Antarctica Featuring The Ross Sea
Step back into the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration to discover a wildlife wonderland. Departing Tasmania’s glorious south coast, sail to New Zealand’s Auckland and Enderby Islands to encounter sea lion harems and yellow-eyed penguins in the rata forests. While on Campbell Island, magnificent royal albatross court amidst megaherb meadows. Crossing the Antarctic Convergence, enter pack ice alive with orcas, seals and emperor penguins. On Cape Adare, the first documented landing site in Antarctica, be overwhelmed by the world’s largest Adélie penguin colony. Deep in the Ross Sea, the amazingly preserved huts of Scott and Shackleton await. Sail north, aiming for the remote Balleny Islands, then on to the tussocked coast of Macquarie Island, home to half a million king penguins and vast wallows of elephant seals. After a month away, the emerald shores of Tasmania greet you like a warm smile.
This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.
- 25 night voyage aboard Greg Mortimer departing from Hobart
- Arrival transfer from airport to Greg Mortimer on Day 1
- Departure transfer from Greg Mortimer to airport or hotel on last day
- Onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
PLUS! Ultimate Cruising guests also receive:
- $1000 per booking air credit per booking
- 1 night accommodation pre-cruise
- Chauffeur driven luxury car transfers from your home to the airport and return (within 35km)
AUCKLAND ISLANDS & CAMPBELL ISLAND
First discovered in 1806 by British whaler Abraham Bristow, these remote specks of land in the Southern Ocean are a refuge for thousands of birds and sea lions. Depending on weather and sea conditions, Enderby Island, the most northern in the Auckland Islands, is our first landing. Hop aboard a Zodiac to cruise into Sandy Bay, land near a researcher’s hut, and be greeted by raucous New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lions, the world’s rarest and most endangered of the five sea lion species. It’s breeding season, as 500-kilogram adult males fight for the favour of females, who form harems of up to 25 attended by a single dominant bull. Keep an eye out for newborn pups. Enter a forest fit for hobbits, walking among twisted trunks of southern rata trees. Stretch your legs on a hike across the island’s megaherb moors, spotting yellow-eyed penguins, light-mantled sooty albatross and royal albatross with a wingspan of nearly 3.5 metres. Our second day begins with an exciting Zodiac cruise through Victoria Passage, a lively channel separating Adams Island from Auckland Island (Motu Maha), and finishes with a walk into Erlangen Clearing, to hear of a German merchant ship that scavenged timber for its boilers hoping to escape to South America during World War II. After lunch, visit Carnley Harbour for superb Zodiac-cruising, and walks through rata forests alive with birdsong to historic sites from early sealers and World War II coastwatchers.
Campbell Island,New Zealand’s most southerly subantarctic island is the highly eroded remnant of an ancient volcano that rises to 570 metres and cops some rough weather – gusts over 50 knots (96 kph) occur at least 100 days a year. Wind and weather permitting, we plan to Zodiac cruise the protected Northeast Harbour to photograph waterfalls, yellow-eyed penguins and possibly the reintroduced endemic Campbell Island snipe. At Perseverance Harbour, an opportunity to hike up a boardwalk through flowering megaherb meadows to breeding southern royal albatross allows us to sit quietly and watch as they unfurl their three-metre wingspan, clack their beaks and issue their unforgettable, mournful cries.
Over these next expedition days, the nature and timing of our outings will be dictated by ice, wind and weather and other conditions beyond our control. The places of interest below are a general guide of the places we hope to visit.
Cape Adare, at the tip of the Ross Sea, is home to Antarctica’s largest Adélie penguin colony and site of the first recorded landing in Antarctica. Ice and weather permitting, wend your way through ice-floes to land on the flat, cobbled spit shared by more than a million noisy penguins, many busy feeding chicks before joining the endless conveyor of adults moving to and from the sea. Treading carefully, we plan to make our way to Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, where Norwegian/Australian Carsten Borchgrevink and his small team overwintered in 1899-1900. Step inside to inspect the interior and its artefacts and marvel at what it took to spend a dark winter here.
