French small-ship luxury operator Ponant has ordered the cruise industry's first luxury electric-hybrid icebreaker with liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion. To be aptly named Ponant Icebreaker, it's slated for a 2021 delivery.
With 135 staterooms/suites, the French-flagged vessel will be environmentally friendly and certified as a "Clean Ship." It will also allow Ponant to explore never explored polar destinations, such as the true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude) as well as such remote spots as the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea and Peter Island.
The PC2 Polar Class hull of the PONANT Icebreaker will combine forward sailing modes through compact ice and reverse sailing in extreme ice conditions.
"We're very excited to add this brand new icebreaker to our fleet," said Edie Rodriguez, Americas brand chairman and corporate special advisor for Ponant, who called Travel Agent to discuss the new build.
"It's a totally clean, eco-friendly ship -- as much as current technology allows -- and will allow us to go to the North Pole...and to continue in our expedition spirit," Rodriguez said. "We can add to the 300 itineraries we already offer around the globe."
As for the icebreaker's interior features? Of the 135 total accommodations, 68 of those are suites with patio doors and a private balcony.
Look for the icebreaker to also offer two panoramic restaurants, a grill restaurant and a spa and wellness center. Guests will head out to explore via 16 Zodiacs and two helicopters carried onboard.
Following a public tender led by Barry Rogliano Salles and in which top European shipyards participated, Ponant appointed Vard Holding Ltd., a Norwegian subsidiary of Fincantieri, to build the new vessel.
Among the technical experts involved are:
- Aker Arctic, an internationally renowned company specializing in the development and design of the most demanding icebreaking vessels;
- Wärtsilä, which will handle the Dual Fuel diesel engines;
- GTT, the supplier of an innovative storage technology for LNG Fuel; and
- ABB, a supplier of powerful Azipod units and electric hybrid structures
In addition, the ship design is being created jointly by Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic.
"With this extraordinary tool for exploration we are going to have available, we are working with a brand new concept in travel," said Nicolas Dubreuil, Ponant's head of expedition. "I've already imagined winter expedition cruises across the Nunavut ice field, and to Greenland, to get within close proximity of the Inuit camps. Our passengers will be able to leave the ship and go out onto the ice for an immersive experience of this hunting people's way of life."
Dubreuil added, "Similarly, we will also be able to get up close to the emperor penguins that inhabit the ice shelves in the Antarctic. As for the Geographic North Pole, it will no longer be an inaccessible dream."
AN INNOVATION DEVELOPED IN COLLABORATION WITH AKER ARCTIC, GLOBAL SPECIALIST IN ICE-SAILING TECHNOLOGIES