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m/v Plancius

The ice-strengthened vessel Plancius is an excellent vessel for polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica.

About m/v Plancius

The ice-strengthened vessel Plancius is an excellent vessel for polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica.

M/v “Plancius” was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named “Hr. Ms. Tydeman”. The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. The vessel was completely rebuilt as a pssenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). M/v “Plancius” is classed by Lloyd’s Register and flies the Dutch flag.

M/v “Plancius” is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. Plancius fully meets our demands to achieve this. The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the vessel considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 – 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages. M/v “Plancius” is manned by an international crew of 37 (18 nautical crew and 19 hotel crew), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader, 1 assistant expedition leader and 6 guides/lecturers), and 1 doctor.

Ship Facts

Launch yearRefit yearLanguageGross tonnageLengthWidthCurrencySpeedCapacityCrew countDeck countCabin countLarge cabin countElectrical plugs
19762019en321189 meters14.5 metersEUR11 knots108473504 types:
EU 2 Pin 220v
adapters provided:
false

Accommodation

Perfect for any expedition

M/v “Plancius” accommodates 108 passengers with private toilet and shower in 4 quadruple porthole cabins, 9 twin porthole cabins, 25 twin cabins with window and 2 twin deluxe cabins, all (ca. 12,5 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters). All cabins offer lower berths (one queen-size bed in the superior cabins and two single beds in the twin cabins), except for the 4 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds).

Superior

  • 2 windows

  • 1 double bed
  • 1 sofa bed
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Refrigerator
  • Coffee & tea maker
  • Hair dryer
  • Safe deposit box
  • Ample storage space

Facilities

  • Double
  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk

Twin Deluxe

  • 2 windows
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space

These cabins are corner cabins and are slightly more spacious than the normal twin porthole/window cabins

Facilities

  • Twin
  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk

Twin Window

  • 1 window

  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Safe deposit box
  • Ample storage space

Facilities

  • Twin
  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk

Twin Porthole

  • 1 porthole

  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Safe deposit box
  • Ample storage space

Facilities

  • Twin
  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk

Triple Porthole

  • 1 porthole
  • 1 upper berth & 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space

This cabin is suitable for families traveling with children, or passengers who do not require a twin or more luxurious cabin

Facilities

  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk
  • Pullman Bed x3

Quadruple Porthole

  • 1 porthole

  • 2 upper & lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone & WiFi (supplemented)
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
  • Safe deposit box

This cabin is suitable for families traveling with children, or passengers who do not require a twin or more luxurious cabin

Facilities

  • Shower
  • TV
  • Safe
  • Hair Dryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk
  • Pullman Bed x4

Entertainment

Daily programs: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Furthermore there are informative lectures hosted by expedition staff. There is also a possibility for the passenger to relax in the lounge with a drink and enjoy the spectacular views.

Observation Lounge

The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v “Plancius” has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 4), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.

Infotainment

You can get instant access to a selection of newspapers and magazines on board as well as a choice of movies and TV series through our Infotainment system that works via the vessel’s Wi-Fi.

Dining

Dining Room

Buffet breakfasts include:

  • eggs, bacon, & sausage
  • hot cereal
  • baked beans
  • variety of breads
  • cold-cut meats
  • cereals
  • crackers
  • yogurt
  • jams & preserves
  • fruit platters
  • pastries

Lunch buffets:

  • soup & salad
  • sandwich foods
  • main course meal
  • fruit basket
  • dessert

Dinners served at the table include:

  • appetizer, soup, or salad
  • main course meal (meat, fish, or vegetarian)
  • dessert or fruit plate

Enrichment

Kayaking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, camping, scuba diving, and much more – our activities are as exciting as they are numerous.We provide much of the equipment you’ll need, and our fleet of Zodiacs will shuttle you to and from all outings with utmost speed and safety. Should you need more of a lift, we even bring our own helicopters on select Ortelius cruises.

It isn’t just the landscape you will experience, it’s also the immense and indelible world of wildlife that calls that landscape home. Allow us to acquaint you with the real polar survivalists that make these far-flung regions truly come alive.

Zodiac Cruising and Shore Programs

Our voyages are primarily defined as explorations and we spend as much time ashore as possible. We can be flexible, taking advantage of wildlife opportunities by using our zodiacs for both landings and cruises. Our knowledgeable guides assist on these outings, providing detailed information. This is supplemented by lectures on board which covers topics such as wildlife, nature and history.

