Aboard the World's Only Luxury Icebreaker
The white paradise welcomes you to its sanctuary. Discover its immensity, its unexplored wonders. Voyage to the absolute on an environmentally friendly and respectful polar odyssey.
Navigating through the ice
Explore the limits of the known world with our captains – experts in ice and passionate about the polar environment – at periods of the year when these extreme latitudes are still frozen.
The poles are more than just mere destinations. They govern our very existence.
It’s our privilege to be able to take you to the polar regions: an achievement reserved for just a handful of people around the world. Because navigating through the ice is both an art and a skill, the fruit of a never-ending learning process demanding patience and humility.
Using a combination of the very latest technologies available together with maneuvering techniques acquired through decades of training, we constantly adjust and adapt our trajectory to the weather conditions as we progress.
Creators of emotions, we are at once both participants and spectators. Each voyage is like the first: unique.
Every moment we spend together here is precious and unforgettable because every second exploring the white paradise is a part of ourselves we are discovering.
Captain Patrick Marchesseau: A PONANT captain since 2004, Patrick has been captaining the polar expedition cruises since 2010. Find out more
Captain Etienne Garcia: As a captain during the inaugural polar seasons, Etienne was involved in scouting and mapping out unique new itineraries, such as the first voyage through the Northwest Passage. Find out more
The adventure starts here. Choose a polar region and begin your exploration.
Explore the last remaining unspoiled continent on the planet, a land of extremes extending far beyond its peninsula and far inside the Antarctic Circle; a land where nature reveals itself in all its power and unbounded immensity. Encounter an exceptional range of wildlife in the magical surroundings of marine sanctuaries overlooked by monumental ice shelves, cathedral-like icebergs and unexplored volcanic islands covered with voluptuous blankets of snow, and witness the lords of these realms, the emperor penguins.
The emperor penguins
It starts with a singing you can hear in the distance, a melody that makes your heart beat faster and causes you to forget the kilometres covered. You then begin to make out the slender lines, the almost human silhouettes standing out against the pristine whiteness, the choreographed ballet of a mysterious society few have been able to get up close to, and which holds the secret of survival in the polar environment: a unique encounter with the sentinel of the Antarctic. Read
- Capable of withstanding extreme temperatures
- The world’s largest penguin
- The Antarctic’s only permanent inhabitant
The Ross Ice Shelf
Sail through the Ross Sea, the largest marine sanctuary in the world, and see the Antarctic’s largest ice shelf. It was from the shores of this very sea, located just a few hundred kilometres from the South Pole, that the very first explorers set out on their quest to reach this legendary point on the earth's surface. Read
- The height of the ice cliffs
- Extends for 800 kilometres
- The world's largest ice shelf
Peter I Island
Experience the sensation of approaching Peter I Island and feeling what it was like for the very first explorers as they surveyed the coast, attempting to define the contours of this new continent gradually taking shape over the course of their exploits. The rare creatures privileged enough to have set foot on the island's enigmatic shores, passed over its sheer cliffs, and ascended to its mist-shrouded summit are marine birds: petrels, indefatigable Arctic terns and skuas. Read
- 95% of the island is covered in ice
- First discovery of Peter I Island by Bellingshausen
- The distance the island lies from the Antarctic continent
The Weddell Sea
To explore the Weddell Sea is to venture into one of the most unspoiled ecosystems on the planet. Marvel at the giant Larsen ice sheets that break off from the ice cap exposed waters imprisoned beneath the ice for tens of thousands of years, and discover an unexplored world that still has many secrets to reveal. Read
- More than 2.8 million km²
- The world’s purest waters
- It lends its name to a species of seal
As one of the key sites for international polar research, Terre Adélie is home to the French Dumont-d'Urville research station. Like a scientist arriving for their first winter on the White Continent, set out for the blizzard-swept shores of one of Antarctica's most iconic regions, immortalised in Luc Jacquet's 2005 film, The March of the Penguins. Read
- Discovery by the navigator Jules Dumont D'Urville
- Home to one of the most important French polar scientific bases
- Filming location for The March of the Penguins
Embark on a voyage to the most extreme latitudes of the Far North: sail through an immense ocean covered in sea ice, dotted with majestic icebergs, and with icy fjords overlooked by snow-covered mountains around the islands and along the coast. The gateway to the Arctic – kingdom of the polar bear, sovereign of an untamed natural world – is proudly guarded by wise peoples who have managed to keep their thousand-year-old culture and way of life alive. The culminating point of the voyage: the legendary North Pole.
