The Weddell Sea & the South Sandwich Islands

From Santiago to Montevideo
  • All Antarctic Cruises
  • South Georgia & The Falkland Islands
  • Luxury Antarctica
  • Small Ship Cruising
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

From Patagonia to the Antarctic peninsula, via South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, this itinerary will take you into the heart of the Scotia Arc.

This volcanic archipelago at the junction of the Andes cordillera and the Antarctandes will be revealed to you in all its riches and splendour. All the wildlife of the Far South can be found there: king and gentoo penguins, elephant seals, fur seals mingle on the beautiful dark sand beaches… At sea, orcas, humpback whales and other cetaceans will escort you along your navigation through frozen waters.

This cruise will also be an opportunity to discover four very different ecosystems, from the wooded heights of the Tierra del Fuego and the table top icebergs of the Weddell Sea to the glacier-covered mountains of the South Sandwich Islands and the snow-capped summits of South Georgia.

The outstanding new luxury exploration vessel, the Le Commandant-Charcot, is purpose built for remote polar regions. This hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG considers the environment, and provides you with plenty of comfort at the same time, including panoramic restaurants and an indoor swimming pool.

Viva's Best Bits...

Zodiac excursions, hike, snowshoe, kayak or polar plunge along with stunning wildlife - king penguins, Adelie penguins, fur seals, elephant seals, whales, sea birds.

Landscapes: volcanic mountains on the South Sandwich Islands, table top icebergs in the Weddell, glaciers, ice floes.

Le Commandant Charcot is the world’s 1st PC2 luxury hybrid-electric polar exploration ship. Explore remote destinations in complete luxury never before seen in polar exploration.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Santiago

Arrive Santiago at any time. Today is free for you to explore Santiago at leisure.

Transfer from airport to hotel. Meet and greet at the hotel by our local representative. Check-in from late morning.

Lunch on your own and time at leisure in the afternoon.

Dinner.

Overnight in Santiago

Day 2
Santiago - Fly to Ushuaia - Embarkation Day

Embarkation Day – Santiago/Ushuaia

A light morning breakfast will be served before leaving for the airport for your Santiago/Ushuaia flight.
Transfer to the airport.

Flight Santiago/Ushuaia in economy class.
Seats in business class may be available, please let us know if required
Approximate flight duration: 3 hours

Meet and greet at Ushuaia airport (English-speaking assistance).
Transfer to Le Commandant-Charcot.
Embarkation.

– Cruise on board your ship –

Day 3-4
Crossing the Drake

Use your days spent in the Drake Passage to familiarise yourself with your ship and deepen your knowledge of the Antarctic. The Expedition Leader will first present the 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. Lectures about the history and wildlife of the Antarctic will be an opportunity for you to learn more about this magical region, where every cruise is a unique experience. From the ship’s bridge, you will experience exceptional sailing moments before joining the naturalist-guides on your ship’s exterior decks to look out for albatrosses, cape petrels, and other seabirds flying over the Drake Passage.

Day 5
South Shetland Islands

On the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, 120 km (70 miles) from the White Continent, the South Shetland Islands offer surreal and mysterious scenery. On these volcanic islands of dark rock, the landscapes alternate between long, jagged and snow-covered coast and large, gently sloping bays. These lunar and wild lands are home to important scientific research stations and a large number of animal species: chinstrap penguins, crabeater seals or Weddell seals, Antarctic terns, giant petrels and elephant seals have taken up residence here.

Day 6
North Antarctica Peninsula

Throughout your time in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, you will find yourself in the heart of a spectacular decor in subtle shades of blue and white, surrounded by exceptional wildlife. You will sail 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 a great many leopard seals.

Day 7-8
Weddell Sea Exploration

Impassable, extreme and captivating: this is the best way to describe the Weddell Sea, much of which is covered by a layer of thick, densely packed ice. It is a challenge and a privilege to sail upon this sea. Your exploration of this vast polar expanse, a real labyrinth frequented by majestic tabular icebergs, will plunge you into the heart of an extraordinary and enchanting silence. These ice giants come from the calving of the legendary Larsen Ice Shelf which looms in the southern part of this mythical sea. It was in this zone that the ship Endurance, commanded by Ernest Shackleton, was crushed and swallowed by the ice. “What the ice gets, the ice keeps” he said. Not exactly, though, since the famous wreck was miraculously found in 2022... While polar expeditions are no longer the same as they were a century ago, the adventure continues. Humpback whales, orcas, colonies of Adelie penguins, and giant petrels are all to be found here, yet the lord of the kingdom is no other than the Weddell seal. On these lands, only the throbbing of its cries breaks the surrounding tranquillity. A record-breaker (it can remain underwater for more than an hour), you will recognise it by its dark grey pelage and spotted belly.

