Beyond exploration

Beyond exploration

Embark the only passenger ship in the world to have visited both the Geographic North Pole, and reached the most southerly point on the planet, the edge of the Antarctic.

A world first

Explore the limits of the known world, at times of year when high latitudes are still covered in ice.

Start the adventure Start the adventure

Unique experiences amidst the ice

On board the only passenger ship in the world with a Polar Class 2 hull, which allows for navigation through multiyear ice, enjoy rare moments communing with nature, unique experiences that only Le Commandant Charcot can offer you.

Reach the inaccessible

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

Clouds
Globe
  • <i>Le Commandant Charcot</i> exclusive navigation zone Le Commandant Charcot exclusive navigation zone
  • Ice shelves Ice shelves

Antarctica: in the South, dream further away

Explore regions of the world no other conventional ship can venture to, thanks to the extraordinary abilities of Le Commandant Charcot, the only passenger ship able to navigate through ice-covered waters, whether early or late in the season. Discover unexplored landscapes and scenery: cathedral-sized icebergs, volcanic islands covered in thick blankets of snow, and shacks of the first explorers to reach Antarctica; you may even be lucky enough to spot the iconic Emperor penguin or Ross seal.

Antarctica: in the South, dream further away

The fascinating Weddell Sea

Exclusive

Only Le Commandant Charcot can take you beyond the Antarctic Circle in the Weddell Sea. This immense frozen desert is an extraordinary world, with sea ice extending as far as the eye can see, and titanic tabular icebergs offering a stunningly scenic setting for colonies of Adélie penguins and the iconic emperor penguin. Seeing and observing them is a true privilege. Read

The fascinating 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

Marie Byrd Land: terrae nullius

Exclusive

First discovered in 1929 and belonging to no state, making it one of the last remaining terrae nullius, Marie Byrd Land is one of our planet’s most inaccessible places. Because it’s bordered by the Amundsen Sea, visiting it offers an opportunity to discover remote, isolated places such as Sipple Island and Pine Island Bay, which are only accessible thanks to the capabilities of Le Commandant Charcot.

Marie Byrd Land: <i>terrae nullius</i>
  • Sail this entire length on one of our expedition cruise: the longest in the world to the Antarctic Sail this entire length on one of our expedition cruise: the longest in the world to the Antarctic
  • Claimed by no state. Zero inhabitants Claimed by no state. Zero inhabitants
  • The depth of an ice core extracted in 1968 by the Americans The depth of an ice core extracted in 1968 by the Americans

The Ross Sea, “The last ocean”

Exclusive

By entering into the sea ice at the base of the largest ice shelf in the Antarctic, Le Commandant Charcot is the only passenger ship able to sail up close to the shores of this extreme sea. Nicknamed “the last ocean,” the Ross Sea is a hugely significant place in the history of South Pole exploration, and offers breathtaking views of Mount Erebus, the highest summit on the White Continent. Read

The Ross Sea, “The last ocean”
  • The height of Mount Erebus The height of Mount Erebus
  • Extends for 800 kilometres Extends for 800 kilometres
  • The world's largest ice shelf The world's largest ice shelf

Adélie Land, a frozen Eden

Exclusive

Le Commandant Charcot is the only passenger ship to sail through one of the most inaccessible and iconic regions of the Antarctic. The French science station of Dumont d’Urville, which is located on Petrel Island and named after the eponymous French explorer who explored the region in 1840, is a place where researchers live side by side with Adélie penguins, seals, killer whales and, in the southern winter, emperor penguins. Read

Adélie Land, a frozen Eden
  • 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

Marguerite Bay, a haven of tranquillity

Marguerite Bay, which was named by Jean-Baptiste Charcot in homage to his wife during his scientific expedition of 1908 to 1910, is one of Antarctica's most beautiful regions. Extending out in the form of a deep blue tableau crowned by the heights of Adelaide Island, it provides a spectacular setting for whale watching and the observation of both leopard seals and Adélie penguins.

