Witness the total solar eclipse in December 2021 on this incredible sailing with French cruise operator Ponant.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
November 25, 2020
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Le Commandant Charcot
Credit: STIRLING DESIGN INTERNATIONAL

Here’s a one-of-a-kind way to take in December 2021’s total solar eclipse: on board the world’s first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration vessel off the coast of Antarctica

French cruise operator Ponant plans to sail the Weddell Sea late next year — the only place in the world where the solar eclipse is expected to be 100% visible. The 15-day itinerary aboard Le Commandant Charcot will depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city, on Nov. 30, 2021. Passengers are scheduled to sail through the legendary Drake Passage and arrive at the Weddell Sea ice pack on Dec 4, 2021, the date of the eclipse. 

"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,” Nicolas Dubreuil, polar and tropical expedition expert and director of sustainability at Ponant, said. 

That makes the Weddell Sea an ideal spot to watch the moon pass between the Earth and sun, creating complete darkness in a region where, during this time, the sun doesn’t set for months. Passengers will have the opportunity to do more than just watch the eclipse, too.

Le Commandant Charcot is home to lab facilities and hosts researchers looking to study the polar region. Passengers on the journey will have the opportunity to assist those researchers and venture out on ice floes to help collect water samples. 

The itinerary also includes a visit to the South Shetland Islands, penguin and whale watching, and a sail by the Larsen Ice Shelf — a key barrier for preventing erosion of the Antarctic ice sheet. 

Paradise Bay, Antarctica
Credit: PONANT and Laurence Fischer

You may want to start saving up for the trip now, though. Prices start at $17,790 per person, including round-trip flights to and from South America.  

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.