Disney to take on a new continent with first cruises to Antarctica
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Watch out, penguins of Antarctica. The Mouse is on the way.
Family travel giant Disney plans its first cruises to the White Continent beginning later this year, using a chartered vessel, the company recently announced.
Disney also plans its first cruises to the Galápagos Islands, starting in 2022 — also with a chartered vessel.
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Offered by Disney’s touring arm, known as Adventures by Disney, the trips will mark the first expedition cruises ever offered by Disney.
Disney until now only has offered traditional cruises through its cruising arm, Disney Cruise Line.
Expedition cruising is a specialized type of cruising that involves traveling to remote, hard-to-reach places on small, hardy vessels that carry their own landing craft.
Adventures by Disney is a separate division of Disney that is not part of its cruise line. It’s primarily known for upscale, family-friendly land tours, but it has offered cruises before — on Europe’s rivers.
Disney’s new trips to Antarctica will take place on a vessel operated by Ponant, a France-based, upscale cruise line that specializes in expedition cruising. The trips to the Galápagos will take place on a locally based vessel called Galápagos Legend.
For all the trips, Disney plans family-focused activities curated by Disney’s travel experts. Disney-trained guides and naturalists will lead landings to see wildlife and offer onboard discussions about wildlife, animal conservation, photography and more.
Disney initially will offer just two Antarctica voyages, both 11 nights in length. The trips will include an overnight stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before a flight to Ushuaia, a port town at the very southern tip of Argentina, to board a Ponant vessel.
The two Antarctica sailings will take place on Ponant’s Le Lyrial and Le Boréal, which are identical vessels that each hold 264 passengers.
Before boarding one of the ships, passengers will spend two days exploring the area around Ushuaia, which is part of Patagonia. Sightseeing will include a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park and a ride on the world’s southernmost functioning railway.
Once in Antarctica, the plan is for several days of landings and water exploration by rigid inflatable boats that the Ponant ships carry on board. A premium, add-on kayaking excursion also will be available.
Tourgoers also can add on a three-night, pre-tour guided stay in Buenos Aires for an extra charge.
Like many Adventures by Disney tours, the Antarctica cruise is aimed at families with older children. The tour company recommends that kids be at least 12 years old to sign up and won’t allow those younger than 10 years to book it due to “the duration of the trip, potential for extreme weather or sea conditions and the amount of physical activity involved,” according to planning details posted on the company’s website.
Reaching Antarctica from Ushuaia involves a two-day crossing of the notoriously rough and unpredictable Drake Passage.
Fares for the initial Antarctica voyage start at $12,800 for adults and $11,500 for children.
The new Galápagos trips, which will focus heavily on the wildlife of the Ecuador-controlled islands made famous by Charles Darwin, start at $6,300 for adults and $5,600 for children.
In addition to encounters with such iconic Galápagos wildlife as albatross, frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine iguanas and Galápagos penguins, passengers can expect opportunities to snorkel, kayak and hike during the trips.
Adventures by Disney initially is offering five departures of three different Galápagos itineraries for 2022.
Adventures by Disney in 2022 also will continue to offer river cruises in Europe with itineraries along the Danube, Rhine and Seine rivers. The trips take place on river ships chartered from AmaWaterways.
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