Updated: Expedition lines plan Antarctic itineraries around a rare eclipse

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The Scenic Eclipse in Paradise Harbor, Antarctica.
The Scenic Eclipse in Paradise Harbor, Antarctica. Photo Credit: Roger Pimenta

Among the more exciting trips travelers can look forward to once cruising resumes will be to experience a solar eclipse from Antarctica.

On Dec. 4, a total solar eclipse will occur near the Antarctic Peninsula, a phenomenon not expected to occur again for hundreds of years. 

Practically every expedition cruise line is seizing on this rare event to offer sailings where their ships will be positioned in the path of eclipse totality. 

Eclipse itineraries start in November on cruises that generally include other stops in Antarctica and the islands of the Southern Ocean. Here are some of the expeditions on offer, and some of the experiences and onboard experts that set them apart.

Abercrombie & Kent

One of the few eclipse sailings to leave from Santiago, Chile, will be offered by Abercrombie & Kent. The 12-day cruise will feature former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan, who served on the Hubble telescope mission and was the first American woman to walk in space, and astronomer Massimo Tarenghi, who has spent 17 years working with the Paranal Observatory in Chile's Atacama Desert and will assist guests with photographing the eclipse.

A rendering of Atlas World Voyages' World Navigator ship in Antarctica.
A rendering of Atlas World Voyages' World Navigator ship in Antarctica.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Atlas Ocean Voyages, which debuts its first ship, the World Navigator, this summer, on Tuesday revealed that its Nov. 28 Solar Eclipse itinerary will feature Patrick Treuthardt, the assistant head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and Michel Verdure, a cruise ship photography specialist who will guide guests in capturing the solar eclipse. Atlas will provide all guests with special eclipse-viewing glasses. All North American passengers on Atlas Antarctica sailings will fly to Ushuaia, Argentina, on Atlas' private widebody jet from the U.S.

Lindblad Expeditions

Three of the line's vessels, including its new sister ships the National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution, will offer 24-day cruises that will be positioned in the path of eclipse totality. 

The best place to experience the eclipse may be in what Lindblad says are the first igloos at sea, two clear-domed structures that guests can reserve to spend overnights in on deck, with heated two-person beds and drinks served. Both of the line's new ships will feature the igloos. 

The ships will also have experts onboard to provide insight and background on the science of eclipses and other astronomical features one might encounter on the Southern Ocean.

Lindblad’s National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution feature igloos at sea, clear-domed structures in which guests can spend overnights on deck.
Lindblad’s National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution feature igloos at sea, clear-domed structures in which guests can spend overnights on deck.

Hurtigruten

Two ships will offer the eclipse: a 23-day itinerary on the Fram, departing Nov. 22, and an 18-day itinerary on the Roald Amundsen, leaving Nov. 24. Both ships will be positioned in the Scotia Sea near the South Orkney Islands for the event. 

The sailings will feature onboard experts through a partnership with Sky & Telescope magazine and will include other stargazing experiences. Kelly Beatty, senior editor at Sky & Telescope, will be on the Amundsen and Richard Fienberg, also of the magazine, will be on the Fram. 

Hurtigruten launched a dedicated Solar Eclipse webpage.

Hurtigruten’s eclipse webpage shows where its ships will be located for the phenomenon.
Hurtigruten’s eclipse webpage shows where its ships will be located for the phenomenon.

Ponant

Departing Nov. 30 on a 15-day itinerary, Ponant's newest ship, the hybrid-electric Le Commandant-Charcot, will go to the Weddell Sea ice pack on Dec. 4 so that guests can disembark onto the ice to witness the eclipse under the supervision of the team of naturalist guides and onboard scientists. 

Passengers will be able to participate in the research and analyses of the astronomical event and join scientists in setting up a station on an ice floe to collect water samples, helping further the knowledge of the region's biodiversity, ecosystems and human impact.

Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot will visit the Weddell Sea ice pack on Dec. 4 so guests can watch the solar eclipse.
Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot will visit the Weddell Sea ice pack on Dec. 4 so guests can watch the solar eclipse. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ponant

Scenic

Scenic is offering guests a chance to see the eclipse from its Eclipse ship, on a 20-day cruise departing Nov. 2. 

Two former NASA scientists will be onboard the cruise, both of whom are now at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Karen Knierman, a lecturer in astrophysics, will relate her experience working with the Hubble Space Telescope, and Patrick Young, an associate professor of astrophysics and astrobiology, will discuss the life and death of stars.

Silversea Cruises

For travelers with less time, Silversea will offer one of the shortest sailings to witness the eclipse, an 11-day cruise departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, Nov. 30 on the Silver Cloud. The luxe line will also offer a 22-day sailing from Buenos Aires on the Silver Wind. 

Onboard will be David Aguilar, former director of science information at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and Alan Wright, former chief astronomer and head of operations at the Parkes Observatory in Australia.

This report was updated on April 20 to include new information about Atlas Ocean Voyages' plans for the eclipse.

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