French cruise company Ponant has announced a 15-day exploration cruise aboard its newest ship Le Commandant-Charcot, to observe a total eclipse of the sun from the spectacular Weddell Sea ice pack on the edge of Antarctica, the only area of the world from which the eclipse will be 100 percent visible.
The total solar eclipse will take place Saturday, December 4, 2021 with the sun darkened for one minute and 54 seconds that will be visible over a path that is 419 kilometers wide at maximum. A partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout Antarctica and from South Africa.
Solar eclipse in Antarctica – a once in a lifetime journey
“We will be positioned in the heart of the sea ice, where the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies. Guests will have the privilege of witnessing this rare phenomenon from the ice pack,” said Nicolas Dubreuil, Polar and Tropical Expedition Expert and Director of Sustainability at Ponant. “This journey is one of a kind in a lifetime, full of meaning for future guests who will realise how important it is to preserve this incredible place.”
Ponant said it will be carrying experts and scientists on board to study this exceptional natural phenomenon and will involve passengers in their analyses, and that the voyage will also be an opportunity for them to carry out sampling and analysis in these remote areas.
This cruise in the heart of the great White Continent will also be an opportunity to discover the eastern part of the Weddell Sea, unexplored and totally unknown to this day, as well as the imposing Larsen ice shelves.
The cruise will depart from Ushuaia, the capital of the Land of Fire on the southern tip of Argentina and then set course for the Weddell Sea ice pack, located in the only area in the world where the solar eclipse will be 100 percent visible. The region is close to the polar circle where the sun never quite sets.
Watching The Weddell Sea from the Ponant icebreaker – a haven for wildlife
The Weddell Sea is mostly frozen by a thick and compressed ice floe and is considered a challenging environment to sail. The landscapes of the immense polar expanse are exceptional with and have been described as an “ice desert.”
The journey will continue to the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula, where to the north-west of the Weddell Sea, stretching along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, stands the imposing ice barrier formed by the Larsen platforms with its impressive table top icebergs – among the largest in the world.
The region is a haven for wildlife and is home to Weddell seals, crabeater seals and leopard seals, Adelie penguins, papuan and chinstrap penguins, humpback whales, and sea birds.
Scientists on board the Ponant icebreaker Le Commandant-Charcot
Le Commandant-Charcot is Ponant’s newest ship, set to be delivered during 2021. It is the first electric hybrid icebreaker cruise ship and is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Ponant is making the ship available to the scientific community and it will be equipped with laboratories, and will serve as a platform for observation of the water, air, ice and biodiversity in the polar regions.
The ship has 135 staterooms and suites and will carry 270 passengers and 187 crew.
Prices for the “Total eclipse in the Weddell Sea” cruise from November 30 to December 14, 2021 start at £13,760