When thinking about liveabord scuba trips, surely the last thoughts that come to mind are icey planes, penguins or icebergs floating by. Well this article containes just that: We found two of the most exclusive, out-of-this-world liveaboards to explore and scuba dive the antarctic region in style.
Originally a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science, the 91m Ortelius now offers exciting expeditions in the Arctic from May - September each year. The Ortelius is an ice-strengthened vessel, and actually has the highest ice-class notation available, making her more than adequate for these exciting voyages. A highly experienced crew of 22, including 8 expedition staff, are on-hand to look after guests needs. The Ortelius caters to 116 guests in 48 simple, yet comfortable en-suite cabins. Cabins are available in a range of configurations, including twin, triple and quadruple. Social areas include two restaurants, bar/lecture room and observation lounge.
Voyages aboard the Ortelius have been designed to offer guests as much time ashore as possible with a quality wildlife program on offer. Itineraries range from 8-15 days, and include looking for Reindeer around Spitsbergen, humpback whale watching, seeing Arctic fox & Polar bears, as well as special Polar bear trips dedicated to finding these amazing animals. Activities include hiking, kayaking and snowshoeing. The Ortelius liveaboard also offers Polar dive trips to the Antarctic Peninsular in January, February & March each year. Diving the Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic Islands is a unique experience, and not something many people have the opportunity to experience. This region is un-spoilt and divers will have the chance to see penguins, sea lions and maybe even leopard seals underwater. The diving is shallow, around 20m/60ft, and varies from shallow ice diving, shore diving or from a zodiac. Besides diving next to stunning ice floes, there is other interesting marine life such as kelp walls, sea snails, starfish and giant isopods. The dive team leaders aboard the Ortelius are experts in their field, and aim to offer 1 - 2 dives per day, depending on local ice and weather conditions. Divers need to have strong experience in cold water & dry-suit diving.
Join the M/V Plancius for a trip of lifetime aboard an Antarctica cruise. Originally an oceanographic research vessel built in 1976 for the Royal Dutch Navy, she was completely refurbished in 2009 to accommodate 116 passengers for Polar adventure cruises. The 'Ice Class' MV Plancius has 53 en-suite cabins on board, all with lower berths, with the exception of the 2 triple and 4 quadruple cabins, which have bunk beds. There are 5 decks, and social areas include the large observation lounge and bar located on deck 5, restaurant and lecture room on deck 3, as well as large open deck spaces with the possibility to fully walk around deck 4 and enjoy the scenery and wildlife views. M/V Plancius is also fitted with a diesel-electric propulsion system, to reduce the noise and vibration of the vessel.
Antarctica cruises aboard the M/V Plancius range from short 7-day trips to Ascension Island to full 37-day expeditions exploring the Antarctic Peninsular. Activities and highlights on these voyages can include soft climbing mountain ranges, rare photo opportunities, kayaking the shorelines, getting up close with Gentoo & King Penguins, seeing Killer Whales cruise by or watching Leopard Seals hunt.
Plancius also offers dive trips to the Antarctic Peninsular for the chance to see penguins, sea lions and possibly even leopard seals underwater. Diving is shallow, around 20m/60ft, and ranges from zodiac and shore diving. Diving next to amazing ice floes is a once in a lifetime experience and something to be remembered forever. The dives are lead by a highly experienced dive team leader and guides who are experts in their field. They aim to offer 1-2 dives per day, but this can change due to local ice and weather conditions. Divers need to be experienced in cold water and dry-suit diving, and also need to bring all their own gear (tanks/weights provided onboard).