Le Commandant Charcot by Ponant – Cruise Traveller

Le Commandant Charcot

Beyond Exploration

A few years ago, even the idea of building a hybrid electric deep polar exploration ship capable of taking passengers to the edges of the earth in an eco-responsible way seemed impossible.

On September 6th, 2021 at 10.30am, the first PONANT cruise ship reached the geographic north Pole during a test trip to Arctic waters.

Three weeks later, the ship, that shares both Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s name and values, was inaugurated in Le Havre, France – the port from which all Charcot’s expeditions sailed from in the past.

Boasting a team specialising in the poles, the enthusiastic team at the helm of Le Commandant Charcot are highly trained professionals, travelling through ice with your safety paramount in mind.

The expedition team ensure guests safety during a host of activities such as dog sledding in the Arctic, zodiac boat tours, kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, polar dips and diving. Specialists may also be onboard in fields such as ornithology, marine biology, ethnology, geology and glaciology – ready to share their passionate subjects with all like-minded travellers.

Find out more about this incredible explorer and state of the art ship here.

Who Was Charcot?

An outstanding figure among the famous in the pantheon of the maritime and polar world, Jean-Baptiste Charcot, a fabulous explorer in the most authentic sense of the term, was also a true humanist.

Nicknamed “the gentleman of the poles”, he expanded our knowledge through his intense desire to understand and to share.

As a young man Charcot learned to sail with local fishermen at Ouistreham on the Normandy coast, where he was convalescing at the age of 15 after contracting typhoid fever. Five years later he was volunteering with the medical auxiliary of the Chasseurs Alpins (French Alpine Troops) where he discovered his love for cold climates.

So when he had the opportunity to swap the peaks for the oceans, he didn’t think twice before happily putting on a Navy uniform and returning to his medical studies.

With his iron-hulled schooner, the Rose-Marine, he crossed the Arctic Circle for the first time in 1902, after the French Navy asked him to study sea and air temperatures around the ice.

Charcot then supervised the construction of his polar ship, Le Francais, and headed south on his first Antarctic expedition between 1903-1905, chartering more than 1000 kilometres of previously unknown coasts. He filled 75 chests with scientific observations and measurements from this first journey. A few years later in 1908-1910 he set out again in his new ship, Le Pourquoi Pas?, for another successful scientific expedition.

During the First World War, he and his boat took part attached at one stage to the British Admiralty and later given a mission to patrol the French coasts in search of German submarines. After the war ended, he became a highly decorated national hero and eventually the chair of the Acadamy of Science.

Further Arctic expeditions were to follow. In 1936, at the age of 69 he wrote: “My boat is getting old, and so am I. Perhaps we are going on our last expedition together. Here’s to God! Let’s go and meet our destiny!”

On September 16th, 1936, off the coast of Iceland, the ship was caught in a terrible storm, and only one of the 40 peole aboard survived. A state funeral was held and France mourned the passing of someone who embodied the grandeur of the age.

Caring for the Environment

PONANT’s latest addition to the fleet, Le Commandant Charcot – the very first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration ship powered by liquified natural gas, is the epitome of responsible and sustainable sailing. Safe and low impact polar navigation is her area of expertise, taking advantage of the latest innovations and even developing new, market-leading technologies and solutions to make Le Commandant Charcot one of the most advanced polar vessels at sea today.

Le Commandant Charcot received the Palmes du Tourisme durable prize in the Travel category when the ship eliminated heavy fuel in favour of low sulphur marine diesel (LSMGO). This is just one of the initiatives that make the Charcot so gentle on our planet.

Some of Ponant’s sustainable policies include

  • All light bulbs onboard are LED – saving 75% on electricity usuage and costs.
  • PONANT is the first company in the world to abandon heavy fuel usage
  • 10,000 kg of single use plastics have been avoided by PONANT since 2019.
  • All PONANT carbon emissions are offset by reforestation and renewable energy production projects.
  • Le Commandant Charcot has a glass bottling system onboard avoiding single use plastic bottles.

Poles Apart

For centuries, the North and South Poles have inspired, fascinated, and drawn mankind to its wilderness.

Le Commandant Charcot is the world’s first passenger ship to be fitted with a Polar Class 2 (PC2) hull. This gives it the ability to sail between the sheets of drifting sea ice and reach the most remote and isolated regions, when conditions allow.

Protecting the polar ecosystems and the coastal sea ice – a vital habitat for marine wildlife – is Ponant’s priority.

Expertise, innovation, humility before nature, cooperation with local peoples and ensuring a minimal impact on the environment are the fundamental concepts behind responsible exploration.

“The Bay of Whales was the point of departure for the Amundsen expedition which was the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. The temperature was around -15°C. It was in this beautiful landscape, as striking as the cold which reigns here, that Le Commandant Charcot reached 78°44.3’ South, which is the closest geographical latitude to the South Pole by sea on the entire Antarctic continent”.

