Weddell Sea voyage
The ice-choked Weddell Sea is located east of the Antarctic Peninsula. Here Emperor Penguins breed on the fast sea ice, with their most accessible colony being near Snow Hill Island. This is where you find fluffy Emperor Penguin chicks being tended by adults, who must continually march back and forth miles across the sea ice to open water to feed. Visiting the colony is a challenge, requiring both an ice-strengthened ship able to navigate the Weddell Sea, as well as helicopters to get participants between the ship and within walking distance of the colony across the ice. Occasional programs are offered, always early in the season (October or November when the sea ice is still fast). Even with the right vessel and equipment there are no guarantees of success as the weather is the real master of any voyage here. If you don’t make it to the actual colony your chances of still seeing Emperor Penguins on the ice near Snow Hill are fairly good.
An early season expedition to the Weddell Sea will typically include additional landings on the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.
At this time the Ortelius is the only Antarctic vessel suited for this voyage, with an adequately ice-strengthened hull plus deck and garage space to carry 2 helicopters. They attempt the voyage annually, in November.
For more information on this remote and extraordinary destination drop us a line! Dates for the next departure are November 15-25, 2017, for 10 nights aboard the Ortelius. This program is anticipated to have 4 days in the Weddell Sea / Antarctic Sound area, with a possible two days if conditions are perfect trying for the Snow Hill Emperor Penguin colony. Prices start at $10,850 per person in a twin cabin (including helicopter flights).
The likelihood of finding individual Emperor Penguins, or small groups, is very high on this voyage. The likelihood however of reaching the Snow Hill colony is less than 50% owing to possible sea ice and/or wind conditions.