King George Island (Antarctica, South Shetlands)

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King George Island cruise port

Arctic - Antarctica

Local Time
2023-03-27 20:34

min: 16 °F (-10 °C) / max: 30 °F (-1 °C) 20°F
Wind: 242°/ 2.3 m/s  Gust: 2.8 m/sWind: 242°/ 2.3 m/s  Gust: 2.8 m/sLight breeze
2.3 m/s
Min / Max Temperature30 °F / -1 °C
16 °F / -9 °C
  Port Map

King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands, located in the Southern Ocean, approx 75 mi (120 km) off the coast of Antarctica Peninsula. Close to the southwest is Nelson Island. Next photo shows the research base Carlini (formerly Jubany) of Argentina.

King George Island (Antarctica) station Carlini-Jubany Argentina

The island has length 59 mi (95 km), width 16 mi (25 km) and land area 1150 km2 (444 mi2). More than 90% of its surface is permanently glaciated. The archipelago's second-largest is Livingston Island (uninhabited, total area 798 km2 / 308 mi2). King George Island was first discovered by William Smith (British) in October 1819 and named after King George III (1738-1820). The isle is also known by the names "Isla 25 de Mayo" (in Argentina), "sla Rey Jorge" (in Chile) and "Vaterloo Island" (in Russia).

There are three major bays on the island - Admiralty Bay, King George Bay and Maxwell Bay. Admiralty Bay has 3 fjords, and is a protected area under the Antarctic Treaty (1959).

In 1908, the island was annexed by Great Britain as part of its Falkland Islands Dependency, and is still claimed as part of the UK's British Antarctic Territory. In 1940, the Island was claimed by Chile as part of Chilean Antarctica. In 1943 it was claimed by Argentina as part of Argentartida (Argentine Antarctica). Argentina named it "Isla Veinticinco de Mayo ("May 25 Island") in honour of the country's National day. Russia and the USA don't recognize all these claims and have reserved their right to claim it as their Antarctic territory.

Wildlife (in the coastal areas) is represented by species of seals (elephant, leopard, Weddell) and penguins (Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo). Seabirds are represented by skuas and giant petrels, nesting here during summer.

The human population on the island is ~500, and limited to the research stations (bases) established and maintained here by Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Ecuador, South Korea, Peru, Poland, Russia, Uruguay and the USA. Most of the bases are permanently staffed. Among the limited tourist activities on the island is the Antarctic marathon (taking place each year during summer).

The Chilean base "Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva" (on Fildes Peninsula) is operated the whole year-round and has an airport (airstrip, large hangar, control tower) and service buildings (including cafeteria, bank, post office, homes for families with children. Fildes Peninsula has length 7 km (4,3 mi) and forms the island's southwest extremity.

Chinese "Chang Cheng" base has a multipurpose room, also serving as full-size basketball court.

In 2004, near the Russian station "Bellingshausen" was opened the Trinity Church (orthodox, permanently manned by a priest).

On December 8, 2013, Metallica (heavy metal band) performed a Coca-Cola sponsored concert at the Argentina's Carlini Station.

At Poland's Arctowski Station there is a lighthouse (the world's most southerly).

USA's NOAA agency (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) runs a seasonal (summer-only) penguin-research station located on Admiralty Bay.

Currently, there are 16 research stations on the islands, maintained by different countries, but mainly during the summer months only. Most bases are on King George Island, as it is served by the Eduardo Frei airfield (at the Chilean base).

King George Island (Antarctica) stations Frei Chile and Bellingshausen Russia

The above photo shows the research bases Frei (Chile) and Bellingshausen (Russia).

The list of Antarctic bases on the South Shetland Islands (listed alphabetically by country) includes:

  •  Argentina (Camara, Carlini, Decepción)
  • Bulgaria (St Kliment Ohridski)
  • Brazil (Comandante Ferraz - maintained the whole-year-round)
  • Czech Republic (Eco-Nelson)
  • Chile (Presidente Eduardo Frei, Profesor Julio Escudero, Captain Arturo Prat - all maintained the whole-year-round)
  • Chile-USA (Shirreff Base /since 1990)
  • China (Chang Cheng)
  • Ecuador (Pedro Vicente Maldonado)
  • Spain (Juan Carlos, Gabriel de Castilla)
  • South Korea (King Sejong - maintained the whole-year-round)
  • Peru (Machu Picchu)
  • Poland (Henryk Arctowski - maintained the whole-year-round)
  • Russia (Bellingshausen - maintained the whole-year-round)
  • Uruguay (Artigas - maintained the whole-year-round)
  • USA (Copacabana)

King George Island (Antarctica) map

In 1958 was initiated the Antarctic cruise ship) tourism. Today, the number of visiting tourists is in tens of thousands (summer-only) annually, with over 95% of the tours being to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctica Peninsula, Among the most visited cruise ship destinations in the archipelago, are Hannah Point (on the Livingston's southern coast), Half Moon Island and Deception Island, as well as the Aitcho Islands (north of Greenwich Island). Passengers are being offloaded via Zodiacs (inflatable boats) and offered nature walks, skiing and climbing, wildlife watching tours.

The company Antarctica21 offers fly-cruise deals from Punta Arenas (Chile) with direct flights to Antarctica (King George Island). Thes are the "fastest voyages" in the region, with Drake Passage crossing time only 2 hours - instead the 50+ hours of cruising through the passage.

The company's air-cruise program for season 2019-2020 included 2 chartered ships (Ocean NovaHebridean Sky) plus the company's own newbuild boat Magellan Explorer.

Port King George Island cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from King George Island, Antarctica, South Shetlands. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.

4 March, 2023
Quark Expeditions Cruises cruise lineWorld Explorer
4 March, 2023
Quark Expeditions Cruises cruise lineOcean Adventurer
9 March, 2023
Quark Expeditions Cruises cruise lineWorld Explorer
14 March, 2023
Quark Expeditions Cruises cruise lineWorld Explorer
19 March, 2023
Quark Expeditions Cruises cruise lineWorld Explorer

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