Follow in the footsteps of Shackleton on this quintessential polar voyage - from the serene ice of the deep south to the subantarctic wildlife paradise of South Georgia. Experience the Antarctic Peninsula and set foot on the continent before making your way north to the spectacular Antarctic Sound, gateway to the Weddell Sea. Embrace the adventure as you voyage further east, navigating as far as possible into the Weddell Sea. From here set a course to Elephant Island, the desolate outpost where Shackleton and his men finally made landfall after 497 days at sea. On the final leg of your voyage, follow the course of the James Caird across the Scotia Sea to South Georgia, where Shackleton's voyage reached its remarkable conclusion. As you retrace the steps of this historic voyage, your expert expedition team will be by your side to enrich your journey with insights, wildlife-spotting tips and stories of Shackleton's epic adventure.
M/V Greg Mortimer
18 nights premium boat
1 nights comfortable hotel
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Ushuaia (USH), where you will be met by a representative and transferred with your fellow expeditioners to your assigned pre-voyage hotel. If you are already in Ushuaia, we ask you to make your way to your hotel. Check-in is from 3pm. Upon arrival, please visit the Expeditions hospitality desk between 3pm and 7pm to collect your luggage cabin tags and confirm if you wish to join the Ushuaia tour tomorrow. The team will confirm details regarding your embarkation day, answer any questions and provide you with information about where to dine or purchase last minute items.
Expeditioners arriving after 7pm will find a welcome pack waiting for them at check-in and will need to visit the hospitality desk the following day between 8am - 10am.
The remainder of your time is at leisure.
Hotel in Ushuaia to be confirmed
This morning, enjoy breakfast and check-out. Please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Take your cabin luggage to hotel reception, prior to, or at check-out. Your luggage will be stored and transferred directly to the port for clearance, to be placed in your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
Your morning is at leisure to explore Ushuaia.
Those wishing to join our afternoon catamaran cruise, meet back at the hotel lobby at 12.45 pm ready to transfer to the port at 1.00 pm. Here we board our catamaran and sail the Beagle Channel, towards the city's iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Crossing the Bridges Archipelago we'll slow down to watch colonies of sea lions and imperial cormorants sun themselves on the rocky outcrops, while gulls, rock cormorants, skuas, petrels, albatrosses and cauquenes are often sighted. Our cruise offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountain range, in addition to hearing tales of the people and communities of the region.
Alternatively, enjoy your day at leisure and meet at your hotel lobby at 3.45 pm to be transferred to the pier for embarkation.
Once onboard, you'll have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we'll gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
This evening get to know your fellow expeditioners and friendly expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure to Antarctica.
M/V Greg Mortimer
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for your first landings, with important wildlife guidelines and they will also start their informative lecture program. You will learn more about Antarctica's history, wildlife and environment, preparing you for the days ahead. Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake.
Nearing the tip of the South Shetland Islands, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on the bridge, keeping a look out for the first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence, and we are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
It's almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You will want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to marvel at sculptural icebergs and photograph spectacular scenery. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (open at the Captain's discretion) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve into the sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
The famed Weddell Sea is central to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which we are here to retrace. In the summer of 1914 Shackleton and his crew of 27 men sailed into the Weddell Sea to attempt the first overland crossing of Antarctica. As they approached their starting point, their ship the Endurance became trapped in sea ice, sinking any hopes they may have had of completing their objective. Little did they know, this was the beginning of a completely unexpected and remarkable journey. The incredible series of events that followed have made Shackleton's voyage one of the most celebrated in polar history.
Remote and inaccessible, entry into the Weddell Sea is highly prized among polar adventurers. Your passage begins at the northernmost extreme of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the beautifully barren Antarctic Sound. In this seldom-visited part of the Peninsula volcanic peaks tower above penguin colonies, and wave-sculpted icebergs parade through the deep channels leading to the Weddell Sea.
Continuing further east, embrace the expedition spirit as you forge your way as far as possible into the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea is renowned for its breathtaking tabular icebergs and expansive sea ice, which attracts an abundance of wildlife, including crabeater seals, Weddell seals and an array of seabirds. Take some time out on deck to observe the flight of storm petrels, prions and Antarctic cormorants drawn here by the rich blooms of Antarctic krill that flourish in the shelter of this ice-covered sea.
As you travel, take a moment to reflect on the truly historic seas you\ re sailing. It wasn't so far from here that the wreck of the Endurance was discovered, mostly intact, on March 5, 2022. Researchers aboard the polar research vessel S.A. Agulhas II were astonished to find the well-preserved vessel only 6.4km (4 miles) south of the position calculated by Captain Worsley in 1915, when he last laid eyes on his ship.
