A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Immerse yourself in a magnificent realm of ice on an unforgettable 11-day journey to Antarctica, and encounter astonishing wildlife—from thousands of penguins to breaching whales—on excursions with our naturalists.

Starting at: $9,830 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Evocative ice forms in Antarctica  Towering mountains of ice  Ice mountains  Adélie penguins in Antarctica  Exploring the ice cliffs by Zodiac  Solitary penguin waiting to jump in the water. Credit: Cara Sucher  Penguin gazing at Le Boréal. Credit: Katryn Wiese  Reflection of an iceberg, Antarctica. Credit: Brenda Morris  Looking out at Le Boréal from an iceberg. Credit: Katryn Wiese  Smithsonian travelers and expert Jim Zimbelman in Antarctica  Chinstrap penguins   Breaching humpback whale  Leopard seal in Antarctica  Travelers going out to explore Antarctica.  Credit: Katryn Wiese  Penguins on the ice  On the way back to Le Boréal. Credit: Katryn Wiese  Adelie penguins at home

Antarctica: The White Continent

Aboard the 264-guest L’Austral

11 days from $9,830

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Immerse yourself in a magnificent realm of ice on an unforgettable 11-day journey to Antarctica, and encounter astonishing wildlife—from thousands of penguins to breaching whales—on excursions with our naturalists.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Venture to a magnificent realm of ice and intriguing wildlife on an unforgettable 10-day voyage to Antarctica. During the lingering light of the austral summer, encounter fantastically shaped icebergs, dramatic rocky promontories, and immense glaciers that rise hundreds of feet above the sea. Take walks on volcanic islands alive with seals, seabirds, and penguins, and set out by Zodiac to discover firsthand how a diverse array of marine wildlife flourishes in this seemingly harsh environment.

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANT Experience: Our cruise to Antarctica will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts and a team of naturalist guides. Lectures and information sessions will cover wildlife, history, geopolitics, the great explorers, climate, environmental protection, and more. This program will begin with an overnight in Buenos Aires and include an excursion in Tierra del Fuego and round-trip air from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. 

Highlights Include

  • Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel: From Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city, explore the enchanting landscapes of Tierra del Fuego National Park; then cruise the legendary Beagle Channel on the way to the open sea. 
  • Exploring Antarctica: Cross the legendary Drake Passage en route to the outer shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. Here, below the 60th parallel south, explore some of the world’s most stark and spectacular wilderness areas, where towering glaciers and lava-sculpted mountains plunge to an ice-choked sea. Our route will be determined by weather and ice conditions, making every trip a unique encounter with this mystical and marvelous land. 
  • Wildlife: Observe up close the antics of chinstrap and gentoo penguins, as they fish, molt, and feed their young; and watch for breaching fin, humpback, and minke whales in icy bays. See crabeater and leopard seals lazing on the ice between meals and discover the unusual creatures of the polar seas. 
  • Zodiac and Land Excursions: Embark on sturdy Zodiacs with expert naturalists for unforgettable excursions to islands, among ice floes and icebergs, and, conditions permitting, to the continent itself. During shore excursions, walk among wildlife on rugged islands and black-sand beaches, and witness how volcanic activity has played a pivotal role in Antarctica’s natural history. Learn about the work of scientists at research stations and hear tales of the whalers and spies who made their base here.  

Itinerary

Day 1 — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Arrive in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and check into your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own.  

Day 2 — Ushuaia

This morning, fly to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and the gateway to Antarctica. Upon arrival, set out on an excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Here, the southernmost peaks of the Andes—known as the Darwin Range—are interspersed with lagoons, bogs, and rivers. Discover the park’s flora and sub-Antarctic landscapes on a nature walk with our guides, and, with luck, encounter beavers, birds, wild orchids, and more. Enjoy lunch in the park before returning to Ushuaia in the afternoon to embark the ship. Then set sail on the Beagle Channel, named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his South American voyages. (B,L,D) 

Day 3-4 — Drake Passage

Cross the legendary Drake Passage, enjoying time to get familiar with the ship and deepen your knowledge of Antarctica. Our Smithsonian Experts and the team of naturalist guides on board will present insightful lectures on the history and wildlife of the world’s oldest continent. Watch the crew navigate on the ship’s bridge, and spend time on deck with our naturalists observing seabirds such as albatrosses and cape petrels. Once we reach the Antarctic Convergence, where cold Antarctic currents merge with warmer waters of the South Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, watch for breaching fin, humpback, and minke whales as well as seabirds feeding on plankton and krill. (2B,2L,2D) 

Day 5-8 — Discovering the Antarctica Peninsula

Spend four days exploring the outer shores and islands of the Antarctic Peninsula, ethereal landscapes defined by lava and ice. Here, abrupt mountains create precipitous coastlines and massive glaciers calve icebergs of all shapes and sizes into the sea. In this seemingly harsh environment, a vast array of wildlife flourishes, including millions of penguins and seabirds, as well as numerous species of seals and whales. At this time of year, we may get the chance to observe humpback and minke whales, pods of orcas, elephant seals and leopard seals, giant petrels, and great skuas.  

We’ll go ashore on volcanic islands to walk among fur seals and gentoo and chinstrap penguins—and their newly hatched chicks. As we continue ever further south into the realm of ice, we’ll encounter playful Adélie penguins and unusual marine life. In this hushed and magical atmosphere, we’ll find ourselves cruising past tabular icebergs that dwarf our vessel, ice floes where Weddell seals loll after their meal, and sculpted ice that glows ethereal shades of turquoise and teal. Along the way, learn about the history of Antarctic exploration, from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition to the ventures of explorers such as Jean-Baptiste Charcot and Adrien de Gerlache. We may have the chance to visit a research station. 

Keep in mind that we are privileged guests in these extreme lands, and our course is dependent on weather, sea, and ice conditions. Every cruise is unique, and our seasoned captain and crew are expert at making the most of the conditions at hand. (4B,4L,4D) 

Days 9-10 — Drake Passage

Relax and reflect on board as the ship turns north and makes its way back across the Drake Passage. Enjoy lively, informative discussions with our Smithsonian Journeys Experts and the ship’s naturalists. Watch for albatrosses, many different species of petrels, and marine life as you cruise across the Antarctic Convergence. (2B,2L,2D) 

Days 11 — Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, Argentina

Disembark in Ushuaia and fly to Buenos Aires. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. (B) 

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)