Marguerite Bay, a haven of tranquillity
  • South of the Antarctic Circle South of the Antarctic Circle
  • The Russian admiral Bellingshausen was first to reach it The Russian admiral Bellingshausen was first to reach it
  • The region where for the first time, two women overwintered in the Antarctic The region where for the first time, two women overwintered in the Antarctic

The Magnetic South Pole, a legendary geographical point

Exclusive

Sail in the footsteps of the great explorers who were gripped by the quest to find the Magnetic South Pole: James Clark Ross, Jules Dumont d’Urville, Robert Falcon Scott, and Claude Lorius. Though the Geographic South Pole is a fixed point, the Magnetic South Pole shifts position. Since 1960, it has been located around 300 km off the coast in the sea.

The Magnetic South Pole, a legendary geographical point
  • The point currently drifts five to eight kilometres per year The point currently drifts five to eight kilometres per year
  • In 1950, the Magnetic SouthPole was located in Adélie Land In 1950, the Magnetic SouthPole was located in Adélie Land
  • Point was established for the first time on an expedition led by Dumont d’Urville Point was established for the first time on an expedition led by Dumont d’Urville

The Far North as you have never seen it before

Sail along the crooked coast of Greenland or the meandering St. Lawrence River; navigate the ins and outs of the Norwegian fjords or admire the Baltic Sea; discover the Gulf of Bothnia or journey all the way to the North Pole. On board Le Commandant Charcot, you will become enthralled by the Arctic, from the spectacular Midnight Sun to the kaleidoscopic Northern Lights, and from meeting the local indigenous peoples to sighting polar bears with the naked eye.

The Far North as you have never seen it before

The two North Poles

Exclusive

Following in the traces of Frederick Cook, Robert Edwin Peary, and Roald Amundsen, join the ranks of the rare people to have ventured to the North Pole or – exclusively, and for the very first time in the world – sailed a transarctic route. This slow ascent in search of the two North Poles, geographic and magnetic, through landscapes frozen by the cold, yet constantly changing, and inaccessible to conventional ships, is a challenging endeavour. Read

The two North Poles
  • 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

In the realm of the polar bear

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 pack 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.

In the realm of the polar bear
  • 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)

The world's largest fjord : Scoresby Sound

Exclusive

Le Commandant Charcot is the only passenger ship in the world able to reach the entrance to this fjord when it’s still iced over just after the end of winter, thus offering the opportunity for an immersive experience with the Ittoqqortoormiit community in the most northerly village of Greenland’s east coast. A particularly dramatic and intense experience in this early spring, when Le Commandant Charcot is the first ship of the year to bring supplies to the still icebound village. Read

The world's largest fjord : Scoresby Sound
  • 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

The ice cathedrals of Disko Bay

Exclusive

Discovering Disko Bay and its monumental icebergs is a privilege: no other passenger ship in the world can sail there so early in the season. Le Commandant Charcot offers you the unique experience of spending several days in total immersion, at the pace of the Inuit communities, in communion with this magical setting and its wildlife.

The ice cathedrals of Disko Bay
  • Unesco World Heritage Site Unesco World Heritage Site
  • Largest icebergs in the northern hemisphere Largest icebergs in the northern hemisphere
  • Beluga and narwhal sightings Beluga and narwhal sightings

An immersive experience deep in the Quebec winter

Exclusive

Le Commandant Charcot is the first and only passenger ship to venture onto the frozen St. Lawrence River in winter, offering a privileged opportunity to explore, in 360°, all the riches this region has to offer: hiking in forests covered with thick blankets of snow, fishing in a temporary village set up on the sea ice, gliding through the landscape in dog sleds, listening to the stories of the Innu, there are countless opportunities in the Far North. Behind the scenes: discover our teams scouting the destinations See the video

An immersive experience deep in the Quebec winter
  • The height of the highest cliffs The height of the highest cliffs
  • One of the world's longest fjords One of the world's longest fjords
  • Covered in ice in winter Covered in ice in winter

The islands of Lofoten: the soul of Norway

An iconic archipelago, the Lofoten Islands encapsulate the entire beauty of Norway. The jagged peaks overlook quiet, little-visited fjords, refuges for colourfully picturesque, traditional fishing villages which seem frozen in time: a scenically enchanting fairytale landscape rendered sublime by the autumn light reflecting off a fine blanket of snow.

