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Ross Sea & Subantarctic Islands Explorer

Follow in the footsteps of explorers Scott and Shackleton on this epic 25-day trip to Antarctica's wildlife-rich Subantarctic Islands and remote Ross Sea region. Aboard one of the newest ships in the polar fleet, seek out perfectly preserved historic huts, encounter the world’s biggest floating ice shelf and spot diverse wildlife – from yellow-eyed penguins to spy-hopping orcas.

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Ross Sea & Subantarctic Islands Explorer

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Trip type

Ross Sea

Trip length

25 Days

From

$31,495 -$64,695

Ship Comfort

Comfort & Adventure

Ross Sea & Subantarctic Islands Explorer - 25 Days - $31,495

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • 7 full days in Antarctica’s Ross Sea region, plus 3 exploring wildlife-packed Subantarctic Islands
  • A maximum of 154 guests ensures an intimate experience of Antarctica
  • Antarctic operational experience since 1992
  • A generous expedition staff to guest ratio of 1:8 
  • Explore at water level with optional kayaking programme (additional fee) 
  • Complimentary 3-in-1 parka jacket and digital post-voyage photo book
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks included with dinner

Start from Dunedin and end at Dunedin

Landmarks potentially visited on Ross Sea & Subantarctic Islands Explorer

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dunedin

On arrival in the friendly New Zealand city of Dunedin, you’ll be met at the airport and taken to your pre-voyage hotel for a complimentary night’s stay. 

In the afternoon, pick up your luggage tags from the hospitality desk in the lobby and take the opportunity to ask any questions about your upcoming expedition. 

The evening is yours to explore New Zealand's southernmost city. Have a relaxing stroll along the scenic Otago Harbour and savour a meal at one of Dunedin's many fine restaurants.


Day 2: Embark on your vessel 

Fuel up ahead of your Antarctic voyage with a complimentary breakfast at your hotel, then spend the rest of your morning taking in Dunedin’s charming Victorian and Edwardian architecture. 

You'll embark on your Antarctic ship in the afternoon. Settle into your thoughtfully designed cabin once on board and explore the vessel’s luxurious amenities. 

As you cast off from Dunedin, join your fellow explorers out on deck to watch civilisation shrink into the distance. At dinner raise a toast to celebrate the truly remote adventure you're all embarking on. 


Day 3: At Sea

On an expedition like this, it's as much about the journey as the destination. Days at sea are a great chance to relax, meet other guests and learn all about the spectacular locations you'll visit. 

As you get used to life on board, your highly experienced Expedition Team will deepen your understanding of the region’s history, wildlife and geography. They'll also join you out on deck to look for some of the impressive sea birds that may shadow the ship. 

When not learning about Antarctica, indulge in the ship’s wonderful facilities. Have some R&R during a spa session, work out in the fitness centre or relax with a page-turner in the extensive polar library. 


Days 4 to 6: Navigating New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands

First discovered by Maori explorers centuries ago, the Subantarctic Islands are culturally significant and beautifully scenic. For three days, you’ll explore these ‘Albatross Isles', taking in the gigantic megaherbs with their huge flowers and rugged scenery. These islands are crowded with wildlife, including six species of albatross, endemic birds such as the Campbell Island Shag not to mention fur seals and sea lions. 


Days 7 to 10: At Sea

As you cross the Antarctic Convergence the frigid southern waters meet their warmer northern counterparts, causing a 4°C (39°F) drop in sea temperature. 

You may also begin to notice that this chilly zone teems with life. Keep an eye out for penguins porpoising through the ocean and flurries of Antarctic petrels in the sky. The Antarctic Circle is nearby, meaning you can expect to witness your first iceberg relatively soon. 

Sea days are also your chance to unwind and reflect on your subantarctic explorations so far while preparing for the next leg of your journey. Strike up conversations with newfound friends at the bar, warm up with a sauna session or catch up on photo editing in your comfortable cabin. 

Along with these activities, don't miss the Expedition Team's presentations in the lecture room. They’ll share fascinating insights about the extraordinary wildlife and experiences waiting for you along Antarctica’s dramatic coastline.


Days 11 to 17: Exploring Victoria Land Coast and the Ross Sea

With nutrient-dense waters, this legendary yet little-visited corner of Antarctica is a haven for polar wildlife. You might be lucky enough to encounter Ross Sea orcas, Antarctic petrels and South Pacific Weddell seals, along with members of the world's largest Adelie penguin colony. 

Recognising its unique biodiversity, the Ross Sea became the world's largest marine protected area in 2016. Yet its significance goes far beyond wildlife. Since the area's discovery by James Clark Ross in 1841, countless expeditions have left their mark here. Basecamps for the Heroic Age of Exploration were built on the rare ice-free slithers of land, serving as launchpads for daring journeys across the polar plateau.

Often departing quickly, explorers left behind artefacts, scientific paraphernalia, and occasionally, entire huts. Nowadays, these abandoned sites are considered open-air museums and preserved under the Antarctic Treaty System. Your Expedition Team will look for opportunities – weather and ice conditions permitting – to take you ashore to soak up these historically poignant locations. 

Be prepared for cold temperatures and long daylight hours: a flexible, adventurous spirit is an absolute must!


