Fresh from her maiden voyage to Svalbard with Secret Atlas, following a major refurbishment project which focused on sustainability and upcycling, MV Polar Pioneer returns to Antarctica for two unique itineraries.
The veteran ice-strengthened expedition vessel is destined for further adventure on two wildlife and photography cruises, this time in the Southern Hemisphere; the first a 12-day Antarctica Cruise on January 1, 2024 Antarctica Explorer – 12 Day Wildlife & Photography Small Group Expedition, followed by a 15-day South Georgia itinerary on February 24, 2024, South Georgia Photo Tour – 15 Days of Exploration – Small Group Size.
Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, on New Year’s Day 2024, Polar Pioneer, which was originally built for oceanographic research purposes, offers the smallest group size in Antarctic cruises with accommodation for just 48 guests.
Fewer passengers means that everyone can fit into the Zodiacs and land ashore simultaneously, with little waiting around, maximising exploration time, limiting disturbance to wildlife and reducing the impact on the environment, all of which aligns well with the Secret Atlas ethos of sustainable travel.
This in-depth cruise puts the focus squarely on wildlife viewing and photography and is led by highly experienced expedition leaders and specialist photography guides who will offer tips and guidance on achieving the best shots while sharing their bountiful knowledge about the polar regions, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
The beauty of the voyage is to explore the region in an unhurried fashion. High points include the opportunity to visit penguin rookeries up close – where a multitude of Gentoos, Adelies and chinstraps make their home – and spot some of the other plentiful wildlife such as leopard, crabeater, Weddell and elephant seals, orcas, Minke, and humpback whales, and to capture lasting mementoes of them all.
Similarly, Polar Pioneer’s departure in February from Port Stanley to the remote island of South Georgia in the Atlantic Ocean offers a rare opportunity for visitors to participate in an extensive tour of what is undoubtedly a wildlife magnet.
The journey across the Scotia Sea to South Georgia, which is situated around 1500 kilometres from the Falkland Islands, provides the chance to spot the likes of albatross, which often trail the ship, as well as whales including orcas.
The aim, weather permitting, is to land at a different location along the coast of South Georgia each day, visiting key king penguin breeding colonies teeming with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, and taking in the history of this isolated island, with its old whaling station and the grave of Ernest Shackleton, as well as breath-taking landscapes sculpted with stunning fjords.
Whichever voyage guests choose, they travel in comfort on this most stable of vessels, complete with sauna, spacious saloon and bar area, open bridge plus raised decks, allowing them to capitalize on the numerous photographic opportunities along the way.