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Ross Sea Region

Geologically the youngest of the oceans, the Southern Ocean was formed roughly 30 million years ago when Antarctica and South America moved apart, opening the Drake Passage

One of the last seas on the planet not to have been harmed by human activity, the Ross Sea is a deep bay of the Southern Ocean between Victoria Land and Marie Byrd Land, and was discovered by James Ross in 1841. To its west is Ross Island with the Mt. Erebus volcano and, to the east, Roosevelt Island. The southern part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf and at its closest point it is only around 200 miles from the Geographic South Pole. It boasts both an incredible biological diversity and a long history of human exploration and scientific research. Amundsen set off on his South Pole expedition in 1911 from the Bay of Whales at the Ross Ice Shelf. 



Itineraries relating to the Ross Sea region


The Antarctic

Fiona’s travel tips

READ: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing; A First-Rate tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott & the Race to the South Pole by Diana Preston and Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel.

TOP TIP: If you are considering one of the Ross Sea voyages out of New Zealand, why not make the most of your visit and ask us about tailor-making a holiday there to fit round your voyage?

A 10 metre long colossal squid weighing 495 kg was captured in the Ross Sea in February 2007?

LET US KNOW: If you have a former connection with any of the polar regions we visit by ship. Perhaps you or a relative lived on one of the bases, or were a member of a past expedition? We can offer you the chance to share your experiences, diaries or photographs with others on your voyage. In the past we’ve even got the ship to make unscheduled visits to tie in with such an event.

Clients’ comments

“Our trip was simply incredible. I've run out of superlatives!  We made it to Scott’s, Shackleton’s and Borchgrevinck’s huts and we saw emperor penguins, minke, humpback, fin and blue whales, Weddell and crabeater seals and had a close encounter with a feeding leopard seal. We both especially loved the albatross, they’re fantastic to watch!  The Subantarctic Islands – Macquarie and Campbell islands in particular – were amazing for wildlife and scenery, the highlight being the king penguins and elephant seals at Sandy Bay. We even had a display of the Aurora Australis on our journey home!” 

Chris and Karen Robb, Ross Sea in the wake of Scott and Shackleton

“The service provided by Arcturus was excellent. All arrangements went smoothly and efficiently. It was a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime trip, beyond imagination.  Highlights were the penguins, the ice scenery including the Ross Ice Shelf and the historic sites, in particular Scott's Hut at Cape Evans. The group of passengers was a real mix of personalities and nationalities. We made some good friends.  To cap it all, we had three members of the Planet Earth/BBC Natural History team on board, including the Executive Director Alistair Fothergill. They were very friendly, plus it gave us the  use of a third helicopter which they had arranged. I won one of the photo competitions organized by the expedition staff.”

David and Mandy Grierson, Antarctica, the Ross Sea


“We had a fabulous holiday, the scenery and wildlife were fantastic. I think I can now recognise all the different penguin and seal species! The ship and the crew were very good, no problems. Thank you for organising the holiday for us, and I'd have no hesitation in recommending you for any future trips.” 

Mr and Mrs Glen Anderson, Antarctic voyage


“The successful conclusion of my two month tour of some of the more remote Pacific Islands, having proceeded seamlessly and without incident, is a great tribute to your unfailing helpfulness, patience and acuity. Many thanks.” 

Martin Dawson, Island Odyssey, Pitcairn Islands and the South Pacific

“My favourite time was at Scott’s Terra Nova Hut. The ship was extremely comfortable and well appointed. The expedition team and crew were all very professional, friendly and helpful.” 

Gerry Pearce, Orion’s Ross Sea voyage to Scott’s Hut

“This was truly a trip of a lifetime; wonderful land and seascapes, masses of penguins, albatross, and other species of birds and accessing Scott’s Hut - which was the highlight for many. Regretfully, despite hours of effort, in bitter conditions, we were only able to land three people at Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds.  Next year! Orion and her crew were fabulous, and the food outstanding - I put on five kilos in three weeks!”

Fergus O'Gorman, group leader, Orion’s Ross Sea voyage to Scott’s Hutt


“It was a fascinating voyage with lasting impressions. The wildlife both on the Falklands and on Antarctica is incredibly rich. The organisation on board the ship was very good. Among the talks given by the scientific crew I enjoyed the witty talks by Robert Headland the most. The familiar atmosphere in the lodges on Sea Lion Island and on Carcass Island was very nice indeed. Last but not least I should like to thank you for the impeccable organisation on your part.”

Mr Hubert Kalf, Epic Antarctica icebreaker voyage