Destination: the Geographical North Pole
Enter into the legendary history of polar exploration and push back the limits of the known world. As you slowly progress through the highest latitudes of the Arctic Ocean to reach this legendary point on the earth's surface, the immensity of the drifting ice sheet reveals itself, its topography and reflections ever-changing and the wildlife that inhabits it regal and majestic. Read
- The northernmost point on the planet
- The distance from the nearest inhabited land
- The first time a ship reached the North Pole
Scoresby Sound, Greenland
See and admire the sumptuous scenery of the largest and deepest fjord system in the world. Lying overlooked in the north by the Stauning Alps and their dizzyingly high summits, the fish-filled shimmering waters of Scoresby Sound are covered with a sheet of ice for nine months of the year: a vital ecosystem for the tiny community of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most northerly village of Greenland’s east coast. Read
- The largest network of fjords in the world
- The number of inhabitants of Ittoqqortoormiit
- A region surrounded by sea ice for nine months of the year
Franz Joseph Fjord, Greenland
Explore the steeply rock-walled meanders of the majestic Franz Joseph Fjord at Northeast Greenland National Park in the northern part of Scoresby Sound. A UNESCO designated biosphere reserve, the park is overlooked by ochre-tinged rock formations such as Teufelschloss, which rises to a height of 1,300 metres, making it a place of startlingly contrasting scenery.
- Attestupan is the highest coastal cliff in the world
- At the heart of a UNESCO biosphere reserve
- The fjord extends over a distance of 190 km
Banks Island, Canada
Travel to the remotest shores of the legendary Northwest Passage and disembark on Banks Island, the most westerly part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The island's mountainous topography formed from ancient glacial valleys is the location of Aulavik National Park, which is home to a particularly rich range of wildlife and over 65,000 musk oxen.
- Canada’s fifth largest island
- Archaeological remains over 4,000 years old
- The largest population of musk oxen in the world
North East Land, Svalbard
Visit the outskirts of the most northerly island of the Svalbard archipelago: North East Land. This vast polar desert at the edge of the Arctic ice sheet is covered by an immense ice cap extending into the Arctic Ocean, forming the largest ice shelf in the Northern Hemisphere. The iceberg-dotted Hinlopen Strait, to the west, provides a refuge for the iconic wildlife of the Far North.
- Europe’s largest ice cap
- The annual migratory zone of polar bears
- Svalbard’s largest bird cliff (Alkefjellet)
Immersive polar experiences
Live and breathe to the rhythm of the poles in the company of our naturalist guides, experts in polar regions. 1 for every 10 guests : creating a small group off-ship experience.
Find out more
On the ice
Venture away from the shore in the muffled silence of the vast polar desert, lulled only by the crunching of snowshoes and the regular rhythm of your breathing. Access the most beautiful vantage points and enjoy the views they offer over the icy expanse. Feel the breeze of the Far north on your face as you sit comfortably on a sled driven by a local musher and his dogs; their natural instinct for wide open spaces guiding them on their way. Meet the Inuit at their winter camps and experience a taste of what it’s like to be one of the last remaining polar hunters. Read
On the water
Experience the thrill of polar adventures by stepping aboard a kayak or a zodiac to get up close and personal with the wildlife. And even at the poles, the call of the sea inspires the most audacious to become one with the environment by experiencing icy waters wearing a dry suit or simply ordinary swimwear. This is truly a magical moment to experience.
The exploration continues on board, with experts providing incisive and invaluable insights as they decode this fascinating ecosystem with you; covering topics such as biology, history, geology and the study of the ice and the oceans. By featuring observations from the decks and fascinating presentations involve rewarding in-depth discussions about research and protecting the poles, all with the purpose of creating a better understanding of the place of man in his environment. Read
Le Commandant Charcot
Superbly refined environment, generously sized spaces… Le Commandant Charcot combines sophistication with openness and a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Meet the designers
Our partners share our constant quest for excellence and have devoted their expertise and know-how into your onboard experience.
Le Commandant Charcot is proud to feature the first Alain Ducasse restaurant at sea. Guests will be treated to an artful blend of flavors paired with strict preparation. A 21 Michelin star chef, Ducasse has designed a menu of culinary masterpieces using only the finest ingredients.Find out more
Jean-Philippe Nuel and Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the designers responsible for the overall appearance and lighting of the interior spaces of Le Commandant Charcot, have magnified the exterior environment through the use of large openings, refined lines and light tones. The easy circulation of people results in a refined cruise experience that positively invites you to gaze upon and contemplate the world outside.Read
A range of environmentally friendly services
Natural active ingredients, recycled or organically sourced packaging, support for local economies, combating plastic pollution: the Biologique Recherche and Davines professional care products offered at the spa combine innovation with commitment to protecting the planet.
