Landing Sites in Antarctica
An endless white wilderness, Antarctica is nature at its most sublime. Read more about some of the possible landing sites you could explore on a sailing to Antarctica with Hurtigruten.
During our expeditions to Antarctica, you will learn of the great explorers who paved the way into these southern oceans, gazing out across landscapes that have remained as awe-inspiring and unchanged as the day that man first set eyes upon them.
Hurtigruten's expedition ships take you as close as possible to Antarctic wildlife and untouched wilderness. Each of these vessels offer a fascinating and varied schedule of landings, all designed to create unforgettable memories. MS Fram hosts only 200 guests, while MS Midnatsol hosts 500. Our brand-new hybrid electric-powered ships, MS Roald Amundsen (launching in 2019) and MS Fridtjof Nansen (launching in 2020), will each carry 500 guests. This relatively small passenger size allows Hurtigruten expedition ships to make landings in some of the most spectacular regions of Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula, following IAATO regulations.
How Does Hurtigruten Land in Antarctica?
Completing successful landings requires experience—at Hurtigruten, we have 125 years of it, and take pride in offering seamless landings to all of our guests. From our tender pit—a small pier folded out on the side of the ship—you will board small rubber boats that hold up to 20 people, that take you ashore. Before you land, we make sure to follow a few simple principles so every landing runs smoothly:
- Guests are divided into boat groups of approximately 40 guests. To make it easier for guests to remember their group, we name them after animals in Antarctica, like albatross, krill, or penguin species.
- Groups are called by name over the ship's speakers to avoid lines. All guests receive a patch with the animal of their group for their Explorer jacket before the very first landing.
- Groups are put together by the Expedition Coordinator by language. Friends and family also stay together.
- All guests can eat whenever they want, either before or after their outdoor activity. We put expeditions first, and fit your meals around landings, which is what our guests really love.
Once ashore, you will be greeted by an Expedition Team Member at the landing site, offering a helping hand to ease your disembarkation from the explorer boat. Information about the landing site is provided, with tips on where to go and where to see animals. All guests are able to explore the area on their own, with team members nearby to answer any questions or provide information. Special hikes and other excursions are always guided by experienced lecturers and team members.
Landing Sites in Antarctica
Weather, wind, ice, and local conditions will determine the exact nature of your program and schedule. Safety is paramount and the ship’s captain will decide the final sailing itinerary during the voyage, making each expedition unique.
Below, you will find a selection of some of the possible landing sites in Antarctica:
Deception Island, South Shetland Islands
One of the highlights of the South Shetlands, Deception Island is a distinctive ring-shaped volcanic caldera, a portion of which has collapsed and created a navigable opening into the flooded interior. The natural harbor within includes Whalers Bay, home to an abandoned whaling station known as Hektor, as well as a derelict British base.
Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands
Staggeringly photogenic and blessed with some of the most spectacular Antarctic scenery imaginable, Half Moon Island is a glittering gem amongst these island treasures. Its serrated and creviced cliffs are home to a large colony of chinstrap penguins, as well as Antarctic terns, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Wilson’s storm petrels, and several species of seals who are regular visitors to the island.
Yankee Harbor, South Shetland Islands
Early sealers in the area used Yankee Harbor on Greenwich Island as a frequent base of operations, its remarkable setting providing a natural safe haven for the sailors. Remnants of those early days can still be seen littering the shoreline, but the big draw for visitors here is the large colony of gentoo penguins, whose numbers are estimated to be around 4,000 breeding pairs.
Situated in the scenic Errera Channel, Cuverville Island boasts the largest known colony of gentoo penguins. The narrow Errera Channel offers a spectacular passage to and from Cuverville as icebergs become trapped and grounded in the nearby shallows. Watching from the observation decks, as our navigators weave the ship carefully between the icebergs, is as exciting as being surrounded by the throngs of nesting penguins onshore.
Neko Harbor, home to another gentoo penguin colony, lies nestled in Andvord Bay, surrounded by the mountains and high glacier walls of the peninsula. Named after a factory whaling ship from the early 1900s, Neko is one of the rare places in this area where you may land on the Antarctic mainland.
The harbor is paradise not only in name, but in splendor and scenery, as well. Protected from the winds of the nearby Gerlache Strait, Paradise Harbor offers another rare opportunity for a mainland landing and some of the finest vistas the Peninsula has to offer. Here, you can find the Argentine base Almirante Brown and the Chilean base Gonzalez Videla, as well as colonies of neighboring penguins.
This nearly 7-mile long and 1-mile wide channel is one of the most beautiful passages in Antarctica. It bestows upon the traveler a glimpse into what fascinates us most about this incredibly contrasting environment; it is sublime yet imposing, delicate yet daunting, alluring yet inhospitable.
Its location in the picturesque Penola Strait makes Petermann Island a great spot for iceberg- and whale-spotting, and offers spectacular views across the channel to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The British base of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island was built in 1941 and abandoned in 1962. It lay empty until 1996 when it was refurbished as a museum by the Antarctic Heritage Trust. It has since become one of the most popular sites in Antarctica and offers a unique peek into life on an Antarctic base in the 1950s.
The mountains and high glaciers around Wilhelmina Bay ensure plenty of dramatic scenery, from tiny floating bergy bits to large icebergs. The bay is a prime feeding ground for whales and seals, and has been nicknamed "Whale-mina Bay," due to the large number of mammals frequently seen.
The huge ice shelves of the Antarctic continent give birth to mile-long tabular icebergs. The strong currents of the Weddell Sea conspire to bring these massive flat-topped bergs north into the Antarctic Sound, at the northeastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Brown Bluff lies on the coast of the Antarctic Sound at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As the name suggests, the landscape is dominated by an ominous, nearly half-mile high cliff. The towering, rust-colored bluff is volcanic in origin and the beach is peppered with lava “bombs.” Adélie penguins, gentoo penguins, kelp gulls, and cape petrels can be found breeding here, and Weddell seals are also regular visitors.