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Coastal beauty of Dunedin

Unexplored Antarctica between Two Continents

Ushuaia - Dunedin - Example 29 Day Cruise aboard Le Commandant Charcot
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Antarctic exploration cannot be separated from the pioneers who travelled in these territories at the edges of the Earth. Like a real explorer, you will cross the legendary southern seas of Bellingshausen and Amundsen, approach Marie Byrd Land, one of the last Terra nullius of our planet, and attempt to reach the Charcot and Peter I Islands, enveloped in their blankets of ice. Very significant in the history of South Pole explorationRoss Sea is also the world’s largest marine protected area, the kingdom of prodigious wildlife. As a privileged witness, keep a watchful eye and observe the Antarctic petrels, whales, orcas, seals and penguins that are to be found here.
 
Picture-perfect UshuaiaSea lion on the Antarctic PeninsulaCormorants and seals mingle on the rocks off the coast of UshuaiaUshuaiaA quiet morning near DunedinCoastal beauty of Dunedin
Highlights
  • Explore some of the most little-known islands in the world: Charcot Island, Peter I Island and the Marie Byrd Land Islands.
  • Experience the history of the conquest of the South Pole
  • Sail through the three southern seas: Bellingshausen, Amundsen and Ross.
  • Discover wildlife such as crabeater seals, Weddell seals, and king penguins
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Ushuaia | Embark

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…

Day 2-3: Crossing the Drake Passage

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Use your days spent in the Drake Passage to familiarize yourself with your ship and deepen your knowledge of the Antarctic. The Expedition Leader will first present the IAATO rules of conduct that must be observed during landings in the region and will explain everything you need to know about the zodiac outings. Lectures about the history and wildlife of the Antarctic will be an opportunity for you to learn more about this magical region, where every cruise is a unique experience. From the ship’s bridge, you will experience exceptional sailing moments before joining the naturalist-guides on your ship’s exterior decks to look out for albatrosses, cape petrels, and other seabirds flying over the Drake Passage.

Day 4: Crossing the Antarctic Circle

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Weather permitting, we'll 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 5: 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 be 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, 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 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 6: Bellingshausen Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Stretching from the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula to the Amundsen Sea, the Bellingshausen Sea was named after the Russian admiral and explorer who has been attributed the first confirmed sighting of mainland Antarctica, in 1820. Its waters surround, among others, two of the largest islands in the Antarctic: Alexander Island and Thurston Island. You will sail amid ice floe, blocks of sea ice and majestic icebergs. The coastal areas along the Bellingshausen Sea are home to large colonies of emperor penguins. Depending on the season, you may get the chance to observe some of these creatures in the open sea.

Day 7: Expedition to Peter I 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 8: Amundsen Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen – famous as one of the first five men to reach the geographic South Pole – gave his name to this southern sea in 1929, following an expedition in its waters. Almost entirely frozen by a thick ice floe, Amundsen Sea stretches along Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, between Bellingshausen Sea to the west and the Ross Sea to the east. The monumental icebergs are all that break the monotony of the infinite ice floe here: let yourself be immersed in a feeling of tranquility before this vastness. These privileged moments sailing in the Amundsen Sea are opportunities to make the most of the original equipment and spaces on Le Commandant Charcot.  Find yourself in this refined cocoon. Nourish yourself with the knowledge of the scientists and expert naturalists, who provide unique support during your polar cruise. Or simply contemplate the fascinating and captivating decor from the ship’s exterior decks.

Day 9-15: Marie Byrd Land Exploration

  • Ship
  • 7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Marie Byrd Land is one of the most remote territories of our planet’s most inaccessible continent. It is a real privilege to just be able to contemplate its shores! Between the Ross Sea and its large shelf to the east and the Bellingshausen Sea to the west, the frozen coastlines of these lands are bordered by the Amundsen Sea, partially covered by a thick ice floe. Stretching over more than a million km2 (over 620,000 square miles) in Western Antarctica, its ground is also isolated from the rest of the continent by the Transantarctic Mountains. It is certainly this geographic remoteness and the harsh climate that has made it one of our planet’s rare Terra nullius, a territory claimed by no State. In 1929, Marie Byrd Land got its name from Admiral Richard E. Byrd, in honor of his wife, following his expedition to the region. The exploration of its ice-sculpted landscapes will plunge you into the infinite Antarctic desert, where penguins, seals, whales, and orcas are the only living souls. Depending on the time and weather conditions, your exploration of the region will take you towards a string of islands which, although little-known, remain fascinating: Siple Island and its eponymous mount, resulting from an old volcano, Clark Island and Dean Island.

Day 16: The Ross Sea Exploration

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
“The last ocean” is what scientists from all around the world call this deep bay that run along the edge of Antarctica between Marie Byrd Land and Victoria Land. Since 2016, the world’s largest marine protected area has been keeping this last marine ecosystem intact. The theatre of the most impressive expeditions, it was discovered by James Clark Ross between 1839 and 1843. It was then that he discovered the enormous ice barrier formed by a gigantic ice shelf extending out to the open sea and from which titanic icebergs are calved. One-third of the world’s Adelie penguin population lives in the area where this barrier breaks into icebergs. The currents maintain polynyas there, vast areas of persistent open water surrounded by sea ice. These give the penguins access to food. You may also get the chance to spot Ross seals, one of the rarest protected species in the Antarctic.

