Last month, the construction of Ponant’s first LNG-powered polar exploration ship began with the traditional steel cutting ceremony. Ponant’s new flagship vessel, Le Commandant Charcot, will be launched in 2021 offering two week to one month polar expedition cruises.
A POLAR CLASS 2 VESSEL
As a PC 2 (polar class 2) vessel, the ship will attain the second highest rating based on its operational capability and strength of the vessel for polar expedition ships. Ships with this rating are designed for “year-round operation in moderate multi-year ice conditions,” and the rating reflects the ships actual ability to break ice. Ponant’s Charcot will achieve the highest polar class rating of any cruise ship.
WHY IS A POLAR CLASS RATING IMPORTANT?
Well let’s start with the obvious – ice. The entire purpose of the rating system is for safety since the ship will be sailing waters with lots of ice. We all remember the Titanic, well at least the movie, so when you mix ships and ice, you need to pay careful attention to ship design, capabilities and safety. Sea ice is always changing and is in perpetual movement. It grows and shrinks. It fractures, folds, and breaks. Now layer on top of that, cruisers want to get as close as possible to the ice flows and land, so they can see polar bears, penguins, and explore ice formations. Hence the tension between customers desires and expectations for closeness and the need for safety.
Lower rated polar class ships will be the most constrained on where they can cruise and are limited to primary channels or paths. Conversely, the highest rated polar class ships will be able to navigate away from the main channels into smaller passages, and thus closer to wildlife, fjords, remote villages, and dramatic formations. Ponant “Charot’s” flexible itineraries will allow it to change course to admire a whale or disembark to meet a colony of penguins. It will offer impromptu shore visits, so guest can get as close as possible to enigmatic lands. For all cruise lines, safety is paramount. So regardless of polar class ratings, itineraries may be modified based on local ice conditions.
WHY IS A LNG POWERED VESSEL IMPORTANT?
The Charot will be an electric hybrid vessel powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Since the ship is designed to give sophisticated cruisers an up-close polar experience, Ponant wants to minimize the impact the ship has on the fragile polar environment. LNG use substantially reduces sodium oxides, nitrogen oxides (85% reduction), carbon dioxide, and particle emissions (95% reduction), and when in electric hybrid mode emissions are reduced to zero. In addition, Charcot will have a waster heat recovery system to minimize its impact on the cold environment and waters. This is part of Ponant’s commitment to responsible and sustainable tourism, allowing it to take its travelers to remote areas for truly unique experiences while minimizing the ships impact on this remarkable environment.
SOPHISTICATED POLAR EXPEDITION CRUISING
While cruising the polar waters, guests will experience a luxurious atmosphere onboard. With just 135 cabins, including 68 suites, the ship features a relaxes ambiance with the feel of a private yacht. You’ll be greeted by the French crew (they are bi-lingual) and served with five-star service throughout your voyage. Not surprisingly, the sumptuous cuisine is French inspired. And all cabins have a sea view and balcony. If you are ready to experience the polar cruising, Ponant is a perfect option for you.
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