Le Commandant Charcot

year built
crew members
492 feet
92 feet
33 feet
ice class

Le Commandant Charcot is a sophisticated hybrid electric ship cruising Antarctica and the Arctic’s Poles with up to 235 guests (200 in Antarctica). Le Commandant Charcot’s cutting-edge technology, featuring a hybrid-electric engine powered by liquefied natural gas, make her a leader in sustainable polar expedition vessels. She offers the same luxury onboard service and modern atmosphere as other ships in her fleet, plus unique polar activities like ice fishing, among other options. Her scientific research laboratory is equipped for studying the ecosystems and biodiversity of the polar environments in which she explores.

Named after Doctor Jean-Baptiste Charcot, an explorer and exceptional sailor, this expedition-ready lng ship was built at the Vard Group (Fincantieri) shipyard in Sovik, Norway, and first set sail in 2021. She currently holds a world record for arriving at the most southerly point ever reached in the history of sailing: 78⁰44’S in the Bay of Whales on February 27, 2022.

Le Commandant Charcot Review

AdventureSmith Explorations’ Le Commandant Charcot review includes a detailed description of the small ship including deck plans and a photo gallery. Our expedition ship experts have been aboard nearly every small expedition ship in the polar regions. Please read our Le Commandant Charcot review below then contact our experts to compare Le Commandant Charcot with other Antarctica shipssmall cruise ships and polar expedition ships offering Antarctica cruises, Arctic cruises, Svalbard cruises, North Pole cruises and Canada small ship cruises.

Choose Le Commandant Charcot for her innovative hybrid-electric engine; onboard laboratory with a weather and oceanographic recording station, plus the opportunity to learn from working scientists; and activity options including polar diving, ice fishing, kayaking and citizen science. This unique lng ship blends luxury, gastronomy, wellness, entertainment and active programming with a French-inspired flair while cruising through some of the farthest reaches of the globe. Plus, every stateroom or suite offers a private balcony or terrace, for exclusive moments. For these and many other reasons, Le Commandant Charcot is among our top choices for explorers seeking Antarctica luxury cruises and the best North Pole expedition ship.

Safety, Sustainability & Accessibility Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Hybrid electric ship Le Commandant Charcot optimizes energy use with her unique mode of propulsion and cutting-edge technologies, including a bank of high-capacity batteries, ballast water treatment, ice routing software developed specifically for the ship, and a large helipad. When in hybrid electric mode, Le Commandant Charcot produces zero emissions and significantly reduces noise. The energy recuperation system aboard, powered by the ship’s propulsion system, improves her power output; it also heats her pools. Her digital navigation system reduces fuel consumption. And her advanced wastewater treatment system and waste heat recovery systems help recycle and reuse.

This lng ship is certified as a “Clean Ship” by Bureau Veritas, one of the world’s foremost stewards of ecologically sound travel. Her use of liquefied natural gas (lng) reduces particle emissions of sulphur oxide, fine particle emissions (by 95%), nitrogen oxide (by 85%) and carbon dioxide (by 25%). When running on lng, this ship can be autonomous for two months, and when navigating in electric mode, she can travel for two hours without producing any emissions or noise. See a full list of eco-features in this PDF.

Advanced technology aboard enables scientific researchers to further their studies while sharing the progress with guests. For example, the modular wet lab has a side door accessing the sea for deploying sensors (also available via the ship’s hoist on the quarterdeck) or collecting samples with plankton nets. The dry lab is designed for computer work and data analysis. Data about the thickness of the ice, the water, sound velocity and the climate is continuously being collected from the ship’s weather station. Additional onboard tools include sonars, drones, beacon-buoys, a thermosalinometer, a corer and a drone.

Charcot is leading her field with first-time accolades. She is the world’s first passenger ship with a Polar Class 2 (PC2) hull. And she ensures her guests are safer than most at sea, with novel, proprietary safety and rescue gear, including an Ice Cube, group survival kit, floating polar shelters and survival suits. Upon the ship’s launch, this equipment exceeds criteria used in both the tourism industry and the military.

Le Commandant Charcot’s design offers access to wheelchairs in all communal areas. Spaces are reserved for wheelchairs in the Theatre. The public toilets situated on deck 9 and deck 5 are wheelchair accessible. Two elevators connect all of the ship’s passenger decks. Portable ramps are provided at the thresholds to the main doors. Fire safety systems emit a sound and light signal for the hard of hearing. A braille translation is provided on each deck, at the entrances to all communal areas and public toilets. Lastly, three cabins are fitted specifically for people with reduced mobility.

Common Areas Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Le Commandant Charcot features a contemporary, warm and elegant setting designed by world-renowned French architectural firms The Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel and Wilmotte & Associés. Various common spaces are named in Inuit, paying homage to the cultures through which the ship travels. Stone, wood and leather blend with fluid lines, lightly colored decor and some 300 ornaments and works of art.

