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Polar Expeditions

Polar Landscape

Starkly beautiful with unique wildlife and extreme habitats, the polar regions have always been a lure for adventurers with a love of wild, unspoilt places.

Since their first trips to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle over 20 years ago Oceanwide Expeditions have been pushing the boundaries of Arctic and Antarctic travel, voyaging to some of the less frequented places in the high latitudes north and south. Their focus is on small expedition style trips, spending as much time as possible ashore and in proximity with these remarkable environments. Alongside the opportunities to witness special wildlife in the company of knowledgeable guides what sets Oceanwide apart are the range of shore based activities they offer – hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, zodiac cruising even polar diving on some trips.

Oceanwide Expeditions - ashore montage

The year is split between the Arctic regions from May to September, when there are voyages around Spitsbergen, the Lofoten Islands, the Faroes, the Scottish Islands and Greenland, then operations move south to Antarctica where the temperature is rising and the sun barely dips below the horizon from mid November to March . Ushuia, the southern most city in the world, on the edge of the Beagle Channel, is the departure point for most cruises. From here there’s just 500 miles and the notoriously rolly Drake’s Channel to negotiate to landfall on the South Shetland Islands. As the ships run north again in March along the full length of the Atlantic there is also a unique opportunity to join them part of the way and visit some of the remotest islands in the world like, St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.

World polar map button

Key to the success of their voyages are the ships, Oceanwide Expeditions currently operates a fleet of five, three specialist motor vessels and two sailing ships.

Plancius, named after the Dutch astronomer and cartographer Petrius Plancius, was built in 1976 for the Royal Dutch Navy as an Oceanographic survey ship. Consequently she has an ice strengthened bow and stern and a specially shaped 6 bladed propellor, which makes her very quiet and well suited to operating around marine mammals. She carries 114 passengers and has been described as the perfect expedition ship; practical with cosy, comfortable accommodation.

Oceanwide Expeditions - Ship montage

Dutch built M/v Antarctic  Dream served in the Chilean Navy but was refitted as a worldwide passenger vessel in 2005. She is ice reinforced with a 1″ thick, 3m deep steel ring around the hull and operates in Spitsbergen and Greenland.

M/v Ortelius the latest addition to the fleet, continues the connection with the early mappers who gave shape to our world, being named after Abraham Ortelius , the Dutch / Flemish cartographer who published the first modern atlas of the world, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1570. She carries the highest ice class notation opening up the possibilities to venture to even more remote places like the Ross Sea and Franz Joseph Land.

But it’s in the sailing ships, Noorderlicht, a two-masted schooner built in 1910 and Rembrandt van Rijn a former herring lugger that you might imagine you’re setting sail with the likes of Scott or Nansen in their famous ships Discovery and Fram. Carrying just 20 & 34 passengers respectively, the expeditions have an intimate feel with opportunity to assist in the sailing. You should “anticipate some rough water on the voyage”, the info cautions, adding advice on seasickness – eating something like dry toast can, surprisingly, help. Both ships operate in northern waters, Noordlicht around Spitsbergen and the Norwegian Lofoten Islands while the Rembrandt van Rijn is set to explore the spectacular coast of Greenland.

Oceanwide Expedition Ships

Rembrandt van Rijn, Antarctic Dream, Ortelius & Noorderlicht

Taking their commitment to offer shore based activities still further, last year saw a group traverse South Georgia by ski retracing part of Shackelton’s famous crossing of the island. It was a self supplied crossing with skiers hauling their own sledges and carrying supplies. Another group of experienced skiers accompanied by two mountain guides will be setting out on this tough challenge this coming December, we’ll be following their progress.

Last year also saw the first Antarctic Basecamp program.  The concept behind Basecamp Plancius is for the ship to be used as a base, remaining in specific locations for 2 or 3 days to give time for a whole range of activities from photography workshops to  hiking, kayaking, glacier walking, soft mountain climbing , snowshoeing,  small boat zodiac cruising and field camping – imagine spending a night ashore in the Antarctic with only the sound of penguins – sounds too magical to do much sleeping.

Antarctic Peninsular button These are voyages of a lifetime, for the sights, for the wildlife, for the opportunity to hike, dive or kayak in almost prisitine environments – if you would like to make an enquiry to Oceanwide Expeditions please click here to send them an email.

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