PONANT Announces New Expert Led Expeditions To Antarctica’s Peninsula

PONANT is now offering guests the chance to embark on small-ship polar expeditions led by world-renowned experts. The Emperor Penguins of Weddell Sea itinerary, which departs November 3-17, 2023, is an adventure into Antarctica’s most remote regions, where guests will witness emperor penguins, leopard seals, and humpback whales, among other animals. Le Commandant Charcot, the only luxury icebreaker in existence, will sail south from the Drake Passage to the icy seas of the Weddell Sea, where ice floes, enormous tabular icebergs, and Adelie penguin colonies dominate the scene. Kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, and polar plunges will allow visitors to experience nature’s grandeur up close, while geopolitologist and VIP speaker Mikaa Mered, who specializes in the North and South Poles, will provide a unique lecture on the area.  

A brand-new voyage, “In the Wake of Jean-Baptiste Charcot”, will follow the French arctic scientist’s historic path through the Bellingshausen Sea and is also planned for later this year. The creator of the Charcot Museum and former president of the Alliance Française will make an appearance onboard, making the November 28, 2023, departure even more remarkable. 

In 2024, Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT will continue their collaboration, starting with the 12-day co-branded expedition “Antarctica: The White Continent”, which departs on February 26. Richard Miller, an astrophysicist, and Warne Ranney, a geologist (both Smithsonian Journeys Experts), will facilitate lively onboard discussions while providing deeper understandings of the sights and landscapes that unfold before cruisers’ eyes. This vibrant discourse will include topics such as humpback whales, seals, penguins, drifting icebergs, imposing glaciers, and relics of the continent’s past, such as former whaling and research stations. When cruisers reach the Antarctic Peninsula, passengers will follow in the footsteps of illustrious explorers like Sir Ernest Shackleton, Adrien de Gerlache, and Jean-Baptiste Charcot. 

Le Commandant Charcot undertook PONANT’s maiden semi-circumnavigation of the southern continent on February 13, 2023. The 28-day journey, which covered 6,500 nautical miles and ventured to Pine Island Bay at the southeast edge of the Amundsen Sea, where no cruise ship had ever gone, was successful. Visitors may see the B22, the planet’s biggest iceberg, which is almost 4 times the size of New York City. 

PONANT will sail Le Commandant Charcot on 2 additional half-circumnavigations in 2024. The first, which runs from January 8 to February 5, will connect the southernmost point of America to New Zealand by sailing to some of the most isolated islands in the world (Charcot Island, Peter I Island, and the Marie Byrd Land Islands), and traversing 3 southern seas. The second voyage, a half-circumnavigation of the Antarctic, departs from February 6 to March 3 and is modeled by Jules Dumont d’Urville and Douglas Mawson’s heroic Era excursions. It will traverse 5 southern seas and aim to reach the Magnetic South Pole. 

Do you plan on booking a journey with PONANT to Antarctica? Let us know in the comments! 

By Danielle Morris