South Georgia & Weddell Sea Dates & Rates

Travel with Science Expert, Dr Paul Willis!

Travellers and science fans alike, can join renowned scientist and Director of RiAus (the Royal Institution of Australia), Dr Paul Willis, onboard this expedition in March 2014. Part of a newly established partnership between Aurora Expeditions and the RiAus, Australia’s national science communication organisation, Dr Willis will entertain and inform passengers with his vast knowledge of the region’s fossil-rich islands, vast tabular icebergs and the ancient Antarctic landscape, whilst also recounting the historic journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Find out more here.

Celebrating one of the greatest survival stories in Antarctic exploration, this voyage will take you into the wild Weddell Sea, where Ernest Shackleton planned to start a daring feat – the first crossing of Antarctica. We follow in his wake, albeit in comfort and safety, to Elephant Island and South Georgia, shining a light on his heroic voyage.

The Weddell Sea offers huge glaciers that pour down between the mountains from the polar plateau, and plates of ice the size of city blocks cover the ocean’s surface. We attempt to visit fossil-rich islands, wildlife havens, remnants of historic explorers’ huts, and even land on the Antarctic continent itself.

On South Georgia's windswept islands we see some of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries. Famed for its abandoned whaling stations and Shackleton’s epic journey across the island's centre, South Georgia is home to millions of fur seals and penguins, wallows of elephant seals, herds of reindeer and nesting albatross. 


dates & prices

There are no trips scheduled for this expedition.



Day 1

Step aboard in the late afternoon to a cordial welcome, introductory briefing and an evening departure along the Beagle Channel. Settle into your homely cabin, explore the ship and enjoy a drink with your shipmates.

Day 2

Tune into the Southern Ocean as we cross Drake Passage. Our naturalist and historian inform us about Antarctica and the weeks ahead. Safety and environmental briefings prepare us for landings, while the outer decks and flying bridge offer the best vantage points for photography and wildlife viewing.

Day 3

The temperature plummets as we cross the biological boundary of the Antarctic Convergence. Cormorants, penguins and seals mark our approach to the South Shetland Islands, where we may well land.

Days 4-6

Sail through Antarctic Sound with its spectacular iceberg parade, and into the Weddell Sea. Along the way we may set foot on the Antarctic continent, watch for whales and seals in a sea of abundance, and visit magnificent penguins rookeries at the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern end. In the Weddell Sea we begin to trace Shackleton’s path.

Day 7

Approaching the steep slopes of Elephant Island, home to 22 of Shackleton’s men for four months, we hope for a clear view of the spot where the men wintered beneath upturned boats. With luck we go ashore to pay tribute to these hardy souls.

Days 8-9

Following in Shackleton’s wake, we have time to reflect on all we’ve seen and learned, and to prepare for the next phase of our journey as continue across the Scotia Sea.

Day 10

We enter King Haakon Bay on South Georgia’s southern coast and may make a ceremonial landing at Cave Cove, Shackleton’s first landfall after his epic open boat voyage. We farewell our alpine crossing party here as they begin their own adventurous journey through the crevassed terrain of the island’s interior.

Days 11-13

While the alpine party crosses the mountains and passes of South Georgia, the shipboard party explores the bays and promontories, revelling in the island’s extraordinary diversity of wildlife. We are spoiled for choice of landings: the world’s largest penguin rookeries, wandering albatross on nests, beaches of elephant and fur seals, and Grytviken’s whaling museum vie for our attention. You may choose to hike from Fortuna to Stromness, whose whaling station marked the ending of Shackleton’s arduous island crossing.

Days 14-16

Back to the Scotia Sea for a relaxing interlude. We continue our Antarctic education and wildlife watching en route to the Falkland Islands/Maldivas.

Day 17

Stanley, the Falklands undeniably British capital, features an excellent museum, post office, picturesque houses, welcoming shops and pubs. We will spend the morning exploring the beautiful capital of the Falkland Islands/Maldivas.

Day 18

Sea Lion Island offers a welcome opportunity to stretch our legs. Amongst a treasure trove of birdlife, Falkland Island steamer ducks and Magellanic penguins enliven walks through the tussock. There are cliff tops to explore, birds and southern sea lions to watch.

Day 19

Prions, petrels and albatross accompany us on the last leg of our voyage as we swap photos and stories and reflect on shared adventures.

Day 20

In the wee hours we sail up the Beagle Channel to dock in Ushuaia. A hearty breakfast and fond farewell prepare us for leave-taking and the next leg of our respective journeys.

Please note that all of our itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. Our itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.