Zodiac cruising instructions

The proper handling and usage of Zodiac landing craft, is crucial for exploratory voyages. These rubber boats are ideal for our operations. They have shallow drafts, and contain six air-filled compartments which give them impressive floatation and weight carrying abilities. The compartments are connected by valves, which allow the internal air pressure to be regulated, and they will still float even if one (or several) compartments become deflated. With these safe, durable and dependable boats we can land in many, normally inaccessible sites; Such as, beaches, shallow river banks, rocky outcrops, coral reef flats, ice floes, etc., as well as more conventional places; such as, docks, sea walls and jetties.

Passengers, however, must be aware of certain regulations involving the Zodiacs in order to assure adequate safety in our landing operations.

The Zodiac driver is in charge of the boat and its operations. Please follow his or her instructions at all times.

Always wear the provided zodiac safety vests when travelling in the Zodiacs. This is for your safety, and is required at all times while in the Zodiacs regardless of weather or sea conditions.

Always accept the helping hand of crew-members and Zodiac drivers when stepping into or out of the Zodiacs at the ship’s gangway or ashore. Keep both hands free for this operation, and use the preferred ‘sailor’s grip’; i.e., grip each other by the wrist, because this gives a much stronger grip than just holding hands.

Minimise the number of separate articles taken along with you when using the zodiacs. Backpacks are ideal for consolidating such diverse objects as cameras, binoculars, rain gear, extra shoes, etc. Carryon items may be handed to the boat handlers before embarking or disembarking. Keep both hands free.

Never smoke in the Zodiacs. This is hazardous because there are exposed fuel tanks connected to the outboard engines. Lit cigarettes are also hazardous to the rubber construction of the boats.

All landing conditions will be announced beforehand; i.e., ‘wet’ landings (these may require getting your feet wet by wading ashore), ‘dry’ landings (these make use of a dock or other object with which one can step ashore directly), and expected weather conditions.

Never disembark or embark the Zodiac over the wooden transom (stern) when the boat is backed onto a beach. Oncoming waves may suddenly push the boat higher onto the beach, knocking the careless passenger with the uplifted engine and propeller, or crushing an exposed foot with the very heavy transom. During ‘wet’ landings one may safely get in or out of the boat by first sitting on the rubber pontoon and then swinging one’s leg over the side. Always wait for instructions from the driver during landings.

One should always use a weatherproof bag (or bring along a small plastic bag) to protect non-waterproof items; such as, cameras and binoculars, from sea spray (or rain) when in the Zodiacs.

Lectures

Lectures on board are selected and relevant to the destinations we travel to. We cover major topics like marine biology, geography, geology, glaciology, ornithology and history.

Polar Diving

All of our polar voyages provide you maximum firsthand contact with local wildlife and terrain, but it is our intimate knowledge of the seas that allows us to also give you an unparalleled adventure below the waves.

Join us on one of our Arctic or Antarctic diving cruises, true expeditions in every sense of the word, during which you will have access to some of the most scenic dive sites in the polar regions.

With this exciting activity, you can explore the underbellies of icebergs, encounter exotic marine life, and enjoy the beautiful interplay of ice, light, and water in a rarely seen world. The details of our dives and itineraries are based on the extensive experience of our international guides, all of whom have worked in the polar regions for many years in various capacities. When you dive with us, you get the best polar adventure in the most capable hands.

General information on our diving activity

  • Divers must be experienced with cold-water, dry-suit diving.
  • We aim for one to two dives per day (one in the morning, one in the afternoon).
  • Our ability to dive depends on local ice and weather conditions.
  • All dive guides are certified and experienced experts in their field.
  • We offer basic equipment on board (e.g., tanks, compressors, and weights), but divers must bring their own personal gear.
  • We make dives from our Zodiac boats.
  • Our maximum dive depth is around 20 meters / 65 feet.
  • In both Antarctica and the Arctic, we may observe sea squirts, squat lobsters, spider crabs, soft corals, anemones, peacock worms, dogfish, sea snails, crabs, sea butterflies, shrubby horsetails, jellyfish, sea hedgehogs, kelp walls, and several species of starfish.
  • Details on booking this activity can be found on our Dates & Rates webpage.

