For cruisers booking an expedition ship cabin on Abercrombie & Kent’s 2024 North Pole voyage, it’s 90° North latitude or bust. The luxury travel operator revealed on April 11 it has chartered a high-end icebreaker vessel for the 18-day cruise titled North Pole Expedition Cruise: The Ultimate Frontier.
This Luxury Ice Breaker is Eco-Friendly
Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) announced it will charter the luxury ice breaker Le Commandant Charcot from its French owner, Compagnie du Ponant. The ship, which is named after the French polar scientist Jean-Baptiste Charcot, entered service in 2021 as the first hybrid electric/liquified natural gas-powered polar exploration vessel.
The cruise is planned for July 10 to 27, 2024, and will navigate a course set by Robert Peary, Frederick Cook, Roald Amundsen and other Arctic explorers to the northernmost point on the planet — 90° North latitude, the geographic North Pole.
“We have taken what not too long ago was a long, arduous expedition, and transformed it into a luxury adventure, featuring A&K’s Expedition Team made up of the foremost Polar cruising experts, aboard ‘Le Commandant Charcot,’ one of the world’s most advanced and eco-friendly polar expedition vessels,” said A&K Vice President of Product Development and Operations Stefanie Schmudde.
In true luxury fashion, A&K is limiting guests to 80% of capacity, enabling the ship to accommodate just 199 cruisers. The number guarantees that every guest will have a balcony stateroom and that the crew-to-guest ratio tops out at 1-to-3.
Ship to Reach the Northernmost Point on Earth
The itinerary calls for an overnight at the North Pole, where the ship’s captain will look for an ice floe that can be used as a gangway onto the ice surface, an Insta-worthy photo if ever there was one. Adventurous cruisers can also opt for a very chilly polar plunge!
The A&K trip operates roundtrip from Oslo, where guests will board a charter flight to Longyearbyen, at the edge of the Arctic archipelago, and then embark Le Commandant Charcot.
The first call will be Svalbard, followed by five days at sea. The ship reaches the geographic North Pole on July 18 and overnights there before starting the southbound return to Longyearbyen and the return flight to Oslo. Sea days will offer opportunities for kayaking through Arctic channels and ice-walking where weather and safety permit.
Onboard the ship, activities will include lectures by Arctic experts, hands-on scientific projects, stargazing sessions, polar survival workshops, as well as more traditional happenings such as cooking demonstrations and wellness classes. The eco-friendly expedition ship also features a full spa.
Expedition Cruising a Growing Niche
Expedition cruising has soared in popularity in recent years, and cruise lines have taken action to meet demand. Viking Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Seabourn, Swan Hellenic and Scenic Cruises are among the lines that have constructed polar class vessels in the last several years. Seabourn, for instance, welcomed its first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, in 2022.
A&K’s Stefanie Schmudde said, “As interest in Expedition Cruising continues to grow, we are continuously looking for new routes and destinations that deliver the thrill of discovery our guests are looking for. In 2023, we expanded to all seven continents with Africa, and for 2024, we’re thrilled to add the North Pole to our portfolio.”
Like A&K, some cruise lines that haven’t built their own expedition ships have taken the charter route. Even Disney Cruise Line is riding the expedition wave. In summer 2023, the line will charter Le Boreal, another Compagnie du Ponant ship, for two 9-night Arctic cruises in June and July. The 264-guest ship is an older vessel that entered service in 2010.