Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage

Antarctic Peninsula and Snow Hill Island aboard the Ortelius

Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage  route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $11,550  
Length: 11 days
Arrive: Ushuaia, Argentina
Depart: Ushuaia, Argentina
Lodging: 10 nights aboard an expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Sea Kayaking
Trip Level: 11-day expedition cruise, nature walks on uneven ground, Zodiac cruising with wet landings, often rough seas and cold weather


  • Encounter the emperor penguins of Snow Hill Island
  • Sail into the Weddell Sea, with the possibility of seeing its huge tabular icebergs
  • Cruise the South Shetlands, including Half Moon and Deception islands

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

This is one of the most spectacular Antarctic adventures ever! Deep in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea is Snow Hill Island, home to a breeding colony of some 4,000 pairs of emperor penguins, the largest and most colorful penguins on the planet. Weather permitting, shipboard helicopters whisk us above the frozen sea to a base camp from where we head off on foot for fascinating encounters with these incredible creatures.


Day 1, November 26, 2015
Ushuaia, Argentina / Embark the Ortelius

Arrive in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, set on the Beagle Channel. In the afternoon, we embark on the Ortelius and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.

Days 2-3, November 27 - 28, 2015
Drake Passage

During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage, crossing the Antarctic Convergence, the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. In this area we may meet 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.

Day 4 , November 29, 2015
Weddell Sea / Brown Bluff

A typical itinerary in the Weddell Sea could be as follows. This is a sample only, the final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board.

We sail into the Weddell Sea and if the Antarctic Sound is accessible and the ice does not prevent us from sailing farther, we might see the huge tabular icebergs that announce our arrival at the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. We plan to offer an Antarctic Continent landing at Brown Bluff.

Days 5-6, November 30 - December 1, 2015
Snow Hill Island / Emperor Penguins

The use of helicopters has a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach the emperor penguin colony, but our itinerary is ruled by the forces of nature, ice, and the weather. If conditions are favorable, we intend to spend the first two days in the emperor penguin rookery. The helicopter operation will take a full day and the flight duration is approximately 15 minutes. The helicopter can accommodate 6 passengers per helicopter flight. The landing point of the helicopters will be carefully chosen and we will ensure the emperors are not disturbed or stressed by helicopter noise. After arrival, we continue our expedition on foot. After a walk of approximately 45 minutes, we will experience one of the greatest moments in our lives—a rendezvous with the magnificent emperor penguins! Keep in mind we are in the world’s most remote area and there are no guarantees, including a specific amount of helicopter time. Conditions may change rapidly, and have an impact on the helicopter operation. Passengers should understand and accept this. Safety is our greatest concern and no compromises can be made.

Day 7, December 2, 2015
Devil Island, Vega Island, or Hope Bay

 If conditions were favorable on Days 5 and 6, and we have successfully visited the emperor penguins, we may visit Devil Island, Vega Island, or Hope Bay. If we have not reached the emperor penguin colony on one or two of the previous days, we will try again to offer ship-to-shore helicopter flights to Snow Hill Island.

Day 8, December 3, 2015
Half Moon Island

In the morning we plan to visit Half Moon Island, home to chinstrap and gentoo penguins, various other bird species, and southern elephant seals and Weddell seals. Early in the afternoon, we sail to Deception, where we have the last landing of our voyage at Pendulum Cove.

Days 9-10, December 4 - 5, 2015
Drake Passage

As we sail across the Drake Passage back to Ushuaia, we have again a chance of seeing many seabirds and take advantage of the knowledge of our team of naturalists.

Day 11, December 6, 2015

We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark. Transfer to the airport for departure on homeward-bound flights.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

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What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1+, Easy. You will be travelling to a very remote destination. You must be able to complete on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures without the assistance of others. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet, especially when walking on slippery decks or up and down steep gangways. Shore excursions often require hiking over uneven terrain without the benefit of a developed trail. Some agility is required for getting in and out of the Zodiac landing crafts. While several Zodiac landings are dry, many will require that you step in the water to get ashore. Zodiac and shore excursions are weather permitting.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Nov 26-Dec 6, 2015  Ortelius

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Quadruple with Porthole $11,550
Triple with Porthole $12,800
Twin with Porthole $13,550
Twin with Window $14,150
Twin Deluxe $14,800
Superior $16,150

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 20% of trip cost
70 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: 20% of trip cost
60-89 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
59 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Deck Plan


Cabin Descriptions

The vessel offers simple but comfortable cabins and public spaces

  • 4 quadruple cabins with bunk beds (these can also be used as triple or twin cabins)
  • 2 triple porthole cabins with bunk beds (these can also be used as quads or twin cabins)
  • 25 twin porthole cabin with 2 single lower berths
  • 10 twin cabins with windows and 2 single lower berths
  • 6 superior cabins with double beds and a separate day room
  • 1 suite with a double bed and a separate day room. All cabins are spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin and all cabins have private shower and toilet


Trip Cost Includes:

  • Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals included aboard ship
  • Free use of rubber boots aboard Plancius & Ortelius and snowshoes aboard ‘Plancius’.
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation)
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
  • Ship-to-shore helicopter transfers (with no specific amount of helicopter time guaranteed)
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, pre- and post land arrangements, transfers to the vessel, passport and visa expenses, government arrival and departure taxes, meals ashore, baggage, cancellation, and personal insurance (strongly recommended), excess baggage charges, items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges, gratuities for shipboard personnel, possible fuel surcharges.

Expedition Details


A valid passport is required for your trip. Be sure to check the expiration date. Your passport must be valid for six months after your date of exit from Argentina. In addition, we recommend your passport has at least two completely blank visa pages for every country you will be visiting. It is very important that the blank pages say “Visas” at the top. The last few pages of your passport, which say “Amendments and Endorsements,” and the final page of your passport, which may not have a page number, are not considered to be legitimate visa pages. You can request a new passport or have extra pages inserted in your current passport through a visa service agency or the US Passport Services Office. Be sure to allow sufficient time to acquire this before your trip.

It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of the photo page and the entry stamp page of your passport as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.


US citizens do not need a visa for Chile and Argentina, but there is a Reciprocity Fee for US and Canadian citizens that must be purchased online prior to departure. The fee amount fluctuates so please double check prior to departure. You can pay the fee with a credit card. The fee is valid  for 10 years or the duration of the passport’s validity. A Tourist Card is issued to visitors in Chile.

If you are a citizen of any country other than the US, check with a local consulate for entry requirements.


The 106-guest, ice-strengthened Ortelius is an excellent vessel for expedition cruising in the Arctic and Antarctica. Built in 1989, she has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is very suitable for navigating in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. The vessel has simple but comfortable cabins, ranging from four quadruples with bunk beds to superior cabins and a spacious suite with double beds and separate sitting areas. All cabins are spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin,  and all have private shower and toilet. The Ortelius’ public areas include lots of open-deck space, two restaurants, and a bar/lecture room. She carries a fleet of Zodiacs for shore excursions and has a staff and crew of 46.