Don’t miss the chance to see one of Earth’s most wondrous cosmic events in one of Earth’s most fantastic places! An Antarctica viewing of the total solar eclipse is expected December 4, 2021. Though total solar eclipses occur roughly every 18 months, they can only be properly seen along a few key path locations. And what better location than one of the wildest and least-known places on the planet?
Three ships, 19 nights, and one very famous cosmic event
To witness the total eclipse, we’ll position our ships in the center of the moon shadow, at the edge of the sea ice in the Weddell Sea, between the South Orkneys and South Georgia. The ships making this voyage will be our three ice-strengthened vessels: Plancius, Ortelius, and Hondius. The full voyage lasts 19 nights, 20 days, and will visit the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Conditions of Antarctica’s sea and skies
Our goal on this itinerary is to see the total eclipse, but please keep in mind the polar regions are known for their unpredictability. There’s always the chance overcast skies may hinder visibility and that adverse conditions may alter certain details of the pre-planned route. Plancius and Ortelius are scheduled to make the trip clockwise, while Hondius will make it counter-clockwise.
• Discover Falkland Islands & visit Carcass Island & Saunders Island
• In South Georgia have an opportunity of exploring Fortuna Bay, Salisbury Plain, Grytviken & Cooper Bay
• Have a chance to see the total solar eclipse
• Enjoy awe-inspiring Antarctica
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
Several species of albatross follow the vessel into the
westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised.
These islands are largely unknown gems, the site of a 1982 war between the UK and Argentina. Not only do various species of
bird live here, but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters.
During this part of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from
breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds)
Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with
breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here.
The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Port Stanley offers a little Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, welltended
gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby,
silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the
early days of settlement up to the Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Port Stanley. Feel free to wander at will,
though be aware that admission fees to local attractions are not included in the voyage.
On the way to South Georgia, you cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature gradually cools, and nutritious water rises
to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon sometimes attracts a multitude of seabirds near
the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be
challenging, largely dictating the program.
You may visit the following sites over the next few days:
Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s
route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall,
and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South
Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year
do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories
where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur
seals here during the breeding season (December – January).
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the
place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Cooper Bay – A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a great opportunity to see macaroni penguins below a large rookery.
Numerous fur and elephant seals are found on the beach, while majestic light-mantled albatrosses can be seeing gracefully
There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other
seabirds trailing the vessel south.
The ship positions itself in the center of the shadow of the moon, and if possible, some distance into the Scotia Sea drift ice.
The ice edge will be about 60°S, 41°W.
Some coordinates for the path of the moon’s shadow:
7.06 UTC: 58.47.7 S – 42.45.2 W, 1.39 minutes, 8 degrees above horizon
7.08 UTC: 60.42.4 S – 40.59.8 W, 1.42 minutes, 9 degrees above horizon
7.10 UTC: 62.22.3 S – 39.48.0 W, 1.44 minutes, 11 degrees above horizon
Enormous icebergs and a fair chance of fin whale sightings ensure there’s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south.
Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here.
If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern
side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also
visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the chance to set foot on the Antarctic
If conditions aren’t favorable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, the ship will set course for Elephant Island and head into
the Bransfield Strait, between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you can attempt to access the Antarctic
Sound from the northwest.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they nonetheless offer many subtle
pleasures. A wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins,
southern giant petrels) live here.
On Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. If a landing here is possible,
you will find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels. A number of kelp gulls, brown skuas,
south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns can be spotted here too.
Your last activities before venturing into the Drake Passage are likely to find you around the northern Gerlache Strait. One
option is Cierva Cove and the rugged, ice-gripped mountains of the Davis Coast. Mikkelsen Harbour on the south coast of Trinity
Island is another alternative. Here you may enjoy a gentoo penguin rookery as well as some fine scenic cruising.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re greeted by a vast array of seabirds. But they seem a
little more familiar to you now, and you to them.
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.
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The
onboard expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
The cabin provides you with; a porthole, 2 upper / lower berths, private shower & toilet, desk & chair, hair dryer and ample storage space.
Same as Quadruple Porthole but with 3 berths. The cabin provides you with; a porthole, 1 upper / lower berth, 1 single lower berth, private shower & toilet, desk
The cabin provides you with; a porthole, 2 lower berths, private shower & toilet, desk & chair, hair dryer and ample storage space.
The cabin provides you with; a window, 2 lower berths, private shower & toilet, desk & chair, hair dryer and ample storage space.
The cabin provides you with; 3 windows, 2 lower berths, private shower & toilet, desk & chair, small sofa, a hair dryer and ample storage space.
The cabin provides you with; at least 2 windows, 1 double bed, 1 single (sofa) bed, private shower & toilet, desk & chair, flatscreen TV, refrigerator, hair dryer and ample storage space.
Vessel Type: Expediton
Passenger Capacity: 108-123
Built / Refurbished : 1989 / 2015
The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) and is therefor 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 (108 passengers as of season Arctic 2020) 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.
Though our voyages are primarily meant to offer our passengers an exploratory wildlife program with as much time ashore as possible, Ortelius offers all the comforts of a standard hotel ― along with a bar and lecture room. Flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. As such, Ortelius carries 10 Zodiacs with 60hp Yamaha engines.