Days 18 to 20: At Sea

As you near the end of your journey, you may be bidding farewell to the Ross Sea and its unique inhabitants, but your expedition isn't over yet. During the onboard lectures, your guides will turn their attention to your next destination: Macquarie Island.

As this location draws near, watch out for graceful grey-headed, black-browed and light-mantled albatrosses. These feathered friends might well start to circle the ship, welcoming you to their island home.


​​Days 21 & 22: Navigating Macquarie Island

As you set sights on Australia’s Macquarie Island, you’ll witness the same scene that greeted pioneering explorer Douglas Mawson: verdant, sky-piercing peaks rising majestically from the sea. 

This island has played a pivotal role in polar history. In 1911, five men landed here from Mawson's ship the Aurora, establishing a radio relay station that transmitted the first message from Antarctica to the outside world.

Get your binoculars at the ready as this subantarctic haven shelters an astounding 3.5 million breeding seabirds, including no less than four penguin species. Prepare to be charmed by tuxedoed king penguins, lively gentoos, playful rockhoppers, and the island's very own royal penguins. Macquarie is also home to three types of fur seals and a staggering number of the world's elephant seals. 

Bundle up and head out on deck to experience the spectacle, and yes, the aroma, as you approach one of the Southern Ocean's biggest and most vibrant concentrations of life. Captivating kelp forests also surround Macquarie Island, so spend some time marvelling at the fronds gently swaying against the surface of the water too. 


Days 23 & 24: At Sea

As your Antarctic adventure wraps up and you approach civilisation once again, take some time to file away your memories of the last three weeks of epic exploration. Organise your photos, write down experiences in your journal, or just unwind and enjoy the atmosphere on board. 


Day 25 Disembark in Dunedin

After breakfast, say goodbye to your expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue your journey onwards. If you are travelling on from Dunedin today, please make sure your outbound flight departs after noon.


PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is for guidance only as each voyage will vary depending on ice and weather conditions, and opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is key and all part of the adventure of an expeditionary cruise.

Why our customers love Swoop

The Antarctic Experts.
No Compromises

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Our team has visited Antarctica over 150 times and has 100 collective years of polar experience, so from which trip is right for you to what shoes to bring - there’s no question we can’t answer.

Expert impartial advice at no extra cost

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Choosing the right voyage is complicated, Swoop makes it easy. We offer no-nonsense advice on 1500 voyages across 30 ships to find you the right trip, cabin, price - and we don’t charge a fee.

The only B Corp certified Antarctic specialist

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We want to protect Antarctica for future generations - which is why we became a certified B Corp and set up our own conservation fund. So your adventures can be a force for good.

A full concierge service, unlike booking direct

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We leave nothing to chance in delivering your perfect trip and have over 6500 happy travellers to show for it. With a dedicated Antarctic co-ordinator & support throughout - you’re in safe hands.

We’re delighted with this new addition to the expedition fleet. Built specifically for polar cruising, the smart design of the Douglas Mawson ensures an optimal experience both on and off the ship.

Lizzie Williams Polar Product & Partnerships Manager

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices quoted below are per person based on 2 people sharing. Cabin availability changes all the time so please contact us for up-to-date details and information on specific cabin availability.

Stateroom Triple Stateroom Twin Stateroom Superior Balcony Stateroom Category C Balcony Stateroom Category B Stateroom Single Balcony Stateroom Category A Stateroom Superior Single Balcony Stateroom Superior Junior Suite Captain's Suite
January 2026
16-Jan-2026 $31,495* $32,395 $34,195 $35,195 $36,995 Full $39,795 Full $43,495 $54,595 $64,695 Enquire

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $31495

Single Supplement And Child Policy

The ship has a limited number of dedicated single cabins. For those travelling solo who would like their own cabin, the single supplement is 1.5 times the cost of a single berth. Please contact us for details. There is no supplement for passengers willing to share a cabin. 

Children aged 8 years old or over are permitted on this trip. There is no concession on pricing. Please contact us for details.

Optional Adventure Activities

Enhance your trip with the following add ons. Limited places per activity.
Get in contact to check availability.

Activity Cost Additional Information
Add on icon Kayaking Kayaking $1,330 An immersive full sea kayaking program for those who want to kayak multiple times (as often as weather and ice conditions allow). Prior kayaking experience to at least intermediate level is required and you must be able to do a wet exit to participate. Subject to weather and ice conditions. Booking in advance is essential.

Includes

  • Pre-embarkation hotel night (Day 1) in Dunedin, New Zealand
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
  • Voyage aboard the vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • Airport transfers as noted in the itinerary 
  • Accommodation during the voyage on full board basis
  • Captain's Farewell dinner and drinks reception
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
  • All shore excursions and zodiac activities
  • Educational lectures by expert onboard polar guides
  • Complimentary WIFI
  • Access to an onboard doctor and basic medical services
  • Loan of rubber boots for the voyage's duration
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • Port taxes and any entry fees to historic landing sites
  • A digital photo book produced with photos and ship logs from your voyage

Excludes

  • Flights to and from points of embarkation/disembarkation
  • Any additional services before and after your voyage
  • Transfers not specific to the itinerary
  • Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
  • Optional excursions and activity surcharges
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Items of a personal nature: laundry, beverages, etc
  • Additional onboard purchases (i.e. gift shop)
  • Gratuities for ship crew 

Questions about this Voyage?