At PONANT, we believe that travel must be a responsible act. Responsible toward our guests, of course, as well as toward the fragile ecosystems we explore, the communities that host us during our journeys, and the planet. That’s why we’ve developed the most innovative, environmentally friendly ships and the most sustainable programs in the industry. Here, we share the many reasons you can feel good about trusting your travels with PONANT.

“Take only photographs. Leave only footprints.” This age-old mantra for low-impact travel has been around for decades. Today, in the 21st century, it only hints at what responsible travel entails. In an age of climate change and environmental threats, this adage carries more urgency.

For 35 years, as PONANT has taken guests to the most remote and untouched places on the planet, we have done more than embrace the mantra. We’ve sworn ourselves to stretching its sentiments and its intentions as far as is environmentally, socially, and scientifically possible.

Here are just a few ways we pledge ourselves to sustainable, eco-conscious travel in both the marine and terrestrial ecosystems we explore together.

How Our Modern, Cutting-Edge Fleet Minimizes Waste

Small Ships, Clean Ships. Our commitment to responsible travel begins with the size of our vessels. Because our ships are small – between 16 and 165 staterooms – they naturally make less of an impact on the oceans and on the ports we visit.

But there’s more to being environmentally friendly than size. Before any PONANT ship is constructed, plans are drawn up to ensure it will have a minimal impact on the seas and marine life. Then, as ships are brought into dry dock for inspection, they are updated with the latest eco-friendly technologies. As a result, we’ve been awarded with CLEANSHIP Certification and many other international awards for our entire fleet.

Reduced Emissions. Our ships are designed to use low sulfur marine diesel (LSFO) instead of heavy fuel oil. This means that, year after year, our nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions have reduced significantly. In 2023, we expect them to decrease by 85% and 90%, respectively.

Two of our ships – Le Ponant and Le Commandant Charcot – are equipped with hybrid propulsion systems. This means they can switch to electric batteries while in ports, at quayside, and in protected areas, thus eliminating all emissions. In addition, Le Commandant Charcot is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which further reduces emissions.

Efficient Navigation. All our ships utilize Eniram, a navigation assistance program that allows us to adapt our engine power to local conditions, and thus limit our fuel use and our emissions.

Reduced Onboard Plastics Use. We’ve eliminated plastic bottles and limited single-use plastic on all our ships. Water fountains can be found in common areas and every guest receives a stainless-steel water bottle for repeated use on our expeditions.

Recycling and Tracing Onboard Waste. As we sail, glass, cartons, plastics, and cans are all compacted and stored in cold storage. Our providers in select ports offload the recyclables for processing. What’s more, PONANT ensures the traceability of all our waste.

How We Respect Our Oceans and Ports

Marine Wildlife Protection. Our onboard seabed detector technology and the skilled observations of our onboard naturalist guides alert our captain when we’re cruising into areas frequented by marine life. When we approach a populated area, we slow to ten knots to minimize disturbance. In addition, our fleet is among the quietest in the world, so our passing is less likely to disrupt migration, predation, and other natural behavior.

Sustainable Development for Communities. Responsible tourism is inherent in all that we do. Our itineraries and programs hold the world’s indigenous peoples in the highest regard. We develop port visits with their traditions and customs at top of mind, seeking input from community leaders and creating guest experiences that will benefit local economies.

Onboard Training. In addition to the expertise that our ship officers bring with them, our guides receive guidance themselves – for instance, on the maximum capacities allowed at polar landing sites as defined by regulatory agencies, or on the respectful cultural etiquette of visiting an indigenous community. In addition, our Commanders are regularly brought up to speed on shipboard water treatment, waste management, biodiversity protection, emissions, and more. PONANT is also proud to participate in environmental education at the École Nationale Supérieure Maritime in Marseille, France.

The PONANT Foundation. The PONANT Foundation was founded in 2018 to help conserve the oceans and polar regions that host us, and to foster cultural exchange and respect toward the indigenous and local people who welcome our guests. A portion of our profits go to the Foundation, which in turn supports NGOs and other organizations and businesses that advance our knowledge about marine ecosystems and encourage cultural understanding.

Onboard Scientific Endeavor. Our expeditions give guests a front-row seat to scientific discovery and research, whether in the seas surrounding Japan or in the icy waters of the earth’s polar regions. In and around the poles, our luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot explores icy environs that few other passenger ships can reach. There, resident scientists conduct field research in our active onboard laboratories that increases our understanding of climate change and marine life.

Learn much more about our everyday actions that support sustainable travel here. And while you’re on our site, be sure to browse our many journeys and expeditions.