South Georgia Island Cruises & Tours

South Georgia

Embarking on a journey to the South Georgia Islands, a small and secluded archipelago, offers an exclusive front-row seat to the grandest wildlife spectacle on Earth. Thousands of king penguins, seals, and sea birds come together in a breathtaking performance that defies imagination. This unparalleled theater unfolds against a mesmerizing backdrop of glaciers, fjords, and imposing snow-capped mountains, framed by white sandy beaches and rugged coves. South Georgia is rightfully hailed as the “Galapagos of the South.”
 
During a South Georgia expedition, you’ll experience the thrill of cruising on Zodiacs past towering glaciers and awe-inspiring icebergs. You’ll set foot on sandy beaches scattered with remnants from South Georgia’s whaling history. These beaches teem with king penguins, while bull elephant seals and fur seals frolic in the surf. Expert guides will vividly recount Shackleton’s incredible survival tale as you follow in his footsteps. Most South Georgia cruises are part of extended expeditions that also include visits to the Antarctic Peninsula or the historic Falkland Islands.
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In Shackleton’s Footsteps

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DURATION

20 Days

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USD $23,195.00

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Fur seal pup

Antarctica Complete

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DURATION

23 Days

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USD $35,195.00

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King penguins

South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey

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DURATION

20-24 Days

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USD $26,195.00

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Why Join a South Georgia Island Expedition Cruise?

The fascinating history, unparalleled abundance of wildlife and dramatic scenery make South Georgia Island a popular stop for travellers on their way to Antarctica, or travellers visiting the nearby Falkland Islands.

With only a scattering of temporary inhabitants, this incredible island of riches is virtually unspoilt by man. South Georgia cruises are the best way to experience the picture-perfect bays, glaciers and rugged peaks, and take in one of the world’s greatest wildlife areas. Not only do our cruises provide unparalleled access to the island’s natural beauty, they also focus on enrichment and education, ensuring passengers gain a deeper understanding of the environment and its importance to the global ecosystem.

In addition to its incredible wildlife, South Georgia Island holds an important place in polar history. Launched in 1914, the Endurance Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton became one of the most famous survival stories in history after the Endurance wasstuck in sea ice and eventually crushed, leaving the crew stranded on an unforgiving island. To rescue his men, Shackleton sailed 1,500km to South Georgia Island, where he then hiked across its spine to a whaling station to raise the alarm. He returned to Argentina to find a suitable ship for the rescue mission. Incredibly, all of the crew survived to tell the famous tale. Today, visitors to the island can retrace Shackleton’s footsteps on a challenging trek of up to three days across South Georgia, visiting historic sites to connect with this remarkable chapter of human history.

Furthermore, by joining our South Georgia Cruises, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in a variety of exciting activities such as kayaking, photography workshops, and guided hikes led by experienced naturalists. These immersive experiences allow you to encounter the island’s wildlife up close, including the world’s largest king penguin colonies, seals, and an array of seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels.

Embark on a South Georgia Cruise and Expedition for an unforgettable journey into the heart of one of the world’s last truly wild places. Discover the wonders of this remote paradise, connect with its storied past, and immerse yourself in an adventure you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

South Georgia Island Wildlife Encounters​

Known as the “Galapagos of the South”, South Georgia boasts unparalleled wildlife. In fact, it has been estimated there is more wildlife per square metre in South Georgia at the peak of the breeding season than anywhere else on earth.

Sea Birds

In addition to being home to the largest king penguin colonies on the planet, wildlife-rich South Georgia hosts millions of Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals, which congregate on its beaches. Located southeast of the Falkland Islands and northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula, these islands are a popular destination for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. A South Georgia voyage offers a unique opportunity to observe over 30 million breeding pairs of seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, flock to the island.

King Penguins

Feel profoundly outnumbered by hundreds of thousands of dignified king penguins taking over every last inch of real estate on sandy beaches. Be warned, the noise can be deafening! Keep your eyes peeled for macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguins – if you’re lucky you will spot all four species on your South Georgia trip.

Fur Seals

In the early 19th century, Antarctic fur seals were hunted to the brink of extinction. Today, they are thriving and the vast majority of the world’s population can be found on South Georgia Island. Admire their resiliency and playful nature as they show off in the water. In November and December, the beaches are packed with males fighting over breeding territory.

Elephant Seals

Half of the world’s elephant seals can be found in or around this unique archipelago. If you embark on one of our October South Georgia trips at the start of the season, you can witness the spectacle of bull elephant seals coming to shore to fight over harems of females. They court as many as they can manage, continuously being challenged by other males. The resulting pups start appearing in November. 

Unique South Georgia Island Experiences

Shackleton’s Crossing

History buffs will relish learning about Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition as they visit South Georgia and cruise the waters made famous by him. Adventurous spirits can even retrace the final leg of his journey across the spine of South Georgia, on a trek of up to three days that’s not for the faint-hearted – this add-on activity is recommended for expeditioners with alpine trekking or mountaineering experience. 

When Shackleton died in 1922, his widow insisted that he be buried at the former whaling station at Grytviken on South Georgia. If conditions allow, visit his final resting place, as well as remnants of South Georgia’s thriving whaling stations. 