Hiking

There’s no closer way to explore a new area than on your own two feet. With this in mind, we offer a number of hiking expeditions built for all levels of hiker – from the casual walker to the hard-core hiking enthusiast.

Do you need to be an experienced hiker?

For basic walks, you just need to be in reasonably good shape and health. Hikes usually last somewhere between two and six hours. Keep in mind there are no paths and that you will be traveling over fairly rugged terrain and some small hills.We usually offer one to three different types of walks per landing site, ranging from a casual stroll to a challenging hike.In Antarctica, the longest hike takes about three hours. In the Arctic, the longest hike can last a full day, in which case we will provide you a packed lunch. All hikes are led and supervised by certified, experienced expedition guides.

How physically fit do you need to be?

Our hiking guides reserve the right to remove a passenger from the hiking group if they feel they are not in good enough health for a particular hike. This is for your safety as well as our guides.If this happens, our experienced guides will be able to recommend another hike based on your fitness level.

What kind of clothing should you take hiking?

Please bring clothing for the variable weather of the polar regions. Layers are your friend. You’re going to get hot as you hike, and layers will enable you to shed clothing without losing your overall protection against the elements.

With that in mind we suggest the following gear:

  • Hiking or walking poles
  • Backpack (25 liters)
  • Knee-high rubber boots with a grip sole (we provide these on our larger motor vessels but not on our smaller sailing vessels)
  • A waterproof bag (especially for cameras), since you are likely to get splashed during the Zodiac ride from the ship to the shore
  • Straps for tying snowshoes onto your back or backpack
  • Sturdy ankle-high hiking boots (you can use your rubber boots as well)
  • Gaiters (knee-high waterproof protection) to keep your lower legs dry
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Thin under-socks (to stop blistering) and thick over-socks (with spares)
  • One-litre water-bottle
  • Thermal under-gloves (fleece finger gloves) and warm outer-gloves or mittens (and spares)
  • Turtleneck or neck gaiter
  • Urine-collection bottle (for Antarctica), such as a wide-opening Nalgene bottle
  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece jacket or vest
  • Down jacket or spare fleece jacket
  • Breathable waterproof jacket and trekking trousers
  • Warm fleece hat
  • Binoculars

Do not bring cotton clothing like T-shirts or jeans. When cotton gets wet (either from outside moisture or sweat), it will stay wet a long time – not a good thing in a cold environment.

Do the hiking activities cost more?

No, they are covered in the cost of your cruise.

Are the polar hikes safe?

Yes, as all hikes are accompanied by one or more trained and experienced expedition guides. But in the Arctic (especially Svalbard), we must keep a constant lookout for polar bears. All Arctic hiking guides carry rifles due to this possibility while in polar bear territory.

We only hike in areas that are outside glaciated terrain, since treks inside these areas bring people into contact with crevasses and are therefore considered mountaineering. Mountaineering trips are always accompanied by at least one UIAGM-certified mountain guide.

Ski Mountaineering

Interested in something slightly more adventurous than shoreline walks and wildlife watching? Our ski mountaineering trips give you an invigorating up-close experience of the rugged peaks and majestic mountains flanking the high Arctic fjords.

Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy all the usual perks of polar expedition cruising: expansive scenery, exploratory outings, and the chance to see all manner of exotic Arctic wildlife.

Our ski mountaineering outings are always led by certified and experienced expedition leaders and mountain guides, such as Phil Wickens and Tim Blakemore, both of whom have been guiding in the Arctic for well over a decade.

Each morning the guides lead small groups of six to eight skiers onto the glaciers and into the mountains, typically ascending around 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) each day and often stopping for a packed lunch in the middle of the outing.

Ski excursions involve both easy mountaineering and off-piste skiing. Since the expedition is ship-based, guides have the flexibility and freedom to reach the best snow, optimal weather, and a variety of unique Arctic destinations. In order to participate, skiers must be in good physical condition, have prior ski mountaineering experience, and possess their own equipment. Guests will also be expected to demonstrate strong alpine skiing skills, both in ascents as well as descents, while on unprepared slopes of up to 35° in a variety of snow conditions.

To determine whether guests have the necessary skills for this activity, we ask all skiers to fill out a questionnaire highlighting their ski mountaineering experience beforehand. This is for the safety of our guests as well as our guides.What you need to bring on a ski mountaineering tripSki mountaineering is a technically demanding and equipment-intensive sport, so you will need to bring more personal gear than on most Oceanwide voyages.

