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Emperor penguins and their chicks, Antarctica

Cruise & Helicopter: In Search of the Emperor Penguin



11 Days

Prices Start from

£10,550 (ex. flights)

An extraordinary expedition cruise to the ice-chocked Weddell Sea and the far side of the Antarctic Peninsula, this is an adventure-filled trip that is synonymous with British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men. Focusing on exploring the range of the emperor penguins near Snow Hill Island, board helicopters to fly inland and land at their remote rookeries.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Helicopter on a ship 1

Ship-to-Shore Flights

Fly between the vessel and land, taking in views of the snow-covered landscape.

Sea ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica 2

Remote Weddell Sea

Navigate the lesser-visited Weddell Sea, where Shackleton’s lost ship was trapped.

Emperor Penguin Colony, Snow Hill, Antarctica 3

Emperor Pengiuns

Search for emperor penguin colonies from the air in a 4-6 passenger helicopter.

Tabular iceberg 4

Tabular Icebergs

Sail past colossal bodies of thick ice that have calved off of ice shelves and glaciers.

Why we like it

Designed to appeal to those who wish to experience unimaginable remoteness, this is a true expedition voyage that navigates into an area that is defined by colossal tabular icebergs and remarkable wildlife. In joining a boat journey set to sail the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula, intrepid voyagers sign up for an exhilarating and adventuresome passage that uniquely utilises helicopters to explore emperor penguin habitats. Owing to the expeditionary nature of this trip, on-board experts will determine the daily route and goings-on based on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions – the thrill lies in snubbing prescriptive daily itineraries in favour of embracing the elements of the remote Southern Sea and Antarctica.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Embark


  • 10 Nights Sailing

    Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula

  • Disembark




Ushuaia aerial view from the Martial Glacier, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina

Explore Ushuaia, the town at “the end of the world”.

10 Nights Sailing

Weddell Sea & Antarctic Peninsula

Sea ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Navigate through the lesser-visited Weddell Sea, where Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance was trapped in ice.



Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

Helicopter over Sea Ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica
Helicopter over Sea Ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Exclusive Helicopter Flights

Soar high above the surreal ecosystem of the Weddell Sea and observe the Antarctic wilderness from above, a unique opportunity that few vessels have the capability for. In helicopters that carry small expeditionary groups of 4-6 people, travel from an on-deck landing pad to the heart of untouched wilderness. In a landscape comprised of pristine snow and a thousand shades of blue and white, take birds’-eye-view photographs or simply contemplate the historic significance of the area.

Emperor Penguins, Snow Hill, Antarctica
Emperor Penguins, Snow Hill, Antarctica

Walk with Emperors

In this remotest of environments, characterised by high altitude and bitter cold, it is easy to embrace the spirit of exploration. Against a backdrop of pristine white wilderness, attempt to rendezvous with majestic emperor penguins at their remote inland rookery. Snow Hill Island, only reachable by helicopter flight if the ice-conditions are favourable, is home to a rookery of 4,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins. Aside from the ultimate goal of seeing the species from a short distance away, there are also opportunities to spot individual emperor penguins on ice floes.

Adelie Penguins on an Iceberg, Antarctica
Adelie Penguins on an Iceberg, Antarctica

Adelies of the Sound

Perhaps visit the western slopes of the Antarctic Sound, a place that is rarely viewed from the above, during a scenic flight that travels above little-seen lava flows, glaciers and icebergs. Huge colonies of Adelie penguins congregate on the ice floes, backed by shattered walls of ice and jagged mountain peaks. Other remarkable flights soar over Duse Bay, with its rocky terrain and old refuge hut, and Seymour Island, known for the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901.

Penguin Colonies, Brown Bluff, Antarctica
Penguin Colonies, Brown Bluff, Antarctica

Step Foot on Brown Bluff

Depending on the specific departure, you might find yourself hiking to a vantage point on Devil Island or walking past chinstrap penguins on Gourdin Island. With each day comes another unique disembarkation, from traversing the fallen boulders and sheer canyon walls of Brown Bluff to landing at the Esperanza Base research station. Throughout the voyage, hear the stories of endurance synonymous with this region during lectures by naturalists and guides.

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Sue’s extensive first-hand knowledge of Antarctica was so apparent from our first phone call. She was able to help us select the ideal route and vessel for our needs, and with her guidance we were able to see the emperor penguins!

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue forewarned us that there would be no words to describe South Georgia and that our photos wouldn’t do it justice, and how right she was. All we can say is “see for yourself”. Thank you, Sue, for your indispensable advice.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

We were blown away by Sue’s in-depth knowledge of everything from endemic species to the history of Shackleton and his men. No question we had went unanswered, and no little detail was missed.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue's in-depth knowledge of Antarctica, the route options and each of the vessels was invaluable in our preparation for the trip and was a strong differentiator when we were choosing a travel agent. When talking with Sue, we quickly got an honest perspective.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Both telephone and e-mail responses were excellent and all of Sue's expert advice was very much appreciated. She was prompt, supportive and engaging throughout and our expedition to Antarctica was spectacular.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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