Captain Patrick Marchesseau, February 2022 on reaching the closest latitude to the South Pole.

On 27 February 2022 in the Ross Sea, Le Commandant Charcot set a new world record in reaching the navigable latitude closest to the South Pole. While new Geographical North Pole Arctic itineraries are filling fast with those keen to navigate to the far-reaches of our planet.

Let’s Get Technical


Length: 492 feet / 149.96 m

Beam: 92 feet / 28 m

Draft: 33 feet / 10 m

Cruising Speed: 15 knots

Ice Class Polar: Class PC2

Classification: Bureau Veritas

Flag: French

Guest Decks: 5

Guest Capacity: 245

Crew Members: 215

Staterooms: 123

Restaurants: 2

Zodiacs: 16

Gross Tonnage: 31,757 UMS

Electric Propulsion Motors: 34 MW

Installed Power: 42 MW

Construction: Sovik, Norway

Did you know?

PONANT values your loyalty and referrals. Repeat guests are part of the PONANT Yacht Club. Each and every time you return to Ponant, a savings will be applicable to you. Don’t forget to let the Cruise Traveller team know if you are new or a returning guest, so we can calculate your total savings. If you refer your friends to us for a PONANT cruise, you and your referees will benefit from an AUD $800 discount per stateroom (may not combine with all offers).

Exceptional Suites & Staterooms

Equipped with 123 suites and staterooms with private balcony or terrace, Le Commandant Charcot is fully in keeping with the PONANT philosophy: to provide a rare and exceptional ambiance for every passenger welcomed onboard and reinforce the feeling and sense of sailing on a private yacht.

At the rear of decks 6 and 7 are four stunning 94 m² (1,011 ft²) split-level suites equipped with private terraces and jacuzzis.

The breathtaking 115 m² (1,237 ft²) Suite de l’Armateur (Shipowner’s Suite) on deck 8 features wide sliding glass doors offering stunning panoramic views and opening out onto a 186 m² (2,002 ft²) private terrace.

Did you know?

PONANT regularly offers ‘no single supplement’ savings to guests who book early and wish to travel solo. There’s no need to share if you plan in advance and secure your cabin on one of these great offers. Solo guests are also well taken care of by the head waiter and crew who will make sure your meals are a friendly event.

Scientific Studies

By putting scientific research at the heart of its project, Le Commandant Charcot is the first cruise ship to accommodate teams of scientists, providing them with dedicated work areas.

PONANT’s involvement in the study of the polar regions it explores contributes to improve scientists’ knowledge of these ecosystems and works towards protecting the planet.

Alongside the academic science project, PONANT commits to offering its guests an opportunity to take part in the many projects led on board. Workshops and scientific protocols are animated by the naturalist experts on board, enabling the guests to get actively involved and feel they are making a tangible contribution to science. It was with this in mind that a partnership was set up with The Polar Citizen Science Collective, an association running and coordinating this type of workshop. Data collected for projects like the marine species census, cloud cover observations, or phytoplankton sampling are all being fed into programmes such as Happywhale, Globe Clouds, FjordPhyto and Seabird Surveys. The scientists on board also give lectures on the concerns behind their various missions.

What’s Included

Real Value

  • Accommodation in the stateroom or suite of your choice aboard Le Commandant Charcot
  • All shipboard main meals prepared by talented chefs using food sourced where possible directly from the region of travel
  • An open bar policy onboard ensures you will never go thirsty. Most beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks and juices are included in your fare – whenever you want and wherever you want.
  • Join in the Captains Welcome Cocktail and Gala Evening during your cruise
  • Onboard entertainment, lectures and events
  • 24 hour room service (special menu/selection)
  • The services of a highly qualified bi-lingual French/English speaking expedition team
  • Zodiac excursions and all off-ship activities on expedition cruises
  • Park entry fees where applicable
  • Complimentary expedition parka – yours to keep
  • Loan of waterproof boots while onboard
  • Port taxes and government fees

Did you know?

PONANT’s program of bonus savings benefits early bookers? Savings of up to 30% can be had on each and every cruise by booking when the itinerary is released. As the ship fills, savings are reduced by 5% increments, until full brochure fare is reached.

Le Commandant Charcot in pictures

Heading North – The Arctic

In the Arctic, go in search of the most isolated regions: the geographic North Pole, reach the wild coasts of Greenland, the lonely shores of Svalbard or follow the greatest dreams of adventure in the Northwest Passage, and meet the peoples of this isolated great north, with its extreme living conditions.

