Fly to some of Antarctica’s most remote sites via helicopter
Where you cannot sail, sometimes you must fly. On select Ortelius voyages, we use helicopters to reach areas we cannot visit by vessel. This makes your polar exploration even more exhilarating, allowing you to set foot in areas often impossible to reach any other way.
On our Ross Sea voyages, this includes such locations as the Ross Ice Shelf and Peter I Island. On our Weddell Sea cruises, we aim to visit the emperor penguin colony on Snow Hill Island.
Below is a summary of our helicopter operations. We will provide you a detailed manual on our helicopter operations only after you are booked on an applicable voyage.
Deciding when and where to fly
The expedition leader on board is responsible for the itinerary of the voyage. They will hold regular meetings with the pilots, captain, and deck party officer (DPO) to assess weather, ice, and flight conditions before any helicopter operations take place.
If we get a green light to fly, the EL will scout the area in a helicopter to assess the landing site and begin the process of taking staff and safety equipment there. For scenic flights that will not include a landing, our pilots will determine the flight paths that will give you the most impressive views.
Allocating flight groups
We will give you an individually numbered “helicopter card” to make it easier to record who is on what flight. Generally you will be called by cabin number, but the EL will normally rotate the order in which guests are called to keep things fair.
If you are traveling with someone in a different cabin, let our staff know. Once you are at the flight deck, the aircrew will seat you accordingly or, if required, based on height/weight. We understand some people prefer to fly together, but this is not always possible.
Planning and briefing
All people flying are required to attend a mandatory safety briefing and sign a waiver. You cannot fly without completing both of these steps. We will also practice boarding helicopters, showing you how to move safely to and from them.
Special note: flights not guaranteed
The polar regions are known for their unpredictable weather, sea, and ice conditions. We will only fly helicopters when the EL decides local conditions are safe. No guarantees can be given, and no claims will be accepted. For more details, please see our general terms and conditions.