PONANT is collaborating with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of co-branded sailings for 2023. Each of the 21 itineraries will be led by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts – whether an art historian, a solar astrophysicist, or an international relations expert – whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on a destination and deepen travellers’ immersion in place.
Among the new sailings is a 12-day polar expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula, departing 20 February. Experts include Michelle Thaller, Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and Peter Bobrowsky, a geologist and archaeologist with over four decades of experience of fieldwork in locations across the globe, including World Heritage sites such as Machu Picchu and Petra. This expedition’s ship is Le Lyrial, one of PONANT’s intimately-sized cruise ships, with only 122 staterooms and suites.
The trip begins with an overnight in Buenos Aires before a charter flight transports guests to Ushuaia. From there, the ship will cross Drake Passage, an ice-cold 500-mile stretch between the tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, where sightings of albatrosses and cape petrels will be accompanied with lectures about the continent’s history and wildlife. The waters of the Drake Passage can be stormy (seasoned navigators will tell you it’s a rite of passage), but the end point is worth it: the Antarctic Peninsula is an ice-capped vision of magnificent glaciers, mountain ranges, and icy waters and home to gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap penguins, humpback whales, three different species of seals, and numerous sea birds.
For five days, weather conditions permitting, guests will embark on zodiac outings and landings to explore Antarctica’s vastness – ice floes, tabletop icebergs, mountain peaks that plunge into the sea, volcanic beaches, and icy bays. Travellers will also visit research stations and former whaling stations.
After guests have discovered every craggy crevasse of the Antarctic Peninsula, Le Lyrial will turn around and return to Ushuaia via the Drake Passage. When they’re not taking in the majestic scenery, guests can enjoy treatments in the spa or dine at one of two onboard restaurants.
Rates start at AU$17,180 per person.