The science of the Antarctic: A fly-cruise expedition

17 days from £13,250 17 November 2021

Join New Scientist for a fly cruise expedition exploring the world’s largest ocean sanctuary and most pristine marine ecosystem. Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers and scientists such as Shackleton and Amundsen, whilst marveling at imposing icebergs, ancient glaciers and ice floes onto volcanic beaches. Accompanied by experts in science, exploration and wildlife.

If you have a love of wildlife and wild places, an expedition voyage to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula is the ultimate travel experience.

In partnership with Steppes Travel
The science of the Antarctic: A fly-cruise expedition


New Scientist reporter Leah Crane will be joined by guest speakers and onboard experts to deliver a unique programme of science and polar focused seminars and talks.

The lecture program on board will comprise of a series of scheduled seminars and fireside chats. Lectures will be approx. 45 mins in duration, on board and finish with a Q&A session. Fireside chats are less formal and will take place in the bar. Some of the talks will be more hands-on, for example there will be practical photographic seminars on board.

The Expedition Leader on board will have the flexibility to lay on lectures and talks that are linked to what has been seen or experienced during the day. The list below is an example of some of the programme we are aiming to deliver on top of that.

Leah Crane – Seminars and fireside chats

• From Antarctica to the edges of the universe: The Ice Cube neutrino observatory and particle physics.

• Climate change and the future of Antarctica – the big answers to the big questions.

• Under the ice: how ice cores can tell us about the world’s history and future.

• Meteorites on ice: where they’re from and how to find them

• The biggest craters in the solar system: south pole and beyond

• What does the term “south pole” really mean?

The ships bridge is very large and welcoming to guests. It is open, except in those instances when the Captain needs some peace and quiet during crucial moments in navigation. With clients split into smaller groups, one of the ship’s crew will be able to give talks delivered on the bridge on subjects such as:

• An overview of the ship’s navigation and communication equipment.

• A review of the policies of the polar code.

• Planning and strategy for navigating in the polar environment.

• Reading weather patterns, ice, currents, and tools to be used.

An additional team of onboard experts will give several talks about the ecology of Antarctica. This will cover everything from glaciology and the formation of icebergs to penguin behaviour and insight into the world of cetaceans. The onboard team will strive to give the big picture of how Antarctica came into being. They will talk about scale, extremes, plate tectonics and glaciation over geologic time.

Citizen Science – Guests can take part in two citizen science projects on board: 

• Seabird survey for the Antarctic Site Inventory – by conducting bird surveys while at sea, we can help scientists begin to understand meso-scale seabird distribution patterns and habitat usage in the Southern Ocean.

• Whale sightings and identification for Happywhale – by harnessing the power of a multitude of whale watching enthusiasts, Happywhale is expanding scientific knowledge of whale behaviour and distribution.


In the afternoon there will be a group transfer to the pier, where you will be welcomed aboard your expedition ship the Magellan Explorer. Take time to explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home before the extraordinary adventure to come. Welcome lectures and instructions will provide you with all the necessary information on the cruise. You can enjoy the scenery as Darwin did in 1834 as you sail through the Beagle Channel on your first evening is wonderful and there will be the possibility of encounters with marine mammals.


As you sail towards South Georgia there will be several educational presentations on the wildlife, ecology and history of the area, as well as the epic stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition that are central to any trip to South Georgia. Time will also be spent learning about the sustainable travel guidelines for visiting South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula, to protect the regions’ biodiversity.

As you sail south, the ship will be accompanied by seabirds including various species of albatross and fulmars, following in the updrafts created by the vessel. As you cross the Antarctic Convergence into the Antarctic Ocean, you will notice a distinct drop in temperature.


Cruise the protected waters of South Georgia, perhaps landing at sites like Cooper Island and St Andrew’s Bay. The landscape here is rugged, dominated by snow-covered mountains, massive glaciers, grassy uplands and deep fjords. The wildlife on South Georgia is prolific, especially the birdlife. Visits to a rookery comprising of 150,000 king penguins or the nesting home of thousands of black-browed albatrosses are spectacular wildlife experiences. If the weather is favourable, visits to Fortuna Bay, Salisbury Plains, Prion Island, and Elsehul Bay are also planned.

Weather permitting, it will be possible to explore the old whaling station at Grytviken, pay your respects at the simple grave of Ernest Shackleton, or look around the small museum and accompanying church. Look out for the fur seals that poke their heads above the water, and the skuas and giant petrels that swoop in the skies above.


