“Le Commandant Charcot” reached the North Pole | Polarjournal
On 06.09.2021 at 10:38 the “Le Commandant Charcot” reached the North Pole. (Photo: Ponant)

The French shipowner “Ponant” has reason to celebrate by reaching the North Pole! Ponant’s website says: “This important sailing milestone, achieved entirely with zero-emission electric battery propulsion with minimal environmental impact, has transformed the unique adventure of this exceptional vessel into a tangible reality. A first for a French ship”.

For the first time a French ship reached the North Pole. Of course, this must be celebrated with a flag and fireworks. (Photo: Ponant)

Since the early 1990s, Russian icebreakers have been taking tourists from Murmansk to the North Pole several times a year. First it was the nuclear icebreaker “Yamal”, since a few years the more modern “50 Years of Victory” sails over Franz Josef Land to the North Pole and back.

Now, with “Ponant”, a new player is shaking up the market and sailing to this rather unusual destination with the ice-breaking expedition ship “Le Commandant Charcot.

On 06.09.2021 at 10:38 the “Le Commandant Charcot” reached the North Pole. The “Le Commandant Charcot” left Longyearbyen on September 1, for a first sea trial, during which the crew was trained in the real environment of the High North and began to use the new cruising activities and test the safety equipment.

On board are more than 100 people, including colleagues involved in the project and shipbuilding, technicians making final adjustments, scientists, partners, photographers, institutional representatives and merchant navy cadets.

The offer is intended to appeal to tourists who are prepared to spend money starting by Euro 33,700 for a 16-day tour to the North Pole in the 20 m² Prestige cabin. Thereby, as known for “Ponant”, quite a lot of luxury is offered. The “Le Commandant Charcot” is divided into 12 cabin categories, whereby the owner’s suite with 115 m² costs Euro 106,070. The prices are per person of course.

In the summer of 2022, a total of 3 voyages are planned from Longyearbyen to the North Pole between 08 July and 22 August, with some cabin categories already fully booked.

The ship has nine decks. There are 135 passenger cabins available on board. The cabins are spread over decks 6 to 8 and all passenger cabins have a balcony. The passenger capacity of the ship is stated to be 245. 235 on-board personnel take care of the guests’ well-being.

With a flight from Paris, passengers reach Svalbard. From there, it goes straight to the North Pole. (Graphic: Ponant)

New technology

The new cruise ship from “Ponant” is the first for the tourism industry to offer a Polar Class PC-2 ice-strengthened hull with LNG-powered hybrid electric engines.

With LNG (Liquid Natural Gas), emissions are much lower than with diesel fuelled engines.

The vessel has a hybrid propulsion system with two electrically driven ABB propeller nacelles, each with a power output of 17 MW. Two ten-cylinder and four fourteen-cylinder dual-fuel engines are available for power generation, which can run on liquefied natural gas and diesel fuel.

The total output of the engines is 42 MW. The ship is equipped with 4,520 kWh of energy storage. It can thus also be driven fully electrically for two to three hours and thus temporarily without emissions. Also, the ship is equipped with stabilisers.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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