Weather and ice conditions permitting, you will be able to discover several of the region’s emblematic sites. Among the possible ports of call, Cape Adare, at the far north of the Borchgrevink Coast, is home to one of the world’s largest Adelie penguin colonies. We will also try to get to Terra Nova Bay, home to the stunning Drygalski Ice Tongue. At least 4,000 years old, it stretches 70 km (43 miles) out to sea from the David glacier and measures 24 km (15 miles) at its widest. On Ross Island, at the base of Mount Erebus, you will follow in the footsteps of the famous explorers Shackleton and Scott who chose Cape Royds and Cape Evans, respectively, to set up their base camps in anticipation of their future historic exploits. In the McMurdo Sound, separating the island from the continent, the scenery is surreal: the Taylor Glacier stretches its branch into the valleys devoid of snow above which stand mountains of stratified rock. A little further, in the Bay of Whales, another tale is told, that of the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who left from this point to reach, for the first time, the South Pole in 1911.

Day 17: Crossing the International Date Line

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your itinerary enables you to cross the International Date Line. This imaginary line across the Earth’s surface approximately follows the 180th meridian in the Pacific Ocean. Because of the roundness of the Earth and the necessity of having reference time meridians, we have to change dates when we cross this line. So if your ship is travelling west, you will need to add a day to the expected date; conversely, if travelling east, you will take away a day. This paradox, already noted by Magellan’s crews during his circumnavigation, serves as dramatic motivation in several novels, including Jules Verne’s famous Around the World in Eighty Days.

Day 18-22: The Ross Sea Exploration

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
“The last ocean” is what scientists from all around the world call this deep bay that run along the edge of Antarctica between Marie Byrd Land and Victoria Land. Since 2016, the world’s largest marine protected area has been keeping this last marine ecosystem intact. The theatre of the most impressive expeditions, it was discovered by James Clark Ross between 1839 and 1843. It was then that he discovered the enormous ice barrier formed by a gigantic ice shelf extending out to the open sea and from which titanic icebergs are calved. One-third of the world’s Adelie penguin population lives in the area where this barrier breaks into icebergs. The currents maintain polynyas there, vast areas of persistent open water surrounded by sea ice. These give the penguins access to food. You may also get the chance to spot Ross seals, one of the rarest protected species in the Antarctic.

Weather and ice conditions permitting, you will be able to discover several of the region’s emblematic sites. Among the possible ports of call, Cape Adare, at the far north of the Borchgrevink Coast, is home to one of the world’s largest Adelie penguin colonies. We will also try to get to Terra Nova Bay, home to the stunning Drygalski Ice Tongue. At least 4,000 years old, it stretches 70 km (43 miles) out to sea from the David glacier and measures 24 km (15 miles) at its widest. On Ross Island, at the base of Mount Erebus, you will follow in the footsteps of the famous explorers Shackleton and Scott who chose Cape Royds and Cape Evans, respectively, to set up their base camps in anticipation of their future historic exploits. In the McMurdo Sound, separating the island from the continent, the scenery is surreal: the Taylor Glacier stretches its branch into the valleys devoid of snow above which stand mountains of stratified rock. A little further, in the Bay of Whales, another tale is told, that of the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who left from this point to reach, for the first time, the South Pole in 1911.
 

Day 23-25: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 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 on-board 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 26: Macquarie Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Long celebrated as one of the wonder spots of the world, Macquarie Island is an island of great beauty and outstanding natural diversity, a breeding place for more than 3.5 million seabirds, most of which are penguins. There are four species breeding on Macquarie Island: Royals, Kings, Gentoos, and Rock Hoppers. There are also three types of fur seals and one-seventh of the world's population of elephant seals breeding on the Island. In 1948 The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) established its expedition headquarters on Macquarie Island. If time and weather permitting, guests will have the opportunity to land ashore and view the prolific wildlife that resides here.

Day 27-28: 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 29: Dunedin | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city and is often referred to as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. This city of the south wears its Scottish heritage with pride. The city contains some of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. The Silverpeaks hinterland to the North West provides a picturesque backdrop and The Otago Peninsula, which lies within the city boundaries, has internationally renowned wildlife reserves, including the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross.

Ship/Hotel

Le Commandant Charcot

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$48,080
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
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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
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
Included
  • 28 Breakfasts, 27 Lunches, 28 Dinners
  • 28 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
  • Arrival & Departure Transfers
  • 1-night accommodation in a 5* hotel the night before embarkation.
  • Flights: Auckland - Dunedin and Ushuaia - Santiago in Economy class
  • Use of rubber boots for landings, and a polar parka
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions

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When to Go

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Jul
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Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
Nancy Sin

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