Day 9
Southern Thule, South Sandwich Islands Cook Island, South Sandwich Islands

The southernmost island in the Sandwich Islands is a volcano that rises to an altitude of 700 metres. For a long time, this former military base was the source of conflicts between the British and the Argentinians, who finally took possession of the island in 1982 after the Falklands War. While you are there, you may get the chance to observe impressive elephant seals and Adelie or chinstrap penguins

Cook Island, an uninhabited volcano buried under a thick white coat, seems to float on the surface of the ocean. There is a striking contrast between the imposing and peaceful mass of glistening ice and the brown sheer cliffs that loom over its shores. Its highest peak, Mount Harmer, rises to an altitude of 1,115 metres. This island, the largest in the Southern Thule island group, was discovered by James Cook in 1775, the first explorer to have crossed the Antarctic Circle in search of a new continent. In 1819, the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen christened it as a tribute to this illustrious explorer.

Day 10
Saunders Island, South Sandwich Islands

The brown volcanic silhouette of Saunders Island, overlooked by Mount Michael, which rises to an altitude of more than 900 metres, will then come into view on the horizon. The island’s frozen and rugged shores are considered very difficult to access. You may be lucky enough to spot chinstrap and Adelie penguins in this lunar landscape and observe Cape Petrels nesting in the cliffs. It is one of only eight volcanoes in the world whose summit crater, with a diameter of 700 metres, contains a persistent lava lake. Its most recent eruption was in 2005.

Day 11
Zavodovski Island, South Sandwich Islands

Lying in the north of this archipelago, this majestic volcanic island is often ice-free year round, unlike the islands further south. Different species can be found on either side of this bio-geographic border: Subantarctic species in the north and Antarctic species in the south. Enveloped in the warmth of the volcanic fumeroles, one of the world’s largest colonies of chinstrap penguins (over two million individuals) thrives in this ideal environment. This volcanic island was discovered in 1819 by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who named it in honour of his ship’s captain.

Day 12
At Sea

Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice, on seas and oceans which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the on-board lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and let us discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal to us.

Day 13-14
South Georgia

Aboard your ship, discover South Georgia, a region formed by an underwater mountain chain that extends from the Andes to the Antarctic Peninsula. All the wildlife of the Far South can be found there: king and Gentoo penguins, elephant seals, fur seals… You might get the chance to discover the majestic glaciers of Gold Harbour and the vast plains of Fortuna Bay. If you are fortunate enough to land at Salisbury Plain, you can expect a wonderful spectacle: more than 300,000 king penguins, which you will recognise by the bright orange mark on their head and neck, have taken up residence there.

Day 15-18
At Sea

Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice, on seas and oceans which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the on-board lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research and let us discover together what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal to us.

Day 19
Disembark Montevideo Uruguay

Perched on the far southern tip of Uruguay, Montevideo is a white city, and one of the loveliest capital cities of South America. Come and admire the beautiful historical remains dating from Spanish rule; you’ll find the most interesting within the Cuidad Vieja, formerly fortified, its old town dates from the 18th century. The best preserved are the cathedral and the former governmental palace of the Cabildo, both listed historical monuments. In the crook of a vast blue bay, the city is also blessed with beautiful beaches.

Disembarkation at 7am

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 17 nights on board
  • Included Copy 31 Cabin upgrades available
  • Included Copy 20 1 night pre cruise hotel accommodation in Santiago
Food
  • Included Copy 20 All meals while on board the cruise
  • Included Copy 20 Open bar & room service 24 hours (conditions apply)
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Flight from Santiago to Ushuaia
  • Included Copy 20 Airport transfers in Ushuaia
  • Included Copy 20 Outings and shore visits in Zodiacs with a team of experienced naturalist guides
  • Included Copy 20 Parka to keep & boots to Loan while on the cruise
  • Included Copy 20 Lectures and information sessions hosted by our naturalist-guides
  • Included Copy 31 Activities: Kayaking, Hiking & Snowshoeing, Polar Swim
  • Included Copy 7 International flights, Travel Insurance, Gratuities / Tips are not included
  • Included Copy 7 Personal expenses, such as laundry, onboard communication (telephone calls, faxes and email service)
Transportation
Le Commandant Charcot

270 (200 in Antarctica) Passengers

Activities

  • Included Outings and shore visits in Zodiac inflatables
  • Included Many activities: kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, polar plunge without suit, polar swim with drysuit
  • Included Lectures and information sessions hosted by naturalist-guides
  • Included Walking and Hiking opportunities
  • Included Landscapes: volcanic mountains on the South Sandwich Islands, table top icebergs in the Weddell Sea
  • Included South Georgia visit: mecca for king penguins and elephant seals
  • Included Be involved - participative science!
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

19 days

Price from

$25,988 USD

Per person, sharing

Based On Lowest Cabin

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