A unique opportunity to experience the insurmountable, extreme and captivating Weddell Sea that is largely covered by a thick and compressed ice floe and the lands that surround it.

During this 12-day Expedition Cruise, journey into the heart of this mystical land that promises exceptional landscapes and otherworldly encounters with nature.

Enjoy the unusual journey across this immense polar expanse where sea ice and open waters seem to go on for an eternity.

To the northwest of the Weddell Sea, stretching along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula stands an imposing ice shelf known as the Larsen Ice Shelf. An extension of the ice sheet onto the sea, this white giant is equally disturbing and fascinating, if only due to its colossal dimensions and the impressive tabletop icebergs - amongst the largest ever seen - that it generates.

We are privileged guests in these remote lands where we are at the mercy of the weather, ice, tidal and current conditions. Landings on certain sites and the observation of certain wildlife cannot be guaranteed. 

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot ship. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Overnight in Santiago + flight Santiago/Ushuaia + transfers + flight Ushuaia/Santiago

Trip highlights

Sail into the heart of the ice of the Weddell Sea, discovering the impressive Larsen Ice Shelf and its immense icebergs.

Opportunity to experience a wealth of activities during your Expedition Cruise including hovercraft riding, hot air balloons, snowmobiles and polar diving as well as kayaking and hiking that allow you to truly enjoy your spectacular surroundings.

Get closer to the wonders of Antarctica during Zodiac® outings and land visits, which will allow you to witness an array of wildlife including various species of penguins and seals as well as whales as well as an abundance of birdlife.

Travelling alongside a National Geographic Expert & Photographer, enjoy lectures and workshops where you can learn more about the destination and improve your photography skills, whether you’re a novice or experienced.

Itinerary - 11 Days

1 Ushuaia

Start your journey at the very southern part of Argentina in Ushuaia, the capital of the Tierra del Fuego province. The contrast of its colourful houses against the great mountain background makes this city unique. If your schedule allows, discover the natural and indigenous history of Tierra del Fuego at the End of the World Museum, explore the National Park or sail along Ushuaia bay for the best views of the city and the chance of spotting some sea lions and Magellanic penguins.

2-3 Crossing the Drake Passage

The Drake Passage is notorious with tourists, researchers and hardened seafarers for being a tough crossing. The cold currents rising up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses which often equates in a high swell and a rough crossing, but as many say, it’s a small price to pay to visit the White Continent.

During your time onboard, familiarise yourself with the amenities onboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world's first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first hybrid electric polar exploration ship. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the onboard spa whilst gazing out to sea or pick up a book from the library in the observatory lounge. Enjoy numerous lectures and workshops given by the National Geographic Experts & Expedition Team who will introduce you to the region's wildlife and highlight the important IAATO rules of conduct that must be observed during landings in the region and will explain everything you need to know about the Zodiac® outings.

Furthermore, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below alongside our team of naturalists.

4 South Shetland Islands

The South Shetlands are a string of islands running parallel to the north-west coast of the Antarctic. Covered almost completely by ice only 2-3% is ice-free, which is usually along the coast where all life can be found including penguins, seals or humans on the research bases.

Islands that make up the South Shetlands include King George, Elephant, Deception and Half Moon as well as a few smaller islands. Some of the landing opportunities will allow for great exploration of the abandoned whaling stations and research bases and an opportunity to capture the spectacular scenery and wildlife alongside our National Geographic Photographer.

5 North Antarctic Peninsula

Throughout your time in the North Atlantic Peninsula, discover the otherworldly beauty that this navigation offers. Sailing through the Antarctic Sound, named after Swedish explorer Otto Nordenskjöld’s ship, which was trapped by the ice during an important scientific expedition in 1902.

The gateway to the Weddell Sea, this sound is filled with gigantic tabular icebergs and plates of sea ice drifting northward from the coastal areas of this vast sea. It is home to Adelie penguins and many leopard seals that you may be lucky enough to witness.

6 The Weddell Sea

The Weddell Sea offers some of Antarctica’s most iconic and eerie landscapes. From gigantic glaciers to impressive icebergs and miles of ice floes, the Weddell Sea is nothing short of remarkable and an experience in itself.

Populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds as well as the sea’s namesake – the Weddell seal, who is the most southerly ranging mammal to permanently inhabit the Antarctic continent.

7-8 Sailing Toward Larsen Ice Shelf

The Larsen Ice Shelf is a long ice shelf in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea, named after the Norwegian whaler Captain Carl A. Larsen, who sailed along the ice front in 1893. In 2017, after months of threatening, a vast iceberg the size of Luxemburg, and roughly 10% of the total size of the shelf broke off which exposed the sea beneath and its marine life to light for the first time in around 120,000 years. These floating ice shelves help to prevent the erosion of the Antarctic ice sheet. However, over the last fifty years, scientists have observed regular collapses of these shelves, along giant cracks that can be several hundred kilometres long and deep.

9 The Weddell Sea

The Weddell Sea offers some of Antarctica’s most iconic and eerie landscapes. From gigantic glaciers to impressive icebergs and miles of ice floes, the Weddell Sea is nothing short of remarkable and an experience in itself.

Populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds as well as the sea’s namesake – the Weddell seal, who is the most southerly ranging mammal to permanently inhabit the Antarctic continent.

10-11 Crossing the Drake Passage

If there is one waterway dreaded by tourists, researchers and hardened seafarers alike, it is undoubtedly the Drake Passage. The waters of this route to Antarctica can be rough because of the strong winds and the merge of cold currents from the South Pole and warmer equatorial water masses. But this very special place can also offer you a very diverse marine fauna, and albatross and Cape petrels flying around your ship.

12 Ushuaia

End your Antarctic adventure in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Formerly a missionary base, penal colony and naval base, Ushuaia is now a great tourist destination where you’ll find all king of hikes, tours, ski trails and boat trips to fill your days. Food is also a highlight of this town, with local lamb and fresh seafood from the surrounding waters.

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