How to Prepare

How to prepare for an Antarctica Expedition

To ensure you have an enjoyable and safe expedition we have developed some import pre-departure information to help you prepare for your voyage. We strongly recommend you download the documents below and read carefully. Our reservation staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Before you depart for your expedition we will send you a detailed pack including your itinerary, travel documents and any other essential information relevant to your voyage.

To help get you started download our Expedition Essentials document here. 

Is your passport valid? 
Your passport will be required to have validity that will extend to six months after the date of your return.

Visa arrangements 
Your visa arrangements are your responsibility. Please contact our reservations staff for assistance, or if you are unsure if you require a visa.

Travel insurance 
All passengers are required to provide travel insurance details including policy number and emergency contact number to Aurora Expeditions prior to departure. We strongly recommend insurance coverage that includes emergency medical evacuation from the vessel.

Emergency contact details 
So that you can be contacted in the case of an emergency, remember to provide your family or friends with a copy of your travel documents as well as Aurora Expeditions’ and your Ship’s contact numbers.

Remember to pack any valuables or essential items such as medication in your hand luggage to avoid issues in the case of lost baggage.

Antarctica Landing & Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Antarctica Photography Hints

Antarctica What To Bring Checklist


How many people on the ship?
Polar Pioneer sleeps 54 passengers. We believe that small groups are the best way to experience our destinations.

Where do passengers come from?
The majority of our clients come from Australia, the UK/Europe and America, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition staff.

How much room is there for luggage?
There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be.

Does the crew speak English?
The crew on Polar Pioneer are all Russian. They are undoubtedly the ice-masters of the world. The Captain and most of the watch officers speak English. Whilst some of the crew speak only a little English, they do like to practice their English skills on our willing passengers.

How cold does it get in Antarctica?
During the summer months (when we visit) the temperature can range from -2C (28F) to 8C (46F). Big storms are rare, but if one comes through the temperature could drop to -8C (17F).

Is the ship air-conditioned? What is the temperature?
All our ships are air-conditioned and the temperature ranges for 15°C to 25°C. On Polar Pioneer you can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.

How do we dry wet clothing?
Clothing dries very quickly inside your cabin. There are no passenger laundry facilities for you to do your own washing, but there is a laundry service on board all our vessels. Prices are listed in your cabin. All cabins have a sink.

What clothes do I take to wear on the ship?
Shipboard clothing is informal and casual. Depending on your destination; jeans, jumpers, long sleeve shirt and enclosed shoes are ideal in our polar regions. However be sure to keep your jacket close for unexpected sightings!

Some people like to take a nice outfit or something a bit special for the Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks, but formal clothing is not necessary.

What type of jacket should I take?
You can get away without a padded ski jacket or down parka, if you don’t have one; however a wind and waterproof jacket is a must!

Do you provide parkers or jackets?
From November 2014 each passenger travelling on our Antarctic or Arctic voyages will receive a complimentary polar expedition jacket to wear during your expedition and take home after your trip.

What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?
It is most important that you bring a good pair of walking shoes. Gumboots will be provided on board in our polar destinations.

How often do we get off the ship?
We aim to get off the ship as much as possible, usually two, sometimes three times a day depending on weather and itinerary. Weather permitting we spend between one to four hours at each location. We come back to the ship for meals.

What is not included in the price of the voyage?
In general items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, ship-shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions).

Some voyages do include certain pre and post arrangements, so please check your specific voyage inclusions in our brochure, website or call our Expedition Experts on + 61 2 9252 1033 .

Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form or on our website here.

How much should I tip?
People often ask us what they should do about tipping. Tipping is a very personal matter, however if pressed we recommend $US10-12 per passenger, per day that you are on the ship. It is better for our Russian crew if you can give them US dollars cash. Our Russian crews work extremely hard to ensure you have the best possible experience. They are paid by the Russian ship owners and do not receive large wages. We are continually lobbying on their behalf for better pay.

Should I bring along my own walking poles?
Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips for polar voyages. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.

Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?
No, we do not provide a computer to download your digital images. We recommended you bring a laptop computer or similar downloading device to download your images, either between landings, in the evenings or during sea crossings.

What is the electrical supply on board? Do I need a converter?
The electrical supply on board Polar Pioneer is 220 volts, 50 hertz. You will need a European round two-prong plug adapter (as pictured), available at duty free or electrical supply shops.

Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?
There is no Internet access on board our ships, however you can pay to send and receive emails only (no attachments). On Polar Pioneer, the prices start from approximately 20 US cents per one kilobyte. Wi-fi access is available for laptops, with an email account set up for US$5, with the same download/sending fees.

