Beyond exploration
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Beyond exploration

Beyond exploration

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.

Apostrophe 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, and always with complete respect for the environment.

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. Apostrophe

Your captains Dash

Your captains Dash
  • Patrick Marchesseau

    Patrick Marchesseau

  • Etienne Garcia

    Etienne Garcia

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

 

Unexplored territories

The adventure starts here. Choose a polar region and begin your exploration.

Clouds

Antarctica

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.

Antarctica

The emperor penguins of Bellingshausen

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

The emperor penguins of Bellingshausen
  • Capable of withstanding extreme temperatures Capable of withstanding extreme temperatures
  • The world’s largest penguin The world’s largest penguin
  • The Antarctic’s only permanent inhabitant 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 Ross Ice Shelf
  • The height of the ice cliffs The height of the ice cliffs
  • Extends for 800 kilometres Extends for 800 kilometres
  • The world's largest ice shelf 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

Peter I Island
  • 95% of the island is covered in ice 95% of the island is covered in ice
  • First discovery of Peter I Island by Bellingshausen First discovery of Peter I Island by Bellingshausen
  • The distance the island lies from the Antarctic continent 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

The Weddell Sea
  • More than 2.8 million km² More than 2.8 million km²
  • The world’s purest waters The world’s purest waters
  • It lends its name to a species of seal It lends its name to a species of seal

Adelie Land

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.

Adelie Land
  • Discovery by the navigator Jules Dumont D'Urville Discovery by the navigator Jules Dumont D'Urville
  • Home to one of the most important French polar scientific bases Home to one of the most important French polar scientific bases
  • Filming location for <i>The March of the Penguins</i> Filming location for The March of the Penguins

The Arctic

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.

The Arctic

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

Destination: the Geographical North Pole
  • The northernmost point on the planet The northernmost point on the planet
  • The distance from the nearest inhabited land The distance from the nearest inhabited land
  • The first time a ship reached the North Pole 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.

Scoresby Sound, Greenland
  • The largest network of fjords in the world The largest network of fjords in the world
  • The number of inhabitants of Ittoqqortoormiit The number of inhabitants of Ittoqqortoormiit
  • A region surrounded by sea ice for nine months of the year 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.

Franz Joseph Fjord, Greenland
  • Attestupan is the highest coastal cliff in the world Attestupan is the highest coastal cliff in the world
  • At the heart of a UNESCO biosphere reserve At the heart of a UNESCO biosphere reserve
  • The fjord extends over a distance of 190 km 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.

Banks Island, Canada
  • Canada’s fifth largest island Canada’s fifth largest island
  • Archaeological remains over 4,000 years old Archaeological remains over 4,000 years old
  • The largest population of musk oxen in the world 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.

North East Land, Svalbard
  • Europe’s largest ice cap Europe’s largest ice cap
  • The annual migratory zone of polar bears The annual migratory zone of polar bears
  • Svalbard’s largest bird cliff (Alkefjellet) 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
On the ice On the ice

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 On the water
On the water

On the water

Experience the thrill of polar adventures by stepping aboard a kayak, a zodiac or hovercraft 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.

On board On board
On board

On board

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, fascinating presentations and citizen science sessions 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

On board
Le Commandant Charcot

Superbly refined environment, generously sized spaces… Le Commandant Charcot combines sophistication with openness and a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Meet the designers

Prestigious partners

Our partners share our constant quest for excellence and have devoted their expertise and know-how into your onboard experience.

Culinary Excellence

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
Culinary Excellence
Culinary Excellence
Culinary Excellence

Contemporary design

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
Contemporary design
Contemporary design
Contemporary design

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 range of environmentally friendly services
A range of environmentally friendly services
A range of environmentally friendly services

Boutique

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.

Boutique
Boutique
Boutique

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

  • Recycled energy

    Brazier, Blue Lagoon pools and promenade deck benches heated via recuperation of energy generated by the ship’s propulsion system

  • Label Cleanship Super
  • Fondation Ponant
  • IAATO
  • AECO
  • NABU
  • Green Marine Europe
Find out more

Polar exploration
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 and citizen science sessions.

