South Georgia In Depth | Polar Unbound | Photography Symposium

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Experience the wildlife-rich “Serengeti of the Southern Ocean” on this cruise to South Georgia.  Accompanied by five professional photography mentors (on the Photo Symposium date), you’ll have the opportunity to capture thousands of king penguins, breaching whales and albatross soaring above as you explore the former whaling stations, dramatic fjords and black sand beaches of this fascinating destination. 

Images & Videos


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Day 1

Punta Arenas, Chile

Your expedition begins in Chile’s southern city of Punta Arenas where you will board a 90-minute flight to the Falkland Islands’ capital of Stanley. You’ll have time to explore its brightly colored houses and rich history before embarking the ship and setting sail for South Georgia.

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 2-3

Southern Ocean

We’ll spend the next couple of days cruising through the South Atlantic, keeping an eye out for wandering albatross, giant petrels and cape petrels which will be our constant companions over this stretch of ocean. Attend educational presentations by your Expedition Team about the natural and human history of your upcoming destinations and learn some tips and tricks for photographing wildlife from your professional mentors.

If conditions are favorable, we may also make a stop at historic Elephant Island where Shackleton and his men camped under their overturned lifeboats before setting out on a rescue mission to South Georgia.

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4-7

South Georgia

We’ll be greeted by the snowcapped mountains of South Georgia as we navigate into historic King Haakon Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men made landfall around 100 years ago after making the perilous crossing from Elephant Island in their lifeboat, the James Caird. We may also visit the black sand beaches and tussock-covered sand dunes of Salisbury Plain which is home to hundreds of thousands of king penguins, together with fur seals and elephant seals which can be seen basking on the beach. 

We will also visit the historic whaling stations of Stromness and Grytviken which now exist as ghostly remains in the midst of the surrounding wilderness. If weather conditions are favorable, we will hike across the saddle which separates Fortuna Bay from Stromness, following in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, before visiting his gravesite and that of his right-hand man, Frank Wild, at Grytviken.

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8-10

South Georgia

Over the next few days, we will explore the wildlife-rich areas of St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbour, named for its cliffs which illuminate a bright yellow in the early morning light. Spot fur seals and elephant seals basking in the sun and photograph huge colonies of king penguins, then visit the spectacular Drygalski Fjord in the far east of South Georgia. 

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11-13

Southern Ocean

The next few days will be spent crossing the Southern Ocean as we cruise towards the Falkland Islands, with plenty of time to download and review photos in our multi-media room and chat with your photography experts. Keep an eye out for majestic albatross, petrels and other seabirds which may accompany us on our return journey. 

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14

Falkland Islands

As we approach the Falkland Islands, we’ll jump aboard the zodiacs to explore Sea Lion Island. It's not only home to South American sea lions and southern elephant seals, but also Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins. Also, keep an eye out for king cormorants and striated caracas which are often spotted here.

ACCOMMODATION : Akademik Ioffe or Akademik Sergey Vavilov
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15

Stanley, Falkland Islands and Punta Arenas, Chile

During the early morning hours, we will navigate into the historic harbor of Port Stanley where you will disembark the ship. It’s then time to transfer to the airport for your return flight to Punta Arenas in Southern Chile.

Dates & Rates

Supplementary Information

Please ask for specific cabin availability.
•    Full service of our Adventure Consultants
•    Educational presentations from ornithologists, glaciologists, historians, geologists, naturalists and marine mammal experts
•    Photography advice and instruction from the resident photographer and guest photographer on the Symposium trip
•    All zodiac and landing excursions
•    Zodiac cruising, hiking, guided walks, photography workshops, fitness and yoga
•    All meals during the voyage
•    Coffee, tea and hot chocolate available anytime
•    Access to an English speaking medical advisor
•    Access to wellness area (finnish sauna, hot tub, sea water pool, natural essential oils)
•    Use of multi-media room
•    Expedition gear package for duration of the voyage (windproof/waterproof jacket and bibs, insulated rubber boots, water resistant binoculars, waterproof backpack, trekking poles)

