PONANT’s involvement in the study of the regions it explores contributes to improve scientists’ knowledge of these ecosystems.

Last September, PONANT inaugurated Le Commandant Charcot, the first hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by liquefied natural gas and the first cruise ship to welcome on board teams of scientists with work spaces entirely dedicated to them: a remarkable advance in terms of navigation and tools made available to the international scientific community.

A robust and lasting commitment to academic science

The resources provided by Le Commandant Charcot are an extension to actions already taken by PONANT to facilitate research. Analysis of coral reefs for the University of Oxford, recording cetacean sounds for bio-acoustician Michel André or observing the behaviour of humpback whales with the NGO Conservation International, are just a few examples.

For us, putting our technical and human resources at the service of science to create opportunities for research is a logical extension to raising our guests’ awareness of issues related to protecting the planet. With Le Commandant Charcot, and in the heritage of her eponymous explorer, our commitment to science is officially anchored as an integral part of our identity 

Hervé Gastinel, CEO of PONANT

The unique features of Le Commandant Charcot allow researchers working in the polar regions, such as biologists, geographers, oceanographers, climatologists or ethnologists, to repeatedly access unexplored or rarely studied places, and thus extend the duration of polar campaigns. The ship offers science facilities with two research laboratories (including one with openings on to the sea) as well as autonomous measuring instruments.

The EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études), the University of Washington, and IFREMER (French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea), are already involved in this programme. Several scientists have already been on board Le Commandant Charcot, including Ted Cheeseman (Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia), Johan Etourneau (Unité Mixte de Recherches Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, EPOC, Bordeaux), Hanne Sagen (Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, NERSC, Bergen, Norway), and Camille Lique (IFREMER).

Le Commandant Charcot offers researchers the opportunity to embark for the polar regions.

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Citizen science activities

Alongside the academic science project, PONANT commits to offering its guests an opportunity to take part in the many projects led on board. Workshops and scientific protocols are animated by the naturalist experts on board, enabling the guests to get actively involved and feel they are making a tangible contribution to science.

Data collected for projects like the marine species census, cloud cover observations, or phytoplankton sampling are all being fed into programmes such as Happywhale, Globe Clouds, FjordPhyto and Seabird Surveys. The scientists on board also give lectures on the concerns behind their various missions.

In order to deploy these citizen science programmes on board, PONANT has formed a close partnership with The Polar Collective, an association specialising in the coordination and facilitation of citizen science workshops on polar expedition ships.

Photo credits: ©Studio PONANT; ©Daniel Cron; ©Julien Fabro