Emperor Penguins Below the Antarctic Circle – Luxury – 16 DaysAboard: Le Commandant Charcot
Journey into the heart of the Bellingshausen Sea, deep in the Southern Ocean, on this exceptional cruise in search of the emperor penguins that live in the lands beyond the Antarctic Circle. Sailing aboard a brand-new, luxury expedition vessel, you will travel in the company of an experienced and knowledgeable expedition team who know these lands like no other.
As well as the chance to become one of very few people to have crossed the Antarctic Circle, the main goal of this very special itinerary will be to offer you the chance to observe emperor penguins, the largest penguin species, and one which is endemic to Antarctica. But it won’t be just the penguins that will impress. Spectacular scenery, isolated and historic islands and other intriguing wildlife will combine to create an adventure of a lifetime.
Please note: your itinerary will begin and end in Santiago. You will fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas to embark the ship, and upon disembarkation in Ushuaia, you will fly back to Santiago.
Various departures available. Please enquire for full rates and dates.
- A unique opportunity to search for sightings of the iconic Emperor Penguins that are found in the Bellingshausen Sea area
- See other iconic wildlife including whales, seals, and other penguin species such as gentoo and adelie
- Become one of very few people to have ever crossed the Antarctic Circle!
- Spectacular scenery throughout, with glaciers, icebergs, thick ice floes, mountains, and ice shelves
- Historical sites and research stations
- Thrilling Zodiac excursions and hiking opportunities
- Informative and interesting lecture and presentation programme
- Activity options including kayaking, snowshoeing and Polar water activities available (some activities may incur costs)
- Full board accommodation on board, including bar/beverage service
- One night 5* hotel stay in Santiago pre-voyage, with breakfast, dinner and early check-in included
- Flights: Santiago to Punta Arenas pre-voyage | Ushuaia to Santiago post-voyage
- Transfers between airports, hotel and ship
- Zodiac cruises and shore excursions
- Entertainment and expert lecture programme
- Loan of rubber boots
- Expedition parka
So much to experience
Our popularitinerary Suggestions
All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Santiago - Punta Arenas
Arrive independently to the Chilean capital of Santiago and join your transfer to your 5* hotel for your included overnight stay. Enjoy some free time this afternoon to explore the city before joining your fellow passengers for dinner.
After breakfast on day 2 you will take your transfer to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas where upon arrival you will transfer to the port to board your luxury expedition vessel. Settle into your beautiful stateroom and watch as we sail away from South America and begin our journey to Antarctica.
At Sea - Drake Passage
The next two days will be spent at sea sailing towards Antarctica and into the legendary Drake Passage. These days can be spent relaxing in your comfortable surroundings, availing of the luxury onboard facilities, and enjoying some time on deck searching for whale and seabird sightings including albatrosses and cape petrels.
Your informative and entertaining lecture programme will begin, covering everything from Antarctic wildlife and geology to historical polar explorations, and there will be briefings around the strict IAATO rules that must be adhered to during your visit to the natural wonderland of Antarctica. There will also be briefings for the Zodiac (small inflatable boat) excursions, and as the icebergs begin to appear on the horizon and we reach the awe-inspiring Antarctic continent the excitement will build even more!
Crossing the Antarctic Circle
Today you will experience something that only a few lucky people in the world have ever experienced…crossing the Antarctic Circle! Weather and ice conditions dependent, we will cross the mythical line of the Antarctic Polar Circle, located along 66°33’ south of the Equator. This is sure to be a moment to remember and one that will be celebrated with aplomb!
As with all Polar expeditions, flexibility is key. Each day your experienced captain and crew will assess the weather and ice conditions to chart the perfect course for adventures, and planned routes can not always be guaranteed.
Having crossed the Antarctic Circle, it’s now time to begin our in-depth exploration of the lands below the Circle. Lands that few travellers have ever explored and that hold sights and delights that are completely unique to this part of the world. Sailing into the heart of the Bellingshausen Sea - this area is covered by ice floe for the majority of the year - this sailing has been timed to coincide with the best time to discover these remarkable lands. First up will be Charcot Island which is entirely covered in ice and sheer cliffs, with the exception of the rocky outcrops extending over a dozen kilometres in the far north-west. Very few people have ever landed here, but with the help of our Zodiac boats we plan to achieve just that. Whilst we explore around, we will also be on the lookout for the numerous seabirds, such as petrels, Antarctic terns and skuas that abound here.
At Sea & Peter I Island
We now make our way even further into the deep south in the direction of the legendary 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 metres, is protected by ice cliffs some 40 metres tall, making any approach difficult. With our fully ice-strengthened ship we will attempt to get as close as possible for some marvellous vistas.
