The Weddell Sea and the South Sandwich Islands
DATES: 2023 – March 11-29
Duration: 19 days / 18 nights
Embark: Ushuaia, Argentina
Disembark Montevideo, Uruguay
Ships: Le Commandant Charcot
Pre-tour is recommended – ask for details
Ushuaia, Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay – Sail in the footsteps of the Great Explorers during a 16-day cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island, the Falkland Islands. You will start this expedition cruise with the discovery of the extraordinary landscapes of the Peninsula. Between long stretches of ice floes and sparkling tabular icebergs, you will be able to admire a captivating polar desert made of ice and water.
The highest concentration of Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica; Minke and humpback Whales, Weddell seals, sea Leopards, and numerous sea birds: Cape Petrels, Albatrosses, imperial Shags, and snow Petrels.
- Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
- Hiking opportunity: Grytviken, Deception Island.
- Landscapes: mountain chains, imposing glaciers and lush green pastures in South Georgia. Drifting icebergs and sea ice in the Peninsula.
- Wildlife: king penguins, elephant seals and fur seals in South Georgia. Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins in the Peninsula.
- Educational discovery in the respect of environment.
Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina
You will transfer on own to your included deluxe hotel. Remainder of the day is free. Dinner tonight is included.
Flight to Ushuaia – Embarkation
Transfer from your hotel to the city airport for your included flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. Meet and transfer to ship. Capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, Ushuaia lies in a bay opening into the Beagle Channel, at the country’s southernmost tip. Its colorful houses are framed against towering mountains, snow-capped in winter and summer alike.
At Sea - 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.
SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
On the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, 120 km (70 miles) from the White Continent, the South Shetland Islands offer surreal and mysterious scenery. On these volcanic islands of dark rock, the landscapes alternate between long, jagged and snow-covered coast and large, gently sloping bays. These lunar and wild lands are home to important scientific research stations and a large number of animal species: chinstrap penguins, crabeater seals or Weddell seals, Antarctic terns, giant petrels and elephant seals have taken up residence here.
NORTH ANTARCTIC PENINSULA
Throughout your time in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, you will find yourself in the heart of a spectacular environment 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.
THE WEDDELL SEA EXPLORATION
Impassable, extreme and captivating: this is the best way to describe the Weddell Sea, much of which is covered by a layer of thick, densely packed ice. It is a challenge and a privilege to sail upon this sea. Your exploration of this vast polar expanse, a real labyrinth frequented by majestic tabular icebergs, will plunge you into the heart of an extraordinary and enchanting silence. These ice giants come from the calving of the legendary Larsen Ice Shelf which looms in the southern part of this mythical sea. It was in this zone that the ship Endurance, commanded by Ernest Shackleton, was crushed and swallowed by the ice. “What the ice gets, the ice keeps” he said. Not exactly, though, since the famous wreck was miraculously found in 2022… While polar expeditions are no longer the same as they were a century ago, the adventure continues. Humpback whales, orcas, colonies of Adelie penguins, and giant petrels are all to be found here, yet the lord of the kingdom is no other than the Weddell seal. On these lands, only the throbbing of its cries breaks the surrounding tranquillity. A record-breaker (it can remain underwater for more than an hour), you will recognise it by its dark grey pelage and spotted belly.
SOUTHERN THULE, SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
The southernmost island in the Sandwich Islands is a volcano that rises to an altitude of 700 meters. 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, SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
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 1,115 meters. 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.
SAUNDERS ISLAND, SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
The brown volcanic silhouette of Saunders Island, overlooked by Mount Michael, which rises to an altitude of more than 900 meters, will then come into view on the horizon. The island’s frozen and rugged shores are considered very difficult to access. You may be lucky enough to spot chinstrap and Adelie penguins in this lunar landscape and observe Cape Petrels nesting in the cliffs. It is one of only eight volcanoes in the world whose summit crater, with a diameter of 700 meters, contains a persistent lava lake. Its most recent eruption was in 2005.
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 fumaroles, 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.
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 Harbor 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.
Perched on the far southern tip of Uruguay, Montevideo is a white city, and one of the loveliest capital cities of South America. Come and admire the beautiful historical remains dating from Spanish rule; you’ll find the most interesting within the Cuidad Vieja, formerly fortified, its old town dates from the 18th century. The best preserved are the cathedral and the former governmental palace of the Cabildo, both listed historical monuments. In the crook of a vast blue bay, the city is also blessed with beautiful beaches.
Disembark. Stay to see more of Montevideo, sample their wines, and see more of Argentina while here. Buenos Aires is just across the river!
PONANT’s latest addition to the fleet, Le Commandant Charcot – the very first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration ship powered by liquified natural gas, is the epitome of responsible and sustainable sailing. Safe and low impact polar navigation is her area of expertise, taking advantage of the latest innovations and even developing new, market-leading technologies and solutions to make Le Commandant Charcot one of the most advanced polar vessels at sea today.
Exceptional suites and staterooms
Equipped with 123 suites and staterooms with private balcony or terrace, Le Commandant Charcot is fully in keeping with the PONANT philosophy: to provide a rare and exceptional ambiance for every passenger welcomed onboard and reinforce the feeling and sense of sailing on a private yacht. At the rear of decks 6 and 7 are four stunning 94 m² (1,011 ft²) split-level suites equipped with private terraces and jacuzzis.
The breathtaking 115 m² (1,237 ft²) Suite de l’Armateur (Owner’s Suite) on deck 8 features wide sliding glass doors offering stunning panoramic views and opening out onto a 186 m² (2,002 ft²) private terrace.
- Private balcony for all our cabins and suites
- Terrace for the Duplex suites and the Owner’s suite
- Butler service and priority boarding : Owner’s Suite, Duplex Suites, Privilege Suites and Grand Prestige Suites
- Individually-controlled air-conditioning
- Stateroom layout: king-size bed, or twin beds, connecting staterooms available, children welcome
- Minibar – 24hr room service
- Satellite TV channels (availability dependent on navigation); selection of videos on demand
- Bose™ Bluetooth speaker
- Selection of Dyptique Paris top-of-the-line bath products.
- Dressing table, bath robes, Hairdryer
- Direct line telephone
- 110V American (two flat pins)/220V European (round sockets with two round pins)
- Internet access Wifi : Satellite reception (availability dependent on navigation and latitude)
Length: 492 ft
Beam: 92 ft
Draft: 33 ft
Cruising speed: 15 knots
Ice class Polar: Class PC2
Classification: Bureau Veritas
Guest decks: 5
Guest capacity: 245
Gross tonnage: 31,757 UMS
Electric propulsion motors: 34 MW
Installed power: 42 MW
Construction: Sovik, Norway
SUPERIOR - Starts at $10,720
DELUXE - Starts at $11,440
PRESTIGE DECK 4 - Starts at $12,510
PRESTIGE DECK 5 - Starts at $13,030
PRESTIGE DECK 6 - Starts at $13,570
DELUXE SUITE - Starts at $18,140
PRESTIGE DECK 5 SUITE - Starts at $20,850
PRESTIGE DECK 6 SUITE - Starts at $21,790
OWNER SUITE - Starts at $34,120