2021/2022 Antarctic season has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
Aurora Expeditions are offering cruises around Australia. Contours Travel can book any of these cruises for you. Please contact us for further details.
2022/2023 Antarctic season dates have not been released yet.
This 21 or 22 days South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey voyage encompasses the best of the Antarctic Peninsula and the enchanting wildlife haven of South Georgia. Discover the historic Falklands~Malvinas and stand in awe before the world’s largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia. In Antarctica, experience the serenity and grandeur of the most remote place on earth, where penguins nest, whales feed and captivating seals frolic in ice-speckled seas.
Depending on the departure date of your South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey cruise, you will have optional activities such as Shackleton Crossing in South Georgia by Foot or ski, Snowshoeing, Ski/Snowboard Touring, Sea Kayaking and Snorkelling.
Check this blog to find out which Antarctic season fits your interests.
About the vessel: The Greg Mortimer is a new and custom-designed ship, at the cutting edge of nautical technology. It features the patented X-BOW™, hydraulic viewing platforms and environmentally friendly virtual anchoring. It has four dedicated sea level launching platforms that provide smoother and safer zodiac transfers. Once you are back from the explorations, you will be able to relax in the Wellness Centre comprising with sauna, spa and gym equipment. Whatsmore, all staterooms have private bathrooms and twin and double-bed configuration options. It has ample storage, international power outlets, daily cabin service, as well as all the necessary amenities.
Spend the day exploring Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the Americas.
After breakfast depart on a half-day city tour of Ushuaia visiting The Mission, Brown and Solier neighbourhoods, where you can see old houses belonging to the first families in Tierra del Fuego. Head 11 km out of town to Martial Glacier. The ride in the chair lift to the trails leading up to the glacier provides wonderful regional views and of Ushuaia town, the Beagle Channel and its islands. Afterwards, continue to the End of the World Museum with exhibitions explaining the history of Tierra del Fuego.
Transfer to the pier where your expedition team will warmly welcome you onboard the Greg Mortimer at approximately 4.00 pm.
From the moment you step onto the Greg Mortimer, the crew aims to give you the best hospitality service possible. Meals are served in a large restaurant with family-style dining, perfect to swap stories with your new expedition family. Enjoy the range of house wine, beers and soft drinks included with dinner after a long day in the wild, preparing yourself for another exciting day to follow.
Drake Passage crossing: As you commence the Drake Passage crossing, make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and start the lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment. The wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skillfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 7 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on deck 5.
The Drake Passage & South Shetlands Islands: Nearing the tip of the South Shetland Islands on day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on the bridge watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Let’s face it – you don’t want windowless rooms when travelling around some of the most beautiful locations around the world. This is why the Greg Mortimer is designed with plenty of dedicated observation spaces – ideal for keen bird spotters, wildlife watchers and those wanting to watch the scenery go past. From the indoor 180-degree lounge and outdoor 360-degree open deck to the 270-degree open sundeck, there are plenty of observation points to share around the ship! If these are full, then you can take up a spot on one of the two hydraulic viewing platforms on deck 5.
Antarctic Peninsula: Over the next five days a host of choices are open to us and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. On Zodiac excursions, cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, observing whales that are feeding near the surface and landing on the continent and its offshore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haulouts, historic huts and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. During this voyage, there will be an opportunity to camp ashore (weather and time permitting). This will give you the chance to sample the style of adventure that Scott, Shackleton and other legendary Antarctic explorers experienced, although with a modern-day spin on it.
Because you are so far south, you’ll experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. You’ll generally have two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time to sleep when you get home!
There are many exciting places to choose to visit and this itinerary is deliberately flexible to allow us to pick the best spots on the day based on ice and weather conditions. A sample of some of the types of places where you may cruise through, land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife include:
– Beautiful protected bays around the Antarctic Peninsula surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, areas that are havens for whales so keep your eyes open for humpbacks, orcas, minkes, and crabeater seals, as you explore bays in Zodiacs.