Not Included:
•    Sea kayaking excursions (See note below)
•    International and National Airfare
•    Visa and passport fees, Airport taxes
•    Pre and Post cruise hotel accommodations
•    Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
•    Items of a personal nature
•    Massages
•    Personal laundry service
•    Postage and telephone calls
•    Travel medical insurance, including medical evacuation (Mandatory)
•    Trip interruption and cancellation insurance
•    Gratuities

Note: Sea kayaking excursions are offered at an extra cost of USD $695 (Arctic) and USD $795 (Antarctic) per person. Pre-registration is required at time of booking.  Confirmed access to kayak at any offered excursions.  Limited to 16 passengers per voyage.  Includes high quality kayaking equipment. 

Ship Details

RCGS Resolute

Ice-strengthened for Antarctic waters, the RCGS Resolute is a purpose-built polar expedition vessel with a modern layout and design. It boasts a spacious lounge with 180-degree views and a well-stocked library where you can relax with a good book. Grab a drink at one of the two bars and feast on sumptuous meals in one of the two dining rooms, with large picture windows so you won’t miss a thing. Keep fit in the onboard gym and saltwater pool or indulge in a spa, sauna or steam room session in the wellness center. 

Each of the spacious cabins feature modern lounge areas, new carpets and high-quality cabinetry, as well as en-suite bathrooms and soft lighting. There is a range of bedding configurations to suit all travelers, with porthole windows or expansive panoramic windows ensuring ocean views. If you want to splurge, opt for the 44-square-meter One Ocean Suite that boasts enough room to entertain other guests. 

Ship Specifications:

Launched: 1993
Shipyard: Rauma, Finland
Length: 122.8 metres
Beam: 18 metres
Draught: 4.97 metres
Gross Tonnage: 8378
Speed (Max): 15 knots
Cruise Speed: 14 knots
Passengers: 146
Zodiac Boats: 14 Zodiacs onboard
Electrical Supply: 220 Volts/European Pin
Hull Classification: Ice Strengthened
Ice Class: Lloyds 1AS
Vessel Stability: External Stabilization


  • 360 degree viewing from outer decks
  • Salt wataer plunge pool
  • Large relaxation deck
  • Hot water jacuzzi
  • Wellness centre (massage therapy, Finnish Sauna, steam room)
  • Gymnasium
  • Presentation room
  • Observation lounge and bar
  • Two dining rooms
  • Multimedia room and Library
  • Spacious cabins (22-44 M Squared)

Both the Vavilov and Ioffe ships are amazing vessels. They are sister ships, so very similar in many ways.  Please see below for specifics for each ship.

Akademic Vavilov

The Scandinavian-built Vavilov sails like a silent dream out on the water. Highly maneuverable yet remarkably stable, the Vavilov was built for both science and adventure. It can endure voyages of any arctic condition while maintaining a cruising speed of 14.5 knots.

The Vavilov and the Ioffe together are two of the most capable adventure vessels around.

From Peter Grubb - Founder of ROW Adventures
"The Vavilov and it's sister ship, the Ioffe, are 2 of the most advanced research vessels afloat. The Vavilov is impressive and neat as a pin,..which is refered to as 'Bristol Condition' in sailing terms. The ship is operated by one of the largest and oldest shipping companies. Our team has sailed on this ship many times and are always impressed with the service and the ship."

Ship Specifications:

  • Staff & Crew: 53
  • Guests: 92
  • Length: 117.04m
  • Breadth: 18.28 m
  • Draft: 6.09m
  • Propulsion: 5,000 KW diesel twin engine
  • Ice Class: KM*L1(1)A2, Canadian Type B
  • Cruising Speed: 14.5 knots in open water


  • One dining room with unreserved seating.
  • Theatre-style presentation room.
  • Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits.
  • Library with a collection of polar-themed books.
  • Ship-to-shore communications via satellite.
  • Clinic with licensed doctor.
  • Gym, sauna and swimming pool.
  • One elevator between passenger deck levels and to the Bridge level.