One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black sand beaches and tussock covered dunes are home to a staggering number of king penguin adults and their young. The rookery is believed to have a population of up to 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins. This is just one of several such king penguin rookeries on South Georgia. At the height of breeding season, the rookeries are believed to have more wildlife per square foot than any other place on the planet. You must experience it to believe it. The majestic ‘Kings’ are not the only wildlife on display fur seals and elephant seals will enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels fill the skies above. Meanwhile, the albatross – a constant companion on this journey – is never far away.

Visit Fortuna Bay, the incredible three-mile-long fjord named after one of the original vessels of a Norwegian-Argentine whaling expedition, where you can expect to see king penguins and elephant seals. Weather permitting, travel to Stromness, where rusted and ghostly remnants of old whaling stations stand out against the pristine environment and learn how Shackleton and his companions arrived here after their remarkable crossing from Elephant Island.


As the ship heads to Antarctica and anticipation builds for your arrival to the Antarctic Peninsula, the programme of expert-led on-board presentations continues. Use this time to enhance your understanding of the region and its scientific history whilst crossing the Scotia Sea, traversing the reverse journey of Shackleton.


While sailing south towards the White Continent, colossal icebergs announce your arrival in Antarctic waters. Spot the dark cliffs of Elephant Island, where the shipwrecked crew of Shackleton’s Endurance found refuge while he and five handpicked men carried on towards South Georgia in a tiny lifeboat. The guides will explain the story of how Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months in 1915, having lost HMS Endurance in the ice of the Weddell Sea, before embarking on one of the most epic ocean crossings in history. While stormy conditions rarely allow for a shore landing, you will still see the historic island from the ship.


Cruise between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, sailing along ice-filled fjords and among spectacular icebergs. Each day disembark by Zodiac for landings and cruises to explore the landscape together with expert polar guides.

No journey is the same and flexibility is the key to success in Antarctica. The Expedition Team plans the voyage route to take advantage of the ever-changing opportunities provided by nature. You will explore several spots in the Gerlache Strait that offer the best possible overview of the varied Antarctic environment.


During your explorations of Antarctica, see magnificent colonies of gentoo penguins on the volcano-formed Aitcho Island and navigate through the narrow Neptune’s Bellow. It will be possible to visit the ruins of the Norwegian Whaling Station and the British Antarctica Survey shelter that was evacuated in 1967 after a volcanic eruption. Weather permitting, it may even be possible to dip in the hot volcanic waters at Pendulum Cove’s geothermal springs.

Perhaps visit Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island, a historic shelter for whalers where the decayed remains of some whale skeletons remain. During World War II, the British set up a base here to establish a firm presence in Antarctica. It is possible to spot gentoo penguins, king cormorants, minkes and humpback whales in this region. Visit the mirror-like waters of Paradise Bay and sail through the steep and narrow cliffs of the Lemaire Channel, one of the most scenic areas in all of Antarctica. It may be possible to land at the snow-covered Petermann Island to find Adelie penguins and south polar skuas, or journey to Half Moon Island to photograph its Antarctic penguin colony.


Set a course to King George Island, disembark at Fildes Bay from where a 2-kilometre walk takes you through Chile’s Frei Station and Russia’s Bellingshausen Station to the aircraft. Your luggage will be transported separately. Bid farewell to Antarctica as you board the flight back to Punta Arenas, where, on arrival, you will transfer to your hotel for the night.

Punta arenas is situated at the foot of The Andes with striking views across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego, Punta Arenas is Patagonia’s liveliest and most interesting city. Made rich by the wool boom following the importation of sheep from The Falklands in the 19th century, vestiges of the town’s heyday remain today in the form of fine colonial architecture and interesting history. The town itself is compact with everything within walkable distance. A visit to the extraordinary Palacio Sara Braun and the manicured cemetery is strongly recommended.


After breakfast at the hotel, you will depart for the airport and any onward arrangements. Talk to our specialists about extending your holiday in South America – we are experts in creating tailormade holidays in this region. You may want to consider:

  • Visiting Torres del Paine National Park to track pumas
  • Travelling to remote and mysterious Easter Island
  • Visiting the remarkable moon-like Atacama Desert- Wine-tasting in the scenic outskirts of Santiago



  • Our tour operating partner Steppes Travel would be delighted to arrange pre and post-tour visits to Argentina and Chile. They are skilled in arranging all your additional travel requirements including international flights.
  • To reserve your place, you will need to pay a deposit of 30%.
  • Prices are based on two people sharing a cable. If three people share, then there is a reduction of £1,055 per person.
  • Cabins are available for sole use. The price varies per cabin type. Please ask for a quote.

CABIN NAME                  PRICE in GBP

Porthole Cabin                  £13,250

Veranda Cabin                  £15,795

Deluxe Cabin                    £16,750

Penthouse Suite               £19,795

Grand Suite                      £21,495

Prices are per person based on two sharing a cabin