The “Le Commandant Charcot” of the French shipping company Ponant reached 90° North for the first time with passengers on July 13, 2022. Last September, the expedition cruise ship of the polar ice class PC2 embarked on a test voyage to the North Pole, making it the first French ship ever to reach the northernmost point on Earth. In recent years, it was only the Russian nuclear icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” which regularly brought tourists from Murmansk to the North Pole.
The “Le Commandant Charcot,” named after a famous French explorer, reached the North Pole on July 13 after several days of breaking its way through hundreds of kilometers of pack ice. The ship departed for the North Pole from Longyearbyen in Svalbard. The North Pole expedition will end in Iceland after 15 days. In August and September 2022, two more voyages to the North Pole from/to Longyearbyen are on offer. In summer 2023, four departures to the North Pole are planned. The pleasure is not exactly cheap, however, the travel price including charter flight from/to Paris starts at € 34,620.
Tourist ship voyages to the North Pole have been operating in small numbers for more than 20 years, but until now they were only on relatively spartan Russian icebreakers chartered by Quark Expeditions and Poseidon Expeditions. Ponant is now a new player in the market. As sanctions are currently imposed on Russian companies, Ponant is currently the only provider with a North Pole tour.
The “Le Commandant Charcot” is not only robust, but also elegant and high quality. She has spacious suites and cabins, each of which has a balcony. The ship also features two restaurants with dishes by famed chef Alain Ducasse, as well as a wellness center with an indoor saltwater pool, a gym, and a deck area with a heated whirlpool.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal