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Around one third of the world’s population of emperor penguins (maybe as many as 40,000 pairs) breed in the Ross Sea area and roughly half the world’s Adélie penguin.

The Ross Sea also has large numbers of Antarctic and snow petrels, while crabeater seals are found on floes at the edge of the pack ice where they can get to open water easily.

Due to the Antarctic’s geography, the easiest way to visit this region is on a voyage that starts from New Zealand. Swedish explorer Otto Nordenskjöld spent three winters at Snow Hill Island and found the largest-ever penguin fossil here.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, Antarctic petrel, crabeater seal, emperor penguin, snow petrel, light-mantled albatross

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Great Antarctic Voyage

This ultimate Antarctic experience marries the phenomenal wildlife of the sub-Antarctic islands of the Falklands and South Georgia to the pristine beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore dramatic wilderness areas and visit huge penguin colonies, all amongst hauntingly beautiful polar scenery.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 17-20 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £11,675 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Ross Sea & Grand Southern Antarctica

Travelling from Ushuaia to New Zealand, this voyage takes you across the Ross Sea, where around one third of the world’s emperor penguins breeds. Landings are made by Zodiac inflatable or helicopter, and other wildlife highlights include elephant seals, Adélie and gentoo penguins, and orca and minke whales.

  • When to go: Feb-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 32 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £25,500 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Recommended cruise vessel:


The ice-strengthened Ortelius is an excellent vessel for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. With the highest ice-class notation, it offers possibilities to travel to remote locations such as the Ross Sea and Franz Josef Land. Flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.