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 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


Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active

Antarctica: The White Continent is truly an "expedition" program meant for healthy, able-bodied participants. When embarking and disembarking the ship itself, passengers need to be able to walk up/down the gangplank. Zodiacs are used for shore excursions and travelers need to be able to get in and out of the Zodiacs unassisted, which requires a large step over the side of the zodiac. This typically takes flexibility, agility, and balance. Also, passengers will need to be prepared to step from the Zodiac directly into ankle high water (passengers can rent boots on board for this), and step from the Zodiac onto icy surfaces. Navigating the surface of Antarctica, passengers will encounter uneven and slick surfaces during walking and nature tours of up to two miles, some excursions will have extensive standing for up to one and a half hours. Our guides will find a place to rest if necessary and if feasible. However, passengers can choose to stay aboard ship the entire time and take in the views from the ship itself (the ship does get close to land, so there are views from the ship). (There is an elevator aboard the ship.)

All passengers are required to complete a Required Health Statement, signed by their doctor. This mandatory form is required by the ship company and will be reviewed by the ship doctor before the passenger has clearance to participate on the program.   

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 


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)