Ponant Luxury Expedition Cruises with Travelbiz
Declan Mescall (Features Editor Travelbiz) was a guest on board Ponant cruise line’s flagship vessel Le Commandant Charcot for a two-night showcase sailing from Southampton to Brest in the company of about eighty travel trade partners from Ireland and Britain. As we set sail the ship was given a water hose salute by a local tug-boat. The select Irish trade contingent, hosted by Danny Giles (BDM Ponant) consisted of Caroline O’Toole (The Travel Suite), Mary Masterson (Oroko Travel), Jennifer O’Brien and Jeanette Coughlan (both Travel Counsellors).
On arrival on board, we were welcomed with hot drinks and freshly baked pastries then given a guided tour of the ship. A champagne reception was held in the Observatory Lounge prior to lunch in the Nuna Restaurant. In the afternoon we tried on the parkas jackets and expedition boots, great fun, then it was on to the theatre to view the National Geographic documentary movie entitled ‘Megastructure Le Commandant Charcot’, which gave us a great insight into the concept, design and building of this remarkable vessel. Dinner was served in the Sila restaurant and was followed by a show in the Kita Theatre called ‘History of Jazz’ and many guests stayed up late to enjoy live music and dancing with the artists of Le Commandant Charcot.
The following day the Master of the vessel, Captain Patrick Marchesseau, New Building Director Mathieu Petiteau, Expedition Leader Steve Moir and Ponant Global Ambassador Frederic Jansen gave very insightful talks about the history, philosophy and mission of Ponant and brought to life what it is like to experience a cruise to the planet’s last remaining untouched regions in comfort, safety and elegance with the purpose of exploring the north and south poles with humility and a spirit of adventure. In the afternoon we broke up into small groups to have individual discussions with experts from the Ponant Team including scientists, ship builders, expedition leaders and trade marking specialists. The day ended with a champagne reception and Gala Dinner followed by musical entertainment provided by Le Commandant Charcot onboard musicians and singers.
Delivered in 2021 and built at a cost of over €300 million this unique polar exploration ship is at the cutting edge of technology and is a destination in itself. Le Commandant Charcot is a ship in harmony with nature and boasts onboard technologies with a never before seen hybrid propulsion system of liquified natural gas and electric batteries; waste and water treatment systems and the creation of never before available itineraries. The onboard polar experience is enhanced through a range of exceptional services and facilities such as the Blue Lagoon, an outdoor heated pool; the Snowroom, an invigorating snow bath to try immediately after the Sauna; heated indoor pool with counter current swimming; fitness centre, hair salon, spa with massage and beauty cubicles, theatre, observation lounge, library, cigar lounge, detox bar with sofas and armchairs, giant firepit and circular promenade deck with heated benches and spotting scopes.
In addition, there are two restaurants offering fine dining in keeping with the French art of cuisine, four lounge bars, a hospital, boutique, free Wi-Fi, and seven categories of cabins/suites including a fabulous owner’s suite.
Ponant is the leader in the expedition cruise market with the newest fleet and was the first cruise company in the world to abandon heavy fuel oil. Le Commandant Charcot is one of thirteen environmentally friendly intimately sized ships operating cruises in 2023 to the Artic & American Far North, Northern Europe & Atlantic, Mediterranean, Asia, Oceania & Polynesia.