It's an historic date for cruise travel. On July 13, 2022, for the first time ever, guests on a cruise ship have traveled to the northern-most point of the Earth's axis of rotation.
The ship Le Commandant Charcot reached the geographic North Pole at noon that day. The achievement is triply significant. It's not only the first time a passenger vessel has reached the North Pole. Le Commandant Charcot is the world's only luxury passenger icebreaker, belonging to the only French-flagged cruise line.
“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.
The North Pole voyage was commemorated by guests and crew members joining together to spell out the coordinates of the North Pole - 90 degrees North - standing on the ice next to the ship.
North Americans may be unfamiliar with Ponant. The 30-year old French cruise line has a fleet of over a dozen small ships ranging from its namesake sailed ship Le Ponant, to ocean and expedition ships to its deluxe icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot that can sail to all the planet's oceans. Ponant is one of the world's leading cruise lines for polar expedition voyages and state of the art environmentally friendly technology and practices.
The luxury expedition icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot debuted in November 2021. It carries up to 245 guests and nearly as many crew members safely into polar regions.
The ship is among the most environmentally friendly ships in the sea, powered by battery and liquified natural gas. When in battery mode, the ship is able to sail for up to eight hours at a time without producing any emissions. Le Commandant Charcot also serves as a floating research center with dedicated onboard laboratories, allowing scientific research teams access to these remote polar regions.
Under the supervision of the team of naturalist guides and the onboard scientists, guests are also able to participate in citizen science experiments, helping set up a research station on an ice floe or deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data.
While off-ship excursions range from ice fishing and snowshoeing to polar diving and ice floating, the ship is designed to feel more like a yacht versus a traditional cruise ship. It features 123 staterooms and suites, chef-crafted meals designed by renowned French chef Alain Ducasse, a wellness area in partnership with Biologique Recherche, and amenities like a snow room – chilled to 14 degrees Fahrenheit with fresh powder snow – as well as heated blue lagoon baths.
It's a luxurious - and distinctly French - way to explore the farthest corners of the world's oceans.
By: Lynn Elmhirst Producer and Host, World's Greatest Cruises
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Images courtesy Ponant.
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