Free Single Supplement!
Journey to Antarctica's Bellingshausen Sea - 16 DaysAboard: Le Commandant Charcot
Your journey aboard Le Commandant Charcot will begin with your first look at this strikingly elegant ship, capable of navigating our planet’s most extreme environments. You are about to begin an adventure that will lead you to the edges of the Earth, on the continent that no people have ever inhabited, the Antarctic. But while these lands belong to no one, they have been the theatre of the greatest expeditions and have proven the heroism exemplified by certain men. From the Antarctic Peninsula to the Bellingshausen Sea and its unknown islets, Le Commandant Charcot will humbly take you on a 15-day exploration of the Far South, in the wake of the legendary man to whom it owes its name.
After crossing the mythical Drake Passage, beaten by the winds and home to soaring cape petrels, you will glimpse the last continent on the horizon. Jean-Baptiste Charcot led his first journey to the Antarctic over a century ago, but his exploits still resonate and his traces are tangible here. His first expedition with the ship Le Français built his legend and made a mark on Salpêtrière Bay. A little further south lies Marguerite Bay, which he explored during his second expedition. He named this mountainous and magnificent land after his wife and Pourquoi-Pas Island after his eponymous ship. At the exit of the Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island still holds memories of the wintering of this exceptional expedition.
As you sail on exploring the Bellingshausen Sea, the conditions become increasingly extreme. Ice takes over your horizon, the ice floe stretches out, and icebergs drift around you. The approach to Charcot Island guarantees intense emotions and gives you the unique feeling of being among the privileged few able to contemplate it.
Throughout your journey, our team of passionate experts will go over all the details of these historic exploits with you while sharing their in-depth knowledge of the wildlife and landscapes. You will have the chance to observe Adelie, Gentoo and chinstrap penguins and perhaps even some young emperor penguins on the edge of the ice floe. Leopard, crabeater and Weddell seals, humpback and Mink whales, and orcas also live in these southern waters that you will sail through like those men of legend did before you.
Various dates available. Please enquire for full dates and rates.
- Cross the Arctic Circle and the exploratory approach of the distant Charcot Island.
- Outings and shore visits in a zodiac inflatable or hovercraft* with a reinforced team of naturalist guides.
- Conferences and information meetings on board with our passionate experts, specialists in the fauna, flora and history of the polar regions.
- Landscapes: immense glaciers, monumental icebergs, immersion in the heart of the ice floes.
- Wildlife: Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins; leopard, crabeater and Weddell seals; humpback, Minke whales and orcas, and the possibility of observing emperors penguins and Ross seals.
- Many activities: kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, polar plunge without suit, polar swim with drysuit, participative science (fees apply for some activities)
- 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 Ushuaia and return
- Transfers between airports, hotel and ship
- Zodiac cruises and shore excursions
- Entertainment and expert lecture programme
- Loan of rubber boots
- Expedition parka
Free Single Supplement!
Free Single Supplement! Book now and the supplement for single usage of a double cabin will be waived!
Offer applicable when booked before 28th November 2023
Offer applies to new bookings, according to availability and staterooms categories. May be withdrawn at any time. / Available on selected dates/vessels.
So much to experience
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Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Antarctica adventure for you.
Simon’s deep passion for and first-hand knowledge of a vast range of destinations all over the world gives him the ideal skills to help you create a truly unforgettable wildlife inspired adventure to the most exciting places on the planet.
With countless travel experiences and an enduring hunger for adventure, Zoe knows exactly what’s needed to craft a holiday of a lifetime. Her experience and generosity of spirit are legendary and she’ll help you build an itinerary that will make all your dreams come true.
Mike has more than fifteen years hands-on experience in the industry, travelling to some of the most incredible wild places on the planet. His far-reaching knowledge and invaluable skills will ensure that your wildlife travel adventure is a dream come true.
Our popularitinerary Suggestions
All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Santiago to Ushuaia
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 Ushuaia in southern Argentina 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 into the scenic Beagle Channel 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.
Next up we plan to 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!
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.
We continue 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. In 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, especially the renowned 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.
Stretching from the west 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. Among others, its waters surround two of the Antarctic’s largest islands: Alexander Island and Thurston Island. You will explore this sea amid ice floe, blocks of sea ice and majestic icebergs. The coastal areas along the Bellingshausen Sea are also renowned as the home of colonies of emperor penguins. Depending on the month of the southern summer, you will perhaps be lucky enough to observe isolated adults, adolescents seeking emancipation or recently independent new adults.
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 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 a number of cetaceans and you may get the chance to observe leopard seals or Adelie penguins.
Pourquoi Pas Island
Le Commandant Charcot will land on the coast of Pourquoi Pas Island, so named in the 1930s by John Riddoch Rymill in honour 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.
Succumb to the magic of a place unlike any other. To this day, the mythical Antarctic Peninsula still holds real fascination and promises its visitors unforgettable moments. Throughout your adventure in this icy realm, you will find yourself in the heart of a spectacular decor in subtle shades of blue and white, surrounded by exceptional wildlife. Penguins, humpback whales, seals and giant petrels are at home here, as are elephant seals, fur seals, Antarctic minke whales, and orcas. Depending on which sites you will be lucky enough to visit, you may get the chance to observe them and share with them the beauty of these extreme parts.
Each day, based on ice conditions, the Captain and the Expedition Leader will suggest zodiac outings or landings to discover the infinite riches of the Antarctic Peninsula. Glaciers, ice floe, tabletop icebergs, mountain peaks that plunge straight into the sea, volcanic beaches, research stations, enchanting bays, and vestiges of the whaling industry: these are the faces of the Antarctic that will likely reveal themselves to you, in a hushed and surreal atmosphere. You will sail in the wake of Jean-Baptiste Charcot, Adrien de Gerlache and Sir Ernest Shackleton, great Antarctic explorers who, from the 19th century, set out to conquer these remote and uninhabited lands.
Crossing the Drake Passage
If there is one place, one sea, one waterway dreaded by tourists, researchers and hardened seafarers alike, it is undoubtedly 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 up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, Drake Passage harbours 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.
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 135 exceptional suites and staterooms, ranging in size from20 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
I want to thank you for all you did to make my recent Falklands trip run so smoothly and comfortably. Thank you for all your help over the diet too.Dr Lorna Mairs
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
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