Commandant Charcot takes polar exploration to a new level of luxury

Ponant last expedition ship Commander Charcot has sailed farther south than any other ship and offers its passengers a range of unique experiences in the last unspoilt wilderness on Earth

More than a century after French Antarctic explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot braved sub-zero temperatures to navigate uncharted waters near the South Pole, the ship that now bears his name sails the same icy seas. offering its passengers a degree of luxury that the brave adventurer could never have imagined.

The newest addition to Ponant’s world-class fleet of bespoke expedition vessels, Commander Charcot was specifically designed to blaze a trail where other cruise liners wouldn’t dare. On March 5 this year, she sailed further south than any ship in history while cruising the spectacular Ross Ice Shelf, giving her guests panoramic views of the arid whiteness where Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott have begun their historic hikes.

And last September, her super-tough, ice-breaking hull allowed her to become just the eighth ship in history to reach the North Pole, and the first luxury liner powered solely by liquid gas and electricity. environmentally friendly to do so.

Commander Charcot sets a new benchmark for opulent and sustainable tourism, with lavish cabins, fine dining, a sumptuous spa and effortlessly elegant interior design. The experiences it offers, however, go beyond the extraordinary.

Exploring Antarctica and the Arctic

You’ll spot penguins, killer whales and even blue whales from the comfort of your balcony, but once ashore, you’ll witness first-hand the pristine perfection of the actual ends of the earth.

Depending on the trip and the pole you choose, you will have the opportunity to visit historic sites, go snowshoeing or dog sledding with Inuit leaders or local guides, try your hand at ice fishing and explore vast wilderness by hovercraft or electric snowmobile. It is common to see families of polar bears on the ice floes Commander Charcot pass at a safe distance. If you are really brave, you can put on a bathing suit and experience the intense sensation of immersing yourself in an ice hole.

Playful polar bears ©StudioPONANT/Olivier Blaud

There are also guided kayaking and hiking tours, as well as outings on the waves in inflatable boats called Zodiacs.

You’ll absorb a wealth of knowledge about the remarkable creatures that inhabit the land and oceans, as well as the hardy flora that survive winter temperatures of -60° Celsius.

The same thirst for knowledge that drove Commander Charcot to travel to the ends of the Earth to conduct topographical surveys and collect scientific data drives the naturalists and historians who accompany guests on educational tours and provide unique insight into their important work.

You even have the opportunity to become an honorary researcher yourself and participate in real scientific studies. They may involve collecting samples of plankton, hairgrass or soil, or perhaps measuring water temperature or the thickness of an ice cap. You may be asked to count a colony of penguins or take photos of glaciers or birds. Whatever you end up helping, it will be an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the issues studied by climatologists and botanists.

The serenity of a Ponant cruise in its purest form

After all that exhilaration, you’ll be ready for some well-deserved indulgence and relaxation.

The 123 impeccably appointed and spacious staterooms and suites all have balconies perfect for a quiet pre-dinner cocktail. Some even have private terraces with your own spa. Their sober decoration is the work of renowned architects Jean-Philippe Nuel and Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

In fact, throughout the ship you’ll enjoy a palette of soothing tones of warm stone, natural wood, neutral fabrics and European leather. Colors and textures reflect the natural surroundings, a welcoming refuge from harsh outdoor conditions.

Ponant cabin © Studio PONANT / Olivier Blaud

When it comes to enjoying your time on board, you really are spoiled for choice. There are outdoor and indoor heated pools, an upscale beauty salon, a theater, three lounges, cozy nooks to curl up with a good book, and two restaurants.

The Grand Salon offers the welcoming warmth of a living room, but with a spectacular view of the seascape, while the expansive perspective of the Observation Lounge features a glass ceiling where thousands of stars twinkle during the short daylight hours. darkness.

You will be surprised how warm the Blue Lagoon pool is – it is heated using energy generated by the ship’s engine. But you might feel an eerie chill in the Finnish-style Snow Room, which is set to an invigorating temperature of -10°C. Perfect after a muscle relaxation session in the sauna.

The Blue Lagoon pool on deck 9 ©StudioPONANT/Olivier Blaud

One of the highlights of any Ponant cruise is the exceptional food, and Commander Charcot is no exception. Multi-starred French chef Alain Ducasse works with his chefs to deliver the last word in exquisite cuisine and fine wines for extravagant dining experiences you will never forget.

The splendor of life aboard the ship belies its impeccable credentials in sustainable tourism. First hybrid ship in the world propelled entirely by liquid gas and electricity, its environmental impact is minimized. At the end of the trip, only the footprints should remain on the ice.

To learn more about Commander Charcot and its range of Arctic and Antarctic cruises, contact your preferred travel consultant or visit le-commandant-charcot.com. You can contact PONANT directly on 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or by e-mail [email protected]

Main image: Weddell seal in the Weddell Sea with Commander Charcot in the background © Sue Flood

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