Today we set a course for Elephant Island, the lonely outpost where 22 of Shackleton's men survived several winter months under the shelter of two upturned boats.
In the morning, join your expedition team in the lecture room to hear the awe-inspiring story of Shackleton and his men, who spent 9 months stuck in Weddell Sea pack ice and 6 months camping on drifting sea ice before making a desperate escape from the sea ice in three open boats. They spent almost a week battling the wind, currents, swell and treacherous ice to finally make landfall on Elephant Island, a striking, ice-covered extremity of the South Shetland Islands, after 497 days at sea.
We plan to sail past Cape Valentine to see the beach where the men first put ashore over 100 years ago, then follow the coastline west to the exposed promontory of Point Wild. This is where Shackleton's 22 men survived several bitter winter months under their upturned boats, hoping for rescue. Weather permitting, we will take a Zodiac cruise or make a landing at historic Point Wild.
After an exciting program of excursions and activities in Antarctica, relax and enjoy the slower pace of sea days as you sail towards South Georgia.
As you make your way across the Scotia Sea you\ re following the route taken by Shackleton and five of his men when they sailed from Elephant Island in search of rescue. In their open wooden boat, the James Caird, they spent 17 days sailing into the unknown across this perilous patch of ocean. This boat journey, which concluded with their safe arrival in King Haakon Bay on the west coast of South Georgia, remains one of the greatest stories of maritime navigation and survival in polar history.
As you sail the onboard lecture program continues, with a series of entertaining presentations on South Georgia's wildlife, geology and history in the lecture room. Or you might prefer to simply unwind: take a long lunch, catch up on your gym sessions, or curl up with a book from our polar library.
The Scotia Sea is known for its abundant wildlife including fin, humpback and blue whales. Keep watch for these gentle giants and elusive orca, which patrol these waters. Venture out on deck with your camera to capture cape petrels and prions wheeling, and albatross soaring gracefully amidst the swell.
Of course, thoughts of Shackleton and his voyage are never far away.
"Nearly always there were gales. So small was our boat and so great were the seas that often our sail flapped idly in the calm between the crests of two waves. Then we would climb the next slope and catch the full fury of the gale where the wool-like whiteness of the breaking water surged around us."
- Ernest Shackleton
As you near the rugged island of South Georgia, spare a thought for Captain James Cook, who arrived here in 1775 and believed it to be the northern tip of a great southern continent! In fact, it is a small island only 176 km long, but with a 3,000 m snow-capped mountain range, some of the world's largest congregations of wildlife and a truly fascinating human history, South Georgia is an island of incredible riches.
As you approach, jagged mountain peaks rise steeply, while seabirds are often spotted soaring around the ship. You will sail along the coast, taking in the spectacular glaciated scenery and enjoying a little shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. This enchanting coastline is yours to explore!
Zodiac cruise around craggy coves and along the rocky coastline in search of penguins, seal haul-outs and bird cliffs. Remember to keep an eye out for South Georgia's kelp forests-these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerising as their fronds sway back and forth on the water's surface.
Zodiacs will also shuttle you from ship to shore, where you can visit some of the largest king penguin colonies on Earth, take a guided walk among fur seals and elephant seals and wander along pebbled streams and grassy glacial outwash plains. We also hope to visit the remnants of South Georgia's thriving whaling stations and visit the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose incredible voyage of survival is synonymous with this island. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to participate whenever conditions allow.
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship-cruise through fjords with towering cliffs of ancient stone, or into deeply indented bays towards dramatic glacier fronts. This is a great time to find a comfy spot in the observation lounge to enjoy uninterrupted views of South Georgia's majestic coast.
For some intrepid Shackleton fans, the optional hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness will be a highlight. This route follows the final stage of Shackleton, Worsely and Crean's improbable traverse of South Georgia, from their landing place in King Haakon Bay on the east coast to Stromness in the west, where they finally found safety after 24 harrowing months at sea.
From Fortuna Bay the trail rises to a spectacular alpine plateau, before angling steeply down towards the abandoned Stromness whaling station. Conditions permitting, we aim to repeat this final section of their traverse.
Bright moonlight showed us that the interior was tremendously broken, Shackleton wrote. High peaks, impassable cliffs, steep snow- slopes, and sharply descending glaciers could be seen in all directions...
As we sail from South Georgia, you will be enthralled by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow the vessel, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
If time and weather conditions permit, we could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia.
