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Ponant Expedition Cruising Launches Inaugural Antarctica Season

Ponant Antarctica cruise

PONANT, the leader in expedition cruising, will debut Le Commandant Charcot in November 2021 for its inaugural Antarctica season with six new itineraries.

Itineraries will range from 11- to 24-nights and start at $13,970 per person. 

Nearly a century after the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, the White Continent remains largely undiscovered today. For the first time, PONANT’s guests will be able to discover these remote parts, such as The Ross Sea, which has one of the continent’s most extreme weather patterns, and Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon. Following its inaugural season in Antarctica, Le Commandant Charcot will head north to the Arctic for the 2022 summer season and include departures to the true geographic North Pole.

Le Commandant Charcot is designed to feel more like a yacht, versus a traditional cruise ship. The 123 staterooms and suites accommodate up to 245 passengers. With two restaurants onboard, tailor-made gourmet cuisine will be prepared by French chefs taking its inspiration from the destinations and ports of call. Menus are crafted by Alain Ducasse. Complimentary French wine is paired with all meals and an open bar format is offered on all itineraries. In addition, PONANT serves Veuve Clicquot Champagne as well as Ladurée macarons through exclusive partnerships. There will also be a wellness area in partnership with Biologique Recherche with amenities like a snow room – chilled to 14 degrees Fahrenheit with fresh powder snow. The ship will also feature an indoor swimming pool and heated blue lagoon baths.

In addition to the many hikes and Zodiac excursions already offered by PONANT, expeditions aboard Le Commandant Charcot will offer a range of new activities, including outings in hovercraft, kayaks, and tethered hot-air balloon rides. Guests will also be offered the chance to go diving in polar waters. The ship will also serve as a floating research center with an onboard laboratory, allowing passengers to participate in the research and experiments during sailings. Under the supervision of the team of naturalist guides and the on-board scientists, guests will be able to help set up a research station on an ice floe; deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data.

PONANT has been committed to responsible tourism for more than 30 years, and Le Commandant-Charcot is among the most environmentally friendly ships in the sea, powered exclusively by battery and LNG (liquefied natural gas) – the cleanest fuel on the market. When in battery mode, the ship will be able to sail for up to eight hours at a time without producing any emissions and with a very low noise level so it does not disrupt the aquatic life. 

Highlighted Antarctica itineraries include:

  • The Emperor Penguins of the Bellingshausen Sea: Le Commandant Charcot’s inaugural sailing named in honor of the Russian admiral and explorer who discovered Antarctica in 1820. Bellingshausen Sea in the Southern Ocean is covered in ice for most of the year, making it difficult to reach and practically unexplored. The highlight is the gigantic colonies of rarely observed emperor penguins, which are endemic to the region. Departing on November 1, 2021.
  • The Weddell Sea & Larsen Ice Shelf: In the northwest of the Weddell Sea, guests will sail by the Larsen Ice Shelf, the ice barrier that helps prevent the erosion of the Antarctic ice shelf. Other highlights include visiting the South Shetland Islands, home to several key scientific research stations. Three departures available November 19 and December 28, 2021
  • Total Eclipse in the Weddell Sea: Witness the total solar eclipse on December 4, 2021 from the Weddell Sea in Antarctica – the only area in the world where the solar eclipse will be 100 percent visible. After passing through the Drake Passage, on December 4, guests will disembark onto the ice pack to witness the natural phenomenon as the moon passes between the earth and the sun. In a region where the sun never quite sets, travelers will be enveloped in complete darkness for a few minutes. Departing on November 30, 2021
  • The Ross Sea: Sailing the Ross Sea is a chance to discover one of the most extreme parts of the Antarctic. Partially occupied by the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, this bay is located approximately 400 miles from the South Pole and is one of the last intact marine ecosystems on the planet. Departing on February 16, 2022

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