THE ROSS SEA – USHUAIA TO BLUFF
|1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Embark the Ortelius|
|2 - 3||Drake Passage||Cross this turbulent stretch of ocean towards Ushuaia.|
|4||Antarctic Peninsula||Stunning scenery, icebergs, abundance of wildlife|
|5 - 6||Bellingshausen Sea||Cross the Bellingshausen Sea towards Peter I Island|
|7||Peter I Island||Possible helicopter landing on one of the most remote islands in the world|
|8 - 14||Amundsen Sea||Sail thorugh pack ice, chance to spot Emperor penguins as well as seals, orca and minke whales|
|15 - 17||Ross Ice Shelf||Impressive scenery, large icebergs, great wildlife opportunites|
|18 - 20||The Ross Sea||Spend the next few days exploring this remote, rugged and impressive place of the world, possible helicopter flights and landings|
|21 - 22||Inexpressible Island||Adelie penguins, visit the impressive Drygalski Ice Tongue and Cape Hallet|
|23||Cape Adare||Explore the place where humans wintered for the first time on the Antarctic Continent, spot Adelie penguins|
|24||At Sea||Sail north through the Southern Ocean, towards Balleny Islands|
|25||Balleny Islands||Struge Island, cross the Antarctic Circle|
|26 - 28||At Sea||Sail the Southern Ocean towards Macquarie Island|
|29||Macquarie Island||Abundance of flora and fauna including three species of penguins, elephant seals and New Zealand Fur seals|
|30||At Sea||You will be sailing northwest towards Campbell Island.|
|31||Campbell Island||Visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site full of beautiful flora and many species of birds|
|32||At Sea||Take in the vast horizons on your final sea|
|33||Bluff, New Zealand||After breakfast disembark the Ortelius for your onward journey|
The Ortelius was originally the Marina Svetaeva. Built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, it served as a special-purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. Later it was re-flagged and renamed after the Dutch/Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, who in 1570 published the first modern world atlas: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World. The Ortelius can accommodate 108 guests and has an abundance of open-deck spaces for watching wildlife and the impressive scenery as you sail past. She also has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) making her perfect for polar expeditions.
On selected Ortelius voyages helicopters are used to get even closer to the heart of untouched wildlife, allowing you to set foot onto some of the world’s most remote landscapes. Take a flight above the ice of the Weddell Sea or Ross Sea and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Antarctic wilderness. Helicopter flights and landings are complimentary on this voyage however they are subject to weather and ice conditions.
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.
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 Antarctic circumpolar current 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.
You will 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 penguins and other wildlife as well as enjoy spectacular views of the icebergs in this surreal, snow-swept environment.
From the peninsula you head toward the open sea, your course set for 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 is 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.
You will 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.
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, you will also cross the International Date Line.
Keeping to the Ross Sea, your expedition teams 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 favourable, 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 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.
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.
Today you will attempt a landing at Cape Adare, the place where humans wintered on the Antarctic Continent for the first time: The Norwegian Borchgrevink stayed here in 1899, taking shelter in a hut that to this day is surrounded by the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world.
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.
The intended route today is past Sturge Island in the afternoon, getting an impression of these windswept and remote islands before crossing the Antarctic Circle.
You once again enter the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. Sea birds are prolific on this leg.
Macca, also known as Macquarie Island, is a Tasmanian State Reserve that in 1997 became a World Heritage Site. The Australian Antarctic Division has its permanent base on this island, which Australian sealer Frederick Hasselborough discovered while searching for new sealing grounds. The fauna on Macquarie is fantastic, and there are colonies of king, gentoo, and southern rockhopper penguins – as well as almost one million breeding pairs of the endemic royal penguin. Elephant seals and various fur seal species, such as the New Zealand fur seal, are also present.
Today will be spent at sea sailing northwest towards Campbell Island, again followed by numerous species of seabirds.
Today you will 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.
Take in the vast horizons of your final sea day before you reach New Zealand
This morning after breakfast you will disembark in Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand, and return home with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
Please note: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. The on-board expedition leader determines the final itinerary. Itineraries may mention places that require permission to land, which must be granted by the relevant national authorities. Such permission is not granted prior to the publishing of these itineraries. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.