July 31, 2022

Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury icebreaker, reached the geographic North Pole, marking the first time for a luxury passenger vessel to bring travelers to the most northern point of the Earth’s axis of rotation.
The “Le Commandant Charcot,” named after a famous French explorer, reached the North Pole on July 13 after several days of breaking its way through hundreds of kilometers of pack ice. The ship departed for the North Pole from Longyearbyen in Svalbard. The North Pole expedition will end in Iceland after 15 days. In August and September 2022, two more voyages to the North Pole from/to Longyearbyen are on offer. In summer 2023, four departures to the North Pole are planned.
This is a highly symbolic achievement for Ponant as an expert in expeditions to the polar regions and the only cruise company sailing under the French flag. This follows Le Commandant Charcot’s first voyage to the North Pole in September 2021, the first French vessel to reach this latitude.
In recent years, it was only the Russian nuclear icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” which regularly brought tourists from Murmansk to the North Pole.
“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,” said Captain Patrick Marchesseau, at her helm.
Le Commandant Charcot was built at Vard Tulcea shipyard in Romania, from where she was moved to the Vard shipyard in Søviknes, Norway, for final outfitting and delivery in 2021. The cruise ship is a Polar Class 2 rated icebreaking vessel capable of reaching remote polar destinations. She features a hybrid power plant powered by LNG and 5 MWh electric batteries, capable of briefly driving the ship without engines running.
After delivery on 29 July 2021, Le Commandant Charcot sailed from mainland Norway to Svalbard and from there to the Geographic North Pole, where she arrived on 6 September 2021.
In December 2021, the ship went on a 16-day exploration cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula, allowing passengers to experience a total solar eclipse from the Weddell Sea ice pack.
In February 2022, Le Commandant Charcot collaborated with the British Antarctic Survey research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough in Antarctica. The cruise ship, capable of breaking much thicker ice, created a channel for the research vessel in second-year ice covered with thick layer of snow in Stange Sound.
(Source: Ponant/Polar Journal/Wikipedia – Image : Le commandant Charcot through the ice/Ponant/Nicolas Dubreuil)