About the Weddell Sea Quest Itinerary
The Weddell Sea is a rarely visited, heavily iced and beautiful area of Antarctica that holds penguin rookeries and is home to many seals and marine birds. These trips combine the ‘classic’ West side of the Antarctic Peninsula with the less visited eastern Weddell Sea. Famous for the ill-fated polar expedition led by British explorer Ernest Shackleton, the Weddell Sea is known for amazing ice formations and a variety of wildlife. Take this trip to journey to a little-known part of Antarctica and pass through the route of Ernest Shackleton. In brief:
- Visit the pristine, icy Weddell Sea on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the highlights of the western side of the peninsula and the South Shetland Islands
- Sail in the waters of the 1914 Ernest Shackleton expedition
- Learn about the environment and wildlife from onboard lecturers and specialists
- Witness the abundant wildlife – penguins, seals, whales and more!
Day 1: Embarkation
Arriving at the ship in the afternoon, you will be greeted by the Expedition Team and ships officers at a safety and orientation briefing followed by the Captains’ welcome dinner. After dinner, relax and take in the mountainous scenery on our early evening sail down the Beagle Channel past Magellanic Penguin, Rock Cormorant, and Sea Lion colonies.
Days 2-3: Drake Passage
Among the wildlife spotting opportunities as we sail south are the Albatrosses, Prions, and Petrels that frequently follow the ship. The Expedition Team will be out on deck as well, looking for the Whales and Dolphins that may also be seen in the area. The team will begin presentations with informative and entertaining lectures on the wildlife, history, and geology of Antarctica. Helpful briefings on environmental regulations and expedition safety will also be held.
Days 4-6: Weddell Sea
The Weddell Sea is known for its abundance of huge tabular icebergs . In some years, the Erebus & Terror Gulf and Weddell Sea are chock-a-block full with ice, making for exciting ice navigation. Get up at 3:30 in the morning for sunrises unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Huge tabular bergs break from the Larsen, Ronne, and Filchner ice shelves and combine with one-year-old and multi-year sea ice to produce a floating, undulating panorama of rugged ice scenery. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza, located on the western side of the Antarctic Sound, are possible landing sites. The Weddell Sea represents the center of the Peninsulas’ Adelie penguin population. Devil Island and Paulet Island are excellent location to see Adelie penguins.
Days 7-9: Antarctica Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
The remarkable history of the Antarctic Peninsula will also provide you with a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have plenty of time to explore this pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and a wide variety of wildlife. Apart from Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins and other seabirds you are likely to encounter Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as Minke whales and orcas at close range. Expeditions hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways: the Gerlache Strait, Errera Channel and Neumayer Channel. Possible landing sites include: Paradise Bay, an aptly named place with its impressive glacial fronts and mountains, Cuverville Island, home of the biggest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Peninsula surrounded by glaciers and castellated icebergs, and the British Museum and Post office at Port Lockroy. Further exploration will lead you to the South Shetland Islands, where you may visit Deception Island or Half Moon Island.
Days 10-11: Drake Passage
Say goodbye to Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. Join lecturers and naturalists on deck as searching for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia.
Day 12: Disembarkation
Arrive to Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark after breakfast.
Welcome Aboard the Ortelius
The ice-strengthened vessel Ortelius is an excellent vessel for Polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica, capable of visiting remote locations such as the Ross Sea and Franz Josef Land in the Arctic. Ortelius was built in Poland in 1989 and worked as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science.
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. Ortelius offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar, lecture room and a sauna.
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.
- Passengers: 116
- Staff & Crew: 47
- Length: 91.25 meters
- Breadth: 17.61 meters
- Draft: 5.8 meters
- Ice class: UL1 (equivalent to 1A)
- Displacement: 4575 tonnes
- Engines: 6 ZL 40/48 SULZER
- Speed: 12 knots (14.3 knots max)
Ortelius can accommodate up to 116-123 passengers 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.
Cabins & Amenities
- Two restaurants with open seating
- Bar / observation lounge
- Internet access
- Private facilities – sink, toilet shower, hairdryer and bathrobes in every cabin
- Multi-purpose presentation room with state-of-the-art equipment
- Stabilizers for smooth sailing
- 10 zodiacs onboard
- Rates are per person, based on twin share. Single Supplement for twin cabins is 1.7 times the twin rate.
- Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.
- Camping – USD$190 per night, max 30 people
- Kayaking – USD$465 per trip, max 14 people
- Snowshoe – no charge but sign up required
- Adventure Activities for the “Base Camp” voyages are free of charge
- There is always a possibility of an added fuel surcharge if marine oil prices raise significantly.
$5,900 – $8,650
$14,295 – $27,795
$12,500 – $24,900