By Gabriel Bernick
By definition, the North Pole is the northernmost point of the Earth’s axis of rotation. Centered in the Arctic Ocean, the icy tundra is about 2-3 meters thick with an ocean depth of more than 4,000 meters. With strict regulations and formidable temperatures, the North Pole is located in a dangerous and precarious location. However, on July 13th, PONANT’s Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury icebreaker, achieved the impossible. At 12:00 PM EST, the cruise ship arrived at the North Pole, marking the first time a luxury passenger vessel has brought passengers to the location! PONANT is currently the only cruise company sailing under the French flag, and after their first voyage to the North Pole in September of 2021, they became the first French vessel to reach this latitude.
With a unique, exclusive experience for passengers, Le Commandant Charcot is designed to feel more like a yacht rather than a traditional cruise ship. The vessel boasts 123 staterooms and suites as well as its own heated blue lagoon baths, wellness area, and “snow room” chilled to 14 degrees Fahrenheit with powdered snow. What makes PONANT stick out amongst other competitors is its “Explore to Inspire” mission, aiming to better learn, share, understand, and protect exploration. Continuing on to today, the corporation has managed to live up to its mission statement. Acting as a floating research center, the boat has dedicated onboard laboratories, allowing researchers to gain access to these remote polar regions. Intriguingly, research is not only limited to the scientists onboard. Under the supervision of a team of naturalist guides and onboard scientists, guests are also able to participate in citizen science experiments such as setting up research stations on ice floes or deploying an Argos transmitter. Despite the on-site research and learning opportunities, Le Commandant Charcot is able to apply PONANT’s mission through other endeavors, one of which is sustainability. The ship itself is powered by batteries and liquified natural gas. When put into “battery mode”, Le Commandant Charcot could even ail up to eight hours at a time without producing any emissions!
Bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, PONANT’s Le Commandant Charcot’s state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly technology is paving a bright future, offering engagement and innovation in the world of nautical exploration.