Akademic Ioffe

Primed for polar research, the Ioffe is an up-to-date, safe, spacious and all-around solid vessel. The common areas on board this boat are crafted with ultimate comfort in mind, whether you're attending an informative lecture or simply hanging out. With a fully stocked bar and variety of films available in the lounge, you can relax and unwind after a day of adventure just the way you want.

Other fabulous onboard facilities include an exercise room, ship store, massage room, sauna and pool. Then of course there's the great dining offered up in our superb dining room. An expert and professional staff member is always at the ready to tend to any need.

As it was originally crafted as a research vessel hailing from Finland, the Ioffe is a very graceful, peaceful and accommodating ship. You'll marvel at how quietly and smoothly she sails and appreciate the transformation she's undergone in order to shift her focus from science to adventure.

The last thing you'll want when you're trying to enjoy an Antarctic cruise is a rocky and noisy ship; such things are unheard of on the Ioffe thanks to her clever design. A ballast trimming system ensures that sea sickness is kept to a minimum, while noisy engines are situated far out of earshot.

Ship Specifications

  • Staff & Crew: 63
  • Guests: 93
  • Length: 117m
  • Breadth: 18 m
  • Draft: 6m
  • Propulsion: 5,000 KW diesel twin engine
  • Ice Class: KM*L1(1)A2, Canadian Type B
  • Cruising Speed: 14.5 knots in open water

Cabins and Amenities:

  • All cabins have exterior views.
  • Cabins have either shared, semi-private or private facilities (See deck plan).
  • One dining room with unreserved seating.
  • Theater-style presentation room.
  • Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits.
  • Library with a collection of polar-themed books.
  • Ship-to-shore communications via satellite.
  • Clinic with licensed doctor.
  • Gym, sauna and swimming pool.
  • One elevator between passenger deck levels and to the Bridge level.


Ship Photos

The Vavilov
Views from the hot tub in Antarctica
Antarctica landscape
BBQ in Antarctica
Zodiac in Antarctica
Massage on ship in Antarctica
Bridge of Arctic and Antarctic Expedition ship
Conference room in the Library
One Ocean Suite
Shackleton Suite
Superior Suite
Triple Share Suite

Deck Plans

FAQ & More

Are Children allowed? What is the age limit?

Yes! Although these trips are not directed towards children, we love to have families with children on our departures. Please contact us for more information if you are considering traveling with anyone under the age of 16.

Can you help purchase my airline tickets?

Unfortunately, we are not licensed to purchase air but we are happy to recommend our flight broker.  When travelling to Antarctica the closest international airports are either Buenos Aires or Santiago with connections to either Ushuaia or Punta Arenas.  For our Arctic voyages Edmonton, Alberta or Ottawa, Ontario are the usual arrival and departure cities pre and post charter flight.  We charter our own aircraft for travel into the High Arctic in addition to your scheduled air.  

Can you make pre and post cruise travel arrangements for me?

We would be happy to arrange airport transfers and pre and post hotel arrangements for you in your arrival or departure destinations.

What is included in the trip price?

Trips include all meals/afternoon teas, use of our onboard expedition rubber boots, wet weather gear (you are welcome to bring your own as well), shore excursions, landings, educational presentations, expedition guides, naturalist staff, and hospitality staff, an ER trained English speaking physician, guided hikes/walks, complimentary tea and coffee 24 hours per day, access to our multimedia room and download stations and accommodations on board. Please see our full list of inclusions and exclusions on the trip pages. 

What facilities are available on board?

We have a dining room, library, lounge, bar area, sauna, multimedia station, open bridge, and excellent outside viewing decks. See our ship details page for more information.

What is the electrical current on board?

The electrical supply on board is 220 volts 50 Hertz. You will need a European two (round) pin plug adapter, available at duty free or electrical supply shops.

How difficult is it to get in and out of the landing Zodiacs?

We are happy to offer assistance getting in and out of the Zodiacs and staff will always be on hand. Where there are wet landings you will be required to disembark the zodiac into ankle deep water - making rubber boots a must.

