Exploring Antarctica on a Luxury Cruise

©Studio PONANT Nathalie Michel

There are just a few ways to get to one of our world’s most remote places, Antarctica. Some companies offer rugged expedition cruises, others offer luxury cruises. Ponant, a small luxury expedition cruise company offers both. Luxury cruises in Antarctica combine the best of both worlds: the open exploration of a new destination along with fine dining, spacious cabins, and excellent service.

About Ponant

Ponant is a luxury French cruise line. Currently Ponant has six ships, but is in the process of building six more, which will double their fleet and allow for a plethora of new itineraries. All of Ponant’s luxury yachts are designed with a maximum of 132 staterooms (several ships have less) and a total of 264 passengers. Ponant travels almost all over the world, from Antarctica and the Arctic to the South Pacific, Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Itineraries are designed with rich encounters and unexpected discoveries in places that large ships simply cannot access. They range from cultural and relaxing itineraries to adventurous and exploratory itineraries.

Ponant practices sustainable tourism and shipboard development, utilising energy-efficient electricity and heating, advanced sonar systems to allow for them to not anchor in vulnerable reefs, state of the art technology, and advanced wastewater treatment systems.

The luxury yachts are outfitted with sumptuous bedding, classic and comfortable lounges, Hermès toiletries and Sothy’s spa care products. The interiors are designed by French designer Jean Philippe Nuel. The gastronomy onboard a Ponant ship is sublime, with exquisite dishes painstakingly crafted by classically trained French gourmet chefs and pastry chefs.

©Studio PONANT Nathalie Michel

Life Onboard a Ponant Ship

With a bilingual French-English crew, Ponant delivers a refined, sophisticated experience even in the most remote of regions.

Every guest has access to the library, wellness centre (except on Le Ponant), lounge and bars, restaurants, sundeck, and theatre. In addition, the comforts of a luxury hotel are never far away. Guests can order room service for any meal or send their clothes for laundering. Guests travelling in one of the six suites onboard Le Boreal, Le Soleal, L’Austral, and Le Lyrial also enjoy butler service; the butler handles every minor detail to ensure the trip is as comfortable as possible.

Guests on a luxury Antarctic cruise with Ponant receive a complimentary polar parka designed specifically for the chilly temperatures of the southern continent.

©Studio PONANT Clément Vial

Antarctica with Ponant

With almost 20 years in experience in the polar regions, Ponant is well equipped to provide excellent and education itineraries to the Antarctic regions. The captains and crews are experienced in sailing icy waters, and the modern technology aboard a Ponant ship ensures both your safety, and the safety and respect for the destinations. The small size of Ponant ships means that they can access places that other, larger ships cannot.

Ponant offers a variety of different Antarctic luxury cruises, on four different luxury yachts. The itineraries range from 11 to 17 days, and are only offered in the southern summer, which is November to March. Expeditions depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, located at the southern tip of Argentina. Ponant includes the domestic airfare required to get from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.

Trips begin with the charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina. From there, the expedition nature of the trip takes over. The daily schedule depends on weather, on wind, and on wildlife. In fact, every itinerary on Ponant’s website states that “Subject to ice and weather conditions. The expedition highlights and itineraries described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.

©Studio PONANT Michèle Dague

Antarctic cruises open us up to an entirely new world. Man has only explored Antarctica since the early 1800s, and there is much we still don’t know about the White Continent. Itineraries in Antarctica often include visits to secluded bays, explorations of scientific stations, zodiac cruises to rugged beaches, kayaking amongst the icebergs, wildlife encounters, and more. There are hiking opportunities and the chance to visit former whaling stations. Some of the wildlife you may encounter include Gentoo, chinstrap, and Adelie penguins, minke whales, humpback whales, orca, fur seals, leopard seals, albatross, and seabirds of all sorts.

No matter where you are in Antarctica, though, you will be surrounded by pristine icebergs, those giants of the southern ocean. Some are taller than buildings and don’t seem to move as the water gently laps at them. Others are floes, floating along in the wake of a ship. The serenity of Antarctica is best taken in aboard a luxury vessel, where you can watch the landscape from the warmth and comfort of your stateroom.

Depending on the itinerary you book, Ponant sails to Neko Bay, Elephant Island, Deception Island, Port Lockroy, and others. Every Ponant Antarctica luxury cruise has certified naturalists and historians onboard to answer your questions about Antarctica. Educational experiences take place every evening at the theatre, where the naturalists share their knowledge on the wildlife, flora, geology, climatology, and history of the Antarctica region.

Traveling to Antarctica is on many bucket lists; it’s a serene, untouched land that beckoned to early explorers. Today, we don’t have to travel by dogsled or overland in harsh conditions. Exploring Antarctica by one of Ponant’s luxury small expedition ships offers guests the opportunity to visit Antarctica in luxury and comfort, not forsaking any of the five-star hotel touches, gourmet meals, and sublime service


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