Le Commandant Charcot

Former name: Ponant Icebreaker

Specifications of Le Commandant Charcot

Year built2021 new ship
BuilderVARD shipyards (Tulcea Romania and Soviknes-Alesund Norway)
Classice-strengthened cruise ship
Building costUSD 324 million (EUR 274 million)
OwnerGroupe Artemis (Financiere Pinault)
OperatorCompagnie du Ponant Cruises
Speed15 kn / 28 kph / 17 mph
Length (LOA)150 m / 492 ft
Beam (width)28 m / 92 ft
Gross Tonnage31757 gt
Passengers270
Crew187
Decks9
Cabins135
Decks with cabins3
Former namesPonant Icebreaker
Christened bytba
Ponant Cruises Coronavirus update

Le Commandant Charcot Review

Review of Le Commandant Charcot

MS Le Commandant Charcot cruise ship (initially named "Ponant Icebreaker") is a newbuild vessel constructed at two VARD-Fincantieri shipyards - Tulcea Romania (hull and superstructure) and Alesund Norway (outfitting). Vessel's delivery is scheduled for April 2021. At the following link, you can check CruiseMapper's fleet of world's largest icebreaking ships.

History - construction and ownership

Compagnie du Ponant (CDP) is a French cruise shipping company founded in April 1988 by former French Merchant Navy officers. All Ponant ships are France-flagged. The company specializes in premium adventure cruise travel targeting the French-speaking source market with all-inclusive deals. Most of CDP's fleet is based in Antarctica (December through March).

Le Commandant Charcot cruise ship (Ponant Icebreaker)

Ship's building cost is USD 324 million (EUR 274 million). In December 2017, Ponant contracted the VARD company (Norwegian subsidiary of Fincantieri Italy) to build the world's first ice-breaking cruises ship.

Ponant's superyachts offer modern amenities, premium service by highly-trained staff and crew, 5-star hotel amenities, offbeat itineraries visiting popular travel destinations worldwide, including Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, South America, Australia.

Le Commandant Charcot cruise ship (Ponant Icebreaker)

The Ponant superyacht Commandant Charcot has GT tonnage 31757 tons, length 150 m (490 ft), 9 decks, 138 staterooms (all with balconies), max passenger capacity 270 (plus 190 staff-crew), 16x Zodiacs (RIBs / large-capacity Rigid Inflatable Boats used for disembarkation, coastal cruising and landings), scientific laboratories (fitted with equipment for polar research and data analysis), fore-located Helipad (deck 6), 2 onboard helicopters (used for private flight tours).

Shipboard facilities and amenities

The "Ponant Icebreaker" Commandant Charcot decks (9 total, 5 passenger-accessible, 3 with cabins) house 3 dining venues (Grill Restaurant, Gastronomic Restaurant / Main Dining Room, Lido Restaurant / Buffet), wellness complex (Fitness Room, Indoor Pool, Snow Room, Massage Rooms (3), Sauna Room, Nail Shop, Beauty Studio/Hairdresser), Winter Garden (spa lounge with indoor swimming pool).

This beautiful cruise ship also features a wraparound Promenade (Deck 5, outdoor walking area), aft-located Sundeck (Deck 9, with swimming pool, comfortable seating, Open-air Bar), fore-located Helideck (Deck 6, helipad that doubles as an outdoor observation deck).

On Deck 5 are located the Gastronomic Restaurant (Main Dining Room, sized 5210 ft2 / 484 m2, capacity 284 seats, indoor-outdoor seating), Theatre (capacity 276 seats, showroom used for media presentations, lectures, group meetings, conferences, live entertainment / on selected evenings, latest audio-video equipment), Main Lounge (sized 3250 ft2 / 302 m2, Afternoon Tea service, full-service Bar, live music performances on selected evenings), Cigar Bar Lounge (sized 300 ft2 / 28 m2, indoor smoking-allowed venue), Lobby Lounge (sized 1900 ft2 / 177 m2, houses Reception Desk, Expedition / Tour Desk, Cruise Director's Office / Hospitality & Travel Manager), Boutique Shop, Image & Photo Desk, Promenade Deck (outdoor area). The Infirmary (Medical Centre) is on Deck 4.