The islands of Lofoten: the soul of Norway
  • Beyond the Arctic Circle Beyond the Arctic Circle
  • Possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis Possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis
  • The archipelago is made up of 80 islands The archipelago is made up of 80 islands

Ready for adventure ?

Discover a selection of iconic travel experiences aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Complete polar immersion


Enjoy immersive, authentic experiences designed and conceived by an expert expedition team with a passion for the polar regions.

On the ice

On the ice

On the ice

Whether the Arctic or Antarctic, the vast polar landscape sets the pace. The rhythm of footsteps on the ice is matched by the rhythm of calmer breathing. In the Far North, on a sledge pulled by exhilarated dogs, the instinct for wide open spaces takes over, and the deep soul of Greenland is revealed through encounters with the last hunters of the poles or a polar trek guided by Inuits.

On the ice
On the ice
On the water

On the water

On the water

The ocean is where it all happens: the buzz of kayaking between icebergs, observing extraordinary wildlife from an inflatable boat, immersing yourself completely during a polar plunge... The thrill of adventure begins on the water.

On the water
On the water
On board

On board

On board

Biology, history, geology, the study of the ice and the oceans, protecting the environment… Observe and unlock the secrets of the ecosystem during zodiac cruises, from the ship’s decks with your expedition team, and through fascinating talks and lectures. With around twenty naturalist guides per departure, this is one of the best ratios in the world for this type of trip.

On board
On board
Photo<br/> ambassadors

Photo
ambassadors

Photo<br/> ambassadors

Because photos still remain a fantastic way to bring our best memories to life, take advantage of the onboard presence of Photo Ambassadors on many of our sailings. Specialists in the polar regions, they will help and advise you about capturing the best moments of your voyage through special workshops and lectures.

Photo<br/> ambassadors
Photo<br/> ambassadors

Interior – Exterior:
an invisible boundary

The ship's design, conceived by interior design specialists Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel and Wilmotte & Associés, invites the polar environment on board through a subtle blend of the Danish concept of hygge - the sense of being in a comforting environment bathed in positive energy - and Norwegian friluftsliv – the pleasure of life in the open air.

  • <i>Hygge</i>

    Hygge

    The mellow enveloping comfort of interior spaces open to the exterior

  • Browse some of the art books dedicated to travel provided in the library of the brightly luminous Anori observation lounge (Anori means “wind” in Inuit); enjoy a relaxing moment at the Main Lounge in a warm and friendly musical ambiance; or pay a visit to the Cigar Lounge, one of the ship’s uniquely exclusive spaces.

  • Deck 9: relax by the Imaq indoor pool (Imaq is “seawater” in Inuit) as you sip a smoothie or fresh juice from the detox bar; take advantage of the personalised services available at the Nuan spa (Nuan is Inuit for “well-being/happiness”) or at the hairstyling and manicure salon ; or treat yourself to a Nordic ritual in at the sauna (“burning heat”) or the Siku (“snow”).

  • Savour the delights of one of Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’s signature dishes at Nuna (the “Earth” in Inuit) – the only Alain Ducasse gastronomic restaurant at sea – with spectacular snow-covered scenery as your décor.

  • The ship features an immersive art trail extending across its various different spaces. Sculptures, blown glass, ceramics, photographs, paintings, digital art… Each piece of art takes inspiration from materials and scenery offered by the polar landscapes.

  • Read

    On deck 9, visit the buffet restaurant Sila (“Heaven”).

  • <i>Frilutsliv</i>

    Frilutsliv

    Connection with the polar environment

  • Admire 360°C views of the surrounding scenery along the promenade deck – a possibility rarely found on passenger ships – and take time out for a break on one of the benches heated via energy recuperation.

  • Settle down comfortably to enjoy a hot drink in the heated armchairs of the Inneq exterior bar (Inneq is Inuit for “fire”).

  • Surrounded by polar scenery, relax in the waters of the Blue Lagoon, heated to between 27°C and 37°C via energy recuperation.

  • Observe wildlife through the Swarovski Optik telescopes provided for your use on the observation lounge terrace at the front of the ship.

  • Enjoy a front-row view from the ship’s bow, and experience, for a moment, the unforgettable sensation of being all alone while facing the immense frozen expanse.

  • Staterooms and suites with a view

    Staterooms and suites with a view

    Private terrace or balcony
    for 100% of staterooms and suites

  • Owner's Suite: 115 m² dedicated to refinement, extended by a private terrace (186 m²).

  • Duplex Suites (94 m²): enjoy a breathtaking view of the immaculate landscape from your room or terrace (26 m²).

  • Privilege Suites: let yourself be lulled by the cosy atmosphere of your suite (48 m²) with a lounge opening onto a private balcony (12.5 m²).

  • Prestige Suites: admire the polar landscapes from your bedroom, lounge, or private balcony (10 m²).

  • Read

    Visit one of the Duplex Suites offering exceptional views and ultimate comfort on two levels.

Prestigious partners

Because the constant quest for excellence is what drives us, the entire knowledge and expertise of some of the very best artisans and experts has been brought onboard to highlight your experience.

Culinary excellence

Nuna (“Earth”, in Inuit), the only Alain Ducasse gastronomic restaurant at sea, takes a fine à la carte menu specially designed by the Michelin-starred chef, as well as certain of his signature dishes, voyaging to extreme environments. In addition to this fine gastronomical offering, there is also a second restaurant and a grill serving a range of deliciously healthy and refined cuisine.

Find out more
Culinary excellence
Culinary excellence
Culinary excellence

The polar environment is showcased to sublime effect.

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
The polar environment is showcased to sublime effect.
The polar environment is showcased to sublime effect.
The polar environment is showcased to sublime effect.

Eco-friendly personalised care products.

The Biologique Recherche range of professional care products for the skin and body, and the Davines range for the hair, combine innovation and personalisation with commitment to the planet. From complex formulas adapted to each individual and the extreme polar environment, made from natural, fair-trade active ingredients, they also help combat plastic pollution with their eco-friendly packaging.

Eco-friendly personalised care products.
Eco-friendly personalised care products.
Eco-friendly personalised care products.

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 products from the most respected name brands: jewellery, watches, accessories, expedition clothing and souvenirs.

Boutique
Boutique
Boutique
A pioneering<br/> ship

A pioneering
ship

Designed for sailing in the planet’s most inaccessible regions and helmed by experienced captains with expertise in navigating through ice, Le Commandant Charcot has already demonstrated its ability to go further and beyond; she goes where others do not venture.

Ross Sea Pine Island Bay McClure Strait North Pole Tasiilaq
78°44.3’S
Ross Sea

The first ship in the world to reach the southernmost navigable latitude, in the Ross Sea, in February 2022.

Captain Patrick Marchesseau
We were enclosed by fog when we discovered the furthest point south ever reached by a ship. I didn't know that a fortnight earlier, an American icebreaker had arrived slightly further north, claiming the record. I met its captain a few months later, and he took the news really well! Captain Patrick Marchesseau
74°50'S, 102°40'W
Pine Island Bay

In February 2023, Le Commandant Charcot became the first passenger ship to venture to Pine Island Bay, at the south-eastern tip of the Amundsen Sea, on the first-ever half-circumnavigation of Antarctica. One of the longest expedition voyages ever made, in terms of both distance and time, for which PONANT also holds the record (over 14,400 km covered).

