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Group of King Penguins

The Emperor Penguins of Bellingshausen Sea

Punta Arenas - Ushuaia - Example 16 Day Cruise aboard Le Commandant Charcot
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Beyond Peter I Island and Charcot Island, this exceptional cruise 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 floe most of the time, is hard to reach and practically unexplored. But the reward lives up to the challenge: gigantic colonies of emperor penguins, a unique species endemic to the Antarctic and almost never observed, live here. This animal, elegant and majestic, is the promise of emotional encounters. In this season, as winter gradually gives way to the austral spring, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest birds wandering the ice floes on the horizon, or emancipated juveniles learning to swim as the southern summer approaches.
Trip to AntarcticaGlaciers at Stonington IslandStonington IslandSea KayakingGroup of King Penguins
Highlights
  • Encounter the largest species of penguin, the emperor penguin
  • Approach two islands beyond the Antarctic Polar Circle
  • View Antarctic wildlife, including penguins, humpback whales, and seals
  • Learn lectures and information sessions hosted by our naturalist-guides
  • Experience a vast landscape of ice floes, glaciers, and ice shelves
Trip Type:
  • Small Group
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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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 Punta Arenas | Embark

After breakfast fly to Punta Arenas, flight time is approximately 3 hours, to embark on your cruise. Capital of the Magallanes Region and the Chilean Antarctic, this handsome port city will charm you with its history and traditions. Once inhabited by several indigenous tribes, Punta Arenas has maintained an architectural style that remains true to its heritage. 

Day 3-4: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice, on seas and oceans which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research with PONANT and let us discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal to us.

Day 5: Crossing the Antarctic Circle

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Weather permitting, we will 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 that is known to few people, is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your cruise through the polar regions.

Day 6: Expedition to Charcot Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
When he discovered this island surrounded by sea ice in 1910 from aboard the Pourquoi Pas ? as he mapped Alexander Island, Jean-Baptiste Charcot had not been able to get less than 40 miles away 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, except for the rocky outcrops extending over a dozen kilometers in the far north-west. The ice in the narrowest part of Wilkins Sound has been cracking in recent times, thus officially detaching this island from its neighbor, Alexander Island, lying 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 7: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice, on seas and oceans which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research with PONANT and let us discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal to us.

Day 8: Expedition to Peter Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You will then 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: “In the parting mists, one or two miles away, an enormous black mass shrouded in clouds appears suddenly before us: it is Peter I Island.” Surrounded by pack ice and with about 95% of its surface covered by ice, this volcanic island, whose highest peak reaches 1,640 meters, is protected by ice cliffs some 40 meters tall, making any approach difficult.

Day 9-10: English Coast - In Search of Emperor Penguins

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Along the English Coast, head off in search of the emperor penguin. Brave the magnificent, quasi-unexplored desert of ice to be among the lucky few to observe these majestic penguins and enjoy this rare 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 during winter and, cover long distances in search of food.

Day 11: Marguerite Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The icebergs are each more majestic than the next and scattered around the intense blue waters of Marguerite Bay, one of the most beautiful regions in the Antarctic. It is delimited 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 are at their clearest, he led an important scientific mission to map and study this region. The bay is home to several cetaceans and, you may get the chance to observe leopard seals or Adelie penguins.

Day 12: Stonington Island | Pourquoi Pas Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the northeastern part of Marguerite Bay, along with Graham Land, you will discover the small islands of Stonington. The island was a British research station from 1946 to 1950 and later from 1960 to 1975. Numerous expeditions set off from this station on dog sleds and, they 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 storage space. The island is now an important breeding ground for Antarctic terns and south polar skuas.


Le Commandant Charcot will 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 mountainous island, situated in the north of Marguerite Bay between Graham Land and Adelaide Island, is 28 km long and 14 km large. It is scattered with narrow fjords and snow-covered mountains. You will go to shore in a Zodiac dinghy with your expedition team and, you could get the chance to observe Adelie penguins going about their business on the island’s rocky shores.

Day 13: 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 here in this magical setting that some of the first subaquatic 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 sled 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 14-15: 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 to connect Antarctica to South America. Seasoned navigators will tell you that you must earn your visit to the White Continent! As the Antarctic convergence zone where cold currents rising from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, 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 floating about in the wind around your ship.

Day 16: 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 nestles in the shelter of mountains surrounded by fertile plains that the wildlife seem 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, its very name evocative of journeys to the unlikely and the inaccessible.

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

Ship/Hotel

Le Commandant Charcot

Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Deluxe suite

Santiago - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$25,480
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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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
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite 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
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite 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.
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite 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
Select a Date
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
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Grand Prestige Suite
42m² 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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Privilege Suite
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
suite duplex
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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
owners suite
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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

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

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
    • Transfer from the 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.
      Your hotel will be confirmed a few weeks before your cruise.
    • Early check-in is available from late morning.
    • Hospitality desk at the hotel in Santiago.
    • Return flight Santiago/Punta Arenas and Ushuaia/Santiago selected by PONANT, in economy class.
      Seats in business class may be available, please contact your travel agent.
    • Meals as mentioned in the program and beverage package.
    • Transfers as mentioned in the program.
    Your program does not include:
    • Tips for the local guide.
    • Personal expenses.
    • Other meals and services are not mentioned in the program. 

    Please note:
    • The local currency is the Chilean Peso. You will be able to make most of your purchases in USD (in small denominations) or by credit card, accepted in most hotels, shopping centers, and boutiques. You will also be able to retrieve Pesos from the ATMs.
    • Summer season in Santiago: temperatures may be very hot, but often between 68 °F (20 °C) and 95 °F (35 °C).
    • Summer season in Ushuaia and Punta Arenas: temperatures vary between 41 °F (5 °C) and 65 °F (15 °C)
    • We recommend you wear warm clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
    • If case PONANT has not received your full flight details, services start at the hotel in time for check-in.

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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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