Compagnie du Ponant Crosses Northwest Passage

French cruise line Compagnie du Ponant completed a first in the French maritime world with a crossing of the Northwest Passage from Greenland to Siberia on Le Soleal, a luxury yacht flying the French flag, specifically designed to navigate in extreme regions.

Having left Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on the 26th of August, Le Soleal arrived in Anadyr in Russia on the 16th of September, having successfully traversed the North Pole to become the first French commercial ship to take this shipping route linking the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via Arctic islands in North Canada. 

The ship followed the route taken by Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who in 1906 was the first to open the passage at the end of three years of exploration.

More than a century later, Captain Etienne Garcia, who has spent years navigating in polar waters, led this voyage in the footsteps of Amundsen, without assistance, through narrow channels of land and moving ice in what is still a little known region. 

The rest of the cruise took passengers along the Yukon coast in Alaska before reaching the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Strait with a surprise port of call in store on Petite Diomède Island, then on Sept. 16, Anadyr in Russia, where this voyage ends.

Respecting the environment is a priority for Compagnie du Ponant, a member of the Charte Bleue d’Armateurs de France. From the design of the ships, which earned the international Cleanship label, to the outings ashore, every care has been taken to reduce the impact on the environment: from “green” equipment and eco-friendly hull coatings to raising awareness among passengers and crew, and respecting local people.

The second Northwest Passage Crossing will leave from Greenland to sail along the Alaskan coast to Nome

Kangerlussuaq - Nome (22 days / 21 nights) on L’Austral – Departs Aug. 26, 2014 – From $15,147 per person (direct flights included)

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