excursions are subject to weather and landing site availability.
Days 13 - 17:
At sea - Across the Southern Atlantic Ocean, in the Westerlies the ship is followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters and diving petrels. At sea, on our way to Ushuaia we will cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic waters, the temperature will drop by as much as 10 degrees C in the time span of only a few hours. Near the Convergence we will see a multitude of southern seabirds near the ship; several species of Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels, Prions and Skuas.
We arrive in Montevideo, Uruguay where passengers depart for their home-bound journeys.
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 91 meters
Beam: 18 meters
Speed (average): 12 knots
Built / Refurbished: 1989 / 2007
Capacity: 106 (in twin & triple cabins)
The ice-strengthened vessel “Ortelius” is an excellent vessel for Polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica, providing us with possibilities to adventure remote locations such as the Ross Sea.
“Ortelius” was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named “Marina Svetaeva”, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel is re-flagged and renamed “Ortelius”. Ortelius was a Dutch / Flemish cartographer. Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598) published the first modern world atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World in 1570. At that time, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed.
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. “Ortelius” is a great expedition vessel for 100 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces and a very large bridge which is accessible to the passengers. The vessel is manned by 34 highly experienced Russian nautical crew, 15 international catering staff, including stewardesses, 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor.
”Ortelius” offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar/lecture room and a sauna. Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 100 on the “Ortelius”, flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.