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Emperor penguins in Antarctica

The Emperor Penguins of Bellingshausen Sea

Example 20 Day Cruise aboard Le Commandant Charcot
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Beyond Peter I Island and Charcot Island, this exceptional cruise aboard Le Commandant-Charcot will take you into the heart of the Bellingshausen Sea. Named in honor of the Russian admiral and explorer who discovered Antarctica in 1820, this sea in the Southern Ocean, covered by ice floes most of the year, is hard to reach and practically unexplored. But the reward lives up to the challenge: gigantic colonies of emperor penguins, a rarely-observed species endemic to Antarctica, live here. These elegant, majestic birds will inspire deep emotions upon encounter. In this season, as winter gradually gives way to the austral spring, the young chicks become independent and gather in immense “creches”: a magical spectacle to which you will be privileged witnesses.

 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Santiago, Chile
Day 2 : Fly Santiago to Puerto Montt | Embark
Days 3-5 : At Sea
Day 6 : Crossing the Antarctic Circle
Day 7 : At Sea
Days 8-9 : Expedition to Charcot Island
Days 10-11 : Expedition to Peter I Island
Days 12-13 : English Coast - In Search of Emperor Penguins
Day 14 : Marguerite Bay
Day 15 : Stonington Island | Pourquoi Pas Island
Day 16 : The Gullet | Detaille Island
Day 17 : At Sea
Days 18-19 : Crossing the Drake Passage
Day 20 : Ushuaia | Disembark | Fly to Santiago

Highlights

  • Encounter the largest species of penguin, the emperor penguin
  • Approach islands beyond the Antarctic Polar Circle
  • View Antarctic wildlife, including penguins, humpback whales, and seals
  • Experience a vast landscape of ice floes, glaciers, and ice shelves

Ship

Le Commandant Charcot

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Emperor penguins in Antarctica Penguins on the shores of Antarctica Hiking in Antarctica is rewarded with spectacular views Hiking to a summit with views of the glaciers below A leopard seal stretches out on the ice A whale plays near the surface at dusk. Le Commandant Charcot
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Day 1 Arrive Santiago, Chile

Arrive in Santiago and transfer to your included hotel for the evening.

Day 2 Fly Santiago to Puerto Montt | Embark

After breakfast fly to Puerto Montt, flight time is approximately 3 hours, to embark on your cruise. A picturesque stopover in southern Chile, the colorful city of Puerto Montt is the capital of the Lakes District. Here, discover reminders of its colonial past at the Plaza de Armas and neoclassical cathedral. The Manuel Montt lookout offers stunning views of the bay's sapphire beauty. Close to the town, the peaceful banks of Lake Llanquihue are conducive for a relaxing walk, and the quaint, traditional villages of Puerto Varas and Frutillar are well worth a visit. Board your ship in the afternoon and depart this evening.

Day 3-5 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
As your ship sails toward Antarctica, relax in luxury or take advantage of the on-board lectures and opportunities for discussion with expert scientists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and discover what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 6 Crossing the Antarctic Circle

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Weather permitting, cross the mythic line of the Antarctic Polar Circle, located along 66°33’ south of the Equator. This iconic area demarcates the point from which it is possible to view the midnight sun during the December solstice. Within this circle, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 consecutive hours at least once a year. Crossing this line, an experience known to few people, is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your cruise through the polar regions.

Day 7 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 8-9 Expedition to Charcot Island

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
When he discovered this island surrounded by sea ice in 1910 as he mapped Alexander Island, Jean-Baptiste Charcot had not be able to get closer than 40 miles from it. Situated in a zone that experiences frequent low-pressure systems and regular cloud cover, the island remains in many ways an enigma. It is entirely covered in ice and sheer cliffs, with the exception of the rocky outcrops extending over a dozen kilometers in the far north-west. The ice in the narrowest part of Wilkins Sound has cracked in recent times, thus officially detaching this island from its neighbor, Alexander Island, 50 km away. Very few people have landed on this largely untouched island, whose waters attract numerous seabirds, such as petrels, Antarctic terns and skuas.

