The Ortelius

Our Ship - The Ortelius

The mighty Ortelius was built in Poland back in 1989, and served on research missions for the Russian Academy of Science before being decommissioned and refurbished for our more adventurous expeditions. Now she can be seen gliding through Arctic and Antarctic waters, hosting travellers from all around the world and making their dreams come true.


Passengers: 116 in 53 cabins
Staff & crew: 52
Length: 90.95 meters
Breadth: 17.20 meters
Draft: 5.4 meters
Ice class: UL1 (Equivalent to 1A)
Displacement: 4090 tonnes
Propulsion: 6 ZL 40/48 SULZER
Speed: 14.5 knots maximum

The Ortelius is the perfect host for Arctic and Antarctic expeditions

One of the major worries that many travellers have when venturing to the extreme north or south is the threat of ice. We’ve all seen Titanic! And we’ve all heard stories of adventurers getting stuck in the white wilderness. Fortunately, the Ortelius has the highest ice-class notation that it’s possible to have, so you’ll be in safe and steady hands for the duration of the trip. The ship is more than capable of navigating through solid sea ice, making it the perfect vessel for our photography expedition. Apart from the practicalities, the Ortelius is spacious, comfortable, and staffed by an experienced international crew. The exact makeup of the crew is as follows: 22 highly-trained nautical crew members, 19 international hospitality staff, 8 expedition staff including your expedition leaders, and for every passenger’s health and safety, a qualified doctor.

An ideal blend of comfort, character and practicality

Aside from charming, well-equipped cabins, the Ortelius offers plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the views. The ship has a comfortable bar, a lecture room and several decks from which to take photographs and delight in your serene surroundings. The Ortelius also carries ten zodiac crafts, giving passengers easy access to the land for day trips and excursions. Although the ship is perfect for weaving around sea ice, sometimes a more scenic shot from the water’s surface is necessary!

Your Fellow Passengers

Although passengers on the Ortelius tend to be from all over the world, one thing they do have in common is a shared sense of adventure. On a typical voyage the age range will be between 30 and 80 years old, but the average is probably somewhere in the middle of those two numbers. Age and nationality quickly become irrelevant, as our passengers enjoy an incredible experience together.

Currency & Payment

All refreshments you purchase on board the ship when in the bar will be charged directly to your room. The same goes for souvenirs. We kindly ask that you settle your bill with us on the day before departure. You can pay by credit or debit card or just with cash in Euros or Dollars. Unfortunately we are not able to accept cheques of any kind. On board the Ortelius, the standard currency everything is priced in is the Euro.

What to Wear

First of all, there’s something we need to get out of the way. Our expedition is informal and everyone is on board to be as comfortable as possible and have a once in a lifetime experience. Because of this, we recommend that you pack plenty of casual wear without forgetting practicality. Although the inside of the Ortelius is cosy and warm, out on deck and during expeditions you’ll be exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to come prepared to brave the cold. Plenty of passengers enjoy passing the time out on deck and taking in the scenery. If that sounds like you, then there’s one vital thing to remember: The deck is often wet and slippery, so waterproof, non-slip shoes are important. Make sure you also bring clothes that can be worn in layers, and a parka for when the inevitable shout of “Whales!” comes out over the tannoy. You’ll want to dash outside and onto the deck to see what’s going on without freezing.

Is There Electricity?

A photography expedition without electricity would be a bit of a challenge. We know that. Luckily the Ortelius has its very own electrical supply, which you can tap into if you have a standard European plug. The electricity on board is 220v, 60Hz, so bear in mind that you may need a 220v/110v converter.


While it may be customary to give the crew tips, this tradition is of course at your complete discretion. Whatever you choose, the ship's service personnel receive a share of all of the tips at the end of the voyage.

Our Non-smoking Policy

We have a strict non-smoking policy on board all of our vessels. It is forbidden to smoke inside the ship, and for the safety and comfort of your fellow passengers we ask that you abstain from doing so. If you really need to, there are designated areas out on deck.

Your Physical Condition

To make the most of our incredible voyages you need to be in good health and capable of walking for a few hours every day. While the expedition is based on a ship and not exactly physically demanding, if you want to get out and explore the land at every opportunity you need to be okay on your feet. To take part in our excursions onto the land you’ll need to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water to board the Zodiacs. But fear not! Our staff will be on hand to help you on your way, and the crew will assist you when it comes to stepping in and out of the boats. It also goes without saying that we will be exploring a remote part of the world where serious medical assistance is often hours, if not days away. If you have a serious pre-existing condition or require daily treatment of any kind we advise that you get in touch to discuss your options. There’s only so much our doctor can deal with!
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