Set against the spectacular backdrop the wild Admiralty Mountains, Cape Hallett was the Antarctic foothold for the Australian Bicentennial Antarctic Expedition led by Aurora Expeditions founder (and ship’s namesake) Greg Mortimer. In 1988, Greg Mortimer and his team hauled sledges inland from here to climb 4263-m Mt Minto. If conditions permit, we plan to land near an abandoned American/New Zealand base to photograph the many Adélie penguins and Weddell seals on this breathtaking site.
Named after one of Robert Falcon Scott’s relief ships for his 1901-04 Discovery Expedition, Terra Nova Bay contains the remains of Drygalski Ice Tongue, what’s left after two massive icebergs sheared more than 200 sq km of ice from it in 2005 and 2006. We hope to visit the second largest emperor penguin colony in Antarctica at Cape Washington, and Inexpressible Island, where in 1912, Scott’s Northern Party dropped off six men for geological work over six weeks. Pack ice stopped their ship from returning and they spent a miserable winter in a 3.7 m x 2.7 m ice cave they excavated, living on the few seals and penguins they could find. In the Spring, they trekked 320 km around the coast to the main expedition party on Ross Island.
McMurdo Sound could be described as the ‘heart of Antarctica’. If the ice permits, we enter a surreal world of exquisite beauty, where steam erupts from the 3,794 metre summit of Mt Erebus, the Transantarctic Mountains shimmer to the west, and the polar icecap wraps around Ross Island, home to Antarctica’s greatest monuments from the Heroic Age of Exploration. If conditions permit, we may have a chance to visit Discovery Hut (Scott’s Nimrod expedition), Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds, or Scott’s Hut (British Antarctic Expedition) at Cape Evans. Stand quietly amidst artefacts from these great expeditions then step outside to the busy world of Adélie penguins and Weddell seals.
Sail along the perfectly cleaved ice cliffs of Antarctica’s largest ice shelf. Rising 30 metres from icy waters patrolled by pods of orca, the Ross Ice Shelf is about the size of France and the world’s largest body of floating ice. Watch for ethereal snow petrels as they play on air currents sweeping down from the polar ice cap.
Enjoy an exploration day, as we make our way back to the top of the Ross Sea. We may try landing on Franklin Island, with its vast Adélie penguin rookery and the chance to hike to the island’s summit. Or Zodiac-cruise the small rocky islets of Possession Islands; or simply pick a spot on the map to see what we can see.
We may attempt to reach the remote Balleny Islands, a 160-km chain of islands that provides resting and breeding habitat for seabirds and three seal species, yet few people have ever landed here. Volcanic in origin, some islands are still active. Elephant, leopard and crabeater seals have been identified in surrounding waters and Adélie penguins breed on shore. Simply seeing the islands would be a thrill, to Zodiac-cruise amongst them even better, a landing – the best. True expedition cruising.
Douglas Mawson set up his communication base here in December 1911, and now supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Ocean. Millions of penguins of four different species – king, rockhopper, gentoo and the endemic royal – breed here. Upon arrival, we hope to land at Sandy Bay, where a boardwalk leads up to a royal penguin rookery teeming with showy birds displaying their golden head feathers. At the shore are stately king penguins and chicks, and above fly black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatross. Fur and elephant seals hide amongst thick tussocks that have come back to life, thanks to a successful pest-eradication program.
Prices and Departure Dates
Departs Hobart on 05 January 2022 and 31 January 2022
Prices start from A$47,595 per person share twin in a Stateroom. Please note that all prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice at any time.
- Meals + Wine
- Medical Services
- On-Board Lecturer
- Shore Excursions
- Built Date 2019
- Capacity 132
- Length 104M
- Expedition Style
- Soft Adventures
Purpose-built for expeditions to the most remote places on earth, Greg Mortimer was the first passenger ship to feature the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW, allowing the ship to cross oceans more comfortably and efficiently, with expansive observation decks to bring you closer to the environment, inviting communal areas and unsurpassed environmental credentials. The Greg Mortimer offers the perfect base camp for adventures at the outer limits of human exploration.
Accommodating an average of 132 expeditioners per voyage within 76 cosy, comfortable cabins – all cabins have a view of the ocean and 85% of cabins have their own balcony. The ship also features a modern lecture lounge, multiple observation areas, zodiac launching platforms, a restaurant serving excellent meals, a gym and wellness centre, jacuzzis, a mudroom and many other amenities.
The Greg Mortimer has redefined expedition cruising for the future.
Meals + Wine