The Lobby offers a continually-staffed concierge desk, plus an expeditions desk, photo area and shop with clothing, jewelry, beauty care products and other accessories. The Theater seats all guests at once and features state-of-the-art technology. The Main Lounge invites with comfortable furniture, a separate Cigar Lounge and a Tea Room and bar offering periodic live music. The Pool Deck features a novel indoor pool heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, plus indoor and outdoor Blue Lagoon Baths heated to between 80 and 100 degrees with reused energy from the ship, as well as a Detox bar with sofas and armchairs. Beside the outdoor Blue Lagoon is a giant firepit and the Blue Lagoon bar, open throughout the day.

The Panoramic Lounge invites guests to relax with a book from the library, plus a bar and observation lounge. A dedicated pre-expedition briefing room provides lockers and space to store and change into and out of outdoor gear. Outside, a wraparound Promenade Deck offers benches heated by recovered energy and two Swarovski Optik spotting scopes for viewing vistas and wildlife comfortably. Finally, the ship’s infirmary is available 24 hours a day and is equipped to treat non-emergency matters. A doctor is available for a nominal fee.

Dining Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Both of Le Commandant Charcot’s two restaurants, Nuna and Sila, invite guests to delight in a refined table and savor exceptional signature dishes created by Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse, prepared by a brigade of talented chefs who are driven by their passion for French culinary heritage. The menu features French and international cuisine, including Lenôtre pastries, daily baked goods, detox juices and more, selecting from a buffet or plated options. A fine wine cellar rounds out the experience. These restaurants welcome all guests to dine in elegance during one unassigned seating. Additionally, Nuna features a view onto the ship’s second bridge, enabling diners to observe the crew during their operations. The Blue Lagoon Restaurant, with its indoor and outdoor seating, offers a more relaxed atmosphere, with breakfasts, buffet lunches and themed dinners on offer.

Activities Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Le Commandant Charcot creates daily opportunities for exploration, education, entertainment and refined leisure. A plethora of daily onboard activities engage passengers while the ship moves to its next stop for off-ship activity. Live music and dance performances, hosted wellness and movement classes, organized card games, photography workshops and tastings aim to keep guests engaged with the crew and each other.

The Wellness Center spa features massage and beauty care treatments, plus a hair salon and nail salon. All guests can enjoy complimentary access to the sauna and unique snow room that simulates time spent out in the polar environment. The spa features natural and eco-friendly products with plant-sourced raw active ingredients and packaging made from recycled materials. Consider Charcot’s two signature treatments for returning to the ship from the extreme environments in which she sails: “expedition return” and “exploration return.”

An onboard gym offers the latest elliptical trainers, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines, weights, a Kinesis® wall and more. Group or private lessons are available for general fitness, yoga, pilates, meditation and more.

Le Commandant Charcot is equipped with a fleet of 16 Zodiacs which comfortably transport guests to shore and allow for exceptional discoveries of polar wildlife and the surrounding coastal landscapes. This is an absolute must for exploratory excursions along coastlines or for accessing shallow water ports. Zodiac launches are conducted from a secure Zodiac hangar on either side of the ship.

Charcot offers a few unique and fun off-ship activities as well, including kayaking, dog sledding and ice fishing (on select Arctic itineraries), snowshoeing, the polar plunge, citizen science opportunities and ice floating in special dry suits. Examples of citizen science activities include uploading whale photos to a tracking app, identifying and counting seabirds, observing clouds for NASA, listening to underwater wildlife using cameras (ROV) and hydrophones, and collecting plankton samples and analyzing them through onboard microscopes.

Crew & Guides Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Le Commandant Charcot’s flawlessly trained staff focus on guest comfort with discreet-yet-attentive service that has become legendary among discriminating travelers. Cruising aboard Le Commandant Charcot is enhanced by her sophisticated crew who help create the feeling of being aboard a private yacht.

A curated team of 19 to 23 multi-lingual guides offer daily lectures on their areas of expertise: biology, nature, engineering, glaciology, geology, oceanography, climatology, geography, history and political science. Although lectures are offered separately in English and French, guides are often international in their ability to speak additional languages such as Dutch, Spanish, Italian and German. A favorable 1:10 guide-to-guest ratio ensures every Charcot traveler has access to an expert. Additionally, a team of scientific mediators provide guests with insight into their research profession, as well as oversee citizen science workshops where guests can contribute to valuable polar research.

Cabins & Deck Plan Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

All accommodations offer touches of luxury and plenty of room, with a private balcony or terrace. Each stateroom or suite features the option of one king-size bed or two twin beds, individually-controlled air-conditioning, minibar, flat-screen satellite TV, Ipod™ players, on-demand video, a safe, hairdryer, bathrobes, a 110/220-volt outlet, French bath products, 24-hour room service, complimentary WiFi Internet access and added-fee satellite direct-line telephone. Laundry service is available for a fee.