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Emperor Penguins - The Ross & Weddell Seas


Found only in the Antarctic Peninsula area as an occasional vagrant, the largest and most enigmatic of the penguins, the majestic Emperor, is the only animal to breed in the harsh, cold, dark Antarctic winter. As so well depicted recently in a number of natural history films, when the Antarctic spring sun finally appears, the female Emperors return from the sea to relieve the males, who have spent the winter huddled together on the ice, incubating a single egg on their feet! The Ross Sea region is of course famous for being the starting point for the early explorers attempts to reach the South Pole, and visits are usually planned to both Scott and Shackleton’s Huts on these itineraries.

Worldwide demand is intense for these few departures and so very early booking is normally required. 

The Weddell Sea

In late 2017 & 2018, the M/V Ortelius is operating another ‘In Search of Emperor Penguins’ voyage, aiming to try and visit the colony at Snow Hill Island, using helicopters to fly passengers to a spot from which the colony will be a 45 minute walk or so (so the birds are not disturbed in any way by the human flight operations). This will be combined with a day or so in the Antarctic Peninsula on the way back to Ushuaia. This ship’s high ice-class rating gives it a far better chance than most vessels in penetrating sea ice in this often ice-choked area. Success will allow you to enjoy the Lords of Antarctica, with their chicks, at very close range, ideal for photographers. Prices start from £7455 per person quadruple share and from £8455 twin share (Ushuaia/Ushuaia), including landing fees and helicopter flights. Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins can also be expected on these voyages.


Day 1 Ushuia. Embark and sail.

Days 2-3 At sea, Drake Passage.

Day 4 North Antarctic Peninsula, planned continent landing at Brown Bluff. Antarctic Sound and into Weddell Sea.

Days 5 - 6 Snow Hill Island Emperor Penguin colony, subject to weather and local conditions.

Day 7 If the previous day’s were successful, Antarctic Peninsula landings, otherwise Snow Hill again.

Day 8 Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.

Days 9-10 At sea, Drake Passage.

Day 11. Disembark Ushuaia.

Voyage information

Dates:  15th - 25th November 2017


£7455             Quad berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities                

£7999             Triple berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities                 

£8455             Twin share (lower berths) porthole & private facilities                        

£8799             Twin share (lower berths) window & private facilities                        

£9225             Twin deluxe (lower berths) 2 windows, private facilities & tv             

£9727          Superior (double bed & single) window(s), private facs, tv & fridge   


Dates:  18th-28th November 2018


£8269        Quad berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities                 

£8899        Triple berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities                 

£9499        Twin share (lower berths) porthole & private facilities                        

£9799        Twin share (lower berths) window & private facilities                            

£10,269     Twin deluxe (lower berths) 2 windows, private facilities & tv             

£10,799      Superior (double bed & single) window(s), private facs, tv & fridge   

Landing fees and helicopter flights are included.

Deposit 20%

 More details, the best prices and reservations are available from us. 

Some of our other ice-strengthened ships also run voyages from Ushuaia towards the Snow Hill Island area of the northern Weddell Sea in search of Emperors. These vessels cannot penetrate multi-year fast ice nor are they equipped with helicopters, so cruising amongst the icebergs and ice edge is the plan. There is no guarantee of seeing Emperors on these voyages. 

The Ross Sea

Any voyage to the Ross Sea region and /or East Antarctica will encounter Emperor Penguins, both areas are their breeding stronghold. These are also parts of Antarctica that very few people have visited.  The Ross Sea region was the starting point for the early explorers to the South Pole. Backed by vast ice fields and mountains, the sea only just melts, even in summer. This is the realm of the magnificent Emperor – the largest penguin - and also the smallest, the delightful Adelie. Orcas and Antarctic Minke Whales swim amongst the ice floes whilst Antarctic Petrels (also rarely seen in the Antarctic Peninsula area) and Snow Petrels wheel above.  This region also offers one of the best chances to see Ross Seal and an opportunity to visit Scott and Shackletons’ expedition huts, see the cliffs of the Ross Ice Shelf with your own eyes and camera and travel through ice-choked scenery that is simply out of this world. Most of the itineraries also include some of the rarely visited Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand plus Macquarie Island (Australia) with their endemic penguins including the Royal Penguin. If you have travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula and islands, these are an obvious next trip.


The Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) and the Akademik Shokalskiy sails to and from New Zealand, with many years experience in this remotest part of our planet and currently operates two Ross Sea voyages per season. 

Prices start from £17,155 per person twin share, excluding landing fees of £605 per person.

The Ross Sea and Sub-Antarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand’ aboard Spirit of Enderby


Day 1: Meet Invercargill, overnight hotel with group dinner.

Day 2: Sub-Antarctic museum visit then transfer to ship and sail.

Day 3: Snares Islands, Zodiac cruising for endemic Snares-crested Penguins and seabirds.

Days 4-5: Auckland Islands. More endemics, Yellow-eyed Penguins and much more.

Day 6: At sea.

Days 7-8: Macquarie Island, King, Rockhopper, Gentoo and endemic Royal Penguins.

Days 9-12: At sea.

Days 13-22: The Ross Sea region – our time here will be subject to ice and weather but amongst our landings we hope to visit Cape Adare, Cape Hallett, Terra Nova Bay, Franklin Island, Ross Island (including Cape Bird, Shackleton and Scott’s huts, Mt Erebus) and the Possession Islands. Emperor and Adelie Penguins.

Days 23-26: At sea.

Day 27: Campbell Island, nesting Royal Albatross and megaherbs.

Day 28: At sea.

Day 29: Disembark Bluff, Invercargill.


Voyage information


Dates: 10th January-8th February, 8th February-9th March 2018

Chris Collins will be in the expedition team for this sailing.

Prices from:

£17,155   Sharing a twin basic (lower berths)                                   

£18,459   Sharing a twin with facilities    (upper and lower berths)   

£20,769   Sharing a superior twin with facs. (lower berths)              

£21,539   Sharing a suite with facilities from (beds)                       

Landing fees £679pp


Dates:  11th January – 9h February & 9th February - 10 March 2019 

Prices from:    

£17,689    Sharing a twin basic (lower berths)                                   

£19,229   Sharing a twin with facilities    (upper and lower berths)     

£21,769   Sharing a superior twin with facs. (lower berths)              

£22,615   Sharing a suite with facilities from (beds)                       

Landing fees £679pp

Deposit: 25%

These are 'special' Sterling prices. Payment may also be made  in US$, please ask for rates.

The full colour brochure with more details, the best prices and reservations are available from us.


Emperor Penguin Air Safaris

An IL-76 or Hercules flight from Southern Chile will fly to Union Glacier, the only private base camp in the heart of the continent of Antarctica itself, strategically situated about one mile from the blue-ice runway where you will land.  The base camp accommodates up to 50 visitors, sleeping in insulated tents with a separate dining tent. You will fly on in a specially adapted light aircraft on to the edge of the Weddell Sea and spend days with breeding Emperors standing in their icy home with their newly-hatched chicks. A true expedition, camping in this frozen wilderness with the ‘Lords of Antarctica’ will be a never forgotten experience. Weather permitting, short walks will be undertaken, with many of the Emperors likely to follow you, in a surreal setting of icebergs and coastal ice cliffs. An utterly unique travel and wildlife experience from start to finish! WildWings Tour Leader Dick Filby has led this trip a number of times including 2011 and 2012, he rates these true expeditions as simply the ultimate wildlife and travel experience! To open your tent door in the morning and be faced with an Emperor Penguin colony set in white ice surroundings sounds pretty unforgettable!


7 days duration from Punta Arenas, Chile from £35,189 per person. Departures TBC November 2017 &2018.


Note some time flexibility is needed on the part of Antarctic air expedition participants, weather delays currently average two days per expedition (additional to planned duration). 


 Contact us for full details and reservations.

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