French luxury cruise ship operator, 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.
Ponant has partnered with Aker Arctic, a global specialist in ice navigation technologies, to develop leading-edge innovation.
The PC2 polar-class hull of the PONANT hybrid polar exploration vessel was designed with Aker Arctic, a specialist in icebreaker development and design. Thanks to the Double Action Principle (Aker Arctic DAS ™), Commander Charcot will be able to combine forward navigation modes in compact ice and in reverse under extreme ice conditions.
Compared with classic icebreakers, Commander Charcot will achieve unparalleled performance in the ice, thanks to its innovative design.
Le Commandant Charcot, which will be powered by a hybrid Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and battery propulsion system to reduce emissions by up to 85 percent. The vessel with a Polar Class 2 designation will be placed on the same level as the newly designed U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers and allowing it to travel virtually anywhere across the Arctic. Ponant plans to regularly offer trips to the geographic North Pole which will be a first for non-nuclear powered vessels and highlights the vessel’s proposed capabilities in ice-infested waters.

The vessel is named after the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot who first developed a passion for travel in his adolescence.
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.
On 16th July 1936, Jean-Baptiste Charcot set sail for Greenland. After provisioning his ship, he met a storm on 11th August. His mission was a success, but his ship the Pourquoi Pas, was damaged. After repairs in Reykjavik, he set sail again on 15th September, unaware that a hurricane was brewing. Although he survived the storm, fog proved to be his undoing and his vessel was wrecked on the reefs off the coast of Iceland. His body was found in the very waves he had felt so at home in.
An inspiration to modern explorers and adventurers, Captain Charcot spent his life dreaming of untouched and unexplored lands. His dreams became a reality which surpassed all expectations. A man destined to explore the oceans, he left behind him a priceless scientific legacy and tales of extraordinary adventure.
(Source and image: Ponant)