Captain Stanislas Devorsine
It's one of the most beautiful ocean voyages I've ever made. We've been to regions that we've actually discovered, and where, with the exception of a few scientists some 20 years ago, nobody has ever been. Every day, we had the impression that we had reached the pinnacle of what Antarctica had to offer and yet, the next day, it was a new wonder. Captain Stanislas Devorsine
74°42'N, 117°00'O
McClure Strait

The first cruise ship to pass through the McClure Strait, at the mouth of the Beaufort Sea in the Canadian Northwest Territories, in September 2022. This historic voyage gave our guests the chance to observe many polar bears.

Captain Étienne Garcia
The McClure Strait is regularly impassable, with thick ice, and the weather is difficult to predict in this region. Le Commandant Charcot is designed for this kind of challenge, which is a real highlight for me as a sailor. Captain Étienne Garcia
90th Parallel North
North Pole

The first French vessel to reach the Geographic North Pole in September 2021. It took its first guests there in July 2022.

Captain Patrick Marchesseau
It is with great humility, and emotion that we have reached this latitude, each of us aware of the exceptional character of this moment we have been living. Captain Patrick Marchesseau
65°36′N, 37°38′O
Tasiilaq

The first ever passenger ship to deliver supplies to the isolated villages of Greenland’s northeast coast early in the season. This project has now been extended over the long-term and will be widened to include other communities in western Greenland.

Captain Patrick Marchesseau
Being the first ship to ensure deliveries in May, which is two months earlier in the year than what has customarily been done, is something undreamed of by the population. Captain Patrick Marchesseau

Innovation at the service
of the environment

Le Commandant Charcot leads the way in terms of equipment
designed to reduce her impact on the environment.

The world's most powerful azipods

  • 360° propulsion units for forward and reverse travel
  • Exceptional safety and manoeuvrability in ice

Use of dockside batteries to avoid atmospheric emissions

Blue Lagoon baths and benches on the promenade deck heated by recycled energy generated by the ship’s propulsion

Drinking water

Drinking water is produced directly on board using Nordaq technology, which enables bottling in glass containers

Hybrid propulsion

  • Use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and electric batteries: up to -20% carbon emissions, -85% nitrogen oxide and 95% fin particle discharge
  • One of the few cruise ships in the world to be equipped with such a large battery bank
  • The only ship in the world to be able to run on LNG for a month and a half, thanks to two 4,500 m3 tanks

Respectful towards marine ecosystems

  • Bottom and sea creature detectors
  • Electronic positioning system without the need for anchoring in protected areas
  • Ballast water processing
  • Reduced noise and vibrations

Recycling and traceability

  • Glass, cardboard, hard plastics and metal compacted, kept in cold storage, unloaded and processed by specialist companies
  • Seawater treatment and recycling

Controlled energy consumption

Propulsion :

  • Optimisation of navigation routes thanks to custom-developed software
  • Energy management systems
  • Ship speed limitation

Hotel :

  • Use of LED bulbs: -75% reduction in energy consumption

At dockside

Use of dockside batteries to avoid atmospheric emissions

PC2 hull

The only passenger ship in the world with a PC2 polar-class hull, ensuring safe passage through ice, inaccessible to other expedition ships. The most powerful ships are classed as PC1 (no passenger ships are included) and can operate in ice-covered waters throughout the year.

The traveller's
code of ethics

Each of us can contribute to building a better world. Travelling aboard Le Commandant Charcot means committing to leaving a minimal footprint, in line with the values we defend and share in this code of ethics. In polar regions, the expedition team will provide you with guidance for ensuring compliance with the IAATO and AECO regulations, the organisations that govern these regions.

A SHIP OF OPPORTUNITY FOR SCIENCE

Le Commandant Charcot explores some of the most remote and inaccessible regions of our planet. She was conceived from the outset as a ship of opportunity designed to help achieve the ambitions of the PONANT Science programme, namely to forge close partnerships with major players in international academic research with the aim of expanding their knowledge of polar ecosystems.

