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Luxury line Compagnie du Ponant has opened its 2013-2014 Antarctica booking window much earlier than it has in past years. An advantage to the earlier booking opportunity is the Ponant Bonus Fare structure: the earlier guests book, the more they can save -- up to 30 percent off of the regular fare.
Adelie penguin couples in Brown Bluff, towering icebergs, the steep cliffs of Lemaire Channel, colonies of Chinstrap Penguins on Deception Island, and seals, orcas and sea elephants await the guests who sign on to these bucket list trips.
The 11-day Antarctica program spends five full days traversing the coast of the seventh continent with multiple landings, The roundtrip sailings from Ushuaia, Argentina, cruise through Drake Passage to ports including Paradise Bay, Port Charcot, Deception Island and the Weddell Sea. The 11-day itinerary, with seven departures, currently starts at $6,279 per person, double, while the 16-day option, with four sailings, starts at $11,141. One of the 16-day sailings, departing at the end of the season, finishes in Uruguay and has a current Ponant Bonus starting fare of $7,266, a savings of 23 percent off of the regular fare. Guests on the 16-day voyage add visits to the Falklands Islands and the scenic, penguin-laden South Georgia. A team of experienced naturalist guides and a fleet of Zodiac boats give guests an intimate view of the area and an education on its history, wildlife and importance to the world.
Compagnie du Ponant has also moved to a simpler and thoroughly transparent pricing structure for the North American market on all cruises, with all-inclusive fares. All meals, an open bar, stocked mini-bars in all staterooms and suites, a welcome-aboard cocktail party, 24-hour room service, all entertainment as indicated within the itinerary, gratuities, port charges and even taxes and fees are now included in the pricing. The only extras are guests’ personal expenses, air, transfers and optional excursions.
Specials offered include a new 5 percent discount on family-and-friends groups of five or more, a new 50 percent discount for guests ages 12 to 18 traveling with their families and sharing a stateroom with another teen or adult, a 10 percent discount on back-to-back cruises; increased savings on wedding and anniversary packages; single supplements from 15 percent and discounts for referring other guests to Compagnie du Ponant.
The line’s 466-foot sister yachts - L’Austral and Le Boreal – have 132 staterooms each and embody the line’s dual vision of luxury travel and environmental consciousness; both use electric propulsion systems, bio fuel, dynamic positioning and advanced waste water treatment. Each ship has two restaurants, several spacious lounges, a theater, a games area, two open-air bars, a swimming pool, a library, a fitness area, a comprehensive spa, and a staff-to-guest ratio greater than 1:2. Of the staterooms, 124 have private balconies; all have king-size or twin beds, a desk, minibar, dressing table, marble baths with showers, L’Occitane products; they also have flat screen satellite televisions and wi-fi.