The following is required:

  • skis with touring bindings
  • ski mountaineering boots
  • crampons adjusted to the size of your ski boots
  • skins
  • ski crampons (couteaux / harscheissen)
  • ski poles
  • avalanche transceiver
  • snow shovel
  • avalanche probe
  • four screw-gate karabiners
  • two tape slings
  • two prussic loops
  • climbing harness
  • ice axe
  • appropriate clothing (detailed in a checklist distributed prior to trip)

Photo Workshop

Photography trips

You might find mere words failing to express to your friends what it meant to you to get in touch with the pristine beauty of the Polar Regions. But you might also be worried that you’re no world-class photographer and that your pictures aren’t going to live up to your Arctic or Antarctic experience.

Not to worry. Select voyages have pro photographers on board who are happy to share their experience and expertise with you. So if you consider yourself only a fair photographer, or even if you can’t tell the front end of a camera from the back, you’re going to go home with some new shutterbug knowledge and a mitt-full of fantastic photographs of your trip.

The Photography Workshops

There are really two versions of the workshops. The first is one you can take while still on board the ship. This version of the workshop hosts 20 passengers at a time, which is a good number for our photo pro to give everyone the attention they need. These on-board sessions take the form of lectures and workshops and will introduce you to your equipment and the theories behind how to take a better picture.

The second version of workshop is held during excursions. These land-based sessions are for up to 14 passengers at a time. These workshops are more practical, your photo pro helping you to adjust to real-life situations such as falling snow, dim light, moving wildlife, and so on.

Do you have to bring equipment?

You do indeed have to bring your own equipment – you’ll soon find that choices in photography equipment are very much based on personal preference, and there’s no way we could accommodate everyone’s tastes.

You can bring more than just basic cameras if you choose, but keep in mind you have to be able to carry the gear and it has to fit safely on board a Zodiac for trips to the shore. You should at the very least bring a waterproof bag to carry your camera in – Zodiac trips tend to splash. For detailed packing tips, check out our photography packing blog and photography packing video, made in cooperation with one of our veteran guide-photographers.

Are photography workshops included in the cruise price or are they supplemental?

A photography workshop is covered by the overall cost in one of our Basecamp cruises. These basecamp workshops are very beginner-friendly, but still have plenty to offer those who have a few photo albums under their belt.

The other cruises do require an extra cost, and you should book your spot in the workshop with our reservations department preferably 3 months prior to your departure (our photography pros are in demand so we need to book their time well in advance).

Kayaking

Explore the Arctic and Antarctic coastline in a kayak.

One of the best things about a polar voyage is that you’re never done exploring. Even if you think you have walked every shore, climbed every mountain, and spotted every penguin (or polar bear), there is still a whole other world to explore on the water.Polar kayaking is a great way to tour the blue-and-white beauty of the polar seas up close, visiting stunning ice formations and waterways too small for our ships to enter.

Do you need to be an experienced kayaker?

The amount of experience we require depends on the cruise you choose. If you have no experience at all, we suggest one of our Basecamp voyages, where we will happily introduce even the most inexperienced kayakers to this wonderful outdoor sport.The toughest part of kayaking in gentle waters is usually getting into the kayak itself. After that, you just have to keep a steady rhythm with your paddles.Some of our cruises require that you have more kayaking experience because they involve longer kayak excursions. These excursions expose you to water that might not be as gentle as a sheltered bay, and you stand more of a chance of encountering rougher weather conditions.You will not need to be able to do a kayak roll, but you should be able to demonstrate that you’re comfortable in a sea kayak. On these non-Basecamp excursions, our guides reserve the right to refuse you access to a kayak if it is clear you don’t have the necessary experience. This is for your safety as well as theirs.

How physically fit do you need to be?

You will want to be in decent physical shape and possess a good sense of balance. Kayaking can be demanding on your core and arm muscles.If you’re not sure if you are quite ready for kayaking, please do not hesitate to check out our kayaking FAQ or simply contact us. We would be happy to explain more about the activity and help you with any additional questions you might have.

How many times can you go kayaking?

On basecamp trips, we aim for each guest to kayak once. On regular voyages, we aim for four to six excursions per passenger who has booked the supplement. Our kayaking activity is always determined by weather and water conditions, since your safety is our primary concern.

Is polar kayaking safe?

All of our kayaking outings are led by certified and experienced guides, but you must always take caution when kayaking in the polar regions.