Deck 6 and 7 have only passenger cabins. Two lifts (passenger elevators) are located midship and connect all decks. On Deck 8 are located the Wheelhouse (fore-located Navigation Bridge) and passenger cabins, including the ship's largest accommodation - the Owner’s Suite (aft location, with Terrace Jacuzzi). On Deck 6 are mounted the ship's four tenders (tender boats) used for passenger embarkation-disembarkation in locations without docking facilities.

On Deck 9 are the Grill Restaurant (sized 3445 ft2 / 320 m2, outdoor capacity 62 seats), Lido Restaurant (indoor capacity 150 seats), Library, Fitness Room (Technogym equipment), PONANT Yacht SPA (wellness complex), Winter Garden (spa lounge with swimming pool), Sundeck (aft-located, with Open-air Bar, padded outdoor furniture, infinity swimming pool). Also here (fore-located) is the Panoramic Bar Lounge (sized 4300 ft2 / 400 m2, indoor capacity 88 seats) providing comfortable seating, full-bar service, 270-degree views (from wraparound windows - floor-ceiling and wall-to-wall).

Grill Restaurant (Lido Deck) is a casual eating venue for buffet breakfast and lunch and themed dinners. Gastronomic Restaurant is the ship's Main Dining Room (with a wine cellar) where are served breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The menu includes traditional French gourmet and International cuisine specialties.

Cabins

Le Commandant Charcot staterooms (a total of 135) are all outside and each with a step-out balcony. Of all cabins, 68 have private patio balconies. Staterooms are grouped into 6 categories - Owner's Suite (Deck 8-aft), Duplex Suites (decks 6-7 aft), Privilege Suites (decks 6 and 8), Prestige Suites (decks 7-8), Privilege Staterooms (decks 6-7- 8) and Prestige Staterooms (decks 6-7-8).

Cabin sizes vary by category:

  • OWNERS SUITE is sized 1240 ft2 (115 m2) plus 2000 ft2 (185 m2) Terrace with Jacuzzi (outdoor whirlpool hot tub).
  • DUPLEX SUITES (2-level apartments) are sized 1010 ft2 (94 m2) plus 280 ft2 (26 m2) Terrace with Jacuzzi (outdoor whirlpool hot tub).
  • PRIVILEGE SUITES are 2-room suites sized 515 ft2 (48 m2) plus 135 ft2 (15 m2) Balcony.
  • PRESTIGE SUITES are 2-room suites sized 430 ft2 (40 m2) plus 105 ft2 (10 m2) Balcony.
  • Privilege Staterooms are sized 300 ft2 (28 m2) plus 55 ft2 (5 m2) Balcony.
  • Prestige Staterooms are sized 215 ft2 (20 m2) plus 55 ft2 (5 m2) Balcony.

OWNER-DUPLEX-PRIVILEGE suites offer as extras a Balneo bathtub (in the full bathroom) and dedicated Butler service. OWNER-DUPLEX suites have a separate Dining Room (6-seat table dry-bar), Dressing Room (mirrored walk-in closet), two TVs (1x in the bedroom, 1x in the living room), Master Bathroom (full, with WC-shower, double-sink vanity) plus Guest Bathroom (half, with toilet-washbasin only). PRESTIGE SUITES are actually two interconnecting cabins (Prestige Stateroom) and have two full bathrooms and two dressing rooms.

Regardless of the cabin category, all passenger cabins offer as standard (complimentary) amenities double bed (King-size, convertible to two twin beds), phone, smart HDTV (satellite reception, Infotainment system with Internet, on-demand movies, ship info channel), iPod docking station, mirrored dressing table / writing desk with chair, minibar, lounge area (coffee table, armchair, sofabed/daybed), mirrored wardrobe (slide-opening), electronic safe box (in the closet), room service (24-hour), individually-controlled airconditioning, en-suite bathroom (WC-toilet, shower, single-sink vanity, premium French brand bath products, bathrobes, hairdryer), power outlets, Internet-WiFi. Power sockets are two types - USA-standard (110V, with 2 flat pins) and European (220V, with 2 round pins).

Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot ship has a total of 3x wheelchair-accessible (ADA) cabins for passengers with reduced mobility. Those are in category Prestige Stateroom, larger-sized and conveniently located near the elevators (midship on decks 6 and 8).

Itineraries

Ponant's bookings for Le Commandant Charcot cruises were opened on June 13, 2019. Winter season 2021-2022 Antarctica cruise bookings will open on December 5. Itineraries include cruising to North Pole, along Greenland's eastern coast, Northwest Passage (Canadian Arctic), Antarctic Ocean (Ross Sea, Charcot Island, Peter I Island / Norway Antarctica).

