|1||Hobart, Tasmania||Board your ship and set off on an unforgettable journey.|
|2-4||At Sea||Enjoy the ships facilities and marvel at the sea birds.|
|5-6||Auckland Islands||Enderby Island, Victoria Passage, Carnley Harbour|
|7||Campbell Island||Visit New Zealand's most Southerly subantarctic island|
|8-11||At Sea||Attend lectures held by the expedition team.|
|12-13||Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay||Visit Mawson's hut.|
|14-16||Point Martin, Dumont d'Urville, Mertz Glacier||Visit the French Base, Petrel Island, Astrolabe Glacier|
|17-19||At Sea||Keep watch for whales.|
|20-21||Macquarie Island||Visit this remote island teeming with birdlife. Zodiac to Lusitania Bay, home to a king penguin colony.|
|22-24||At Sea||The last final stretch of sea before Hobart.|
|25||Hobart, Tasmania||Disembark in Tasmania and transfer to your hotel or airport.|
The Greg Mortimer is a new purpose built, polar expedition vessel taking 132 guests. This vessel has been designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption and emissions and ‘virtual anchoring’ which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.
Enjoy a warm welcome aboard the Greg Mortimer, be shown your cabin and depart Hobart in the evening. Follow in the wake of Sir Douglas Mawson and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911, that also sailed down the Derwent River and into Storm Bay. After dinner, enjoy magnificent views of Cape Raoul’s striking dolerite cliffs on a ship cruise of Tasman Island.
Enjoy exciting days at sea, with entertaining talks on exploration and natural history. Spend time on deck photographing seabirds and keeping an eye out for the rare sight of Campbell, Salvin’s and white-capped albatross, seen in few other regions.
First discovered in 1806 by British whaler Abraham Bristow, these remote specks of land in the Southern Ocean are a refuge for thousands of birds and sea lions. Depending on weather and sea conditions, Enderby Island, the most northern in the Auckland Islands, is our first landing. Hop aboard a Zodiac to cruise into Sandy Bay, land near a researcher’s hut, and be greeted by raucous New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lions, the world’s rarest and most endangered of the five sea lion species. It’s breeding season, as 500-kilogram adult males fight for the favour of females, who form harems of up to 25 attended by a single dominant bull. Keep an eye out for newborn pups. Enter a forest fit for hobbits, walking among twisted trunks of southern rata trees. Stretch your legs on a hike across the island’s megaherb moors, spotting yellow-eyed penguins, light-mantled sooty albatross and royal albatross with a wingspan of nearly 3.5 metres. Our second day begins with an exciting Zodiac cruise through Victoria Passage, a lively channel separating Adams Island from Auckland Island (Motu Maha), and finishes with a walk into Erlangen Clearing, to hear of a German merchant ship that scavenged timber for its boilers hoping to escape to South America during World War II. After lunch, visit Carnley Harbour for superb Zodiac cruising, and walks through rata forests alive with birdsong to historic sites from early sealers and World War II coastwatchers.
New Zealand’s most southerly subantarctic island is the highly eroded remnant of an ancient volcano that rises to 570 metres and cops some rough weather – gusts over 50 knots (96 kph) occur at least 100 days a year. After breakfast, Zodiac cruise protected Northeast Harbour to photograph waterfalls, yellow-eyed penguins and possibly the reintroduced endemic Campbell Island snipe. After lunch, land at the seasonal research station in Perseverance Harbour and hike up a boardwalk through flowering megaherb meadows to breeding southern royal albatross. Sit quietly and watch as they unfurl their three-metre wingspan, clack their beaks and issue their unforgettable, mournful cries.
Marvel at the ULSTEIN X-BOW’s ability to smooth our ride as we sail the Southern Ocean, admiring wandering albatross in flight. Cross the Antarctic Convergence, where cold, dense polar waters meet temperate waters, hopefully heralding our first iceberg. Entering the ethereal world of pack ice, rejoice at how quickly the seas calm. Keep a watch for orcas, seals and penguins as we navigate a wonderland few have experienced.
Ice and weather permitting, we enter Commonwealth Bay, dubbed the ‘Home of the Blizzard’ by Mawson. We plan to land at Cape Denison, where the hut was built for his 1911-14 expedition and has withstood katabatic winds since then, thanks to the efforts the Mawson Hut Foundation. If calm enough conditions prevail, we plan to land and walk across to Mawson’s Hut. Step inside and immediately feel connected with the era and men of that incredible expedition. With luck we may see Wilson’s storm petrels, Weddell seals, Adélie penguins and perhaps some skuas. Since Mawson’s day, the South Magnetic Pole has migrated off the land and is now located out to sea. Ice and weather permitting, our Captain will attempt to manoeuvre the
Greg Mortimer into position over the South Magnetic pole.
Heading east, we hope to stop at this rocky toehold on the Antarctic Plateau, usually out of reach of Commonwealth Bay’s notorious katabatic winds. Here we may visit the French Base abandoned after a fire in the 1950s, and now home to a lively Adélie penguin colony. On Christmas Day, we continue towards Petrel Island, home of the French research station Dumont D’Urville, and nesting ground of snow and Wilson’s storm petrels. The station was named after French explorer Dumont D’Urville, who proclaimed the territory for France in January 1840. He also named the Adélie penguin after his wife. We hope to visit the station, walk the island shores and take Zodiacs to admire the ice-front of the Astrolabe Glacier. Sail past the ice tongue of Mertz Glacier, which floats kilometres out to sea before disgorging icebergs into the Southern Ocean. Just over a decade ago, the massive iceberg designated B09B collided with the ice tongue and knocked 80 percent off its length, leaving a 20 km stub. Nonetheless, this natural barrier continues to attract wildlife, including the larger whale species. Should the opportunity arise, we take a closer look at its crevassed ice cliffs from our Zodiacs.
As we put the grandeur of Antarctica behind us, these days at sea can mark a time for reflection, reading or pursuing creative activities. But keep watch outside, as these waters are rich in whale species, from humpback and orca, to the greater whale species, like blue.
Douglas Mawson set up his communication base here in December 1911, and now supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Ocean. Millions of penguins of four different species – king, rockhopper, gentoo and the endemic royal – breed here. Upon arrival, we hope to Zodiac-cruise Lusitania Bay. The king penguin rookery here is a quarter of a million strong, noisy and spectacular. A welcoming committee will likely porpoise around our Zodiacs, and leopard seals often patrol the waters. Our next days are spent around Sandy Bay, where a boardwalk leads up to a royal penguin rookery teeming with showy birds displaying their golden head feathers. At the shore are stately king penguins and chicks, and above fly black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatross. Fur and elephant seals hide amongst thick tussocks that have come back to life, thanks to a successful pest-eradication program. Celebrate our final landing at New Year’s Eve celebrations on board.
Heading north, take time to assimilate the rich experiences of the past few weeks. Organise photo files, tidy up a journal or simply relax before stepping back into the ‘unreal’ world. After almost a month away, the emerald shores of Tasmania greet you like a warm smile as, like Mawson before us, we make our way into Storm Bay and up the Derwent to Hobart.
After breakfast farewell your expedition team and crew as you disembark and are transferred to your hotel or airport.