We will provide you with suitable outer clothing for kayaking. Kayak excursions are limited to 14 passengers per kayak guide. This number lets our guides keep track of everyone and make sure our guests are having a good time.

One guide stays with the group in a support kayak, while a safety boat follows in case of emergencies. All guides will try to scale excursions to the skill level of the group.

Do I have to bring my own kayaking equipment?

We will provide the following items:

  • Seven double-seat sea kayaks on Plancius & Ortelius
  • 14 double-seat sea kayaks on Hondius
  • Paddles with anti-drip rings
  • Basic (4 mm neoprene) wetsuits in different sizes
  • Kayak spray cover
  • Waterproof lightweight jacket (cagoule)
  • Life jacket / kayak vest
  • Neoprene boots

Please bring the following gear:

  • thermal underwear, bottom and top (for under the wetsuit)
  • fleece jacket or vest to wear over your thermal underwear
  • gloves (insulated ski or snowboard gloves with grip or neoprene watersport gloves)
  • waterproof bag (if you are bringing a camera or binoculars)
  • fleece hat
  • turtleneck or neck gaiter
  • thick socks
  • sunglasses
  • sunblock

Avoid bringing cloth clothing like T-shirts or jeans. Once it gets wet (from water or sweat), it will stay wet for a long time – not a comfortable experience in polar weather!

What will I see while kayaking?

You’ll see rugged shorelines sloping up into snow-capped mountains, pristine beaches, and icebergs that turn the water beneath you a brilliant blue. You may also see some local wildlife, which the peaceful nature of kayaking makes even better.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing in the Arctic and Antarctica

There really is no better way to take in a new place than by exploring it on foot. With that in mind Oceanwide Expeditions offers you the chance to explore your way inland from the Polar shorelines with a wide variety of snowshoeing expeditions built for everyone. From the casual explorer to the hard-core snowshoe-er.

Do I need to be experienced? How physically fit do I need to be?

For the basic walks you just need to be in reasonably good shape and health. The snowshoe activities last usually somewhere between 2 and 6 hours. Keep in mind that there are no paths and that you will be travelling over fairly rugged terrain and will be taking on some hills.

There are usually 1 to 3 different types of walks offered (except in the case of our sailing vessel the Noorderlicht) per landing ranging from a casual stroll to a challenging hike. In the Antarctic the longest hike takes about 2 hours while in the Arctic the longest hike can last a full day (we send you off with a packed lunch).

We do reserve the right to suggest that a passenger try another activity if it seems like they will not be able to enjoy a particular hike. This is done partly for the enjoyment of the other passengers and partly for safety concerns – if there is a health incident there is no help beyond basic first aid in the vicinity.

Our experienced guides will be able to recommend a particular hike to you based on your fitness level. If you have any questions at all about your health or skills please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we’d be more than happy to help you sort out your concerns.

Do I need to bring snowshoes?

Not at all. We’ll provide you with MSR lightweight snowshoes that easily attach to rubber boots or sturdy hiking boots. If you join us on our ships Plancius, Hondius or Ortelius we also provide the rubber boots at no extra cost. However, you do want to bring clothing that is suitable for the changeable weather of the Polar Regions. Layers are your friend – you’re going to get hot as you work your way around the tundra and you’ll want to be able to shed a layer or two without losing a big percentage of your elemental protection.

With that in mind we suggest:

  • Hiking/walking poles.
  • Rubber boots that are high enough to get you from the Zodiac to the shore and have a good gripping sole for the shore landings and walks. (Boots are provided on the Plancius and Ortelius, not on the Rembrandt van Rijn).
  • A waterproof bag (especially for cameras) – you’re likely to get splashed during the Zodiac ride from the ship to the shore.
  • Straps for tying snowshoes onto your back or backpack.
  • Ankle-high sturdy hiking boots for the actual treks and for wearing snowshoes.
  • Sunblock.
  • You might want gaiters (knee-high waterproof protection) to keep your lower legs dry while hiking.
  • Sunglasses.
  • A backpack (25 litres is a good size).
  • Thin under-socks (to stop blistering) and thick over-socks. (Bring some dry spares as well.)
  • A 1-litre water-bottle.
  • Thermal under-gloves (fleece finger gloves) and warm outer-gloves or mittens (you might want a spare set of these as well).
  • A turtle-neck or neck gaiter.
  • A urine-collection bottle (regulations forbid leaving human waste behind in the Antarctic). Try looking for something like a wide-opening Nalgene bottle (they sell specialised versions for ladies at outdoor shops).
  • Thermal underwear.
  • A fleece jacket or vest.
  • A down jacket or spare fleece jacket.
  • A breathable (e.g. Gore-Tex) jacket and trousers.
  • Trekking trousers.
  • A warm fleece hat.
  • You might also want to bring along binoculars, and a Thermos bottle.