Is there email/internet access on board?

Yes, there is email access available through our satellite communication equipment for an extra charge.

What phone number should I give as an emergency contact number while I am on board?

A phone / fax number as well as email address for the ship will be provided to you in your final document package.

Do I need to bring my own rubber boots?

High quality insulated rubber boots are available in a large range of sizes. Please just note your size preference when providing final documentation.

Is there a Doctor on board?

Yes, there is an English speaking Doctor on board for every trip.

What Nationalities are typically on these trips?

We have guests from all over the world on these trips. The expedition staff and all safety briefings are conducted in English.

When is the best time to go to the Antarctic and the High Arctic?

The Antarctic season runs from November through to March and each month offers its own special features. Operating through the whole season allows us the full spectrum for several key reasons, including untouched winter snow, great whale and seal action, good weather, and even a little star gazing. The Arctic season runs from July through to September. We choose our operating dates carefully based on historical patterns in the ice, which allows for optimal viewing for all wildlife (walrus, polar bear, seals, whales) not to mention the access to special landing sites.

Can I travel as a single?

We have many guests who come alone and while some choose to purchase the single cabin option, others choose to share; we will pair single travelers of the same gender together at no extra charge.

How many people are on the ship?

We try to limit the number of people we carry to a maximum of 96 passengers. We believe that small groups of people are the best way to experience the Polar Regions.

How much room is there for luggage?

There is storage space for empty luggage in the cabins under your bunk. Alternatively we can stow your baggage safely elsewhere on the ship. There is ample space for your clothing in cupboards and drawers in your cabin.

Does the crew speak English?

The ship's crew is Russian and they handle the day to day running of the vessel (engine room, bridge, outer decks, dining room service). The officers and the Captain on the bridge speak English. Some of the crew speak only a little English, but are always willing to use it.  All of our expedition staff, who guide the activities and tours speak English as well as various other languages on specialty departures.

What should I pack to wear on the ship?

Living aboard calls for comfortable and casual attire.

Do I need gloves?

Yes – please pack two or three pairs of gloves. It is important to have spare dry gloves in case one set gets wet.

How can I dry any wet clothing?

Your wet gear will dry very quickly in your cabin. There is also a laundry service for an additional fee.

How frequently can I get off the ship?

We get off the ship as much as possible, usually two to three times a day when we are around the Antarctic Peninsula coastline. We spend between two and six hours at each location depending on the prevailing conditions.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is mandatory. You must be covered in case of a medical evacuation.

What currency is required and how much should I bring?

We recommend that you take US dollars for use on board the ship. It is better to carry US dollars cash for any desired tipping. For Arctic departures we recommend carrying some Canadian currency just in case you are tempted to purchase local crafts from skilled artisans. Danish Kroner is used throughout Greenland.  ATM machines are available in Illulissaat, Greenland.

Do I need a parka?

Expensive specialty gear is not required, but you should have warm, waterproof clothing available upon your arrival at your Antarctica or Arctic embarkation point. We also offer waterproof jackets, bib pants and rubber/Wellington/gum boots for hire while on board.

How do I keep my cameras dry?

A waterproof camera bag is a must. We have them available for purchase/rent as well.

Should I take one camera or two?

It is not a bad idea to take two cameras - particularly between couples. Bring plenty of film/disk space and extra batteries.


Tipping is a very personal matter, we recommend US $10 per passenger per day that you are on the ship. It is better for the crew if we can give them US dollars cash.

Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?

Yes. We have a multimedia download station. Please remember to bring your download cord for your camera (that can be plugged into a USB port). We also have DVDs onto which you can burn your images.

Should I be concerned about Seasickness?

If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness, then it is a good idea to talk to your own doctor. Come armed with motion sickness tablets. There will be a doctor on board and the ship is equipped with a small treatment facility.

Custom or Private

You love this itinerary but want to change it a bit to make it perfect for you?  Or, are you wanting to simply make it private?  Either way, we can do it!

Fill out this quick form to begin a custom or private adventure of a lifetime:

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