Explore one of the world’s last unspoiled regions in style with 11- and 16-day Antarctica itineraries aboard Compagnie du Ponant’s new 264-passenger twin mega-yachts: L’Austral and Le Boréal. The nine round trip sailings, November 2011 through February 2012, take in the “White Continent’s” majestic landscape of glaciers and icebergs as well as exotic wildlife as the yachts travel from Ushuaia, Argentina, through the famous Drake Passage, and make several Antarctica landings – including Paradise Bay, Culverville, Deception Island and Neko Harbor – and, on the longer itinerary, South Georgia and the Falklands.
The year-old Le Boréal and recently debuted L’Austral -- named “Best New Ship of the Year” by the European Cruiser Association -- embody Compagnie du Ponant’s dual vision of luxury travel and environmental consciousness. Aside from a multitude of top-of-the-line amenities, both have earned the international “green ship” label due to their numerous eco-friendly features: dynamic positioning, advanced waste water treatment, reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and underwater detection system, making them ideal sailing vessels for the highly-regulated Antarctica environment.
Fares of $4,860 to $18,078 per person, double on the 11- and 16-day sailings are currently up to 20% below brochure fares ($6,075 to $24,103) on the shoulder season departures due to the company’s unique Ponant Bonus program -- the more in advance the booking, the greater the savings. Compagnie du Ponant is also offering a $400 per stateroom shipboard credit for new guests booking by May 31, 2011.
As the ship traverses the icy waters of the Atlantic, guests are privy to the expertise of notable lecturers and naturalists, including polar expedition guide Nicolas Dubreuil; veteran guide Raphael Sane, an expert in hydrobiology; Jose-Marie Bel, president of the Espace Reine de Saba; and Sylvain Mahuzier, an ecosystem expert and author. Each port further reveals the breathtaking landscape and wildlife unique to this rarely visited region, from the flora and fauna of Tierra del Fuego National Park to the 20,000 Adelie penguin couples in Brown Bluff.
Other possible ports in Antarctica include Lemaire Channel, a narrow passageway surrounded by towering cliffs; Paradise Bay, a haven for sea mammals such as seals, orcas, whales and sea elephants; and Deception Island, home to colonies of Chinstrap Penguins. The ship’s fleet of zodiacs allows travelers to get up-close-and-personal with these natural wonders as they navigate within feet of towering icebergs and into the heart of penguin colonies. In addition to these stops, guests on the 16-day voyage will get the chance to observe majestic King Penguins and other impressive birdlife for which South Georgia and the Falkland Islands are known.
The 466-foot Le Boréal and L’Austral mega-yachts offer guests the feeling of sailing on their own private yacht as they explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. Each ship boasts two restaurants, several spacious lounges, theater, games area, two open-air bars, a swimming pool, library, fitness area, comprehensive spa in partnership with Paris’s Sothys (L’Austral) and Carita (Le Boreal) and a staff to guest ratio of greater than 1:2. The 132 well-appointed staterooms, 124 with private balconies, have king size or twin beds, desk, minibar, dressing table, marble baths with showers, L’Occitane products and all the latest technology, including flat screen satellite TVs and Wi-Fi.
Included in all sailings are all meals (wine, beer and soda during meals included), entertainment, excursions, Captain’s welcome, farewell parties, 24-hour room service and all lectures, guides, naturalists and expedition leaders. Port charges/taxes, gratuities and transfers are additional.