Emperor Penguins of English Coast
It’s now time for what may be the highlight of your trip as we arrive along English Coast and set off in search of sightings of the enigmatic Emperor Penguins. Antarctica is the only place in the world where these iconic animals can be observed in their natural habitat, and this rarely visited area offers fantastic changes of seeing these beautiful birds up-close. An unforgettable experience!
Moving back north, a day of incredible scenery awaits today as we make our way to Marguerite Bay to see majestic icebergs of all shapes and sizes scattered around the deep and intense blue waters of the bay. Thought of as one of the most beautiful places in all of Antarctica, as well as boasting abundant iconic icebergs, the bay is also home to a number of cetaceans and also offers good chances to observe leopard seals and Adelie penguins.
Stonington & Pourquoi Pas Islands
Next up is the small island of Stonington which was a British research station from 1946 to 1950 and later from 1960 to 1975. Now an important breeding ground for Antarctic terns and south polar skuas, we can enjoy a walk around here to see the steel-framed buildings and abandoned equipment that tell the stories of the work carried out here.
In the afternoon we will land on the coast of Pourquoi Pas Island which is scattered with narrow fjords and snow-covered mountains. An enjoyable Zodiac cruise around here will give us the chance to observe Adelie penguins going about their business on the island’s rocky shores.
The Gullet & Detaille Island
Our last full day in Antarctica will see us discover the sumptuous landscapes of “the Gullet”, a narrow channel between Adelaide Island and Graham Land. This unique area is like an ice palace, with its immaculate white walls reflecting in the frozen mirror formed by the waters of the Southern Ocean, and scattered with icebergs and gleaming blocks of ice. Expect some incredible photo opportunities here!
Our final stop will bring us to the small island of Detaille which is located within the magnificently scenic Crystal Sound. Surrounded by snow-covered peaks, the island offers us another chance to explore around some historic research station buildings.
At Sea - Drake Passage
Leaving Antarctica in our wake we will now sail back into the Drake Passage to make our way to Ushuaia in southern Argentina. Enjoy the final lectures and presentations delivered by your expert team and some final whale watching and birdwatching from the deck. Or simply relax on your luxurious ship and catch your breath after what will have been an incredibly exciting voyage.
Ushuaia - Fly to Santiago
Arrive in Ushuaia in the early morning, disembark after breakfast and join your transfer to the airport for your included flight back to Santiago. Upon arrival in Santiago your itinerary will come to an end. Please enquire should you wish to extend your trip to spend more time in this unique capital city.
A view from Above
The truly luxurious, brand-new (2021) Le Commandant Charcot is the latest addition to the stunning fleet of high-class Ponant expedition ships. Re-imagining luxury Polar cruises, the ship is the very first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by liquefied natural gas and has been designed with the greatest attention to detail in terms of safety and respect for the environment. Offering more comfort and luxury than any other expedition ship on the market, Le Commandant Charcot features a beautiful indoor swimming pool, a fantastic spa, gym and wellness area, and truly elegant common areas including a panoramic indoor restaurant, Blue Lagoon outdoor restaurant, lounge bar, observation lounge and conservatory. Every element of the ship has been designed to both convey French-style discreet luxury and arouse wonder and amazement.
The 123 exceptional suites and staterooms, ranging in size from 20 to 115 m², provide ultimate relaxation after a long day of exploring. With private balconies or terraces, each room allows for incredible views of your surroundings, and with their unique understated design, each room exudes the feeling and sense of sailing on a private yacht. Large comfortable beds, air-conditioning, minibars, satellite TV, Bose Bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi, bathrobes and top-of-the-line toiletries are just a few of the room features. Premium rooms also feature a butler service, and some even have their own private jacuzzis.
we work hard to earn passionate reviews from our clients.
Now that I am back from my odyssey voyage, I thought I would let you know that after all that planning it really did exceed my expectations – we managed landings everywhere even on Tristan da Cuhna and had great bird sightings. The guides all knew what they were talking about too and made sure I got some great photos – still sorting them all out! Thanks for everything and see you at Birdfair!Dave Martin
Overall I think that it was an excellent trip that was well worth the price paid and I would have no hesitation recommending your company to others.Steve Sutton
Just a quick note to express my sincere thanks to you and all your staff for making this an epic adventure of immense proportions. Everything went smoothly, pickups, hotels and most of all the expedition itself. Truly a mind blowing experience unlike any I have ever taken.Mr J Borg, Malta
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Antarctica adventure for you.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
Amy’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
Mike has more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.