Ponant - Commandant Charcot
Case Studies

Ponant icebreaker


Driving polar exploration with LNG and hybrid-electric power


Expected to set sail in 2021, the Ponant icebreaker is the world’s first LNG-powered, hybrid-electric passenger vessel to navigate in polar waters. Featuring a 270-passenger capacity, this 140m ship is being built by VARD to Bureau Veritas class.

Expedition cruises to polar regions are emerging as a top travel trend. The Ponant icebreaker is a high-performing vessel with innovative features that enables passengers to visit the polar regions safely. Its design also exceeds current environmental protection requirements, setting a new standard in environmental performance.

Our response

Polar safety and compliance

The Ponant icebreaker will be assigned Icebreaker 3 and POLAR CAT-A service notations, and feature POLAR CLASS 2. Bureau Veritas issues these notations, enabling the Ponant icebreaker to comply with mandatory safety and environmental regulations standards. These include the Polar Code, MARPOL, and SOLAS.

Classification of an innovative design

The Ponant icebreaker offers unrivaled ice-breaking performance. Its Aker Arctic-designed hull features forward-sailing modes, in addition to compact-ice and reverse-sailing modes in extreme ice conditions. Bureau Veritas provides advisory services to ensure these innovative features meet rigorous compliance standards.

Unrivaled LNG expertise to class LNG-fueled vessels

The Ponant icebreaker is powered by hybrid-electric, LNG propulsion. It uses dual-fuel engines and an LNG containment system designed to optimize the vessel’s operating range. Bureau Veritas has invested in developing expertise in LNG, a fuel that is key for vessels operating near coastlines and in protected areas, such as cruise ships. A third of LNG-fueled vessels now on order worldwide are being built to Bureau Veritas class, including the Ponant icebreaker. 

SOLAS Safe Return to Port notation

Due to its size, the Ponant icebreaker must comply with SOLAS Safe Return to Port requirements. This means that in the case of pre-defined emergency scenarios, the ship can safely return to port without evacuating passengers and crew. With this notation, Ponant can ensure compliance with mandatory requirements.

interview client M Petiteau Ice breaker Courtesy Ponant - DSI

Ponant Newbuilding Director

The PONANT icebreaker project is so innovative that it’s taking Bureau Veritas into new territory. Our aim is to not just reach, but go beyond current environmental standards, and raise the bar for the cruise industry as a whole.

Added value

A long-standing collaboration

The Ponant icebreaker will be the seventh Bureau Veritas-classed expedition ship to be built by VARD. This follows the delivery of six vessels named after famous explorers: Le Laperouse and Le Champlain (2018), Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville (2019), and Le Belliot and Le Surville (2020). All six ships will feature an underwater lounge, the first-ever lounge fitted on a cruise ship.

140 meters in length
270 cruise passenger capacity
187 crew member capacity
135 cabins and suites with balconies
2021 expected year of first operation