PONANT’s Orders New Icebreaking Cruise Ship That Will Get You to the North Pole

ponant icebreaker
Illustration of the PONANT icebreaker.

French cruise company PONANT has placed an order for the world’s first icebreaking luxury cruise ship.

The expedition-style cruise ship will also feature electric hybrid propulsion capable of running on clean-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Global shipbuilder VARD announced on Monday it was awarded a NOK 2.7 billion (US $323 million) contract for the design and construction of the vessel, which will be delivered in Norway in 2021. The unique design is developed by PONANT, Stirling Design International, Aker Arctic and VARD.

VARD says the icebreaker will be built to Polar Class 2 ice class, and is specially designed to take passengers to polar destinations including true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude), the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island.

PC 2 is the second highest polar class assigned by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), and generally means the vessel can operate year-round in moderate multi-year ice conditions.

The vessel will be the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with dual fuel propulsion, high-capacity batteries and LNG storage on board. It will also be equipped with two helicopters in in-house hangars.

The vessel itself will be approximately 30,000 gross tons, about 150 meters long, 28 meters wide, and will have a cruise speed of 15 knots in open water. It is designed can accommodate 270 passengers in 135 staterooms, in addition to a crew of 180 persons.

The hull will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, with delivery scheduled from Vard Søviknes in Norway in 2Q 2021.

Roy Reite, CEO and Executive Director of VARD, commented: “This is a really exciting project for us, and we look forward to building the Ponant icebreaker for polar expedition voyages. VARD has a deep experience in icebreaking technology; over generations we have built several highly advanced vessels developed for operations in polar areas. It is a pleasure to continue the excellent cooperation we have with PONANT, Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic.”

In addition to the PONANT icebreaker, VARD currently has four luxury expedition cruise vessels under construction for PONANT. The first vessel in the series will be delivered in 2Q 2018, followed by the delivery of the next three vessels in the period from autumn 2018 to summer 2019.