Don’t bring regular cotton clothing like t-shirts or jeans if you can avoid it because if it gets wet (either from outside moisture or sweat) it will stay wet – not a good thing in a cold environment.

Mountaineering

Explore the Antarctic highlands

If you’re looking to push yourself a little further on your polar voyage, mountaineering could be just what you’re after. This exhilarating activity lets you venture beyond the shorelines and into Antarctica’s higher ground, gaining vistas and viewpoints unavailable anywhere else.

Do I have to be in great physical shape for mountaineering?

You must be fit and have stamina enough to walk three or more hours over sometimes rugged terrain, both uphill and downhill.

What’s the difference between mountaineering and snowshoe hikes?

Mountaineering hikes may take you into glaciated areas that can expose you to crevasses, requiring more caution than on non-glaciated ground. You can also expect to make ascents and descents that might be challenging.

Is your mountaineering activity scaled to passenger ability?

We offer two types of mountaineering based on ability:

  • Basic mountaineering is for guests of all experience levels, and we provide all the equipment needed.
  • Technical mountaineering requires previous experience and special footwear you must provide yourself.

For more details, please consult our mountaineering manual.

How many mountaineering hikes will I go on?

On our Basecamp voyages, each guest will participate in every activity once as long as local conditions allow. Make sure you request mountaineering when booking this trip.

Do I have to bring any mountaineering equipment?

Some gear we provide, some you must bring yourself.

We supply the following:

  • snowshoes
  • muck boots
  • crampons
  • helmets
  • harnesses
  • ice axes
  • screw-gate carabiners
  • snap links
  • mountaineering ropes
  • tape slings
  • prussic loops
  • snow shovels
  • bivouac bags
  • biodegradable human waste bags (it is illegal to leave waste behind)

You must bring:

Feet

  • gaiters (if bringing your own boots)
  • thin synthetic under-socks to prevent blisters
  • synthetic / woolen thin / thick long socks

Outer layer clothing

  • down jacket
  • wind and waterproof breathable jacket with hood
  • wind and waterproof pants/salopettes (ski pants)

Thermal layer

  • synthetic / wool fleece / pile jacket / pull-on
  • synthetic/ wool fleece / pile pants / salopettes
  • fleece jacket or vest

Base layer (underwear)

  • synthetic / wool thin top (long/short sleeves / zipped)
  • synthetic / wool thin pants / long johns
  • synthetic / wool balaclava and hat
  • windproof cap with peak/ear protectors
  • sun hat, headband, face mask, neck gaiter / scarf

Hands

  • ski / mountain gloves
  • windproof over mitts
  • synthetic / wool thermal mitts/finger gloves
  • down mitts
  • thin (base layer) synthetic / wool mitts / gloves
  • mitts/gloves support (around neck)

Eyes

  • facial protection
  • sun glasses / glacier glasses with sides
  • spare glasses / lenses

Skin

  • sun block, sun screen, fatty lip salve (no water)

Hygiene

  • toilet / hygiene kit : pee bottle (for camping and mountaineering), e.g. wide opening Nalgene bottle (there are special adaptor for ladies in outdoor shops available)

Miscellaneous

  • personal medication
  • 25 liter rucksack
  • 1 liter water bottle
  • waterproof bag (for camera equipment)
  • straps to tie snowshoes on backpack
  • film and memory cards
  • hiking / walking poles
  • binoculars
  • head torch (flashlight)

Do not bring cotton clothing like T-shirts or jeans. Once they get wet, they will stay wet. This can increase the chance of hypothermia in sub-zero weather.

You must bring your own boots for technical mountaineering, but you can also use your own boots for basic mountaineering if you do not want to use our muck boots.

Antarctic Camping

For those craving a truly immersive polar adventure, our open-air camping activity gives you the chance to experience the Antarctic wilderness as few travelers have.