Understanding Sea Ice formation …
Analysing ocean currents …
Studying the marine biology …
Tracking and observing marine megafauna …
Analysing the social and environmental impact of sustainable tourism in the polar environment …

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.

“ By sailing to inaccessible areas for which there is little data available, Le Commandant Charcot is providing scientists with a unique platform for undertaking complex research programmes over the long term. ”

Nicolas Tolstoï

Corporate Expedition leader

and
Daphné Buiron

Specialist science intermediary

Read

In figures

  • 2

    Science laboratories

  • 23

    Naturalist guides

  • 1

    Weather station

Sky Clouds The Arctic The Arctic

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

Ready for adventure ?

Reach the absolute by embarking on a polar exploration abroad Le Commandant Charcot.

Discover the voyages
Read

The origins of Le Commandant Charcot : secrets behind its design

Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Jean-Baptiste Charcot

A pioneer of polar exploration, Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s erudite and scientific approach expanded our knowledge and understanding of the ice. Well-known for his limitless love for nature and his respect for wildlife, he made an impression on his peers through the respectful way he managed his crews, who gave him the nickname “the gentleman of the poles”.

Read
Birth of the project
2015

Birth of the project

One hundred and ten years after Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s first expedition to the Antarctic in 1905, PONANT paid homage to him by developing the very first hybrid-electric deep polar exploration cruise ship. With the aim of better understanding and protecting the polar regions, this vessel embodies and consolidates the philosophy the company has had since its inception: to be an ambassador for responsible tourism and explore unfamiliar regions in the company of experts and passionately devoted scientists.

First drafts of the ship’s overall shape
2015 - 2016

First drafts of the ship’s overall shape

The project has launched! And so, in conjunction with Finnish design and consultancy company Aker Arctic and naval architects SDI (Stirling Design International), begins the process of thinking through the concept and looking at the environmental impact of a cruise ship capable of navigating through the ice to the North Pole.

Ship order placed with shipbuilders VARD
2017

Ship order placed with shipbuilders VARD

PONANT officially announces the commencement of the project. To bring this novel and unique luxury cruise ship/deep polar exploration alliance to fruition, PONANT engages shipbuilders VARD to undertake the project, a company especially reputed for its expertise in building prototypes for ships such as icebreakers, offshore platform support vessels and expedition cruise ships.

Design of the interior spaces
Start of 2018

Design of the interior spaces

Architects and designers Jean-Philippe Nuel and Jean-Michel Wilmotte join the project and present their initial visions for the ship’s interior spaces, which are designed entirely by viewing and contemplating the external environment in mind.

Find out more
Construction
2018

Construction

The traditional steel-cutting and keel-laying ceremonies take place: two key stages marking the official start of the ship-building process.

Installation of Azipod propulsion units
2020

Installation of Azipod propulsion units

Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with two Azipod propulsion units at Saint-Nazaire in western France. Among the most powerful in the world, the units can turn through 360 degrees on their vertical axes, thus giving the ship a high degree of maneuverability on the ice, while at the same time ensuring optimal energy efficiency.

Find out more
Sea trials on the ice
2021

Sea trials on the ice

Teams from PONANT, accompanied by VARD, VIKING and Aker Arctic, test how the ship behaves in real-world situations, first off the coast of Norway, then on the sea ice around northeast Greenland and northern Svalbard. The tests proved a success and were validated by the shipbuilders.

Find out more
First French ship at the North Pole
6 September 2021

First French ship at the North Pole

On 6 September 2021 at 10:38 am, after a few days of sailing from the Svalbard archipelago, Le Commandant Charcot was the first French ship to reach the geographical North Pole: a historical moment which is indicative of the unique adventure of this exceptional ship.

Find out more
Inauguration
Autumn 2021

Inauguration

The inauguration ceremony of Le Commandant Charcot took place in Le Havre on 28 September 2021, marking the beginning of the ship's operations and the opening of its first Antarctic season.

