Two companies that were still organizing Antarctic cruises, over the weekend and almost coincidentally announced that the current trips would be the last, in effect putting an end to a short season.
National Geographic's Endurance said it was the last call in Ushuaia for the current 2021/2022 expedition season. The vessel completed nine calls between November 2021 and March 2022, sailing with 126 passengers.
The current season in Ushuaia had to comply with strict sanitary protocols and a bubble system between the city's airport, with the passengers arriving in a charter aircraft, and the port where they boarded for the expedition.
Almost simultaneously from Punta Arenas, Chile, the Commandant Charcot from French cruise company Ponant announced that the 2021/2022 cruise season had come to an end.
The cruise vessel, with ice breaking capacity, operated since last October from Punta Arenas until this last trip in March. As in Ushuaia, strict protocol measures included passengers flying to the extreme south of Chile in charter aircraft, and from the local airport to boarding in Punta Arenas under the bubble system, with no contacts of any kind. Supplying provisions and fuel was also done under special sanitary conditions.
The Commandant Charcot has a 245 passenger capacity but because of the pandemic it only operated at half its capacity. Most of its Antarctic expedition cruises involved two weeks, and there was also a special 25 day trip that included the Ross Sea.
Meanwhile in Ushuaia, the season was considered a success under the current circumstances since some 60,000 cruise passengers boarded in the Tierra del Fuego port, for Antarctica and regional cruises.
This season we had over 200 cruise calls, with some 60,000 visitors, which is most encouraging for next season. Today we are saying good bye to National Geographic's Endurance, which opened the season and we are most grateful they picked us as the operational port and as access to Antarctica. We are waiting for them for the next season, with improved services, said Roberto Murcia president of the Directory of Tierra del Fuego provincial ports.