If ever you have dreamed of venutring far inside the Antarctic Circle to the Land of the Emperor Penguin, this is the ultimate chance to do so.
We shall dine on Michelin Star style cuisine by Alain Ducasse and Champagne Veuve Clicquot, and luxuriate in suites and staterooms with private balconies, while experiencing breathtaking scenery and encounters with wild life. We shall be invited to take part in the work of the many scientists who will be aboard the expedition, and make guided excursions across the ice to see for ourselves the scenes which confronted the Polar heroes of our age, and we will watch from the bridge as our Captain manoeuvres our state-of-the-art ice breaker through the sea ice.
The dates are January 7 to February 5, 2024, and CountryClubuk rates save up to £4,611 per person—with no single supplement so that solo travellers can also take this voyage without additional expense. It will be filled with specialist Polar scientists as well as like-minded individuals who wish to experience the Antarctic for themselves.
For details, please read on . . .
You are invited to join an Expedition Cruise to Antartica in January 2024. Named ‘Unexplored Antarctica Between Two Continents’, it is the first of its kind, an unrivalled half-circumnavigation from the far south of the American continent to New Zealand aboard the state-of-the-art new icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot. This luxury ship will take us to the last remaining unspoiled continent on the planet, sailing beyond the more accessible Antarctic Peninsula, far inside the Antarctic Circle itself. This is a world few will ever see, of monumental ice shelves, towering icebergs and unexplored volcanic islands to witness in person the most awe-inspiring scenes on the planet in the land of the Emperor Penguin.
Thanks to her unique capacity to sail into the very heart of the ice, Le Commandant Charcot will bring to vivid life the scenes which met the great Antarctic explorers. Scott, Shackleton and Ross, Amundsen, Charcot, Bellingshausen, Dean and Fisher … the names of these legendary men will be with us at every moment.
Led by an expedition team of more than 20 expert Polar biologists, naturalists, engineers, glaciologists, geologists and historians, the journey becomes a fascinating, truly immersive, educational and productive experience. We shall walk on the ice, witnessing the iconic wild life and visiting the moving sites which are the stuff of Antarctic legend. The scientists will be researching as they go, their passion and knowledge transforming each of our landings on the ice and explorations at sea, their live commentary providing key insights into our encounters and the challenges involved in preserving this natural and cultural heritage.
We chose this expedition voyage for our Members because it is the very best, and in the tradition of Scott, who played a key role in opening up Antarctica to scientific scrutiny. It offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience now the ultimate Polar journey in high summer, when the sun never sets and the seas are calm, at a pivotal time in Antarctic history, a little over a century after Scott reached the South Pole. This is an experience usually reserved for working scientists, but through the world-leading French Polar cruise specialists Ponant—founded by French merchant seamen in 1988 and owned by the luxury Pinault group which also owns Louis Vuitton and Château Latour—it is being made possible for non-scientists, and in supreme comfort. Ponant are experienced Polar experts, world renowned for their high quality as well as their unsurpassed skill and experience in exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic—both the Peninsular and the Continent—and doing so in supreme luxury.
Le Commandant Charcot is a cross between a private yacht and a five-star hotel with Michelin Star-style cuisine. For those who have a yearning to see the raw beauty of the Antarctic Continent, to follow in the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton, and to become one of the very few ever to do so, this is an unmissable voyage.
Our exploration of these ice-sculpted landscapes will plunge us into the infinite Antarctic desert sun, where penguins, whales, orcas and seals are the only living souls. As our Zodiac boats are lowered into the water, and as we step out on to the Antarctic Continent, a new world unfolds—a world of towering ice formations, dazzling blue glaciers, and encounters with wild life, from blue whales to colonies of penguins that appear almost magical against the backdrop of snow and ice. We shall feel for all the world like explorers ourselves!
It is made possible by Le Commandant Charcot, the $430 million technological marvel designed to navigate the harshest Polar environments with maximum luxury for up to 245 guests aboard, and minimal impact on the fragile ecosystem. Purpose built by Ponant in Norway, completed in 2021, her sleek lines and elegant design are those of a luxury yacht—but you cannot help but notice her massive power and the reinforced strength of her ice breaking hull.
Her technology is of the most sophisticated world-class Polar ice breakers, the only class which can navigate these ice-bound waters. She can break ice up to 8ft 6in deep (even ice breakers often have to stop at 3ft 6in). So efficient is she that two international research vessels have called upon her to help them through the ice. In February 2022 Charcot created a path for the British RRS Sir David Attenborough to follow, saving the researchers time and energy. In late July it was the turn of the Norwegian polar research vessel Kronprins Haakon, which Charcot accompanied to the North Pole. What a different world it was a century ago for Scott, Shackleton and Ross, whose endeavours, indeed their very survival, were dictated by the onset of the Antarctic ice.
