Sailing off the coast of Normandy, Le Commandant Charcot – 500 feet long, nine decks of glass and steel – glides almost silently through the water.
This new expedition ship is so quiet that the polar bears were unimpressed during a sea trial in the Arctic. Curiously, they looked at the ship with its gently curved hull like the contours of a giant blue whale, which crept silently alongside them and, thanks to emission-free battery operation, came to a gentle stop.
Along with its hybrid electric and liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion system, the latest addition to French shipping company Ponant’s fleet is packed to the gunwales with further eco-innovations that reduce the impact of transporting visitors to the delicate environments of the Arctic and Antarctic significantly reduce .
Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot, pictured, is at the forefront of a new wave of greener cruise ships
It also transports the 235 passengers in the lap of luxury, a very different experience from the ship’s pioneering namesake, French scientist and explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot.
Le Commandant Charcot is at the forefront of a new wave of greener cruise ships. This is the first polar class 2 cruise ship capable of reaching the Geographic North Pole.
The design of its hull means it can sail safely in ice covered areas without getting pinched.
Le Commandant Charcot is packed with eco-innovations that significantly reduce the impact visitors bring to the delicate environments of the Arctic and Antarctic
All water on Le Commandant Charcot, including the drinking water in the glass carafes in the cabins, is purified seawater
Le Commandant Charcot recovers heat from the engines and waste incineration to fuel the artificial fireplace (pictured) on Deck 9
Every effort and method is used to minimize the carbon footprint, recovering heat from the engines and burning waste to heat the swimming pools and outdoor sofas and to heat the artificial fire pit on deck 9, as well as to heat the decks and balconies.
All water, including drinking water in glass carafes in cabins, is purified seawater, and the ship is virtually free of single-use plastics, from the toiletries and spa products (organic, of course) to the restaurants and bars.
There are two labs for research projects, and scientists involve passengers in collecting data such as water sampling and counting fauna.
Antarctic cruises start from £14,220 per person for 11 nights, including flights from Santiago. Prices for Arctic only cruises start at £13,320 per person for ten nights (uk.ponant.com).
Other eco-friendly vessels include Havila Capella, the first of four hybrid LNG-electric vessels being built by Havila Voyages, designed to minimize disruption to the fjords along the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes.
Battery packs that can be recharged en route at ports using clean hydroelectric power allow the ship to sail quietly and with zero emissions (havilavoyages.com).
The Sea Cloud Spirit, like the other three ships in the Sea Cloud fleet, harnesses wind power, which is captured in her 44,000 square foot sails.
Pictured above is Havila Capella, the first of four hybrid LNG-electric vessels being built by Havila Voyages
Shown above is one of the cabins aboard the Havila Capella, a ship designed to minimize disruption to the fjords along the Norwegian coast
Set sail on an eco-friendly voyage aboard the Sea Cloud Spirit, pictured above, which harnesses wind power captured in her 44,000 square foot sails
The Sea Cloud Spirit, which is part of the Sea Cloud fleet, can carry 140 passengers
The 140-passenger ship has a hybrid electric motor for when the wind dies down (seacloud.com).
A-Rosa Sena is the first in the A-Rosa fleet of riverboats to feature an “E-Motion” hybrid propulsion system that combines a diesel engine and a separate electric motor.
When the ship approaches a port for 280, it switches to battery power and arrives silently and with zero emissions (arosa-cruises.co.uk).
The A-Rosa Sena pictured has an ‘E-Motion’ hybrid drive system that combines a diesel engine and a separate electric motor
A-Rosa Sena (above) is the first boat in the A-Rosa fleet to be fitted with the “E-Motion” system
When A-Rosa Sena approaches a port, it arrives silently and with zero emissions as it switches to battery power