Find out more

The glass panelled rear bridge

To enable a completely safe passage through the ice, Le Commandant Charcot is equipped with two main control rooms, or bridges: one at the front of the ship and the other at the rear. The latter, located next to the gastronomic restaurant, is fitted with a large picture window through which you can immerse yourself in the art of polar navigation by watching the captain and crew as they maneuver the ship.

The glass panelled rear bridge The glass panelled rear bridge The glass panelled rear bridge The glass panelled rear bridge

The Duplex suites

Experience polar exploration from the exquisite comfort of a 94 m² Duplex suite. Enjoy stunning views of the immaculate white scenery from your own private terrace and treat yourself to relaxing moments in your own private jacuzzi.

The Duplex suites The Duplex suites The Duplex suites

The Owner Suite

All private spaces on board reinforce the sense of travelling on a private yacht, and the Owner Suite, with its 115 m² dedicated to refinement and its 186 m² private terrace, is the very quintessence of this.

The Owner Suite The Owner Suite The Owner Suite The Owner Suite

The wine cellar

Savour the purity of the flavours offered by the very best grape varieties and taste the unique characteristics of the most elegant terroirs as expressed through a range of fine wines. The excellence of our wine cellar is one of the main ingredients of the exceptional gastronomic experience you will enjoy on board Le Commandant Charcot.

The wine cellar The wine cellar

The Blue Lagoon and the Braséro

Welcome to the Blue Lagoon, an exterior space dedicated to awakening the senses. After a relaxing bath in the lagoon heated by the energy recuperation system, settle down comfortably by the brazier (Inneq: Inuit for “fire”) and enjoy the delights of the polar landscapes while savouring one of the refined dishes from the bar's à la carte menu.

The Blue Lagoon and the Braséro

The Atrium

Taking centre stage in this comfortable space at the heart of the ship, with its immense skylight, is a monumental artwork created by artist Miguel Chevalier. Raise your eyes to the ceiling for a few moments and marvel in astonishment at the creativity of a master of digital art; or alternatively, settle down in one of the armchairs to enjoy it in a more contemplative manner to the sounds of the musical creations of Michel Redolfi.

The Atrium The Atrium

The Winter Garden sunroom and Detox Bar

Treat yourself to a relaxing moment by the indoor swimming pool (Imaq: “seawater”). Lie back with a detox cocktail in hand and contemplate the magical polar scenery through panoramic windows.

The Winter Garden sunroom and Detox Bar The Winter Garden sunroom and Detox Bar The Winter Garden sunroom and Detox Bar

The Snow Room (Siku : “snow”)

After a moment of relaxation at the spa (Nuan : “wellbeing”/”joy”) or the sauna (Ikuma : “burning heat”), enjoy the beneficial effects of ice at the Snow Room (Siku : Inuit for “snow”). Hot and cold treatments date back to ancient times and are widely recognised for their relaxing and detoxifying benefits.

The Snow Room (<i>Siku</i> : “snow”) The Snow Room (<i>Siku</i> : “snow”)

The Cigar Lounge

Welcome to one of the most exclusive spaces on board the Le Commandant Charcot. Enjoy the delights of a refined selection of fine cigars and spirits.

The Cigar Lounge

The reinforced hull (PC2 class: icebreaker)

Le Commandant Charcot is the first cruise ship in the world to be fitted with a PC2 class (icebreaker) reinforced hull. Its powerful propulsion system and fittings and equipment, which exceed the requirements of the Polar Code, have been designed to enable completely safe navigation through the regions at the furthest extremities of the planet.

Find out more The reinforced hull (PC2 class: icebreaker)

The Promenade deck

Le Commandant Charcot is one of the few cruise ships equipped with an uninterrupted promenade deck around its entire circumference. Watch the pristine white scenery and the polar wildlife from a superb vantage point. Then, when enjoying a walk around, stop for a break on one of the benches heated by the energy recuperation system, whenever the fancy strikes you.

The Promenade deck The Promenade deck

The bow

The bow is accessible at the heliport and, uniquely for a cruise ship, offers the possibility of standing above the prow directly facing the icy immensity and experiencing the unforgettable sensation of being the only visitor to this fascinating world.

The bow