A satellite telephone is available for use, and prices start from US$10 for 5 min.
Please Note: Due to the remote location of your voyage, making contact with the ship via telephone can be difficult and expensive. In case of emergency, it is recommended your family and friends contact the Aurora Expeditions’ office and we will do our best to get the message through to the ship.

Do you cater for special meal requests?
Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.

Do you provide gumboots?
Yes. All passengers going to Antarctica, the Arctic, and Scotland, will be provided with gumboots. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.

What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?
Our expedition staff will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally on our polar voyages we avoid going to the bathroom ashore, however in an emergency we ask you to find a discreet location near the shoreline to relieve yourself.

Do you provide toiletries on board?
We provide each passenger with a bar of soap on Polar Pioneer.

How fit do I need to be?

To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.

How do we pay for our bar bill at the end of the voyage?
Our hotel manager will organise this on board. We accept all major credit cards, or if you are paying cash we except US or Australian dollars on Polar Pioneer.

Can I smoke on board?
There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships. Our expedition leader will advise you on designated smoking areas.

Are there hairdryers on board?
There are no hairdryers on Polar Pioneer.

Will I get sea sick?
Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. Come with motion sickness tablets. There will be a doctor on board Polar Pioneer toa ssit with any bouts of seasickness.

How close can I get to the animals?
We enforce a five (5) metre rule in all our destinations. In regions where there are more dangerous animals such as polar bears in the Arctic, our expedition staff will give you strict viewing guidelines on board and you will be asked to stay close to your expedition guide when ashore. 

What clothes do I need in South America?
In South America it will be mid-summer and the temperature is likely to be between 20 C and 30 C. Casual comfortable clothing such as shorts, skirts and cool tops with sandals are ideal. In Tierra del Fuego the weather is very changeable and tends to be cooler, so long trousers and a windproof or fibre-pile (polar fleece) jacket are ideal.

How many pairs of gloves do I need?
It is best to take two to three pairs of gloves.

How much time do we have in Ushuaia?
The time available to you in Ushuaia very much depends on your personal itinerary. We strongly recommend you plan to arrive one or two days before your journey. Many people like to extend their stay in South America to visit places such as Patagonia or Iguazu Falls. Aurora Expeditions can assist you with all your travel arrangements including flights, accommodation, travel insurance and transfers as well as fascinating extra tours and activities.

What sort of money do I take and how much?
We recommend that you take US dollars for use in Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and on board the ship. We do not recommend travellers cheques in Argentina; it is difficult to change them, even at hotels. Australian dollars are impossible to exchange in South America, particularly in Tierra del Fuego. Approximate exchange is four (4) Argentine Peso to one (1) Australian or US dollar.

It is better to carry US dollars for tipping and payment of bar bills on board the ship. You can also pay with all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Can I swim or snorkel in Antarctica?
Although you cannot swim or snorkel in Antarctica, most of our voyages stop for a ‘Polar Plunge’, where willing passengers can take the ultimate dip into the icy Antarctic waters. Experienced scuba divers have the option to dive on selected voyages.

Can I take my skis and ski in Antarctica?
We do not offer skiing in Antarctica. Hidden crevasses make unguided skiing in Antarctica extremely dangerous.

How to Book

Contact us

If you are interested in an Aurora Expeditions voyage, please contact our sales team to check availability.
Either email an expert here or call our experienced consultants direct on + 61 2 9252 1033 or 1800 637 688 (Freecall within Australia).

Complete a booking form

Once availability is confirmed, please download, print and complete the booking form. Please return it to us, along with your deposit to secure your berth.  Please ensure you read the Terms and Conditions of contract before sending us your signed booking form.

Download the booking form here.

Terms & Conditions

Click here to view the terms and conditions.

Preparation for your voyage

On receipt of the booking form, we will contact you to confirm your booking and our reservations staff will send you a comprehensive pre-departure kit. This kit will contain all necessary pre-departure information including visa information, insurance information, a medical and personal details form, comprehensive gear list and information tailored to your voyage.

Aurora Expeditions - Your Personal Travel Agent

Aurora Expeditions is a licensed travel agent. Our experienced reservations consultants all have specialised expertise on the destinations we travel to. Each voyage has a dedicated travel expert solely working on developing dynamic itineraries for our passengers.  Contact our reservations team and allow us to create a personal itinerary to compliment your voyage, including airfares, accommodation, travel insurance and pre and post voyage travel options.

We look forward to assisting you with your journey of a lifetime.

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