We provide the necessary camping gear, including breathable bivouac bags that are wind and waterproof and a lightweight alternative to tents. And our polar sleeping bags will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable during the enchanting Antarctic night.

All campers will be assisted and supervised by experienced expedition guides.

General information on our camping activity

  • Camping is available based on weather, site conditions, and environmental regulations.
  • Everyone can participate, no previous experience required.
  • This activity is only offered on select Hondius, Plancius, and Ortelius voyages.
  • The maximum number of participants is limited to 30 per night.
  • All camping activities are supervised by expert field guides.
  • Basic equipment is provided by OEX (bivouac bags, mats, boots).
One camp night must be booked prior to your trip, but extra nights may be arranged on board (no waitlist). Please see our Dates & Rates for details.

Details of the Antarctic camping experience

We aim for at least one night of camping on each designated trip, but the expedition team will offer more if possible. Additional nights are determined by weather and local conditions and can only be offered when it is a possible for the vessel to stay close to shore. If the vessel has to relocate during the night, camping is not possible.

According to Antarctic Treaty and IAATO regulations, we are not allowed to take stoves, fuel, or food on shore with the exception of emergency rations, survival gear, water, and medical supplies.

The camping group will be taken to shore after dinner, and then returned to the ship before breakfast. Our camps will always be made in a place where wildlife will not be disturbed.

All campers will be equipped with a personal waterproof bag containing a sleeping mattress, synthetic sleeping bag with inner liner, and a breathable bivouac bag. Besides these personal items, other gear will also be taken to shore.

While campers are on shore, our staff will be in full radio contact with the ship at all times. Guides will also stay on shore to assist and supervise the campers. Upon departure, the campsite must be cleaned and everything returned to the ship.

Clothes to bring for camping

Please pack for the worst weather, as conditions in Antarctica can change rapidly. Below is a list of important items you must bring yourself:

  • Thermal underwear, fleece vest or jacket, and down jacket that is breathable (e.g., Gore-Tex)
  • Warm hat and turtleneck or neck gaiter
  • Thermal under-gloves, fleece finger gloves, or warm mittens
  • Thick socks with spares
  • Good UV-protectant sunglasses
  • Sun cream or sunblock
  • Flashlight or lightweight headlamp for departures in February – March

Gear we provide for camping

  • Insulated waterproof rubber boots
  • Bivouac bag (one per person) and mattress
  • Waterproof sleeping bag with cotton inner liner
  • Portable field toilet (one per group)
Special note: Cotton clothing, such as normal T-shirts and jeans, are not advisable. Cotton tends to get wet and stay wet while moving in a cold environment. We recommend thermal underwear.

Weather conditions

Exploring remote and wild regions like Antarctica requires a sensible and flexible approach. Although there can be clear skies with bright sunshine, the weather is unpredictable. Katabatic winds caused by the icecaps and glaciers can pick up suddenly and are a fierce opponent for polar travelers. Such conditions might also lead to the cancelation of planned camp nights. If local circumstances prevent us from camping on shore, we may attempt to camp on the open decks of the ship.

In order for the camping activity to take place, we must have at least 10 passengers who intend to camp. Only 30 passengers can camp at any one time, and we always assign one expedition guide per every 20 campers to assist and supervise operations.

Lastly, we do not use tents as part of our camping equipment. Tents are greatly affected by wind in Antarctica, and using them greatly reduces the weather in which we can camp.

Instead, we have found that bivouac sleeping bags offer us the best odds of being able to follow through with our camping activity. They also provide an unparalleled experience by allowing you to see and hear all that is happening around you, from the noise of penguin calls to the sound of whale blows. They also offer the best view of the beautiful Antarctic skies.

Deckplans

Deck 5 - 6

  • (Deck 5) Library
  • (Deck 5) Bar
  • (Deck 5) Observation Lounge/Lecture Room
  • (Deck 5) Superior Cabins
  • (Deck 6) Desk Office
  • (Deck 6) Captain's Cabin
  • (Deck 6) Superior Cabins

Deck 4

  • Twin Window Cabins
  • Twin Deluxe Cabins
  • Superior Cabins

Deck 2 - 3

Deck 2

  • Quadruple Porthole Cabins
  • Triple Porthole Cabins

Deck 3

  • Restaurant/Lecture Room
  • Reception
  • Boarding Area
  • Infirmary
  • Zodiac Boarding Area
  • Twin Porthole

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