Day 10-11 Expedition to Peter I Island

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Head for the legendary Peter I Island. Located 450 km away from the Atlantic coast, it was discovered in 1821 by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who named it in honor of the Russian tsar Peter the Great. In 1909, Captain Charcot sighted it for the first time from aboard the Pourquoi Pas, but was unable to land there. Surrounded by pack ice and with about 95% of its surface covered by ice, this volcanic island is protected by ice cliffs some 40 meters tall, making any approach difficult.

Day 12-13 English Coast - In Search of Emperor Penguins

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Along the English Coast, land on the pack ice with the expedition team and head off in search of emperor penguin colonies. Brave the few kilometers’ walk through the magnificent, quasi-unexplored desert of ice to reach these colonies and observe these majestic penguins for a rare, moving and intense experience. Emperor penguins are the largest of all living penguin species, and they are champions at adapting to the harsh Antarctic climate. They live inland, where they protect their eggs between their feet and their abdomen and cover long distances in search of food.

Day 14 Marguerite Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The icebergs are each more majestic than the next and scattered around the deep and intense blue waters of Marguerite Bay, one of the most beautiful regions in the Antarctic. It is bordered in the north by the mountainous Adelaide Island, in the south by George VI Sound and Alexander Island, and in the east by the Fallières Coast. Charcot named it after his wife during his second expedition to the Antarctic between 1908 and 1910. In 1909, in the southern summer when the skies were at their clearest, he led an important scientific mission to map and study this region. The bay is home to a number of cetaceans, so look for whales in addition to leopard seals and Adelie penguins.

Day 15 Stonington Island | Pourquoi Pas Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the northeastern part of Marguerite Bay, along Graham Land, discover the small island of Stonington. The island was a British research station from 1946 to 1950 and later from 1960 to 1975. Numerous expeditions setting off from this station on dog sleds enabled the mapping of a significant portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. The two-story steel-framed buildings, whose vestiges are still visible, could accommodate 6 to 17 people. Equipment and facilities from that time can still be found there: the generator, the dog pens, radio equipment and weather instruments, the water reservoir and a storage space. The island is now an important breeding ground for Antarctic terns and south polar skuas.

Land on the coast of Pourquoi Pas Island, so named in the 1930s by John Riddoch Rymill in honor of Jean-Baptiste Charcot, who discovered it from aboard his ship Le Pourquoi Pas during his second expedition to Antarctica between 1908 and 1910. This small island is situated in the north of Marguerite Bay between Graham Land and Adelaide Island and scattered with narrow fjords and snow-covered mountains. Cruise to shore in a Zodiac dinghy with the expedition team and look for Adelie penguins going about their business on the island’s rocky shores.

Day 16 The Gullet | Detaille Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The sumptuous landscapes of this narrow channel between Adelaide Island and Graham Land attract all visitors sailing towards Marguerite Bay. It is like an ice palace, its immaculate white walls reflected in the frozen mirror formed by the waters of the Southern Ocean, scattered with icebergs and gleaming blocks of ice. This passage was explored for the first time by the Jean-Baptiste Charcot expedition in 1909, which sketched its position. It was then surveyed in 1936 by the British expedition under John Rymill. It is in this magical setting that some of the first underwater images of the Antarctic were shot during Philippe Cousteau’s four-month expedition to Antarctica between 1972 and 1973.

Detaille Island is a small island situated off the Loubet Coast in the Crystal Sound, a magnificent region surrounded by snow-covered peaks. A British research station was set up there in 1956, ahead of the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. Like the International Polar Years, organized for the first time in 1882-83, the purpose of this event was to take a coordinated approach to the geophysical research conducted by the different nations. With the island difficult to access, this station was shut down in 1959. The vestiges of the buildings and sledge dog pens that made it possible to map more than 4,000 miles around the island are now maintained by the United Kingdom Heritage Trust.

