Ponant has opened sales for the launch of its first hybrid electric ship powered by liquefied natural gas, a new model being gradually introduced across the sector.
Le Commandant-Charcot is a luxury hybrid vessel specifically designed for polar exploration and will be the first of its kind to take passengers to the Geographic North Pole, at 90 degrees north latitude, 700km from any emerged land.
Sailings on the 270-passenger ship will include the Ross Sea, the Charcot and Peter I islands and new itineraries previously inaccessible to classic ships at certain times of the year because of ice floes.
Le Commandant-Charcot has PC2 Polar Class certification and innovative routing software that makes it possible to get through naturally created channels in the ice, while the ship’s powerful engines can also free it if it encounters denser sea ice.
Named after a French explorer, the ship is also the first exploration vessel to exceed international ecological regulations and, as well as running on a hybrid engine, will incorporate other elements of environmental protection such as a scientific research laboratory equipped for ecosystem and biodiversity study.
Among the itineraries now open for sale are the 16-day Geographic North Pole cruise from Reykjavik to Longyearbyen in August 2021, costing from £20,133 per person.
Ponant has put summer 2021 Arctic cruises on sale, while winter 2021-2022 Antarctica cruises will go on sale on 5 December, but are also available for pre-booking in the meantime.
Ponant also received two 180-guest Explorer-class vessels last year, and is set to launch four more of that category of ship before taking delivery of Le Commandant-Charcot, its first ice-breaking vessel.
This month, Hurtigruten will become the first cruise line in the world to launch hybrid ships with the arrival of its expedition vessel, Roald Amundsen. It will be followed by Fridtjof Nansen next April, and a third hybrid ship in 2021.