As we sail on towards Ushuaia you may choose to spend your final precious moments at sea soaking up the views on deck, enjoying the onboard facilities, or attending final lectures. There is plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean, have a drink with newfound friends and reflect on the voyage you\ ve shared.
On the final night, celebrate your unforgettable voyage with newfound friends at a special Captain's farewell dinner.
We hope you will become ambassadors for the Antarctic region, telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, and advocating for its conservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you will be free to disembark around 8 am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers, before you continue on with your onward journey. A transfer is included to either downtown Ushuaia or to the airport, depending on your onward arrangements.
Polar Temperatures during Antarctic season: Min.: -15°C; Max. 12°C; Average 0°C.
2 Pin Round
Whilst landings are included in the cost of your trip as per the outline itinerary, some departures aboard the MV Greg Mortimer have additional optional excursions which can be pre-booked with the ship operator directly. These will be charged at an additional fee, depending on the excursion and we recommend booking these in advance to ensure availability. Please speak to a member of our Polar team who will advise you on the booking process.
Parkas You should look for a lightweight, roomy, wind and water-resistant parka with some insulation. Bright colors are more visible - and thus safer - in polar environments. Gloves Keeping your hands warm and dry can be a challenge. Thin polypropylene gloves can be worn underneath warm outergloves. This allows you some protection from the cold when removing your gloves to operate your camera etc. We strongly recommend that you bring more than one pair of gloves, in case one gets wet (or lost). Hat/Cap Warm, woollen hat/cap to protect your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection, such as a balaclava. Trousers Water-resistant trousers of coated nylon or, even better, Gore-Tex® are essential for your comfort. They can be worn over your regular clothes to keep you warm and dry. We suggest that you purchase trousers a few sizes larger than you normally wear as you will be wearing them over other clothing. Gore-Tex® or similar fabrics are excellent for keeping out wind and water without trapping excess heat. Rain gear and Gore-Tex® products can be found in any outdoor sport clothing store. In addition to your waterproof trousers, warm ski pants are suggested if you have them. Warm trousers such as jeans, corduroys etc are also good. Socks Warm wool socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene socks should provide enough warmth and insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of socks, since you will inevitably get your feet wet. Outer Clothing Woollen, knit or cotton sweaters/tops, polar fleece tops (medium weight), several cotton turtlenecks and T-shirts for layering on and off the ship. Underclothing Thermal underwear is highly recommended as it will keep you warm without adding bulk. Most polar travellers prefer a lightweight version.
Complimentary waterproof boots will be supplied on-board. However, if you have extra small or large feet, you are advised to bring your own. Also ensure you take good walking boots and trainers for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. Please note that a 15kgs luggage weight limit is sporadically enforced on the internal flight to Ushuaia, occasionally charges may be levied against passengers taking luggage in excess of 15kgs.
Sunglasses and sun cream Insect repellant Personal toiletries A refilllable water bottle Books/reading material Camera and memory cards Seasickness remedy Walking poles
M/V Greg Mortimer, Zodiac
The MV Greg Mortimer is a 104-metre ship, purpose-built in 2019 for expedition travel. Capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, the vessel is being built to world-class polar standards and has been designed in close consultation with expedition specialists. The MV Greg Mortimer is limited to just 132 passengers and guests can enjoy some added comforts such as spacious stateroom cabins, a large mud room with easy boarding access and a hydraulic viewing platform, offering unobstructed views of the wildlife. Other features include a library, Wellness Centre with a gym, sauna and spa and a multimedia room for keen photographers wishing to edit their photos after a day of exploration. As a modern and custom-designed ship, this vessel is at the cutting edge of nautical technology and will ensure a comfortable and safe passage through polar waters.
The lead-in prices on our website are based on triple outward facing, Stateroom cabins. All staterooms have private bathrooms, ample storage, with twin beds. Many of the stateroom categories, have floor to ceiling windows that offer prime observation opportunities around the clock. Additionally, there are private balconies in most of the staterooms, allowing you to watch the world float past and take in the salty air of the open ocean. A full layout of the deck plan can be found under the Polar Ships section on our website. Your confirmed cabin type will appear on your Booking Confirmation, which will be sent on receipt of your deposit payment.
Meals are served in the large, spacious dining room with an open seating arrangement, perfect for swapping stories with your extended expedition family. A range of courses is offered at each meal time and you can enjoy a variety of house wines, beers and soft drinks which are included with your evening meal. Complimentary coffee, tea and snacks are available throughout the day and any additional drinks can be purchased at the fully-stocked bar. On the last day of your trip, the team on the MV Greg Mortimer will provide a special farewell four-course
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Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
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