Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island

Antarctic Peninsula

October 17 - November 1, 2018
Cost: $19,995 - $34,995
Leader: Ted Cheeseman + 14
Group Size: 110
Days: 16

Safari Overview

Sail on an icebreaker amid Antarctic Peninsula icebergs then helicopter to the emperor penguin colony near Snow Hill Island. Experience one of the most elusive wildlife scenes on the planet deep in the heart of the Weddell Sea: emperor penguins with their beautiful young. To “march with the penguins” is a rare experience that few people are so fortunate to share. The polar-class icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, equipped with helicopters to access the Snow Hill rookery, will travel to Antarctica for the first time in eight years. The availability of helicopters for ice reconnaissance and transfers to otherwise inaccessible wildlife viewing areas sets this apart from other Antarctic voyages. This expedition is just too special to let it pass by! Join us as we sail through stunning seascapes in the iceberg-strewn Antarctic Sound into the Weddell Sea and behold the incredible emperors for yourself!

• Take a helicopter flight and trek across the pristine, open sea ice to the emperor penguin colony.
• Spend time up close with the world-renowned emperor penguins and their chicks.

Itinerary Updated: September 2017

Ship Info Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Oct 17 Depart home.
Oct 18 Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina. Hotel in Ushuaia
Oct 19 Board the Khlebnikov. On board the Khlebnikov B, D
Oct 20 - 21 Cross the famous Drake Passage to the Weddell Sea. On board the Khlebnikov B, L, D
Oct 22 - 28 Six to seven days of opportunities for excursions to the emperor penguin colony of Snow Hill Island. On board the Khlebnikov B, L, D
Oct 29 - 30 Cruise northward across the Drake Passage, returning to Ushuaia. On board the Khlebnikov B, L, D
Oct 31 Disembark the Khlebnikov and fly homeward from Ushuaia. B
Nov 1 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Fly to Ushuaia, Argentina

Oct 17

For most traveling to Ushuaia, you will need to leave home today.

Arrive in Ushuaia

Oct 18

Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina by this evening. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, a transfer agent will meet you and transport you to your hotel. If you wish to arrive early as a buffer against travel delays or to spend extra time in the Ushuaia, we are happy to book extra hotel nights and transfers.

Embark on the Khlebnikov

Oct 19

Kapitan Khlebnikov

You’ll embark on the Khlebnikov in the afternoon and head east down the Beagle Channel. As Ushuaia fades in the distance, you will find yourselves cruising past largely uninhabited scenic shores. The wind-pruned evergreen nothophagus (southern beech) trees fill every protected valley between the gently rolling hills with beautiful mountain backdrops. Look for birds such as Chilean skua, South American tern, king cormorant (blue-eyed shag), kelp and dolphin gulls, and black-browed albatross. Later in the evening, enjoy your first dinner aboard the ship as you head into the open waters of the Drake Passage.

Cross the Drake Passage

Oct 20 - 21

Wandering Albatross

Spend two days at sea making your way across the Drake Passage to the Weddell Sea. En route to Antarctica, the expedition staff will offer presentations on a variety of topics, including the biology, habitat, and behavior of emperor penguins. Familiarization on all aspects of ship life and preparations for what to expect at Snow Hill will keep you busy, but you’ll also find there is time for viewing from the bridge or stern. Wandering and black-browed albatross should follow as you head south and there’s also a chance of spotting a royal albatross in these waters. Photographers on the stern will have a field day following birds on the wing in their viewfinders. Icebergs will dominate the scenery as you approach Antarctica and pass by the South Shetland Islands.

Sail the Weddell Sea and to Snow Hill

Oct 22 - 28

Emperor Penguins on Snow Hill Island

Pack ice will determine the ship’s path as you head around the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula into the Weddell Sea. Spend six to seven days at Snow Hill Island, weather and ice conditions permitting. Helicopters will shuttle you in small groups and set down some distance from the colony to not disturb the wildlife. From the landing area, you will walk approximately one mile to the emperor penguins. You will have an incredible opportunity to watch the adult emperors tending to their chicks, while ice and snow provide a scenic backdrop for incredible photographs. Weather conditions can greatly affect the safety of helicopter flights, so there are no guarantees regarding flights or flight times. Helicopter flights for reconnaissance, as determined by the Expedition Leader or Captain, take precedence over passenger flights. Although the emperor penguin colony at Snow Hill Island is the main goal of this expedition, if weather or other conditions prevent you from visiting the colony, or shorten the duration of your visit, you may visit some of these potential landings sites.

Potential Landings Sites:

Brown Bluff: A possible exposed volcano, Brown Bluff towers 2,225ft (678m) over the rookeries of the Adélie and gentoo penguins, which number in the thousands. As a potential visit would be very early in the breeding season, you may see the colonies as they are just starting to form.

Devil Island: The Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901–1904 discovered the narrow island, which is 1mi (1.6km) long and has a low summit at each end.

Hope Bay: Three members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition spent the winter in a hut on the shores of the bay. The hut is located close to the jetty of Esperanza Station, an Argentine research station.

Paulet Island: Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large Adélie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone that rises 1,158ft (353m), the island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to penguins, you may visit a historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition. A cross marks the gravesite of Ole Wennersgaard, a member of the crew.

Seymour Island: Northeast of Snow Hill Island is a smaller island that was, when first seen, mistaken for a cape. The island is significant for the fossil finds and for the remains of the K-Pg Boundary (formerly K-T Boundary), a geological stratum, which can be seen there. It marks the transition between the Cretaceous and the Paleocene Periods of geological times, characterized by a mass extinction of many forms of life, including dinosaurs.

