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Antarctica: The Emperor Penguins of Bellingshausen Sea with Circle Crossing

Penguin Antarctica Cruise Information

Summary : Beyond Peter I Island and Charcot Island, this exceptional cruise will take you into the heart of the Bellingshausen Sea. Named in honor of the Russian admiral and explorer who discovered Antarctica in 1820, this sea in the Southern Ocean, covered by ice floe most of the time, is hard to reach and practically unexplored. But the reward lives up to the challenge: gigantic colonies of emperor penguins, a unique species endemic to the Antarctic and almost never observed, live here. This animal, elegant and majestic, is the promise of emotional encounters. In this season, as winter gradually gives way to the austral spring, the chicks, only a few weeks old, become independent and gather in immense “creches” – a magical spectacle to which you will be privileged witnesses.

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

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Prices from
$32,680 to $96,190

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Itinerary
Day 1
Santiago, Chile

Arrive in Santiago and transfer to your included hotel.

Day 2
Santiago, Chile / Puerto Montt / Embark

Transfer to the airport for your included flight to Puerto Montt. Embark the ship.

Day 3 – 5
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 onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 6
Crossing the Antarctic Circle

Weather permitting, cross the mythic line of the Antarctic Polar Circle, located along 66°33’ south of the Equator. This iconic area demarcates the point from which it is possible to view the midnight sun during the December solstice. Within this circle, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 consecutive hours at least once a year. Crossing this line, an experience known to few people, is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your cruise through the polar regions.

Day 7
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 onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 8 – 9
Charcot Island

When he discovered this island surrounded by sea ice in 1910, Jean-Baptiste Charcot had not been 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 in the far northwest. 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. Very few people have landed on this largely untouched island, whose waters attract numerous seabirds, such as petrels, Antarctic terns and skuas.

Day 10 – 11
Peter I Island

You will then head for the legendary Peter I Island. 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, 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 is protected by ice cliffs making any approach difficult.

Day 12 – 13
English Coast - In search of emperor penguins

Along the English Coast, land on the pack ice with your expedition team and head off in search of emperor penguin colonies. If you brave the walk through the magnificent, quasi-unexplored desert of ice that separates you from these colonies you will be among the lucky few to have observed these majestic penguins from this close and enjoyed this rare, moving and intense experience. Emperor penguins are the largest of all living penguin species and they are champions at adapting to the harsh Antarctic climate. They live inland, where they protect their eggs between their feet and their abdomen and cover long distances in search of food.

Day 14
Marguerite Bay

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.

Day 15
Stonington Island / Pourquoi Pas Island

In the northeastern part of Marguerite Bay, along Graham Land, you will discover the small island of Stonington. The island was a British research station from 1946 to 1950 and later from 1960 to 1975. Numerous expeditions setting off from this station on dog sledges enabled the mapping of a significant portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. The two-story steel-framed buildings, whose vestiges are still visible, could accommodate 6 to 17 people. Equipment and facilities from that time can still be found there: the generator, the dog pens, radio equipment and weather instruments, the water reservoir and a storage space. The island is now an important breeding ground for Antarctic terns and south polar skuas.

Le Commandant Charcot will land on the coast of Pourquoi Pas Island, so named in the 1930s by John Riddoch Rymill in honor 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 are situated in the north of Marguerite Bay between Graham Land and Adelaide Island. It is scattered with narrow fjords and snow-covered mountains. You will go to shore in a Zodiac with your expedition team and you may get the chance to observe Adelie penguins going about their business on the island’s rocky shores.

Day 16
The Gullet / Detaille Island

The sumptuous landscapes of this narrow channel between Adelaide Island and Graham Land attract all visitors sailing towards Marguerite Bay. It is like an ice palace, its immaculate white walls reflected in the frozen mirror formed by the waters of the Southern Ocean, scattered with icebergs and gleaming blocks of ice. 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.

Detaille Island is a small island situated off the Loubet Coast in the Crystal Sound, a magnificent region surrounded by snow-covered peaks. A British research station was set up there in 1956, ahead of the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. Like the International Polar Years, organized for the first time in 1882-83, the purpose of this event was to take a coordinated approach to the geophysical research conducted by the different nations. With the island difficult to access, this station was shut down in 1959. The vestiges of the buildings and sledge dog pens that made it possible to map more than 4,000 miles around the island are now maintained by the United Kingdom Heritage Trust.

Day 17
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 onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 18 – 19
Drake Passage

Seasoned navigators will tell you that you must earn your visit to the White Continent! At the Antarctic convergence zone where cold currents rise up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, Drake Passage harbors 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.

Day 20
Ushuaia, Argentina / Disembark / Santiago, Chile

Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Santiago.

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/Puerto Montt; one-way flight Ushuaia/Santiago; 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

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