On the Water

There are countless opportunities for Zodiac-cruising on your South Georgia cruise. Your experienced driver will navigate craggy coves and hug rocky coastlines in search of penguins, seal haul-outs and bird cliffs. Be transported to beaches where you can get a closer look at king penguin colonies, take a guided walk among fur seals and elephant seals, hike along cliff tops to observe albatrosses breeding, or explore South Georgia’s grassy glacial outwash plains. 

In the Water

South Georgia’s kelp forests are mesmerising – explore these underwater ecosystems up close by snorkelling or scuba diving, or watch the fronds swaying back and forth on the water’s surface as you Zodiac cruise or kayak above them.  

On the Ship

Back onboard the ship, cruise through fjords hemmed by towering cliffs, or into deep bays with dramatic glacier fronts. Head to the observation lounge to enjoy uninterrupted views of South Georgia’s majestic coast. 

Nearby

Most South Georgia cruises form part of a longer expedition to Antarctica or the Falkland Islands, with some including visits to other nearby island groups in the Southern Ocean such as the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands, and Elephant Island. The South Sandwich Islands are a remote and uninhabited island chain located approximately 700 kilometres southeast of South Georgia Island, while the South Orkney Islands are situated around 600 kilometres northeast of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Additionally, Elephant Island is located around 300 kilometres north of the Antarctic Peninsula. These islands offer unique opportunities for wildlife observation and scientific research and are known for their rugged beauty and fascinating ecosystems.

Svalbard Tours Regions

The Svalbard archipelago has nine main islands; some of these islands are connected by sea ice and expedition cruises are the only safe way to move between them. A lot of these islands are national parks, in fact, Svalbard has seven national parks in total. Find out more about the main islands below.

Spitsbergen

Svalbard’s largest island is 39,044 square kilometres. Its landscape is dominated by rugged mountains indented by post-card perfect fjords, and more than half of the island is covered in ice year-round. Six national parks protect its delicate environment and diverse fauna, which makes it a favourite for travellers visiting Svalbard. Spitsbergen is the only permanently inhabited part of Svalbard, with Longyearbyen the biggest settlement and administrative centre of Svalbard.

Nordaustlandet (North East Land)

The second largest island in the Svalbard archipelago is completely uninhabited. Situated entirely within the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve, it is made up of sizable ice caps and tundra.

Edgeøya (Edge Island)

Edgeøya is a Norwegian island situated in the southeast of the Svalbard archipelago. With an area of 5,073 square kilometres, it is the third-largest island in this archipelago. It forms part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and is home to polar bears and reindeer.

Kittiwakes on sea ice in the Arctic

Barentsøya (Barents Island)

Named after the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, almost half of this island in the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve is glaciated. While the island has no permanent human inhabitants, it is a favourite of polar bears and seabirds, especially kittiwakes.

Prins Karls Foreland (Prince Charles Foreland)

This long island on Svalbard’s west coast and its surrounding seas constitutes Forlandet National Park. It boasts jagged peaks and wild glaciers that remind one of the Antarctic peninsula, alongside vast green plains and polar deserts. The harbour seal is commonly found here.

Kvitøya (White Island)

When ice conditions allow, adventure seekers can discover Svalbard’s easternmost island, where polar bears roam and walrus swim. This island is the resting place of Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897, which was one of the great mysteries of the Arctic for decades.

Kong Karls Land (King Charles Land)

This small island group is part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and boasts the largest concentration of polar bears in Svalbard. Because of this, there is a ban on traffic to the island, with ships and aircraft not being able to come within 500 metres of the area.

Bjørnøya (Bear Island)

The southernmost island of Svalbard is rarely visited because it can be challenging to access, with no protected bays, rough weather, strong wind and thick fog. While its history revolves around hunting, it is now an important scientific research site and the whole island is a nature reserve with restricted access.

A lone Black Guillemot resting on sea ice in the Arctic

Hopen

This small, remote island in the far southeast is part of the Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve. Visiting can be a lucky dip because of heavy ice, fog, rough waters and unprotected beaches. The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), supporting breeding colonies of thick-billed guillemots, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes.

Destination Highlights

      Subantarctic Cruise Activities

      Discover the Falkland~Malvinas Islands with Vantage Explorations and witness the unique wildlife and history of this fascinating region. Our Expedition Team will take you on excursions to explore the natural wonders of the islands, fully included in the cost of your expedition. For those seeking additional adventure, we offer optional activities* such as hiking and zodiac cruising. Our Falkland~Malvinas Islands expeditions offer the perfect mix of comfort and adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of this unique destination.

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      Bird Watching

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      Photography

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      Polar plunge

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      Trips ashore

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      Walking

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      Whale and mammal spotting

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      Zodiac cruises

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      Lecture on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations

      Add-on Activities

      Sea kayaking in the Arctic

      Sea Kayaking

      Sea Kayaking is one of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling…

      Shackleton's Crossing

      Shackleton's Crossing

      Vantage Explorations offers the chance for a small band of adventurers to attempt the 1916 crossing of Sir Ernest Shackleton and trek for up to three days across South Georgia…

      Snorkelling

      Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place while snorkelling in Antarctica. Aurora Expeditions launched our snorkelling holidays…

      Paddling

      Paddling holidays visiting wild regions on an expedition to Antarctica, Costa Rica and Western Scotland are thrilling in our inflatable kayaks… 

      *Optional add-on activities are available on select voyages. They are listed on each itinerary page and additional fees apply.