Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica

Expedition cruise: Commonwealth Bay – East Antarctica – December 14th, 2017 to January 8th, 2018

Voyage and expedition cruise to East Antarctica Expedition cruise on board the vessel Spirit of Enderby

Size of the group: 48 expeditioners maximum

Duration: 26 nights/27 days

The ship in details…

Expedition cruise basics…

In January 1840, the French explorer Dumont d’Urville chartered a vast coast of the Antarctic continent on its East side, claiming this “territory” on behalf of France. One hundred year later, the French returned back to set up the actual Dumont d’Urville station. Commonwealth Bay was discovered in 1912 by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Douglas Mawson, who established the main base of the expedition at Cape Denison. Mawson’s Hut still stands there; protected against the extreme weather the region is renowned for. The goal of this expedition cruise, is to bring you to explore and visit this East coast of Antarctica.


About the program and itinerary…

Day 1: Invercargill, New-Zealand
Meet your fellow voyagers and expedition staff for an informal get-together over dinner at the hotel, where you will stay overnight.

Day 2: port of Bluff
Enjoy a visit to the museum to view the Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff, where you will board the Spirit of Enderby. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and the captain for a welcome on board.

Day 3: the Snares
The Snares Islands are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles put together. Zodiac cruising the coast we learn how the islands got their name and in the sheltered bays you should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross nesting on the imposing cliffs.

Days 4 and 5: Auckland Islands
Characterised by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, these islands have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by. You spend the day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Subantarctic Islands. Here you find parakeets flitting above carpets of red, white and yellow wild flowers and on the beaches beyond, the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. You land in Carnley Harbour and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross colony, otherwise you explore sites within the harbour.

Day 6: at sea towards Macquarie Island

Days 7 and 8: Macquarie Island
This remote, rocky outpost which endures roaring westerly winds, supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere. Four species of penguin, King, Royal, Rockhopper and Gentoo breed here. You will never forget your first experience in a ceaselessly active ‘penguin city’, where the dapper inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors. You will also meet with the Park Rangers, visit the Australian Antarctic Base and observe the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals along the beaches.

Days 9 to 12: at sea towards Antarctica
As you make our way through an area known as the roaring ‘40s you will have a series of lectures on the biology and history of the Subantarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean and you will prepare for your arrival at Macquarie Island. You will have great birding opportunities!

Days 13 to 19: Commonwealth Bay
Your first landing on the remote East Antarctic coastline will be Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay. Notoriously known as the “home of the blizzard.” Here you will see (and experience) Mawson’s Hut and its environs which include other relics from the 1911-14 expedition and Adelie Penguins. West from Cape Denison is the French Research Base, Dumont D’Urville which, if permission is granted and ice conditions permit, you will visit. There is also an Emperor Penguin colony nearby. Breeding season will be over but there could be birds around. Other landings could include Port Martin (abandoned French Base) and the McKellar Islands. You will also cruise in the Zodiacs looking for wildlife.

Days 20 to 23: at sea towards Campbell Island

Days 24 and 25: Campbell Island
You will walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross and see the strange and beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. These huge wild flowers that have adapted to the harsh conditions have unusual colourings and weirdly-shaped leaves. You also seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.

Day 26: at sea

Day 27: Invercargill
You disembark in the Port of Bluff after breakfast. A transfer will be organised to central city hotels or to the airport.

Map of the voyage and expedition cruise to East Antarctica

PRICES (per person):

– Main deck: $16000 USD
– Superior: $18500 USD
– Superior Plus: $19800 USD
– Mini suite: $20750 USD
– Heritage Suite: $22000 USD

Additional charges: local payment $880 USD pp

Prices include: pre/post cruise transfers, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (inc. dinner/breakfast), all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.

Prices do not include: all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

The ship in details…


The East coast of Antarctica is the less visited one, with 1 voyage every 2 or 3 years. Depending on ice and weather conditions, you will access and visit places where very few have been before, less than in the Antarctic Peninsula and for sure, less than in the Ross Sea. A true expedition cruise towards the Antarctic continent!

☞ Interest of this trip: wildlife (albatross, petrels, penguins, other birds, whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals…), flora (rata forest, megaherbs…), Douglas Mawson’s hut, Dumont d’Urville station, landscapes, research station, sea ice, icebergs, subantarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia…