Cross the mythical line of the Antarctic Circle during this 17-day polar expedition cruise to the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere, brought to you by PONANT.
After boarding your ship in Ushuaia, you will set sail for the Falkland Islands, whose wild beauty is sure to captivate you.
You will then make your way to South Georgia. This subantarctic region formed by an underwater mountain chain is home to a diverse and wild fauna. King penguins, fur seals and elephant seals are its most emblematic representatives.
Before crossing the Antarctic Circle, the highlight of your cruise, you will be dazzled by your stops in the Antarctic Peninsula, realm of the unexpected.
Weather and ice conditions permitting, the White Continent, an extreme environment where nature reigns supreme, will reveal to you its most beautiful secrets through numerous discoveries. Here, it is likely you will have the chance to observe Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins, humpback whales, seals and seabirds.
Each day, whether on land, aboard your ship or during a Zodiac® outing, you will be surrounded by a grandiose decor ranging from icebergs to ice floe and ancient glaciers..
• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac®inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
• Lectures and information sessions hosted by our naturalist-guides, covering wildlife, history, geopolitics, the great explorers, climate, environmental protection…
• Hiking opportunity.
• Visiting research stations and former whaling stations.
• Landscapes: a multitude of drifting icebergs, ice floes, imposing glaciers and tall, snow-covered mountains.
• Wildlife: humpback whales, Gentoo penguins, Adelie penguins, chinstrap penguins, leopard seals, crabeater seals,
• Weddell seals and numerous sea birds.
• Educational discovery in the respect of environment
ITINERARY IN BRIEF
Day 1: Ushuaia
Day 2: At sea
Day 3: Falkland Islands
Day 4-5: At Sea
Day 6-8: South Georgia
Day 9: At Sea
Day 10-12: Antarctic Peninsula
Day 13: Crossing the Antarctic Circle
Day 14: At Sea
Day 15-16: Crossing the Drake Passage
Day 17: Ushuaia
NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
This trip is also available on board the Le Lyrial and Le Boreal and L'Austral. Contact us for more details.
USHUAIA - EMBARK
Despite its small size, the city of Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, the capital of Tierra del Fuego and the main starting point for voyages to Antarctica.
On arrival into Ushuaia, you will be met and transferred either directly to the port for embarkation, buffet lunch and access to the main lounge, or to Arakur Resort, located inside Cerro Alarken Natural Reserve. Here you can relax at the resort, join a guided walk through the Reserve, or take an optional excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park. (Please note that this excursion must be booked at the time of cruise booking. The excursion is accompanied by a French speaking guide).
Embarkation begins in the afternoon at the port in Ushuaia. Embarkation time is between 4:30pm and 5.30pm, at which time cabins and suites will be ready to check in to.
The ship sets sail this evening towards the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), known for their rugged beauty and wealth of seabirds and waterfowl.
As the ship heads towards the Falkland Islands, look out for marine life and enjoy the views of the open ocean. These waters are home to an interesting group of seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels that often ride the currents created in the wake of the ship.
The Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory, is an archipelago that lies 490kms east of Patagonia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by decades of controversy, the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas as they are known in Argentina) have been settled and claimed by France, Spain, Britain and Argentina. The islands have much to offer with a wide variety of spectacular wildlife, beautiful rugged scenery as well as an interesting history. Five species of penguin breed on the islands (gentoo, king, macaroni, magellanic and rockhopper).
Grave Cove boasts spectacular scenery and is home to a large colony of gentoo penguins and other interesting birds including ruddy-headed geese, speckled teal and crested ducks. Sea lions are often observed here.
A former whaling station, New Island is now a Nature Reserve and one of the most beautiful islands in the Falklands archipelago, with sheer sea cliffs and white sand beaches that lead into crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. The island boasts a diverse range of wildlife including rockhopper penguins, black-browed albatrosses, magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, oystercatchers, prions and numerous other bird species. Peale's porpoises, Falkland fur seals and southern sea lions and whales are also found in the area.
During your time at sea you may wish to visit the theatre to view a film or attend an information session or perhaps you would like to relax by the heated pool.
You may wish to spend some time on your private balcony spotting sea birds or keeping your eyes peeled for some whales heading south.
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on the island of South Georgia - the most rugged island in this region.
South Georgia has been a British Overseas Territory since 1775. It is the largest island in the territory and one of the wildest and most remote places on earth with dramatic scenery of snow-capped mountains and huge glaciers. In the 19th century South Georgia was a prominent whaling base, but whaling ceased in the 1960’s and the only remnants are museums and well-preserved buildings. South Georgia teems with wildlife due to the currents that bring nutrients to the island from the Atlantic. Huge numbers of penguins and seals breed here.
The former whaling station of Stromness lies on the northern coast of South Georgia Island, and was the destination of Ernest Shackleton's epic rescue journey in 1916 after his ship “The Endurance” sank in the Weddell Sea. Whaling activities began at Stromness in 1907 when the bay was used as an anchorage for a floating factory ship. Some remnants of the whaling station that was built in 1912 can still be seen.
King penguins and seals inhabit the beaches of Fortuna Bay, named after the Fortuna, one of the Norwegian-Argentine whaling expedition ships under Larsen that participated in establishing the first permanent whaling station at Grytviken.
We also plan to visit the wildlife haven of Salisbury Plain, home to tens of thousands of king penguins, as well as elephant and fur seals, southern giant petrels and the occasional gentoo penguin, complete with large glaciers that add a stunning backdrop.
Grytviken is the largest of South Georgia’s whaling stations, situated at the head of Cumberland Bay. It is here where the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton can be found in the whaler’s cemetery. There is an excellent museum at Grytviken, maintained by the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and the restored church, built by the original Norwegian whalers, provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
St Andrews Bay hosts the largest colony of king penguins on South Georgia and early in the season, the beach is also carpeted with fur and elephant seals.
Cooper Bay is home to one of South Georgia’s most accessible macaroni penguin colonies. The island is covered in tussock grass and is home to snow petrels, Antarctic prions, black-browed albatross, chinstrap penguins and fur seals.
Gold Harbour has not only spectacular scenery but also a vast range of wildlife. It is a breeding ground for king and gentoo penguins as well as sooty albatrosses. Elephant seals also breed here, in particular at the western end of the beach where a glacial stream runs into the sea.
Enjoy some of the onboard facilities whilst keeping an eye out for bird life and whales. As you head further south you will begin to see icebergs floating past
We plan to visit the enigmatic, historic and desolate Elephant Island. In 1916 Sir Ernest Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores for months, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue and survival stories of all time.
Astrolabe Island lies in the Bransfield Strait. It was discovered by the 1837-40 French expedition, under Captain Jules Dumont d'Urville, and named after his chief expedition ship, the Astrolabe. This 5km-long island is home to several thousand pairs of chinstrap penguins. A small group of huge rocks, known as the Dragon’s Teeth, lie off the northeast coast of the island.
Petermann Island was discovered by the 1873-74 German expedition who named the island after August Petermann. The island supports the southernmost colony of gentoo penguins with Adélie penguins, imperial shags, Wilson's storm petrels and south polar skuas also nesting here. An Argentine refuge hut built in 1955 can still be seen along with a cross commemorating three members of the British Antarctic Survey who died in 1982 attempting to cross the sea ice from Faraday Station to Petermann.
Deep in Andvord Bay, this little corner of paradise sits at the foot of an immense glacier. Neko Harbour is without doubt one of the most beautiful sights of the Antarctic Peninsula. Wildlife is as abundant as it is exceptional with sea birds such as gulls, Cape petrels and cormorants, as well as marine mammals such as seals, orcas and whales. Excursions aboard the Zodiacs allow you to sail close to blue-tinged icebergs or disembark near colonies of penguins, observe leopard seals basking on the shore or watch the Antarctic terns flying overhead.
ANTARCTIC PENINSULA - CROSSING THE POLAR
Our goal is to cross the Antarctic Circle at 66° 33' S. This is a part of the world visited by few people. As you toast the first explorers who ventured this far south, you can take pride in knowing that you’ve made it as far as the Polar Circle. The area is home to Weddell seals and beautifully sculptured ice formations.
DRAKE PASSAGE TO USHUAIA
We leave Antarctica and head north back towards the Drake Passage, searching for seabirds and whales as we sail and reflecting on our time spent not only on the Antarctic Peninsula, but also on the beautiful islands of South Georgia and the Falklands, with their fascinating histories and prolific wildlife.
DRAKE PASSAGE TO USHUAIA
The notorious Drake Passage was named after the famous explorer, Sir Frances Drake, who sailed in these waters back in 1578. En-route the ship traverses the Polar Front which marks the area where waters from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans meet. The Antarctic Convergence is a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters.
Visit the spa for some relaxation or relax in the lounge areas sharing stories with fellow travellers of your adventure.
DRAKE PASSAGE TO USHUAIA
The final leg of the journey sees us sailing along the Beagle Channel and into the port of Ushuaia. The Beagle Channel separates the larger main island of Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands and links the Southern Pacific Ocean with the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It was named after the ship HMS Beagle.
DRAKE PASSAGE TO USHUAIA
You will then be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Buenos Aires.
- Length: 466 ft
- Beam: 59 ft
- Draft: 15.3 ft
- Cruising speed: 14 knots
- Ice class: 1 C
- Classification: Bureau Veritas
- Flag: French
- Guest decks: 6
- Guest capacity (double occupancy): Up to 264 PAX
- Normal crew size: 140
- A fleet of expedition Zodiac®: (Mark V HD)
- Gross tonnage: 10 992 UMS
- Electric motors: 2 x 2300 KW
- Installed power: 7200 KW
- Construction: Fincantieri-Ancône-Italy
- Main lounge 255 square metres. Includes dance floor and cocktail bar and access to the outside terrace.
- Panoramic Lounge 110 square metres. Includes library, cocktail bar, live entertainment and access to the panoramic terrace.
- Open-air Bar overlooking the pool deck.
- Gastronomic Restaurant in the elegant main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving french and international cuisine. Also has a fine wine cellar.
- Grill restaurant for casual eating for breakfast, buffet lunch and themed dinner.
Le Soleal has an onboard spa. Equipped with massage booths, hammam, a hair salon and fitness room that has panoramic ocean views.
Pool & Sun Deck
The spacious, comfortable outdoor areas of our ships offer superb ocean panoramas.
Lounges & Bars
Different lounges enable guests to socialise and share convivial moments during their cruise. The main lounge, an ideal place to meet over a drink and watch daytime or evening events; the panoramic lounge, an intimate piano-bar with a unique view of the horizon; and the outdoor bar, an atmospheric spot that has access to the pool and solarium..
A choice of books and board games is available for you on board all our ships. The library on Deck 6 is also equipped with computers with Wi-Fi.
The Owner’s suite
The Owner’s suite on Le Soleal is situated on Deck 6. It has been decorated by Franch interior designers and will provide you with a breathtakting panoramic sea view. The suite features: individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. The suite is 45 square metres.
The Prestige Suite– Deck 5 – 6
The Prestige Suite on Le Soleal can sleep up to 4 passengers. The suite features: a private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. It is 37 square metres.
The Deluxe Suite
The Deluxe Suite on Le Soleal can sleep up to 2 passengers. The suite features: a private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. It is 27 square metres.
The Prestige Stateroom Deck 4 – 5 – 6
The Prestige Stateroom on Le Soleal can sleep up to 2 passengers. The cabin features: a private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. It is 18 square metres.
The Deluxe Stateroom
The Deluxe Stateroom on Le Soleal can sleep up to 2 passengers per cabin. The room features: a private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. It is 18 square metres.
The Superior Stateroom
The Superior Stateroom on Le Soleal can sleep up to 3 passengers per cabin. The room features: individually-controlled air-conditioning, king-size bed or twin beds. en-suite facilities, mini-bar, flatscreen satellite television, desk with stationary, ipod players, video on demand, safe, haridryer, bathrobes, satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, wifi internet access. It is 21 square metres.
- Accommodation in suites or staterooms with en-suite
- All meals while on the cruise. Continental breakfast, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, a three-course dinner and a late-evening snack are served daily.
- Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
- Open Bar – A wide choice of refreshments such as wine, beer, cocktails, fruit juices and aperitifs are served in each bar and with lunch and dinner. This does not include premium alcoholic drinks. List available upon request.
- Mini Bar – the mini bar in your cabin is restocked every day and in included in the fare.
- Complimentary Parka to keep.
- Waterproof rubber boots to loan for duration of cruise.
- Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team
- Excursions with expedition guides – Zodiac, land and sea tours and shore-side activities
- Complimentary wifi on board – Please note the wifi may be slow due to a satellite connection and the remote areas you will be visiting.
- Evening entertainment and events
- Luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa
- Room service 24h (special selection)
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- International flights
- Domestic flights
- Travel insurance
- Tips for the local guide
- Personal expenses
- Arrival/departure taxes or reciprocity fees, visa fees where applicable
- Other meals and services not mentioned in the programme
- This trip is also available on board the Le Lyrial and Le Boreal and L’Austral. Contact us for more details
- Voyages are subject to ice and weather conditions. The itineraries described for expedition voyages illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
- Water sports activities (except scuba diving) are included in the tour price, using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by shipmaster according to safety and sea conditions on-site
- Passenger numbers are limited to 200 for Antarctic voyages.