The 15-day inaugural cruise is from Le Havre France to Reykjavik Iceland and visits destinations in Greenland and Iceland, including Jan Mayen Island (Norway) and scenic cruising through Scoresby Sund (Greenland) - world’s largest fjord system. Maiden voyage's prices started from USD 18,150 pp (double occupancy cabin rates).

The 11-day "At the Genesis of the French Polar Expeditions" themed voyage offers scenic cruising along Greenland's eastern coastline (protected area) north from Ammassalik Fjord (Sermersooq, southeastern Greenland) to Blosseville Coast (King Christian IX Land, eastern Greenland).

In August 2021, Le Commandant Charcot to the North Pole from Spitsbergen Island (Norway). The 16-day itinerary is priced from USD 29,100 pp.

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The "Ponant Icebreaker" was named after Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867-1936) - French scientist and medical doctor, who was the leader of the French Antarctic Expedition (1904-1907) to Graham Land (Antarctic Peninsula). He also participated in the following 1908-1910 expedition to the Bellingshausen Sea and the Amundsen Sea, that discovered Charcot Island (named after his father).

The vessel took 3 years of planning and an additional 3 years of building. Its battery system guarantees endurance of around 100 days of continuous operation on that power alone. The hull is ice-classed PC2. The propulsion is diesel-electric (hybrid). The onboard LNG Fuel storage is by GTT. The Azipod propulsion units are by ABB.

The yacht is LNG-powered (Wartsila Dual Fuel engines, with alternative battery power) and operated on polar cruise itineraries (Arctic and Antarctica). Ponant will be able to explore new polar destinations, including true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude) and remote spots like Peter Island, Ross Sea, and the Weddell Sea.

Vessel's propulsion system consists of two ABB Azipod VI units (azimuth thrusters). This marked ABB's 100th cruise ship Azipod order since 1995 when this patented technology was first implemented (on the Carnival Cruise Line ships Elation and Paradise). Next order was in 1997 (from Royal Caribbean) - 3 units for the then the world's biggest cruise liner Voyager of the Seas.

ABB's Azipod VI series features 6-m / 10-ft propellers and combined power output of 34 MW, resulting in greater maneuverability, fuel savings and efficiency gain (10-15% in comparison to the conventional shaft line systems). By using Azipod propulsion, the Ponant icebreaker ship saves around 700,000 tons of fuel per year.

ABB Azipods as power output varies between 1,5 and 22 MW per unit. ABB land-based experts monitor all units' operational parameters, remotely coordinate equipment analysis, run diagnostics, and predict maintenances. Due to technology's lowered noise and vibrations, the Azipod propulsion also improves passengers' comfort.

On July 3, 2018, was signed a contract between VARD-Fincantieri and GTT (French company specializing in marine LNG shipping) for constructing the ship's LNG tanks. The tanks are equipped with GTT’s "Mark III" membrane system (cryogenic liner directly supported by vessel's inner hull). The patented technology optimizes the payload in very restrained hull spaces. GTT was also responsible for selecting and coordinating subcontractors and installing the equipment. Ponant Icebreaker's fuel tanks have total LNG capacity 4500 m3, which makes it capable to run the entire cruise route using LNG.

In August 2018 was contracted Wartsila (Finnish corporation specializing in marine manufacturing and services) to provide vessel's dual-fuel engines (model 31DF). The cruise ship operates primarily on LNG,(liquefied natural gas). Its powerplant consists of all six 31DF engines (4x 14-cylinder plus 2x 10-cylinder). Wartsila also will manufacture and install its gas fuel supply system and navigation equipment (Wartsila Nacos Platinum package). All Ponant ships are fitted with Wartsila-made engines.

Vessel's construction officially started on November 14, 2018, with the traditional steel-cutting ceremony held at VARD Tulcea shipyard (Romania). On December 14 was held vessel's keel-laying ceremony. Ponant Le Commandant Charcot vessel's hull number is 887. On March 18, 2020, the vessel left VARD Tulcea and headed for VARD Soviknes Shipyard (Alesund Norway) for outfitting. The towed hull (+superstructure steelwork) arrived at VARD Soviknes on April 28. The ship's delivery is planned for April 2021.

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