Day 17 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 18-19 Crossing the Drake Passage

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
If there is one place, one sea, one waterway dreaded by tourists, researchers and hardened seafarers alike, it is undoubtedly the Drake Passage. Situated at the latitude of the infamous Furious Fifties winds, between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands, it is the shortest route connecting Antarctica to South America. Seasoned navigators will tell you that you must earn your visit to the White Continent! At the Antarctic convergence zone, where cold currents rising up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, the Drake Passage harbors a very diverse marine fauna. Don't forget to look to the sky to catch a glimpse of elegant albatross and Cape petrels, playfully soaring in the wind around the ship.

Day 20 Ushuaia | Disembark | Fly to Santiago

  • 1 Breakfast
Capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province, Ushuaia is considered the gateway to the White Continent and the South Pole. Nicknamed “el fin del mundo” by the Argentinian people, this city at the end of the world is nestled in the shelter of mountains, surrounded by fertile plains that the wildlife seems to have chosen as the ultimate sanctuary. With its exceptional site, where the Andes plunge straight into the sea, Ushuaia is one of the most fascinating places on earth.

Following breakfast on board, disembark in Ushuaia and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Santiago.
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Le Commandant Charcot

Santiago - Hotels

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Per person starting at
$32,680
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Select a Date
Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 7
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 8
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Select a Date
Privilege Stateroom Deck 6
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Select a Date
Privilege Stateroom Deck 7
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Select a Date
Privilege Stateroom Deck 8
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 7
40m² and a 10m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with two showers, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 8
40m² and a 10m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with two showers, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Select a Date
Privilege Suite Deck 6
48m² and a 12.5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Select a Date
Privilege Suite Deck 8
48m² and a 12.5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Suite Duplex
48m² and a 26m² private balcony with jacuzzi, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
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Owner's Suite
114m² and a 186m² private balcony with jacuzzi, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and are subject to change without notice.

*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.​

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
  • Transfer from airport upon flight arrival or from your chosen pick-up location within a 50-kilometer range from Santiago city center.
  • 1-night accommodation in a 5* hotel the night before embarkation.
  • Early check-in available from late morning.
  • Hospitality desk at the hotel in Santiago.
  • Return flight Santiago/Puerto Montt - Ushuaia/Santiago in economy class.
  • Meals as mentioned in the program and beverage package.
  • Transfers as mentioned in the program.
  • Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team 
  • Park entry fees into protected areas
  • Port and safety taxes
  • Gratuities to onboard crew, local guides and drivers
  •  All meals while on board the ship 
  • Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner, featuring Veuve Clicquot Champagne
  • “Open Bar” (Pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands. List available upon request.)
  • Evening entertainment and events
  • 24-hour room service (special selection)
  • Ladurée macarons served aboard
  • Free and unlimited Wi-Fi (Internet access may be slower or in some situations interrupted, depending on certain geographic locations or other circumstances beyond our control).
Your program does not include:
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned in each “Cruise, Flights & Transfers” package and for which details are available upon request. 
  • Airport taxes (other than the ones included)
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional Spa package to be booked prior your departure; please ask for more information
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned
  • Laundry services, hair salon and à la carte Spa treatments
  • Personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions
  • Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)
  • Visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable
  • Kayaking Discovery: $490 per person (one outing lasting approximately 1.5 hours) Kayaking Exploration: $990 per person (3 outings lasting approximately 1.5 hours each) Kayaking options must be pre-booked.
We are privileged guests in these remote lands where we are at the mercy of weather, ice, tidal and current conditions. Landings on certain sites and the observation of certain wildlife cannot be guaranteed. They vary from day to day, making each cruise a unique experience. The Captain and the Expedition Leader will make every effort to ensure that your experience is as rich as possible, while complying with the safety rules and instructions imposed by the IAATO.
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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