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Antarctica and South Georgia: The Weddell Sea & the South Sandwich Islands

Penguin Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : This all-new itinerary will take you into the heart of the Scotia Arc. This volcanic archipelago at the junction of the Andes cordillera and the Antarctandes will be revealed to you in all its riches and splendor. All the wildlife of the Far South can be found there: king and gentoo penguins, elephant seals, and fur seals mingle on beautiful dark sand beaches… At sea, orcas, humpback whales and other cetaceans will escort you along your navigation through remote waters. This cruise will also be an opportunity to discover four very different ecosystems, from the wooded heights of the Tierra del Fuego and the table top icebergs of the Weddell Sea to the glacier-covered mountains of the South Sandwich Islands and the snow-capped summits of South Georgia.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Santiago, Chile

Arrive in Santiago and transfer to your included hotel.

Day 2
Santiago, Chile / Ushuaia, Argentina / Embark

Transfer to the airport for your included flight to Ushuaia. Embark the ship.

Day 3 – 4
Drake Passage

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 5
Day 6
North Antarctic Peninsula

Throughout your time in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, you will find yourself in the heart of a spectacular decor in subtle shades of blue and white, surrounded by exceptional wildlife. You will sail through the Antarctic Sound, named after Swedish explorer Otto Nordenskjöld’s ship, which was trapped by the ice during an important scientific expedition in 1902. The gateway to the Weddell Sea, this sound is filled with gigantic tabular icebergs and plates of sea ice drifting northward from the coastal areas of this vast sea. It is home to Adelie penguins and a great many leopard seals.

Day 7 – 8
The Weddell Sea

Amidst the eerie stillness of the Weddell Sea, you'll wind your way through a veritable labyrinth of dense ice floe and majestic table icebergs. Sweeping ice platforms sculpt a landscape unlike any other, populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds. The Weddell seal, king of this realm, will welcome you to his territory with a haunting cry that pierces the surrounding silence. You'll recognize them by their dark grey coats and spotted bellies. Weddell seals have the impressive distinction of being able to stay underwater for more than an hour.

Day 9
Southern Thule / Cook Island, South Sandwich Islands

The southernmost island in the Sandwich Islands is a volcano that rises to an altitude of approximately 2,296 feet. For a long time, this former military base was the source of conflicts between the British and the Argentinians, who finally took possession of the island in 1982 after the Falklands War. While you are there, you may get the chance to observe impressive elephant seals and Adelie or chinstrap penguins.

Cook Island, an uninhabited volcano buried under a thick white coat, seems to float on the surface of the ocean. There is a striking contrast between the imposing and peaceful mass of glistening ice and the brown sheer cliffs that loom over its shores. Its highest peak, Mount Harmer, rises to an altitude of approx. 3,658 feet. This island, the largest in the Southern Thule island group, was discovered by James Cook in 1775, the first explorer to have crossed the Antarctic Circle in search of a new continent. In 1819, the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen christened it as a tribute to this illustrious explorer.

Day 10
Saunders Island, South Sandwich Islands

The brown volcanic silhouette of Saunders Island, overlooked by Mount Michael will then come into view on the horizon. The island’s frozen and rugged shores are considered very difficult to access. If you have the good fortune of being able to land in this lunar-esque landscape, you will be able to meet chinstrap and Adelie penguins or attempt to observe the Cape petrels nesting in crevices along the cliff faces. It is one of only eight volcanoes in the world whose summit crater contains a persistent lava lake. Its most recent eruption was in 2005.

Day 11
Zavodovski Island, South Sandwich Islands

Lying in the north of this archipelago, this majestic volcanic island is often ice-free year round, unlike the islands further south. Different species can be found on either side of this bio-geographic border: Subantarctic species in the north and Antarctic species in the south. Enveloped in the warmth of the volcanic fumeroles, one of the world’s largest colonies of chinstrap penguins (over two million individuals) thrives in this ideal environment. This volcanic island was discovered in 1819 by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who named it in honor of his ship’s captain.

Day 12
At Sea

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 to discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 13 – 14
South Georgia

Aboard your ship, discover South Georgia, a region formed by an underwater mountain chain that extends from the Andes to the Antarctic Peninsula. All the wildlife of the Far South can be found there: king and Gentoo penguins, elephant seals, fur seals… You might get the chance to discover the majestic glaciers of Gold Harbour and the vast plains of Fortuna Bay. If you are fortunate enough to land at Salisbury Plain, you can expect a wonderful spectacle: more than 300,000 king penguins, which you will recognize by the bright orange mark on their head and neck, have taken up residence there.

Day 15 – 18
At Sea

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 to discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 19
Montevideo, Uruguay / Disembark

Disembark the ship after breakfast.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.

NOTE: This ship is currently being built. All photos are artist renderings and are subject to change. All details have been provided by the shipping company, and are subject to change at any time.

Travel Insurance:
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Onboard Citizen Science Program:
The ship will have a full time research team, equipped with wet and dry laboratories. The ship will hosts scientists year round on this vessel, and the guests will be give the opportunity to learn from the scientists and participate when appropriate.

Included:
One-way flight Santiago/Ushuaia; one pre-cruise hotel night in Santiago; transfers between hotel/airport/ship; shipboard accommodations; parka to keep (adult sizes only); boots on loan (adults sizes only); Wi-Fi onboard ship; all meals onboard ship; 24-hour room service onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship. Additional inclusion for Privilege Suites, Duplex Suites, and Owner's Suite: butler service. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; visa and passport fees; travel insurance; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, laundry and hair salon; premium alcohol; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos ©: Ponant, Nathalie Michel

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