Ponant staff member Sara Mulnix travelled aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury icebreaker, on Ponant’s Northeast Greenland’s Unexplored Sea Ice expedition. The only passenger ship in the world with a Polar Class 2 shell, this remarkable vessel is able to navigate and break through the sea ice; most cruise ships typically have a PC6 shell or higher. Aboard a five-star setting, guests enjoy refined dining, impeccable service, and boundless opportunities to relax in the spa, sauna, and snow room, all while exploring one of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Here, Sara shares what a typical day onboard Le Commandant Charcot is really like.
8am | Breakfast in Sila
Wake up, pull back your blackout curtains, and stare in awe as nothing but ice passes you by. Get dressed and head up to Sila, one of three possible destinations for your morning meal, and enjoy an array of treats for breakfast—eggs benedict, tasty fruit, and of course, freshly made croissants and other pastries—and continue watching the frozen scenery via Sila’s floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the restaurant.
9am | Breaking Through the Ice
This is something you don’t want to miss: Standing out on deck and watching the ice turn into small cracks which turn into rivers which turn into full-on breaks as it all tumbles in the Arctic waters—you’ll instantly have a new addiction. Midnight blues turn to turquoise, and what looked like solid land turns to crumbled pieces of ice. It is magnificent, it is other-worldly, it is singularly unique. Truly, there is nothing like it.
10am | Polar Bear Sighting
As the ship starts to slow down, an announcement is made: “Dear guests, this is your captain speaking… a polar bear has been sighted!” You grab your parka, gloves, and binoculars and join your fellow travel companions out on deck, hoping to catch a glimpse of the King of the Arctic, with staff members, trained in spotting polar bears, at the ready to help. The polar bear ambles towards the ship, slowly, but then all at once he’s viewable to the naked eye; he’s as curious about us as we are about him. He sniffs the ship, determining that there is no threat, and carries on. Gone, just as quickly as he appeared; a complete and utter thrill.
11am | Lecture Series with Onboard Experts
After the wide-eyed excitement of seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat, you’d think that your day has peaked; but it’s just the beginning. As we reach our next destination, take a break from thrill-seeking and enjoy a lecture by one of the many naturalists on board. From polar bear experts to ornithologists to someone who has spent her entire career understanding ice growth in the polar extremes, you’ll leave the lecture as a subject matter expert.
12pm | Lunch
Before heading out for an afternoon of activities, enjoy lunch on deck. With the sun shining, there’s no better place to fuel up with your fellow adventurers, perhaps enjoying some of the international fare from Inneq, the open-air bar just outside of Sila.
2pm | Fun on the Ice
Get ready to see, firsthand, how vast—and epic—Greenland is. Join a hike with our onboard explorers, or strap on some snowshoes to help navigate the hummocks that are sometimes hiding deep holes. If water activities are more up your alley, join the kayaking group to gain the perspective of polar bears as they’re hunting for seals.
4pm | Polar Plunge
It’s the perfect day for a polar plunge, and the expedition team works hard to set up tents and a removable step ladder, while you start mentally preparing for the cold (on this particular voyage, the water was a cool 30℉(-1℃)!). With your bathrobe, parka, socks, and boots, you and your fellow adventure-seekers head to the tents to await the icy swim. The mood is decidedly celebratory; everyone is pumped up on freezing adrenaline, and happy for the opportunity to show what hardy stock they’re made up of! The reward? A mug of hot cocoa (with a bit of Bailey’s for some) immediately upon exiting the Arctic waters. And, as you head back to the ship, you notice another treat—the hotel team has set up tables with caviar and champagne literally chilling in the ice. What could be better?
7pm | Recap & Dinner
After a quick—or very, very long—hot shower to warm up, head to the Kita Theater for Recap. The expedition leader expands on the fun of the day, and teases what’s to come: more ice breaking, a Zodiac ride, and perhaps even some ice fishing. Then it’s time for Nuna, a refined restaurant with an a la carte menu each night, designed by multiple Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse. There are both vegetarian and meat options, with the ability to swap out courses as you see fit. The surprise of the night? A sampling of local musk oxen, brought to us by our friends in Ittoqqortoormiit. After becoming fully satiated, head back to Kita for a show from the talented artists and musicians on board.
10pm | Nightcap
End your day with a cocktail in the Observation Lounge. Gather with new friends to discuss who had the best dive during the polar plunge, play a game of Scrabble with your snowshoeing buddies, or decompress in front of the fireplace, thinking back on an incredible day and looking forward to those to come.
Experience Greenland & Le Commandant Charcot through the Eyes of Porthole’s Bill Panoff!
Join Bill Panoff, the eminent explorer and founder of Porthole, as he shares his awe-inspiring voyage to Greenland. Uniting adventure with luxury, this expedition aboard Le Commandant Charcot promises to be an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
watch the video►
What Will Your Day Aboard Le Commandant Charcot Look Like?
Regardless of your final destination, traveling on board Le Commandant Charcot is an experience you’ll remember forever. From the five-star service with crew members remembering how you take your coffee, to the surprises the hotel team works so hard to put on–brunch with mimosas, lobster, and live music; caviar and champagne in the ice; special Zodiac rides–to the opportunities to relax on board with a massage or even a haircut. Whether you’re traveling to the North Pole, the Weddell Sea, or northern Norway, you will have a truly wondrous adventure on board the world’s first luxury icebreaker.
Herewith a selection of cruises
We look forward to hearing from you and helping you plan your ideal holiday – 021 434 9394