Le Commandant Charcot

Former name: Ponant Icebreaker

Le Commandant Charcot current position

Le Commandant Charcot current location is at North East Atlantic Ocean (coordinates 64.15363 N / -21.85877 W) cruising en route to REYKJAVIK. The AIS position was reported 26 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of Le Commandant Charcot

Year of build2021  /  Age: 3
Flag state Wallis and Futuna
BuilderVARD shipyards (Tulcea Romania and Soviknes-Alesund Norway)
ClassPC2-Polar Class 2 icebreaker cruise ship
Building costUSD 324 million (EUR 274 million)
Engines (power)Wartsila ( MW / 0 hp)
Propulsion power34 MW / 45595 hp
Speed15 kn / 28 km/h / 17 mph
Length (LOA)150 m / 492 ft
Beam (width)28 m / 92 ft
Gross Tonnage31757 gt
Passengers245
Crew235
Decks9
Cabins123
Decks with cabins3
Former namesPonant Icebreaker
Christened byAnne Manipoud-Charcot
OwnerGroupe Artemis (Financiere Pinault)
OperatorPonant Cruises, A&K Travel/Abercrombie & Kent USA

Le Commandant Charcot Review

Review of Le Commandant Charcot

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

The vessel (IMO number 9846249) is currently France-flagged (MMSI 578001700) and registered in Mata-Utu/Wallis and Futuna.

Seasonally, the "cruise icebreaker" Commandant Charcot is chartered by A&K Travel (Abercrombie & Kent USA) for polar expedition voyages.

History - construction and ownership

Compagnie du Ponant (CDP) is a French cruise shipping company founded in April 1988 by former French Merchant Navy officers. 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 EUR 274 million (USD 324 M). In December 2017, Ponant contracted the VARD company (Norwegian subsidiary of Fincantieri Italy) to build "the world's first ice-breaking cruise ship".

The vessel (IMO number 9846249) is currently Wallis and Futuna-flagged (MMSI 578001700).

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.

The Ponant Commandant Charcot yacht has GT tonnage 31757 tons, LOA length 150 m (490 ft), 9 decks, 135 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, 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 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.

Le Commandant Charcot cruise ship (Ponant Icebreaker)

Decks and Cabins

Ponant Le Commandant Charcot staterooms (123 total) are all outside and each with a step-out balcony. Of all cabins, 68 are Suites with 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).

The boat has 9 decks, of which 5 passenger-accessible and 3 with cabins.

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 has only 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 opened on December 5, 2019. Itineraries included cruising to the 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 (from Le Havre France to Reykjavik Iceland) visits destinations in Greenland and Iceland, Jan Mayen Island (Norway) and scenic cruising through Scoresby Sund (Greenland) - the world's largest fjord system. The Maiden Voyage departs on July 24, 2021, and was priced from USD 18150 pp (with double occupancy).

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 cruises to the North Pole from Spitsbergen Island (Norway). The 16-day itinerary is priced from USD 29,100 pp.

On November 30, 2021, from Ushuaia started the 15-day "Total Solar Eclipse 2021" itinerary (via Drake Passage) that offered the unique/once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the total eclipse (December 4th) when the ship was in the Weddell Sea (Southern Ocean, between Antarctic Peninsula and Coats Land). The voyage's prices started at USD 17790 pp (EUR 14970 pp) with double occupancy. Deals were inclusive of roundtrip flights to and from Santiago de Chile and Ushuaia Argentina.

In November 2022 was announced Commandant Charcot's 2024 Arctic schedule (5 different itineraries, 8 voyages).

