A polar excursion vessel originally built for research purposes
Among the various passenger ships utilized for polar excursions is the MV Ortelius. Built in 1989 as the Marina Svetaeva, it was designed as a special purpose vessel for the Soviet Academy of Science and used for polar research. Later, the ice class 1A vessel was used primarily in waters off eastern Siberia as a passenger and supply ship in support of offshore oil and gas operations. In 2007, it was chartered to an Australian company, which used it for excursion cruises in Arctic and Antarctic waters. It also made occasional voyages to Papua New Guinea. In 2011, the ship was sold to a Dutch company. The name was changed to commemorate Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), a Flemish cartographer and geographer who created the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World). Published in 1570, the book contained 53 maps. The cartographer is also credited with being the first person to postulate that the Americas were once joined with Europe and Africa. The MV Ortelius has a length of 91 meters and a breadth of 17 meters. It carries approximately 100 passengers and has a crew of 41 (including the hospitality staff). A helicopter deck and hangar were added in 2007 and two helicopters are carried during polar cruises. It is equipped with eleven Zodiac boats for passenger excursions. It has a cruising speed of 14 knots and operates on marine diesel oil. For the past few years, the Ortelius has been making voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula, operating out of Ushuaia, Argentina.