– Wildlife-rich islands where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms; gulls nest on turrets, fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches.
– Harbours home to gentoo penguins, and that regularly host Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbour. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve is sure to stop you in your tracks.
– Lemaire Channel – If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.
Elephant Island: Weather-permitting, you’ll set course for Elephant Island and hear the story of how Shackleton’s ship the Endurance was crushed in the pack ice in the Weddell Sea. The ship will then be moved into prime position for the eagerly awaited solar eclipse.
Scotla Sea: En route for South Georgia, head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside our naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from our historian.
The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 7 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on deck 5.
South Georgia: With ample time to explore South Georgia’s spectacular north coast, we visit the world’s largest king penguin rookeries and the nesting grounds of majestic wandering albatross. South Georgia is one of the world’s most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds. A mountain range forms the spine of this long, narrow island.
Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline – a landscape that is synonymous with the epic expedition of survival by Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean. Abandoned rusting whaling stations and remnants of explorers reflect a time of long ago, while summer workers conduct scientific and regeneration projects. If conditions permit, you’ll follow Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean’s footsteps and complete the final leg of their walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness. Some of the places are Grytviken, St Andrews Bay, Godthul, Salisbury Plains, Fortuna Bay and Stromness.
Although the ship is fun, the real enjoyment comes from the many shore excursions that are available. Depending on the weather and itinerary, it’s possible to take two to three landings daily, taking a look at everything from rock formations and ancient ruins to cute groups of penguins. We know time is of the essence in these wild locations, so the Greg Mortimer has been designed with more Zodiacs (15) than any other Aurora ship, which means you can maximise your time onshore.
From four dedicated sea level launching platforms, transfers are quicker, safer and enable you to get closer to the action for a longer period of time. Just remember to charge your camera before you step onto the Zodiac!
When you’re relaxing during a sea day or you have a little downtime on the ship between excursions, what is there to do onboard the Greg Mortimer? Plenty!
On all expeditions, there are experts who lead presentations in the spacious lecture room so you can understand the region a little better. These often include topics as broad as history and culture to biology and climate change, these presentations aim to educate and entertain.
If you’re keen to just watch the surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, you have access to two bars/lounges where the stunning floor to ceiling windows offer a special perspective on the landscape.
Be mesmerised by the frozen continent. Walk among handsome chinstrap and peaceful gentoo penguins. Kayakers paddle through glassy channels or Zodiac-cruise amid grounded bergs and watch for blows of humpbacks, minkes and orcas. Pinch yourself, you’re on the world’s most spectacular continent!
Scotia Sea: Between South Georgia and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow our wake, skillfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, we are usually travelling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate our arrival time in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). The lecture program will continue and highlight all of the amazing sights you have witnessed over the past few days. This is the time to enjoy the rest of our time observing the seabirds, whale watching from the bridge, or simply relaxing in the bar with a book.
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.
Contiue crossing the Scotia Sea, meanwhile you will be entertained by the expert naturalist and historian. Also, keeping watch for the iconic kelp-skirted Shag Rocks. Interact with expedition staff and fellow expeditioners, enjoy fascinating, informative talks and briefings or relax while watching movies and slide shows in our comfortable theatre.
Continue sailing towards The Falklands-Malvinas islands
The Falklands~Malvinas: are located 477kms east of southern Argentina and are a unique mix of wildlife hotspot and inhabited outpost. An archipelago of over 700 islands, but consisting of two main islands, East and West, only seven of the islands are inhabited. The cold nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands makes them a prime location for marine life including seabirds and seals. Your time in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) includes a short walk in Stanley town.
You may choose to spend this last sea day editing your photos, enjoying the onboard facilities, or listening to an informative lecture.
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we will be free to disembark around 8.00 am. Farewell, your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to downtown Ushuaia before continuing to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.
NOTE: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.