The icy landscape of the Arctic, once reserved for only the most adventurous mariners, is now accessible to tourists who want to see the North Pole in luxury. Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot, a new state-of-the-art icebreaker cruise ship, sets off on its Arctic maiden voyage this month, bringing passengers to 90 degrees north.
The 16-day cruise originates from the world’s most northerly settlement: Longyearbyen, in the archipelago of Svalbard, about halfway between Norway’s northern coast and the North Pole. The ship has the power to carve through dense layers of ice and uses liquefied natural gas to power its hybrid engine. This rarefied experience comes at a considerable price (staterooms start at $30,235), but guests can choose from three gourmet restaurants (one of which is run by renowned chef Alain Ducasse) and relax at the onboard spa, complete sauna, and an indoor pool. For a true Arctic experience, get off the ship for snow trekking, kayaking, dog sledding—and for the truly brave, an Arctic swim.
Other new ships exploring the Arctic this summer—though not as far north as Le Commandant Charcot—include Quark’s Ultramarine and Lindblad’s National Geographic Endurance. They join existing Arctic cruises Seabourn Venture, Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, and Silversea’s small luxury expedition ship, Silver Wind, with departures scheduled from June through August.
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