Featured Arctic Offers

All of the Northwest Passage

Reykjavik to Seattle

28 Nights Cruise & Stay

Starts 8 September 2023

Fares start from

AU $60,970*pp


  • Spend 3 complimentary hotel nights in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland
  • Take a day out from Reykjavik to discover waterfalls, ice caves and townships that make Iceland famous
  • Travel 24 nights on Ponant`s tough but luxurious new build – Le Commandant Charcot – the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG, designed with the greatest attention to detail in terms of safety and respect for the environment.
  • Be among the few people in the world to travel across the famous Northwest Passage
  • Outings and shore visits in a zodiac with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
  • Visit a traditional Inuit village at the entrance to the Fury and Hecla Strait.
  • Wildlife: search for Arctic foxes, sea birds, belugas, bowhead whales, walruses and polar bears
  • Relax after your cruise with a free nights accommodation in Seattle.
  • SAVE on this incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience

The North Pole’s Heart & Soul

Longyearbyen to Reykjavik

20 Nights Cruise & Stay

Starts 23 July 2024

Fares start from

AU $59,890*pp


  • Spend 3 complimentary hotel nights in romantic Paris, right in the heart of the Latin Quartier
  • Take a day out in the Loire Valley to explore and taste the delights of the region
  • Travel on Ponant`s tough but luxurious new build – Le Commandant Charcot – the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship – on a 16 night journey to the geographical North Pole
  • Be among the few people in the world to go in search of the Geographic North Pole
  • Outings and shore visits in a zodiac with a team of experienced naturalist guides
  • Landscapes: ice floes. In Spitsbergen, jagged mountains, steep-sided valleys, sheer cliffs
  • Wildlife: search for polar bears, Northern fulmar, ivory gull, seals and whales
  • Relax after your cruise with a free nights accommodation in Iceland`s Reykjavik.
  • Enjoy an open bar onboard your cruise with all meals and most beverages included in your fare.
  • SAVE on this bucket list journey

Heading South – Antarctic

On the White Continent, try to spot the famous emperor penguins of Bellingshausen, sail on the Weddell Sea to the Larsen Ice Shelves and explore beyond the Antarctic Circle to the Ross Sea or islands that have forged the legends of polar explorers.

Featured Antarctic Offers

Way, Way Down South 2024

Lyttelton to Ushuaia

29 Nights Fly-Cruise-Stay

Starts 5 February 2024

Fares start from

AU $66,525*pp

  • Be one of the few to experience the all-new half-circumnavigation of the Antarctic, an unforgettable trip into the heart of the ice and a continent full of extremes.
  • A stopover on Macquarie Island, an Australian sub-Antarctic island classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its incredible biodiversity.
  • A dive into the history of the French and Australian conquest of the South Pole, with the approach to Adelie Land and the Dumont d`Urville scientific station and the discovery of Victoria Land.
  • The crossing of five southern seas: Dumont d`Urville, Somov, Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen.
  • The landscapes: ice shelves, surrealist glaciers, monumental icebergs, immersion in the heart of the ice floe.
  • The wildlife: crabeater seals, leopard seals, Weddell seals, humpback whales, orcas, royal penguin, king penguins and Adelie penguins.

Sail with confidence


In this uncertain period, PONANT have implemented a flexible SERENITY Policy with softened booking conditions, so that you can have peace of mind when booking and, if necessary, the option to postpone or cancel your voyage.

Get optimal protection with their included Covid guarantee.

Strict Sanitary Protocols

Whether on land or onboard, your safety is one of PONANT’s absolute and primary concerns. As the rules and regulations change and evolve, PONANT is continuing to adapt and optimise its already robust protocol integrating all the technological, human and material measures to ensure the provision and maintenance of a hermetic “Anti COVID” sanitary bubble. This reinforced protection is based on three “shields” designed to guarantee drastic on-board access conditions, strict on-board sanitary protocols, daily control and monitoring (guests, equipment, ships).

Repatriation Insurance

Recognising the concern of guests when travelling while COVID still exists, PONANT has introduced a policy to cover guests while travelling with PONANT in order to give them peace of mind.

Please note that this policy only covers evacuation and luggage repatriation and does not replace the need for regular travel insurance.

We strongly recommend guests purchase regular insurance for anything not related to COVID-19 or not occurring during their PONANT trip.

Talk Polar cruising aboard Le Commandant Charcot with an Australian expert

With only 245 guests onboard, space is in high demand on Le Commandant Charcot. If you’ve been inspired to book or want to find out more about a particular voyage, please submit your details below.

    All Arctic Charcot cruises All of the Northwest Passage 2023 The North Pole's Heart & Soul All Antarctic Charcot cruises Way, Way Down South

    We will send you our latest exclusive packages and unique small ship, luxury and boutique cruise offers. You can easily unsubscribe at any time. Please select No, if you do not wish to receive.

    * Terms and conditions apply. Please refer to individual offers for details. Information and images provided by Ponant Cruises.