We will be open at 9:00 am. Call 020 7590 0610
Le Commandant Charcot

Onboard Le Commandant Charcot

Ponant's all-new icebreaker

Article content

10 May 2023 by Meriel Lowe

Wexas cruise specialist Meriel Lowe steps aboard Ponant's all-new icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot for a rare sailing in UK waters, and discovers a thrilling blend of luxury, science and cutting-edge technology.

Ponant Cruises’ unique, luxury icebreaker-cruise ship Le Commandant Charcot spends most of her time in the remote Polar regions, so I was delighted to learn that she'd be putting in a very rare appearance in UK waters, and I was to spend 48 hours on board. Purpose-built with the mission ‘to cruise to the North Pole’, Le Commandant Charcot, made her debut in 2022 and is one of the world's most technically advanced cruise ship, having taken six years to design and construct. She's also the most powerful (non Nuclear) ice-breaker, designed to be able to penetrate ice up to 3 metres thick courtesy of her PC2 ice-rated hull. Running on LNG/diesel/battery power, the ship is exceedingly quiet, environmentally friendly and without vibration, and her very deep, 10-metre draft allows for greater stability in choppy seas.

Guest amenities on board the all-balcony vessel are five-star all the way, with high-quality furnishings and a modern stylish décor, all in calming, neutral and natural shades, paired with plenty of artwork, ceramics and geological specimens dotted throughout the ship. Accommodation ranges from the 20 sqm Prestige Staterooms (with an additional five sqm balcony) to the breathtaking 94 sqm Duplex Suites, overlooking the wake, and the 115 sqm Owner’s Suite, which stretches the full width of Deck 8 aft Both of these options feature a huge private terrace complete with hot tub. Taking a maximum of 245 guests (200 in Antarctica) and with a crew of 215, this really is one very spacious ship. Of course, attentive staff and immaculate service come as standard.

Bedroom in Owner's Suite on Le Commandant Charcot, Ponant Cruises
Bedroom in Owner's Suite on Le Commandant Charcot

Guest areas bear Inuit names, honouring and reflecting the close relationship that Ponant has formed with these indigenous communities over the years. The Nuna dining room features signature dishes from Alain Ducasse, showcased in menus specially designed by this acclaimed Michelin chef. The spacious main lounge is divided into smaller seating areas, almost like mini rooms, while the panoramic Observatory Lounge on Deck 9 is a focal point for pre-dinner drinks and music. A separate theatre hosts expedition talks, briefings and presentations.

Nuna, the main dining room on Le Commandant Charcot, Ponant Cruises
Nuna, the main dining room on Le Commandant Charcot

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, light fills the Nuan Spa and Wellness area. So, while having a sauna, working out in the beautifully appointed gym, or relaxing around the heated indoor pool (perhaps accompanied by a smoothie, juice or herbal teas from the Detox Bar), guests are treated to sweeping views of the passing scenery.

Guest reception - Le Commandant Charcot, Ponant Cruises
Guest reception - Le Commandant Charcot

There's also a Snow Room for a quick cool off and, for those who prefer a dip in the fresh, outside air, the Blue Lagoon pool, with neighbouring bar, grill and fire pit, is heated by renewable energy sourced from the ship’s engines. Also out on deck, the circular promenade remains free of snow by way of underfloor heating, while the benches lining the promenade and seating around the Blue Lagoon pool are also heated, affording a comfy spot to relax outside. While in Polar regions, off-ship activities include kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, ice fishing, ice floating, and for the very brave, the infamous ‘polar plunge’

Frequently referred to as more an ‘exploration ship’ than ‘expedition ship’, Le Commandant Charcot has its own helicopter to scout ahead for clear channels and wildlife; there are two research laboratories on board with permanent and visiting scientists, and guests are welcome to pop down to the labs and also join in science workshops. An expedition team of between 18 and 23 naturalist guides and specialists in the likes of geology, marine biology and ornithology are on board to share their expertise. Then, a second navigational bridge to the ship's aft makes it possible to reverse out of packed ice if necessary. Indeed, anyone with an interest in engineering or science will surely find a voyage on board Le Commandant Charcot to be a truly fascinating experience.


Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

Expert advice & support

Visit us in our London office

Let our travel specialists curate the perfect holiday:

  • Inspirational ideas based on experience
  • Established for over 50 years
  • Tailor a holiday to your precise requirements
  • Personalised quotes and documentation

Every step of the way

Every step of the way

Our services are with you from start to finish:

  • Dedicated personal consultants
  • Free airport lounges on qualifying bookings
  • Care and guidance pre, post and during holiday
  • Full financial security: ABTA & ATOL protected