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Mawson's Antarctica – Commonwealth Bay

Antarctica Cruise

Summary : For many, the highlight of this voyage is a visit to Cape Denison, the site of Sir Douglas Mawson’s hut from the historic 1911-1913 expedition; a time capsule from a great era of exploration. This is one of the most exclusive places on earth – more people have stood at the top of Mt Everest than have stood inside this historic hut. The voyage also takes us to Port Martin, the site of 100 grounded icebergs, allowing our guests to get up close and view these amazing sites; and Dumont d’Urville, the French base renowned for its rich local wildlife, including colonies of Adelie and Emperor penguins.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking


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Day 1
Embark / Dunedin, New Zealand

The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered, Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, and was the first city outside the U.S. to have its own tram system. Many of the ornate heritage buildings dating from this period are still standing today. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.

Day 2
Snares Islands

Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest sub-Antarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. Weather permitting, Zodiacs will be launched for an exploration of the sheltered eastern coastline as the island's wildlife protection program precludes landings. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds, 99 recorded species including albatross, Antarctic Terns and Snares Crested Penguins.

Day 3
Auckland Islands

Cruise in Zodiacs in Sandy Bay, on Enderby Island at the northern end of Auckland Islands, to observe the profuse birdlife. Your expedition team will lead you to nesting royal albatross, and allow you to get up close and personal with a large New Zealand sea lion colony. If you are fortunate, you may see the rare yellow-eyed penguin as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach. The sensitivity of the ecosystem means that visitor numbers are strictly restricted on these islands.

Day 4
At Sea

As you make your way through the Southern Ocean, the expedition team will be on hand to prepare you for your expedition experience giving you an overview of all aspects of Antarctic life, with lectures and presentations on wildlife, ice, environmental sustainability and the history of polar exploration. These lectures are given by some of the foremost experts in their fields including botany, marine biology, anthropology and history.

Day 5
Macquarie Island

Often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world, the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie has been said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity, and prolific wildlife. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage Site in 1977, Macquarie now operates a full-time manned station where biological and meteorological research is conducted. This is where you will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Rangers who will be your guides.

Zodiacs will take you ashore at Sandy Bay, your planned landing site. Once ashore you'll find the bay, with its rugged backdrop of mountains and tussock-covered headlands, is home to 850,000 Royal Penguins, 150,000 breeding pairs of King Penguins as well as Rock Hopper Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and Elephant Seals. This profusion of wildlife wasn't always so protected; the rusting remains of machinery used by whalers are stark reminders of the exploitation which took place on the island during its early history.

Day 6 – 8
At Sea

Cross the Antarctic Convergence Zone where warm currents meet cold which rise to the surface, resulting in nutrient laden waters, a sudden and substantial drop in temperature, and abundant marine life. A band of fog defines the convergence and the icebergs may be sighted in this region. You transit a vast wilderness in the company of sea birds (especially albatross and petrels), whales and dolphins. If the opportunity arises you may try to cross directly over the South Magnetic Pole as you head south.

Day 9 – 13
Commonwealth Bay Region

On January 8, 1912 Sir Douglas Mawson landed on the Antarctic continent after a journey from Hobart that took 36 days aboard the Aurora, a ship of just 612 tons. During these voyages to the Antarctic continent, Orion will be positioned in and around Commonwealth Bay on the Adelie Coast of Antarctica. Your expedition team will lead a variety of opportunistic landings which may include sites at Cape Denison, Port Martin and Dumont d'Urville. In each instance, landings ashore and Zodiac explorations are wholly subject to prevailing weather conditions, in an area Mawson described as "the home of the blizzard."

Cape Denison is the windiest place on the face of the earth and is surrounded by spectacular ice cliffs. The area is home to 60,000 Adelie Penguins, Snow Petrels, Giant Petrels, Wilsons Storm Petrels and Cape Pigeons. Weddell, Leopard and Elephant seals may be seen stretched out on the ice. Cape Denison is the site of Sir Douglas Mawson's hut from the historic 1911-13 expedition. This is one of the Antarctic's least visited sites and, as the first Australian scientific base on the Antarctic, is of great historical significance and the subject of an ongoing multi-million dollar preservation program.

En route to Port Martin, maneuver through a large gallery of up to 100 grounded icebergs of various sizes, making it possible for close proximity views and photography. Port Martin is the former site of the French Antarctic base. The site is scattered with artifacts and has an Adelie Penguin rookery, nesting McCormack Skuas, a spectacular backdrop of ice cliffs and a snow ramp to the Antarctic Plateau.

Attempt to land on Cape Jules to wander freely between and around the Adelie penguin colonies, taking in the splendor of the Antarctic icescape. Then, explore the Mertz Glacier, a natural ice wonder with deep crevasses and spectacular white cliffs. Cruise close to the glacier on Zodiacs on the lookout for killer whales, Emperor and Adelie penguins, and Weddell and leopard seals.

Day 14 – 18
At Sea

Make your way to Tasmania while enjoy informative and entertaining presentations. Reflect on your journey's highlights with fellow travelers.

Day 19
Disembark / Hobart, Tasmania

Set on the River Derwent, Hobart is very much a city of the sea, with views of the Derwent estuary appearing around every corner. Historic 19th century waterfront warehouses remain, still bordering the commercial fishing harbor. Hobart is the finishing line for the famed blue water Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and its deep harbor precinct once bustled with whalers, soldiers, bureaucrats and businessmen. A walk through the town will reveal that the city has resisted the pressure to move with the times, having retained and preserved old buildings such as the Parliament, built by convicts in the 1830's.


Ports of call and itinerary are subject to change, dependent on weather and tidal conditions.

Accommodations onboard the ship; cruise transportation; all meals onboard; 24-hour room service; a range of shore excursions led by expedition team; entertainment and educational programs; use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities; port & handling charges; Zodiac excursions and tender transfers; access to the ship's library; government fees and taxes; services of crew.

Not Included:
Airfare; items of a personal nature, including but not limited to: travel and medical insurance; rubber boots for shore excursions; laundry charges; shopping onboard; bar expenses; hair dressing and massage treatments; optional shore experiences; medical treatment; telephone and Internet charges; gratuities for individual staff members (optional).

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