Cruising With Confidence

Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot hosts UK agents

By Craig Forsyth

We were a relatively small group of around 70 agents, media and myself joining the brand’s Luxury Icebreaker, revered as one of the most technologically advanced passenger expedition ships in the water! The first French ship to reach 90 degrees north, with the necessary technology to reach both the magnetic and geographic north pole.

We boarded on Deck 5 via the main reception and the welcome could not have been warmer and as our luggage was whisked away we were ushered up to Deck 9 to the Observatory Lounge, Anori, for refreshments … and the first glasses of champagne were in evidence.

The clean, cool décor around the ship, subtly accessorized with impressive works of art, ceramics, glassware and installation pieces impressed straight away, giving the feeling of being in a ship much larger than it actually is. The large windows in the lounge easily showcased the real star of any expedition cruise - the great outdoors.

After the obligatory safety drill in the Kita Theatre on deck 5 we set off on a ship tour (including the bridge – 1 of 2 we were to find out later on) at an easy pace, which gave us our bearings as well as getting a great insight into the range of accommodation and facilities on board. The second bridge situated to the aft enables the ship to be reversed back through packed ice – the propellers cutting through the ice - which may have re-formed once the ship had advanced. The Spa and pool area looked super inviting and I made note to try the sauna and the snow room (literally a room full of snow) later on. The expedition room was much more than your typical ‘mud’ room, continuing the luxurious style of this wonderful ship. The aft of the ship on Deck 9 hosts the Blue Lagoon bar and pools, a wonderful grill terrace with an innovative crescent shaped pool, more for lounging and sipping your favourite cocktail after a day on the ice.

Accommodation is located on Decks 6 - 8 with a mixture of Prestige & Privilege staterooms, Prestige & Privilege suites, duplex suites and the fabulous Owner’s Suite (Suite de L’ Armateur) with 1,200 square feet to lose yourself in, including amongst many luxurious facilities, a marble jacuzzi in the main bathroom.

As part of the trip, we enjoyed a fascinating panel discussion on the design, structure, fabrication, itineraries, expedition plans and exploration capabilities of this amazing ship. It was explained that Le Commandant Charcot is an ‘exploration’ ship rather than ‘expedition’ – carrying experts in many fields, with some conducting research projects, and passengers are invited to visit the wet and dry labs on Deck 3.

The whole team and crew at Ponant were enthusiastic and helpful throughout this trip from Southampton to Brest and have given me and the agents on board a much deeper insight into the brand and in particular Le Commandant Charcot.