A veritable laboratory of polar trends designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the boutique (Illu: “house”) is a further extension of the onboard cruise experience. Choose from a range of environmentally friendly products from the most respected name brands: jewellery, watches, accessories, expedition clothing, and personalised souvenirs. Plastics and packaging have been reduced to a minimum.
Exploring the most remote and inaccessible regions of our planet involves a considerable amount of responsibility: the responsibility of limiting the traces we leave behind. More than just a commitment, respecting the ecosystems is the fundamental condition for these unprecedented voyages in these regions to take place.
Le Commandant Charcot is paving the way in this respect. It is the first deep polar exploration cruise ship to be equipped with a hybrid liquefied natural gas (currently the cleanest energy available) propulsion system and a bank of high-capacity batteries.
This new propulsion system is also combined with the use of the latest available green technologies, resulting in an all-round approach designed with a single aim in mind: to minimise the impact of your polar odyssey on the planet and make a positive contribution to the peoples and lands visited and encountered.
Hybrid propulsion and optimised consumption
Hybrid LNG propulsion system, battery bank and zero emission on electric mode, routing software, energy management and speed limitation systems to optimise and maintain consumption at as low a level as possible
Wildlife protection and zero-impact shore excursions
Impact studies, strict protocols in accordance with IAATO and AECO directives, and measures aimed at raising awareness amongst passengers to ensure we leave no traces behind on our excursions
Positive social, economic and cultural contributions
In the Arctic: delivering of supplies to remote areas, itinerary development in consultation with local communities, cultural exchanges during the voyages and support for development or environmental protection projects through the PONANT Foundation
Respect for marine ecosystems
Seabed and marine wildlife detectors, anchor-free electronic positioning system used in protected areas, ballast water treatment and hull antifouling, zero breaking of ancient ice, noise and vibration reduction, and zero fine particle emissions all work together to preserve these pristine regions
Supply provision through local distribution channels
Supplies replenished through local producers at ports of embarkation, depending on product availability
Brazier, Blue Lagoon pools and promenade deck benches heated via recuperation of energy generated by the ship’s propulsion system
driven by science
A ship of scientific opportunity, Le Commandant Charcot is equipped with its own laboratories and hosts scientific researchers in disciplines such as glaciology, oceanography, marine biology, climatology and the social sciences. Their expertise provides invaluable insight in understanding and protecting the polar regions, expertise that is shared onboard through presentations.
Understanding Sea Ice formation …
… by deploying instrument-equipped buoys to record atmospheric, temperature, salinity and other physicochemical characteristics of the water; taking ice core samples from the ice sheet in order to study its chemical composition; or using drones to map the distribution and sizes of drifting ice sheets or polynyas.
Analysing ocean currents …
… by recording the physicochemical parameters of the water and currents (speed, direction); evaluating temporal and spatial variations in the water at the surface via samples collected using a thermosalinometer; or using a sonar to map the seabed’s topography.
Studying the marine biology …
… by collecting samples of seawater and surveying the microorganisms present (phytoplankton, zooplankton); using a sonar to build a picture of the distribution and behaviour of the marine organisms living in the water column (particularly Antarctic krill); using an ROV equipped with video cameras and sensors to study the composition, behaviour and habitat of marine organisms.
Tracking and observing marine megafauna …
… by conducting visual counts of mammals and marine birds; keeping records of individuals using photo identification; taking samples to study their diet and analyse any contamination present; fitting Argos transponders to marine birds or mammals to track their movements and diving behaviour.
Analysing the social and environmental impact of sustainable tourism in the polar environment …
… by evaluating the effectiveness of the biodiversity protection protocols in place; identifying current and future challenges for sustainable development for these regions and their inhabitants; and studying areas in which science and polar tourism can work together.
Prizes and awards
Prize expedition cruise ship of the year
Awarded to Le Commandant Charcot at the 15th edition of the Seatrade Cruise Awards
Winner in the Ambassador category
Awarded to Le Commandant Charcot at the 2021 Contract Palmarès for French Furniture
N°1 in the Boutique Cruise Company in Europe
Awarded to PONANT at the World Luxury Travel Awards 2021
Best Adventure Cruise Line
Awarded to PONANT at the Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards 2019 and 2020