Travel to the North Pole. Cross the Arctic Ocean. Explore the far northeast of Greenland... PONANT is designing tomorrow’s voyages with Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first electric hybrid polar exploration ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Beginning in 2021, this newest member of the PONANT fleet will offer guests the chance to follow in the wake of the great polar explorers in sophisticated surroundings enhanced with luxury amenities never before seen at the very top or bottom of the globe.
Le commandant Charcot
Pioneer of the Poles
A doctor by convention, an explorer by vocation and a man with a love for sailing, Jean-Baptiste Charcot was also a key player in early French polar expeditions. By naming the first luxury icebreaker after him, PONANT pays homage to this inspiring pioneer of the poles.
Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris.
Construction of three ships, the 'Pourquoi Pas ? I', 'Pourquoi Pas ? II' and 'Pourquoi Pas ? III'.
He crosses into the Arctic Circle
and visits the Arctic region for the first time.
Sailing first onboard the Français then the Pourquoi Pas ?, he reaches Ushuaia then continues on to the Antarctic Territories. Notably, he discovers the island that would henceforth carry his name.
He undertakes a succession of voyages to destinations ranging from the Hebrides to the East Coast of Greenland.
Jean-Baptiste Charcot first developed a passion for travel in his adolescence. During this period of his life, he would accompany his father, the famous French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, on voyages to Wales, the Shetland Islands, Holland, Spain, and even Morocco.
From 1902 onwards, he conducted several expeditions to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. His taste for adventure and discovery enabled France to begin undertaking major Polar explorations once again. The last dated back to 1840 and the discovery of Adélie Land by Jules Dumont d'Urville.
It was the beginning of a series of expeditions that would prove richly beneficial in research terms. Jean-Baptiste Charcot returned from each of his missions with plots and sea charts of extensive kilometres of coastline, dozens of cases filled with notes, and both oceanographic samples and zoological/botanical collections, which are still on display today at the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco.
On the 15 September 1936, after having repaired his ship, which had suffered various types of damage when sailing between Greenland and Iceland, Jean-Baptiste Charcot prepared to set out to sea once again. He wrote a telegram: "Storm at 2 am; now calm and flat; we are preparing to set off during the morning after receiving the weather forecast… We are going to depart. What will this crossing be like? " These are the last words of the man now remembered as an outstanding navigator, a seasoned explorer, a doctor and a double Olympic medal winner. An exemplary individual.
A design with sustainable development at its core
Thanks to preliminary exploration, environmental impact studies and protocols developed by the company, Le Commandant Charcot’s itineraries are carefully chosen to be entirely safe for, and respectful of, the environment.
Above and beyond offering its passengers the adventure of a lifetime, PONANT's aim is to raise their awareness of the vulnerability of the Polar environments and turn them into advocates and ambassadors for these regions.
This PONANT polar exploration ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and equipped with the latest in environmental protection technology.
nitrogen oxide emissions
Powered by liquified natural Gas (LNG)
Energy Optimisation System
Latest generation electric batteries to reduce energy consumption
Advanced Waste Water Treatment system
Waste Heat Recovery System
The Icebreaker features perfected “Clean Ship” fittings that go beyond the current industry-standard environmental regulations:
- Reduction of SOx, NOx, CO2 and particle emissions thanks to the use of LNG
- Zero emissions when in electric hybrid mode
- Energy Management optimisation system that precisely measures consumptions and efficiency of ship sailing methods
- Waste Heat Recovery System
- Electric output optimized and consumption reduced through the use of latest generation electric batteries
- Advanced Waste Water Treatment system
Itineraries to places inaccessible until now
With Le Commandant Charcot in its fleet, PONANT will be the world’s only luxury cruise company to offer trips on seas and oceans which only icebreaker ships can navigate.
Thanks to preliminary exploration, environmental impact studies and protocols developed by the company, Le Commandant Charcot itineraries are carefully chosen to be totally safe for and respectful of the environment.
“We are working on a new voyage concept for this extraordinary exploration tool. The hybrid polar exploration ship will enable us to explore unchartered territory which has been inaccessible until now. I have already planned winter cruises through the ice field to Nunavut and Greenland, where guests can see Inuit camps for themselves. Our passengers will be able to go onto the ice and immerse themselves in the lives of these hunters. They will also be able to rub shoulders with Emperor penguins living on the Antarctic sea ice. Finally, the North Pole will no longer be merely an unreachable dream. PONANT will soon be operating the first passenger ship able to reach this iconic location.”
The perpetually moving ice field
Rather than an homogeneous mass, sea ice is a perpetually moving entity which grows, shrinks, fractures, contracts, folds, breaks and deforms in certain places to re-establish itself in others.
Despite appearances, icebreaker ships do not affect this constant movement. When sailing an icebreaker, it is important to aim for those areas of ice which are easiest to break up. Therefore, most icebreaker navigation involves travelling through ice leads (fractures) which are naturally open
The broken ice then knits itself back together when the ship has passed through, in a process that can take between 15 minutes and a day depending on the weather conditions.
We have learnt to navigate alongside nature, rather than to fight it.
PONANT has developed a high-technology ship which even has its own ice routing software so we can visit places where others do not go. The latest and most reliable ice and weather information is used to forecast ice behaviour over a five-day period.
Le Commandant Charcotand its itineraries have been designed to minimise impact as much as possible and maximise learning by making the ship a mobile research observatory.
An oasis of luxury amid the ice
PONANT has joined forces with global ice navigation technology specialist Aker Arctic to develop new and cutting-edge innovations. One result of this collaboration is the PONANT hybrid polar exploration ship’s PC2 Polar Class hull.
Thanks to the Double Action Principle (Aker Arctic DASTM), Le Commandant Charcot will be able to navigate forwards through compact ice and reverse through extreme ice conditions.
With its innovative design, Le Commandant Charcot will achieve unrivaled icebreaking performance.
(Including 68 suites with patio doors
and a private balcony) 135
How to live the experience of the poles with Le Commandant Charcot ?
PONANT pre-booking system
Pre-book * your trip aboard Le Commandant Charcot today by contacting our cruise advisers on AUS 1300 737 178 / NZ 0800 44 32 62.
Ticket Release date
The Spring/Summer 2021 (Arctic) & Winter 2021–2022 (Antarctic) seasons will open for sale on Thursday 11 April, 2019.
Given the high degree of interest in many of our trips, PONANT has put in place a pre-booking system which establishes an order of priority for processing bookings once sales begin. The pre-booking system allows you to you to request a type of stateroom for a given trip prior to the beginning of ticket sales. One week before tickets are officially released, you will receive your detailed itinerary and the final price of your trip (additional services will also be offered: flights, transfers, pre-stays, post-stays). You will then have a period of 5 days to confirm your trip and turn your pre-booking into a booking. PONANT guarantees that the confirmed booking will be at the best available rate.
Any pre-booking request for Le Commandant Charcot requires a deposit of A$400 (including taxes) per passenger or per group booking. When the trip is confirmed, this deposit will be deducted from the total price. If the trip is not confirmed by the time tickets are officially released, with a simple request requiring no justification on your part, this amount will be reimbursed in full or transferred as credit to another PONANT trip of your choice.
Pre-Booking now available
Contact our cruise advisers on
1300 737 178 (AUS)
0800 44 32 62 (NZ)