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A quiet morning near Dunedin

From Dumont d’Urville to Mawson: retracing Heroic Age expeditions

Dunedin - Ushuaia - Example 26 Day Cruise aboard Le Commandant Charcot
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Take part in this 27-day journey that follows in the footsteps of the early explorers of Antarctica. As you approach the coasts of Macquarie Island, the first penguins will appear on the horizon. This island's biodiversity is so rich that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site: it is home to four penguin species (king, royal, Gentoo, and southern rockhopper). The White Continent's boundless areas and mythical names will soon heighten their allure. Adelie Land, Victoria Land, and Marie Byrd Land are all named after Adelie. Beyond the Antarctic Circle, your journey continues into the Bellingshausen Sea, where the Charcot and Peter I Islands spread their icy masses. Le Commandant Charcot attempts to approach their inaccessible coastlines before you arrive in Tierra del Fuego.
Coastal beauty of DunedinPicture-perfect UshuaiaSea lion on the Antarctic PeninsulaCormorants and seals mingle on the rocks off the coast of UshuaiaUshuaiaA quiet morning near Dunedin
Highlights
  • Explore some of the most little-known islands in the world: Charcot Island, Peter I Island and the Marie Byrd Land Islands.
  • Visit Macquarie Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its incredible biodiversity.
  • Sail through the three southern seas: Bellingshausen, Amundsen and Ross.
  • Discover wildlife such as crabeater seals, Weddell seals, and king penguins.
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Dunedin | Embark

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.

Day 2-3: 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 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 3: 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 permit, guests will have the opportunity to land ashore and view the prolific wildlife that resides here.

Day 4-5: 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 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 6: Adelie Land

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
strong>Adelie Land covers around 400,000 km2 (around 250,000 square miles) of the White Continent between the 136th and 142nd meridians longitude East. These lands claimed by France in Antarctica are home, on Petrel Island, to Dumont-d’Urville station, which is named after the eponymous French explorer who investigated the region in 1840. Here, the few resident scientists share the Antarctic desert with Adelie penguins, seals, and orcas, as well as emperor penguins during the winter. The extreme climate of this land at the edge of the world, characterized by its very low temperatures and its violent winds or blizzards, makes it difficult to access its shores, which are protected by a thick ice floe. Be among the rare people to discover this unique place where you will be captivated by the polar silence and the ice reflecting the rays of the sun as you experience the Southern Continent’s powerful fragility.

Day 7-10: Victoria Land

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Reach the inaccessible by exploring extreme Victoria Land. You will discover part of the history of the Australian polar expeditions: in Commonwealth Bay, slip into the shoes of the legendary Douglas Mawson, who created his main base in 1911 in Cape Denison, where there are still remnants of his wooden cabin. Welcome to the country of blizzards, these violent winds filled with snowflakes. Among the natural marvels of this territory, you will note the glacial tongue of the impressive Mertz Glacier whose wall of ice is cut with immense crevasses. The grandiose sight of absolute nature. Marking the border with Marie Byrd Land, the Transantarctic Mountains, extending the Andes, offer this Eden of ice some mountainous landscapes.

Day 11: The Ross Sea Exploration | 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 12-13: The Ross Sea Exploration

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
“The last ocean” is what scientists from all around the world call this deep bay that runs along the edge of Antarctica between Marie Byrd Land and Victoria Land. In 2016, Ross Sea, the last intact marine ecosystem, became the world’s largest marine protected area. The starting point for the greatest southern expeditions - particularly to the South Pole - it was explored by James Clark Ross between 1839 and 1843. It was then that he discovered the enormous barrier formed by a gigantic ice shelf extending out to the open sea and from which titanic icebergs are calved.

Day 14-16: Marie Byrd Land Exploration

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
strong>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 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 its harsh climate that have 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 17-18: Amundsen Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
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 19: 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 20: 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 21: 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 22: 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 23: 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 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 24-25: 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 26: Ushuaia | Disembark

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…

Ship/Hotel

Le Commandant Charcot

Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
Deluxe suite

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$42,910
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
Select a Date
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

Note: Medical Insurance required

For your serenity, PONANT has organised the following included programme for you, which starts the day prior to embarkation.
The day before embarkation – Auckland
Transfer from airport to PONANT selected hotel.
In order to organise your transfer, please inform your travel agent 60 days before departure:
- your flight number as well as your arrival time and day.
Meet and greet at the hotel by our local representative. Check-in from your arrival.
Lunch on your own and day at leisure.
Dinner.
Overnight at the hotel.
Embarkation Day – Auckland/Dunedin
The breakfast will be served before leaving for the airport for your Auckland/Dunedin flight.
Transfer to the airport.
Flight Auckland/Dunedin selected by PONANT in economy class.
Seats in business class may be available, please contact your travel agent.
Approximate flight duration: 2 hours
Meet and greet at Dunedin airport (English-speaking assistance).
Transfer to Le Commandant Charcot.
Embarkation.
– Cruise on board your ship –
Disembarkation Day – Ushuaia/Santiago
Disembarkation.
Meet and greet at the port (English-speaking assistance).
Transfer to the airport in time for check-in for the flight Ushuaia/Santiago selected by PONANT in economy class.
Approximate flight duration: 3 hours
Seats in business class may be available, please contact your travel agent.
It is highly recommended to have an international inbound flight the day after PONANT selected flight.
 
Your programme includes:
  • Transfer from Auckland airport upon flight arrival.
  • 1-night accommodation in a 5* hotel the night before embarkation.
  • Your hotel will be confirmed few weeks before your cruise.
  • Early check-in available from your arrival.
  • Hospitality desk at the hotel in Auckland.
  • The flights Auckland/Dunedin 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 programme and beverage package.
  • Transfers as mentioned in the programme.
Your programme does not include:
  • Tips for the local guide.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Other meals and services not mentioned in the programme.
Please note:
  • The local currency is the New Zealand dollar. You will be able to make most of your purchases by credit card, accepted in most hotels, shopping centres and boutiques. You will also be able to retrieve New Zealand dollars from the ATM’s.
  • Summer season in Auckland: temperatures might be around 73 °F (23 °C).
  • Summer season in Dunedin: temperatures vary between 51 °F (11 °C) and 70 °F (21 °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.

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
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