102
m² dedicated to science
  • Two laboratories: one wet, one dry, and both equipped to the standards of the international oceanographic fleet
  • One computer server room
1
Ferrybox
  • FerryBox is a system that continuously analyses seawater sampled from beneath the ship's hull. It collects data on vital chemicophysical variables: dissolved oxygen content (O₂), temperature, salinity, partial pressure of CO₂ (pCO₂) and pH.
100
researchers
  • From 2021 to 2023, nearly 100 scientists from all over the world, working on around 30 projects, have been hosted on board.

“The fact that Le Commandant Charcot repeatedly explores the same routes is of particular interest and use to the scientific community. For some projects, it can be about establishing an initial picture, especially where studies dealing with species distribution are concerned.”

<b>Marion Fourquez</b>,<br/> Head of PONANT Sciences Marion Fourquez,
Head of PONANT Sciences

IMPROVING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE OCEANS

Le Commandant Charcot is equipped with instruments that continuously measure atmospheric conditions, various key ocean variables, and the thickness of the sea ice. This data is made available to the international scientific community in the form of open data, in near real-time. Additionally, oceanographic buoys are deployed on behalf of various different research institutes.

HOSTING SCIENTIFIC MISSIONS

Le Commandant Charcot offers research teams from all over the world the opportunity to spend time on board taking samples and making observations relating to a variety of different fields, such as glaciology, microbiology and the analysis of climate change and its impact on ecosystems and species distribution.

The missions are chosen within the framework of Europe's ARICE (Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium) call for projects, which is overseen by a committee of independent experts. This process is now part of the international Polar Research Infrastructure Network (POLARIN) aimed at bolstering scientific collaboration with respect to the poles. The partnership signed in 2023 between PONANT and POLARIN is symbolic of the cruise line's long-term commitment to polar research.

Awards and Recognition

  • “Best Cruise Ships in the World” awarded by the <i>Condé Nast Traveler magazine</i> in its <i>Gold List 2023</i>

    “Best Cruise Ships in the World” awarded by the Condé Nast Traveler magazine in its Gold List 2023

  • The Arctic on board <i>Le Commandant Charcot</i> among the 50 most beautiful places in the world – 2022 <i>TIME</i>’s “World’s Greatest Places”

    The Arctic on board Le Commandant Charcot among the 50 most beautiful places in the world – 2022 TIME’s “World’s Greatest Places”

  • “Cruise ship of the year” awarded to <i>Le Commandant Charcot</i> at the 15th edition of the <i>Seatrade Cruise Awards 2021</i>

    “Cruise ship of the year” awarded to Le Commandant Charcot at the 15th edition of the Seatrade Cruise Awards 2021

  • Winner of the Jury's Prize in the maritime category, awarded to PONANT at the <i>Responsible Travel Cesars 2023</i>

    Winner of the Jury's Prize in the maritime category, awarded to PONANT at the Responsible Travel Cesars 2023

  • Winner of the Sustainability Awards, awarded to PONANT at the <i>Aspire Awards 2022</i>

    Winner of the Sustainability Awards, awarded to PONANT at the Aspire Awards 2022

  • Special Achievement Awards – Outstanding Environmental Initiative, awarded to <i>Le Commandant Charcot</i> by the Global Traveler's readers at the <i>Global Traveler Leisure Lifestyle Awards 2022</i>

    Special Achievement Awards – Outstanding Environmental Initiative, awarded to Le Commandant Charcot by the Global Traveler's readers at the Global Traveler Leisure Lifestyle Awards 2022

  • One of the most environmentally friendly cruise companies, according to the German NGO Nabu

    One of the most environmentally friendly cruise companies, according to the German NGO Nabu

Follow the adventures of Le Commandant Charcot 
on our online magazine and social networks

    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 a more 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.

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    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
    Hand drag
    Tour of <i>Le Commandant Charcot</i>:<br/> follow the guide
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    Beyond exploration
    Sound

    For an even more immersive experience
    activate your sound

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