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East Antarctica – In the Wake of Mawson  |  33 days

Follow Sir Douglas Mawson’s legendary heroics on this expedition cruise to Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica. Mawson’s Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911 - 1914 was notable for its scientific achievements and, sadly, its tragedies including the deaths of Ninnis and Mertz and Mawson’s almost superhuman trek to safety.

Mawson’s Hut at Cape Denison still stands defiant against the extreme weather. Cape Denison is one of the very few ice-free and readily accessible areas along the East Antarctic coast. However, when the Mertz Glacier tongue broke off in 2010 it blocked the annual movement of sea ice, isolating the area from shipping. At last we see opportunities to return and explore this majestic, remote coastline.

In addition to Mawson’s Hut we hope to visit the research base Dumont D’Urville.


Ship: Akademik Shokalskiy 

Usually operates December/January - please ask for 2022/23 dates

Guide price: For price per person based on twin cabin (shared facilities) - please enquire



The Antarctic

Fiona’s travel tips

MUST 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.

LOCAL WEATHER: Sea conditions on this voyage can be rough - you may experience the roaring forties en route so its worth taking good sea sickness precautions - patches behind the ear work well. Remember that access to Scott and Shackleton's Huts depends on ice conditions which vary from year to year. Visits are not guaranteed though many of our clients have enjoyed successful voyages.

Clients’ comments

“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


“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