The ship will arrive at the Weddell Sea on the eastern seaboard of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Weddell Sea, named after a British sealer, is a little-visited part of Antarctica owing to the prevalence of pack-ice which restricts the progress of ships. Ernest Shackleton’s vessel Endurance was crushed by the ice here.
It will be the decision of your experienced Expedition Leader, in conjunction with the ship’s captain, as to how much progress towards the Emperor penguin colony on Snow Hill can be made. Historically, conditions have only permitted access to the island less than 50% of the time.
Should the ship make it to the Snow Island, the first two days will be spent at the Emperor penguin rookery itself, accessed by helicopter at a carefully pre-arranged landing place a 45min walk from the colony. This is a remarkable opportunity to be within a few metres of these stately creatures. (The visit and its duration are governed by the ice and weather conditions and may have to be curtailed or cancelled at any time).
If the ship cannot reach Snow Island conditions may allow her to pass along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula where you will view massive tabular icebergs and remote locations – such as Brown Bluff with its steep canyon walls, ice-cap backdrop and penguin colonies. Here, the helicopters may be able to land and from the air you will have the rare privilege of observing the untamed landscapes of jagged mountains, glaciers, lava flows and pack ice. If you are lucky, the giant Emperors, among other smaller penguin species, may be observed on the ice-floes.
On previous expeditions individual Emperors at least have always been located.