Plancius

Plancius is a 267-foot oceanographic research ship fully rebuilt and ice-strengthened in 2010 for use for polar expeditions. Originally built in 1976 for the Royal Dutch Navy, it has been converted to a spacious and comfortable vessel for exploring both the Arctic and Antarctic areas. Onboard the ship you will find a panoramic observation lounge with a bar and a library, an airy restaurant, and large open deck spaces with excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and spot wildlife. Both observation lounge and restaurant will host frequent lectures by naturalist guides. Tasty meals are prepared by international chefs and feature a variety of cuisines.

Plancius has 53 cabins for a maximum of 110 passengers. Ten superior cabins are the largest and offer one queen-size bed each. 39 twin cabins have either a queen-size bed or two lower single beds. Four triple cabins have a bunk bed and a lower single. All cabins have private bathrooms and plenty of storage space. Due to the remote expedition areas, there’s an infirmary and a doctor onboard. Ten zodiacs will whisk you to the many land excursions and wildlife sightings.

PLEASE NOTE: A typical itinerary to North Spitsbergen is illustrated below. This itinerary is for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

Day 1: Embarkation and departure from Longyerbyen

We arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden, where in the mouth of the fjord we may see our first Minke Whale.

Day 2: We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen

We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. Polar bear are often seen here.

Day 3: Cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier

Depending on the weather we may now sail into Liefdefjorden, crui¬sing near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake. As well, Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.

Day 4: We will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal

Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. At the entrance there is the possibility to see Blue Whale. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, we’ll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus.

Day 5: At Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet we will just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole.

We will try reach our northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here we will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar Bear inhabit this region, along with Ivory Gull. The ship may sit for several hours in the pack ice, before turning west again.

Day 6: We will retrace our route westwards to keep watch for the Polar Bear

Retracing our route westwards, our route takes us through and along the pack ice, keeping watch for Polar Bear and the elusive Greenland Whale (Bowhead). About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen we sail along the edge of the continental shelf, where Fin Whale forage in summer in the upwelling’s along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of the Kongsfjorden we have also good chances to see Minke Whale.

Day 7: Sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden

In Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. At nighttime we arrive in Longyearbyen.

Day 8: The last day of our voyage. We disembark the vessel in Longyearbyen

We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for the flights south to Oslo and onward home.

Antarctic Peninsula Whale Watching Trip
9 nights

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. Average cruising speed of m/v Plancius is 10.5 knots .

Day 1: End of the World, Start of a Journey
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego – nicknamed “The End of the World” – and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 - 3: Path of the Polar Explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale blasting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars . Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.

Days 4 - 7: Enter the Antarctic
Gray stone peaks sketched with snow, towers of broken blue-white ice, and dramatically different wildlife below and above. You first pass the snow-capped Melchior Islands and Schollaert Channel, sailing between Brabant and Anvers Islands. Sites you may visit include: Cuverville Island – Stabbing up between Rongé Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, Cuverville houses a massive colony of gentoo penguins as well as pairs of breeding brown skuas. Danco Island – Activities here may focus on the gentoo penguins nesting on the island, in addition to the Weddell and crabeater seals that can be found nearby. Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow. Opportunities for Zodiac cruising and kayaking provide you the closest possible view of the ice-crusted alpine peaks. Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where you have a good chance of seeing humpback and minke whales. Port Lockroy – After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island.

You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. There are great opportunities for kayaking and camping here. Pléneau & Petermann Islands – If the ice allows it, you may sail through the Lemaire Channel in search of Adélie penguins and blue-eyed shags. There’s also a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales here, as well as leopard seals. Wilhelmina Bay & Guvernøren – This is a great place to spot humpback whales. You also may embark on a Zodiac cruise ending at the ghostly wreck of the Guvernøren, a whaling vessel that caught fire here in 1915. Around the Melchior Islands, amid a frozen landscape peopled with icebergs, you may encounter even more whales, leopard seals, and crabeater seals. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Days 8 - 9: Familiar Seas, Familiar Friends
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 10: There and Back Again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Contact us for dates, availability and costs.

Passengers: 116 in 53 cabins
Staff & crew: 47
Length: 89 meters (293 feet)
Breadth: 14,5 meters (47 feet)
Draft: 5 meters (16 feet)
Ice class: 1D (Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters)
Displacement: 3211 tonnes
Propulsion: 3x Diesel-Electric
Speed: 10.5 knots average cruising speed

Weddell Sea – Antarctic Discoverer
11 nights

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. Average cruising speed of m/v Plancius is 10.5 knots.

Day 1: End of the World, Start of a Journey
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego – nicknamed “The End of the World” – and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.

Days 2 & 3: Path of the Polar Explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling seas, maybe even a fin whale blasting up sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer sub-Antarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars. Then, near the South Shetlands Islands, the first icebergs flash into sight.

Days 4 – 8: Enter the Antarctic
You sail directly into the Weddell Sea through the often ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Weddell Sea is largely covered in sea ice during the year, but the northwestern corner offers great opportunities for exploration in places only the lucky few get to visit. The sites for your activities may include: Paulet Island – A huge number of Adélie penguins take residence here. Brown Bluff – Maybe the most scenic location in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent: sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice. A large Adélie penguin rookery lives here, with gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels also to be found. Dundee Island – A mostly uninhabited Argentine station, Base Petrel, can be seen here, as well as Antarctic fur seals (and southern elephant seals) along the coastline. Farther into the Weddell Sea, the options vary with the ice conditions: James Clark Ross Island – You can explore a number of rarely visited places here. The imagination is further stirred by suggestive names like Brandy Bay and Whiskey Bay. Devil Island – A large Adélie penguin rookery as well as stunning views of Erebus and Terror Gulf are seen here. Snow Hill Island – This location, known for its sedimentary rock, tells tales of the incredible Antarctic explorations of the early 20th century.

Day 9: Scenes of South Shetland
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels – along with a number of kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. As an alternative, you may be able to engage in activities near Half Moon Island. Here chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.

Days 10 - 11: Familiar Seas, Familiar Friends
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 12: There and Back Again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Please inquire for dates, availability and rates.

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Special: 

Antarctica Whale Watching Trip
Mar 22-31, 2019
Superior cabin on sale $7450 (was $8600)

Weddell Sea Antarctic Trip
Mar 11-22, 2019
up to 20% discount all cabins

New bookings only. Cannot be combined with other offers. Price is based on double occupancy.