  • 10-night "Inuit Spring of Ammassalik" roundtrip from Reykjavik (3x sailings between April 16-May 6, 2024) prices from AUD 24240 pp
  • 12-night "Inuit spring at the edge of Scoresby Sund" roundtrip from Reykjavik (May 16-28, 2024) prices from AUD 18230 pp
  • 14-night "Northeast Greenland's Unexplored Sea Ice" roundtrip from Reykjavik (2x sailings between May 28-June 11, 2024) prices from AUD 33940 pp
  • 16-night "In the ice of the Arctic, from Greenland to Svalbard" from Reykjavik to Longyearbyen/Spitsbergen (June 25-July 11, 2024) prices from AUD 40770 pp
  • 15-night "The Geographic North Pole. Objective: 90° North!" roundtrip from Longyearbyen/Spitsbergen (July 11-26, 2024) prices from AUD 52930 pp

The ship's schedule 2024 included the exclusive A&K-chartered voyage "North Pole Expedition Cruise: The Ultimate Frontier" in Norway's Svalbard Archipelago (18-day itinerary roundtrip from Longyearbyen Spitsbergen/July 12-29).

Le Commandant Charcot's schedule 2025 included four voyages (January-February departures, 13-day itineraries) featuring cruising on Canada's St Lawrence River. Two voyages (Jan 17th and Feb 10th) departed from St Pierre Island (Pierre & Miquelon France) visiting Sydney NS, the Magdalen Islands, Gaspe, Sept-Iles, Saguenay River (cruising), and La Baie-Comeau, ending in Quebec City. The other two were on the reverse route.

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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, which 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 (number 887) is ice-strengthened and classed PC2 (polar class 2). The propulsion is diesel-electric (hybrid). The onboard LNG Fuel storage is by GTT. The Azipod propulsion units are by ABB.

Le Commandant Charcot (Ponant Icebreaker)

The yacht is Ponant's first LNG-powered (Wartsila Dual Fuel engines, with alternative battery power) and operated on polar cruise itineraries (Arctic and Antarctica) including remote destinations in Ross Sea and Weddell Sea.

The vessel's propulsion system consists of two ABB Azipod VI units (360-degree azimuthing thrusters). This marked ABB's 100th cruise ship Azipod order since 1995 when this patented technology was first implemented (on the CCL-Carnival Cruise Line's ships Elation and Paradise). Next order was in 1997 (from Royal Caribbean) - 3 units for the then the world's biggest passenger 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.

In March 2022, ABB MarineCare signed with Ponant a 10-year agreement (until 2032) to provide 24/7 support and services (remote diagnostics and monitoring, preventive and regularly scheduled maintenance, and critical spare parts) for the icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot.

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 the 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 for 60 days without bunkering (the entire cruise route) using only 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.

The 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.

On March 18, 2020, the vessel (yard/hull number 887) left VARD Tulcea and headed for VARD Soviknes Shipyard (Alesund Norway) for outfitting. The towed hull (+superstructure steelwork) arrived at VARD Soviknes on April 28th.

The ship's delivery was initially planned for April 2021, but VARD officially delivered Le Commandant Charcot to Ponant on August 2nd.

The cruise ship was officially christened on September 18, 2021, in Port Le Havre France. The naming ceremony was led by the boat's godmother Anne Manipoud-Charcot (Jean-Baptiste Charcot's great-granddaughter). The special event was attended by Herve Gastinel (Ponant's CEO), the ship's two Masters/Captains (Etienne Garcia, Patrick Marchesseau), numerous VIP guests including Alain Ducasse (Michelin-starred chef), Luc Jacquet (Oscar-winning film director), Jean-Michel Wilmotte (architect), Jean-Philippe Nuel (interior architect and designer), as well as employees of VARD, Aker Arctic, Stirling Design.

In spring 2022, in Cherbourg France, technicians of the German manufacturer -4H-JENA engineering GmbH installed on the icebreaker the company's FerryBox (multi-parameter seawater sensor and measuring system) to evaluate the impact of glacial meltwater input to the oceans (specifically, the rising level of oxygen). The system's measurement parameters included salinity, temperature, sound velocity, the concentration of dissolved O2 and CO2 (seawater's acidification and the oceans' CO2 absorption capacity.