Antarctica resonates with the memory of those pioneers who explored these territories at the edges of the Earth without the technology which eases our passage today. Their names are everywhere. We shall cross the legendary southern seas of Bellingshausen and Amundsen, approach Marie Byrd Land, one of the last Terra Nullius on the planet, and attempt to reach the snow-bound islands, Charcot and Peter I. And of major significance in the history of South Pole exploration, we shall cross the Ross Sea, a kingdom of prodigious wildlife and the location of base camps of the South Pole explorers including Scott and Shackleton. We shall travel along the vast Ross Ice Shelf, known to Scott as the Great Ice Barrier, a towering wall of ice the size of France, where we shall see at close quarters the penguins, whales, petrels, orcas and seals to be found in what has been designated the world’s largest marine protected area. Leading the scientists on board will be Professor Cassandra Brooks, whose work helped drive the adoption of this protected area, one of the healthiest marine ecosystems left on Earth.
The power of this Polar world is all-conquering, leaving unforgettable memories: the impressive Drygalski Glacier scattered with blue, the endless and constant Ross Ice Shelf, the majestic Witkins and Getz ice shelves, and the ice floe taking over the Amundsen Sea. As we go, we shall see clues to the past presence of Scott, Shackleton and their men. At the foot of Mount Erebus, the highest volcano in Antarctica, their memory becomes tangible: their former base camp remains intact.
To begin our expedition we shall fly first to Santiago, then on to Ushuiai, at South America’s southernmost tip. Here, on January 8, 2024, we shall board Le Commandant Charcot and set out in the wake of Charles Darwin and HMS Beagle to cross the Drake Passage. Extending from Cape Horn to Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands, Drake Passage serves as the shortest route to the Antarctic. It is famously choppy. As albatrosses and cape petrels soar above, it’s a rite of passage for Antarctic explorers, the turbulent waters a gateway to the all-enveloping peaceful calm and whiteness of the Antarctic.
From there, the experiences follow thick and fast: On January 11, weather permitting (as always in Antarctica!), we shall cross the mythic line of the Antarctic Polar Circle, located along 66°33’ south of the Equator, an experience known to few and one of the many highlights which fill our days: 12 January: Expedition to Charcot Island; 13 January: Bellingshausen Sea; 14 January: Expedition to Peter I Island; 15 January: Amundsen Sea; 16-22 January: Marie Byrd Land exploration; 23 January: The Ross Sea Exploration; 24 January: Crossing the International Date Line; 25-29 January: The Ross Sea Exploration; 30 January: At sea; 31 January: Balleny Islands; 1-4 February: At sea; 5 February: Lyttelton, New Zealand.
All are spectacular as we move on our luxurious ice breaker through the Polar sea and ice, our minds filled with visions of the explorers who went before us, while living out our own vivid, life-enhancing experiences and wonderment at the scene. Our Ross Sea Exploration on January 23, for example, follows literally and physically in the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton, who chose Cape Royds and Cape Evans respectively to set up their base camps on Ross Island, at the base of Mount Erebus. A little farther, in the Bay of Whales, the controversial Norwegian Roald Amundsen left from this point to reach the South Pole in 1911.
We shall follow in the wake of Ross himself in the Ross Sea, the deep bay running along the edge of Antarctica between Marie Byrd Land and Victoria Land. Starting point for the greatest southern expeditions, it was named for its British explorer James Clark Ross, who between 1839 and 1843 discovered the enormous barrier formed by a gigantic ice shelf extending out to the open sea and from which titanic icebergs are calved.
The exploration to Marie Byrd Land is another highlight. One of the most remote territories of this most inaccessible continent, its very remoteness and its harsh climate have made it one of the planet’s rare Terra Nullius, a territory claimed by no State.
The adventures continue, and when our voyage ends in Lyttleton, New Zealand, it will be with a profound sense of accomplishment and awe. To have witnessed the splendour of Antarctica, felt its power, and gained a newfound appreciation for the delicate balance of the planet, is very special. Memories of close encounters with Nature at its most extreme, respect borne of knowledge of the conditions endured by the first explorers, and bonds formed with fellow travellers, will live with us forever. It is no exaggeration to say that this will truly be the trip of a lifetime.
EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS’ RATES SAVE UP TO £4,611 EACH, AND WITH NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Members are invited to join this Ponant Expedition Cruise at exclusive CountryClubuk rates saving up to £4,611 per person. The usual 30% single supplement has been removed, so the rates outlined below are per person, whether you are sharing a stateroom or travelling solo, in itself saving £10,000 or more.
The dates are January 7 to February 5, 2024 (28 nights). Rates include all meals (three main meals plus snacks and canapés etc); all beverages (an open bar excluding premium brands); a mini-bar in your stateroom or suite stocked with your preferences; Wi-Fi throughout the ship; 24-hour room service, and the range of tours led by the Expedition Team, on foot as well as by Zodiac boat and kayak (Polar parka and Polar boots are included!) Also included is the internal flight from Santiago to Ushuaia, a night’s hotel stay and transfers prior to boarding. International flights are not included but can be arranged at best current rates. Below, some of the the fully-inclusive stateroom and suite prices:
For more details about Le Commandant Charcot, the ship, the cuisine and the luxurious staterooms and suites, please click here!
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