|A Chinstrap Penguin// (c) 2011 Compagnie du Ponant|
Compagnie du Ponant is offering 11- and 16-day luxury cruises to Antartica on its twin 264-passenger mega yachts: L’Austral and Le Boréal. Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina from November 2011 through February 2012, the nine roundtrip sailings showcase the continent’s majestic landscape and exotic wildlife with landings at Paradise Bay, Culverville, Deception Island, Neko Harbor and, on the longer itinerary, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
While onboard, guests can take advantage of the expertise of notable lecturers and naturalists, including polar expedition guide Nicolas Dubreuil, hydrobiology expert Raphael Sane, President of the Espace Reine de Saba Jose-Marie Bel and ecosystem expert Sylvain Mahuzier. The cruises visit destinations like Lemaire Channel, a narrow passageway surrounded by towering cliffs; Paradise Bay, a haven for rare sea mammals; and Deception Island, home to colonies of Chinstrap Penguins. Each ship boasts a fleet of zodiacs that allow guests to get close to these natural wonders.
Like its sister ship Le Boréal, L’Austral, which was named “Best New Ship of the Year” by the European Cruiser Association, features eco-friendly systems, such as dynamic positioning, advanced waste water treatment, reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and an underwater detection system. These systems have earned the two yachts the international “green ship” label. On board, each ship boasts two restaurants, several spacious lounges, a theater, a games area, two open-air bars, a swimming pool, a library, a fitness area, a spa and a staff to guest ratio of greater than 1:2. The 132 staterooms, 124 of which have private balconies, have king or twin size beds, a desk, a minibar, a dressing table, marble baths with showers, L’Occitane products, flat screen satellite TVs and Wi-Fi.
Fares range from $4,860 to $18,078 per person, based on double occupancy, representing a savings of 20 percent off brochure fares due to the Ponant Bonus program, which offers greater savings to those who book farther in advance. Fares include all meals (as well as wine, beer and soda during meals), entertainment, excursions, a Captain’s welcome, farewell parties, 24-hour room service and all lectures, guides, naturalists and expedition leaders. Port charges, taxes, gratuities and transfers are not included.