Sailing off the coast of Normandy, Le Commandant Charcot – 500ft long, nine decks of glass and steel – glides through the water with barely a sound.
So quiet is this new expedition ship that on a trial run to the Arctic the polar bears were unfazed. They looked up curiously at the ship, with its gently curved hull like the contours of a giant blue whale, as it crept silently alongside them and came to a smooth stop, thanks to the use of battery power with zero emissions.
Along with its hybrid electric and liquid natural gas (LNG) propulsion system, the newest addition to French line Ponant’s fleet is packed to the gunwales with more eco-innovations that vastly reduce the impact of bringing visitors to the delicate environments of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot, pictured, is a leader in a new wave of greener cruise ships
It transports the 235 passengers in the lap of luxury, too, a very different experience from the ship’s pioneering namesake, the French scientist and explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot.
Le Commandant Charcot is a leader in a new wave of greener cruise ships. This is the first Polar Class 2 cruise vessel, capable of reaching the geographic North Pole.
The design of its hull means it can sail safely in ice-covered areas without becoming trapped.
Le Commandant Charcot is packed to the gunwales with eco-innovations that vastly reduce the impact of bringing visitors to the delicate environments of the Arctic and Antarctic
All water on Le Commandant Charcot, including drinking water in glass carafes in the cabins, is purified sea water
Le Commandant Charcot recovers heat from the engines and incineration of waste to fuel the faux fire pit (pictured) on deck 9
Every effort and method is used to minimise its carbon footprint, recovering heat from the engines and incineration of waste to heat the swimming pools and outdoor sofas and fuel the faux fire pit on deck 9, as well as heating the decks and balconies.
All water, including drinking water in glass carafes in the cabins, is purified sea water, and the ship is pretty much free of single-use-plastics, from the toiletries and spa products (organic, naturally) to the restaurants and bars.
There are two laboratories for research projects, and scientists involve the passengers in collecting data such as water samples and counting fauna.
Antarctic cruise fares start at £14,220pp for 11 nights, including flights from Santiago. Arctic cruise-only fares start at £13,320pp for ten nights (uk.ponant.com).
Other green ships include Havila Capella, the first hybrid LNG electric ship of four being built by Havila Voyages, designed to make as little impact as possible on the fjords along Norway’s coast from Bergen to Kirkenes.
Battery packs that can be recharged at ports en route using clean hydropower allow the ship to sail quietly and emissions-free (havilavoyages.com).
Sea Cloud Spirit, like the other three ships in the Sea Cloud fleet, uses wind power captured in its 44,000 sq ft of sails.
Pictured above is Havila Capella, the first hybrid LNG electric ship of four being built by Havila Voyages
Above is one of the staterooms on board Havila Capella, a ship that has been designed to make as little impact as possible on the fjords along Norway’s coast
Set sail on an eco-friendly voyage on board Sea Cloud Spirit, pictured above, which uses wind power captured in its 44,000 sq ft of sails
Sea Cloud Spirit, which is part of the Sea Cloud fleet, can carry 140 passengers
The ship for 140 passengers has a hybrid-electric engine for when the wind drops (seacloud.com).
A-Rosa Sena, is the first in the A-Rosa fleet of river boats to feature an ‘E-Motion’ hybrid propulsion system combining a diesel engine and a separate electric motor.
So when the vessel for 280 approaches a port it switches to battery power, arriving silently and emissions-free (arosa-cruises.co.uk).
A-Rosa Sena, pictured, features an ‘E-Motion’ hybrid propulsion system combining a diesel engine and a separate electric motor
A-Rosa Sena (above) is the first in the A-Rosa fleet of boats that will be equipped with the ‘E-Motion’ system
When A-Rosa Sena approaches a port it arrives silently and emissions-free, as it is switched on to battery power mode