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The Great Austral Loop (16 Days)

Cruise Line: PONANT Yacht Cruises & Expeditions
Ship: Varies by Departure
Ushuaia, Argentina to Ushuaia, Argentina
DAY
PORT
ARRIVE DEPART
DAY 1
Ushuaia, Argentina
6:00 PM
DAY 2
Day-at-Sea
DAY 3
New Island, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Grave Cove, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

This island with its distinctive jagged relief is located on the western edge of the Falkland Islands and is home to a tiny village of two families. Step onto the golden sand of its flower-lined beaches, beside which an old stone house still stands, and you'll feel like you've entered a natural paradise. A narrow pathway weaves around typical Falkland moorlands. Follow it and in under 20 minutes you'll find yourself at the heart of a colony of southern rockhopper penguins, black-browed albatross, and imperial shags. It's the perfect opportunity to watch the albatross swoop down from the cliffs and skim the waves that crash against the rocks on the exposed side of the island.
Make your way through the turbulent Woolly Gut strait and emerge in the stillness of Grave Cove. Located in the northern edge of the Falkland Islands, this bay owes its name to the vestiges of whalers' graves that overlook the beach. As you step off the boat and onto the white-sand beach, you might find yourself escorted by a few hospitable Commerson's dolphins, elegantly adorned in black and white. A stroll along the grassy dunes will lead you to a vast plain of lush green grass, tended by a few sheep. On the other side of the island you'll find one of the largest gentoo penguin colonies in the area. With some luck, you'll also glimpse a sea lion scouring the waves for his next meal.

DAY 4
Day-at-Sea
DAY 5
Day-at-Sea
DAY 6
Salisbury Plain, United Kingdom
Fortuna Bay, United Kingdom

Salisbury Plain is home to one of the most unforgettable natural vistas of South Georgia. Formed by the retreat of Grace Glacier, the same majestic peaks that once awed Shackleton still tower over the surrounding land. The island's bluish landscape exudes the magnificence and beauty of unspoilt nature. At the heart of this wild refuge, on the beaches of the bay, lies a colony of 250,000 king penguins. Amidst this sea of black and orange heads, fur seals and their young can be spotted nosing their way through the crowd. Under the pale austral sunlight that reflects off of the plain, flocks of birds are carried by the winds in a graceful show of nature's wonder.

DAY 7
Saint Andrews Bay, United Kingdom
Grytviken, South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands

Facing out towards the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, you'll safely disembark along Saint Andrews Bay with the assistance of your naturalist guides. This bay bears a gift that is sure to enchant photographers. From the bay's long grey-sand beach, home to abundant fur seals and elephant seals, you can easily access a vast glacial trough bordered by steep mountainsides and enclosed by Ross Glacier. Here, at the heart of this valley, lies the climax of your visit: the largest colony of king penguins on the South Georgia Islands. You'll be witness to a surreal visual and auditory experience: entire hillsides covered with adult penguins dutifully going back and forth from land to water in order to feed their young.
The Grytviken stopover is a highlight of South Georgia Island. This former whaling station, now a ghost town, is set against a serene backdrop of ochre-coloured earth. Vestiges of the whaling industry are still very much present, particularly old whale bones and remnants of shipwrecks. Grytviken's other historical point of interest is the grave of famous adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton. During the legendary Endurance expedition (1914–1917) Shackleton and his men survived against all odds after having been trapped in pack ice for several months. The series of exploits leading to their rescue will remain forever etched in the annals of Antarctic exploration.

DAY 8
Gold Harbour, United Kingdom
DAY 9
Day-at-Sea
DAY 10
Day-at-Sea
DAY 11
Weddell Sea (Cruising)
DAY 12
Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica
DAY 13
Deception Island, Antarctica
Half Moon Island, Antarctica
DAY 14
Drake Passage (Cruising)
DAY 15
Drake Passage (Cruising)

If there is one place, one sea, one waterway dreaded by tourists, researchers, and hardened seafarers alike, it is undoubtedly Drake Passage. Situated at the latitude of the infamous Furious Fifties winds, between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands, it is the shortest route to Antarctica. Seasoned navigators will tell you that you must earn your visit to the White Continent! As a convergence zone where cold currents rising up from the South Pole meet warmer equatorial water masses, Drake Passage harbours a very diverse marine fauna. Don't forget to look to the sky to catch a glimpse of elegant albatross and Cape petrels, playfully floating about in the wind around your ship.

DAY 16
Ushuaia, Argentina
7:00 AM
The Great Austral Loop map

About Us

The world’s only French-flagged cruise line and top cruise line worldwide in polar expeditions, PONANT Yacht Cruises & Expeditions currently has four distinctive and intimate vessels, embodying the essence of a private luxury yacht: the three-masted LE PONANT, an elegant sailing yacht accommodating 64 guests and three luxury yachts of 264-guests LE BORÉAL, L’AUSTRAL and LE SOLÉAL. The luxury cruise line will launch its fifth ship in Spring 2015, LE LYRIAL. These luxurious ships sail to the unexplored corners of the world including the Poles, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand on cruises ranging from three to 21 nights and including many ports and islands not accessible to large cruise ships. From Five Star Expeditions to themed cruises, the engaging itineraries offer a wealth of fascinating shore excursion programs to ensure that every voyage is a unique and exceptional experience. The latest eco-friendly technologies, attentive service, bilingual crew, luxurious staterooms and suites, an elegant, sophisticated cuisine and a chic, yet informal atmosphere offer a cruise experience unlike any other. In addition to the best available tours, our 1:2 staff to guest ratio also guarantees the best in personalized service. Explore your destinations at an unhurried pace and let the beauty that surrounds you, stir your senses. No matter where you wish to travel, our cruises will take you off the beaten path to a whole new world of adventure. Welcome aboard!

Insider Tip

PONANT is the only luxury cruise line to feature three brand new ships sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic each season with 46% market share, making us #1 in luxury expedition cruising.

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