Sail back across the Drake Passage

Oct 29 - 30

Kapitan Khlebnikov

On the voyage back to Ushuaia, spend two days at sea recalling your experiences as you cross the Drake Passage once again. Be on the lookout for several species of albatross and petrels following alongside the ship. Once you’ve the crossed the Drake Passage, you’ll head back up the Beagle Channel and enjoy a final scenic cruise to Ushuaia.

Disembark and fly home

Oct 31

Ushuaia, Argentina

The ship will dock in Ushuaia by early morning. After an early breakfast, bid farewell to shipmates, expedition staff, and the crew, and disembark for flights homeward. You will be transferred to the Ushuaia Airport or downtown if your flight is later in the evening. Let us know if you are interested in extending your stay in Ushuaia, as we are happy to assist with booking extra hotel nights.

Arrive home

Nov 1

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

Antarctic Peninsula

Sail on an icebreaker amid Antarctic Peninsula icebergs then helicopter to the emperor penguin colony near Snow Hill Island.

-64.466667, -57.2

Ship Information

Kapitan Khlebnikov

The Kapitan Khlebnikov is a polar-class icebreaker originally designed for the rigors of northern Siberia. It can cruise at 15 knots in open water and can carry 110 guests and 70 staff and crew. All cabins have private bathrooms, large windows, desk, and wardrobes and the ship features a heated indoor swimming pool, exercise room, and sauna, and a theater-style auditorium. She is equipped with two helicopters that are used for ice reconnaissance, transfers to the emperor penguin rookery, and aerial sightseeing.

More Information
Kapitan Khlebnikov ship photo with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Description Cost Per Person
Triple Triple occupancy, with one lower berth, one sofa bed, and one pull-down upper berth. Features a large window, desk, wardrobes, a storage box, and shelving. $19,995
Twin Double occupancy, with one lower berth and one sofa bed. Features a large window, desk, wardrobes, and storage shelves. $29,995
Suite Double occupancy, one double bed and separate sitting room with sofa bed and table. Features TV and DVD player, refrigerator, two windows, desk, wardrobes, and shelving. $32,995
Corner Suite Double occupancy, one double bed and separate sitting room with sofa bed and table. Features TV and DVD player, refrigerator, two windows, two desks, wardrobe, and CD player. $34,995

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 1.7 times the cabin cost (for a Twin Cabin) and 2 times the cabin cost (for Suites). Single rooms are subject to availability.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $1,000
Second November 15, 2017 $5,000
Final June 1, 2018 Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. Due to the circumstances of this trip, the cancellation fee of $1,000 per person cannot be applied toward another Cheesemans’ tour. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

Dates Forfeited Amount per Person
On or before April 20, 2018 $1,000
April 21 to June 19, 2018 20% of tour cost
On or after June 20, 2018 100% of tour cost


  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, port fees, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Accommodations for the nights of October 18 through 30.
  • Breakfast on October 19 at the hotel and meals aboard the ship from dinner on October 19 through breakfast on October 31.
  • Transfers from the airport to the hotel on October 18. Group transfers from the hotel to the Khlebnikov on October 19 and from the Khlebnikov to the airport on October 31.
  • Eleven days and twelve nights on board the Khlebnikov.
  • Wine and beer at dinner service, while onboard the Khlebnikov.
  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew. No gratuity will be expected of participants; budget extra if you would like to tip crew or expedition staff. This does not include any trip extensions.
  • Onboard lectures during sea days.
  • Photographic journal – after the completion of your voyage, you’ll receive a full color booklet of the expedition mailed directly to your home.
  • Waterproof boots and walking poles on loan for duration of tour.
  • Waterproof expedition parka – yours to keep.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
  • Emergency evacuation insurance.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,300–$2,000 round trip from the US, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Lunch on October 19 in Ushuaia.
  • We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Waterproof pants, although mandatory for Zodiac cruising.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Emergency medical insurance, although it is required and must have a minimum coverage of $50,000. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, bar charges, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.


In October and November, normal temperatures can range from 25 to 29°F (-1.7 to -3.6°C) on Snow Hill Island. Wind chill while on the sea ice is the primary condition to insulate against; it is also possible to get wet weather. Sunscreen is critical. The temperature on the ship is comfortably warm, but you may still wish to dress in layers.

Fitness Level

Medium fitness level required. Be sure you can confidently walk one mile, with all your gear, across uneven terrain in cold, windy conditions without assistance. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.


Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina (USH) no later than October 18. Depart from Ushuaia (USH) anytime after 12:00pm on October 31.




Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but of all those who have joined, we know of only one passenger who said that seasickness really affected the enjoyment of the trip. Still, that same passenger talked about repeating the trip, because the rest of the experiences more than made up for it. For all but the most sensitive, motion sickness is only a problem during open ocean passages. Days and nights when we are landing or cruising between landings are quite calm because we are very close to land. The Southern Ocean has a reputation for the worst seas in the world, not because they are always rough (on the average day, the seas are actually quite calm!) but because their extremes are large. If we are hit by a storm during a crossing, the experience will be memorable. For this reason, unless you know you are immovable by the heavy seas, bring a good supply of medication. Many of our frequent travelers are quite susceptible to seasickness, yet they come back year after year because they love Antarctica! Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness.



  • Non-smoking policy: Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris has a strict policy of only taking non-smokers on our safaris and expeditions. However, because this is a joint expedition with Quark Expeditions, who do allow smoking on their trips, it is possible that there will be participants on this trip that do smoke. Smoking is only allowed at designated outdoor smoking areas on the ship and prohibited everywhere inside, including cabins. For those travelers who are in need of a roommate, we guarantee you will be partnered with a non-smoker. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact us.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Joint expedition: This is a shared expedition between Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and Quark Expeditions; we will provide leaders to compliment those provided by Quark Expeditions.