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This unusual new cruise vessel just took passengers all the way to the North Pole

You now can travel all the way to the North Pole on a luxury cruise ship. This week, France-based cruise operator Ponant took dozens of paying passengers to this icy destination on its new luxury vessel, Le Commandant Charcot. Named after a famous French explorer, the super-hardy, 245-passenger icebreaker is the first upscale cruise ship …



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A luxurious cruise ship can now take you all the way to the North Pole.

Ponant, a French cruise line, recently sent dozens of paying passengers on its new luxury ship, Le Commandant Charcot, to this icy destination.

First luxury cruise ship to take paying passengers to the North Pole, the 245-passenger icebreaker is named after a well-known French explorer.


TPG’s cruise newsletter is a great resource for up-to-date information on upcoming voyages.

It took the 31,757-ton ship several days to break its way north through hundreds of miles of polar ice to reach the North Pole on Wednesday. Longyearbyen, a glacier-covered archipelago located above the Arctic Circle, is where the ship embarked on its journey to the North Pole. An Arctic settlement, Longyearbyen is the world’s most northern city.

On a 15-night expedition from Longyearbyen, the Le Commandant Charcot was aiming to cross the North Pole.

Once before, the ship had made a test run to the North Pole without paying customers.


For the past two decades, a few tourists have been able to travel to the North Pole via ship. Until now, expedition cruise companies like Quark Expeditions and Poseidon Expeditions have only chartered basic Russian icebreakers for such voyages.

There are only a few departures a year, making these excursions extremely rare. Arctic voyages, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, typically carry no more than 100 people to the North Pole.

Le Commandant Charcot, the first icebreaker built for a cruise line, will be unveiled in late 2021. The ship was built to withstand the rigors of year-round operation in some of the world’s thickest floating ice because it was designed specifically for high-end polar cruising.

It has the highest polar class rating ever for a ship designed for cruise travel: PC2. As a result, it can break through some of the thickest ice in the world—specifically multi-year ice found in the Arctic and Antarctic.


To date, no ship has been built for expedition cruising as tough as Le Commandant Charcot. Expedition cruising entails visiting remote locations in small, sturdy ships equipped with their own landing craft. There are many reasons why this is a fast-growing segment of the cruising industry.

Ships with polar hardiness ratings of PC5 or lower can travel year-round in first-year ice that isn’t as thick as multi-year ice, but before Le Commandant Charcot, no expedition cruise ships had polar class ratings higher than PC5. PC6 is the lowest possible rating for the majority of expedition cruise ships (the higher the number, the tougher the ship).

It’s also worth noting: Is this the ultimate Antarctic cruise ship?

Le Commandant Charcot was created to be both tough and fashionable at the same time. A rare feature on an expedition ship is a large suite or cabin with a private balcony. A wellness center with an indoor saltwater pool, a gym, and a rooftop deck with a super-heated wading pool is also available, as are two restaurants featuring menus designed by renowned chef Alain Ducasse.


Another notable feature is the 1,937-square-foot owner’s suite, which measures 1,937 square feet. It has a hot tub, heated “rocks” for additional seating, and a telescope on its terrace..

When operating in sensitive polar regions, the vessel has an onboard battery system that allows it a maximum of eight hours of emission-free operation. It also has a research center that is used by scientific teams conducting polar research while they are in town.

Passengers can go ice fishing, snowshoeing, and polar diving while off the ship.

Summertime is the only time when it is feasible to travel to the North Pole. Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot will make three more trips to the North Pole this summer, and four more will be made in the summer of 2023. Flights from Paris to Longyearbyen start at $35,960 per person.


Are you thinking about taking a cruise? Begin with the following examples:

Ponant provided the image used in this post.

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