First cruise-related loan disbursement

Pioneer of the poles

Vard Søviknes is building a cruise ship capable of sailing to the North and South Poles under a contract with the French cruise ship operator Ponant.

Vard Søviknes is building a cruise ship capable of sailing to the North and South Poles under a contract with the French cruise ship operator Ponant.

The vessel has been christened Le Commandant Charcot in honour of the French polar explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot, and will travel to the North Pole, cross the Arctic Ocean, explore the far northeast of Greenland and remote places in Antarctica. This hybrid electric polar exploration vessel will offer its guests a fascinating odyssey in the wake of the great polar explorers.

“I am proud to be involved in the inception of a project that marks the culmination of 30 years of effort. Our fervent desire is that our passengers, being in daily contact with scientists and experts, and meeting with the local populations, become ambassadors for the protection of these regions”, writes Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO and Co-Founder of Ponant, on the company’s website.

The contract with Vard was signed in December 2017, and delivery of the completed vessel is scheduled for April 2021. Ponant engaged the Finnish company Aker Arctic, in which Aker Solutions owns a stake, to assist with the ship’s design. Aker Arctic is responsible for the ship’s special ice-clearing shape, which it requires to navigate through thick ice.

Did you know...
Ice is not a homogenous mass, and is in constant movement. Icebreaking vessels target areas where the ice is most likely to break up, and once a vessel has passed the ice closes up again. This process can take from 15 minutes to a whole day.

Illustration: Ponant

Environmentally friendly luxury

Le Commandant Charcot is a hybrid vessel powered by a combination of electricity and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The ship is designed for both longer and shorter polar expeditions, and complies with the latest environmental standards. Its energy-optimisation system incorporates cutting-edge battery technology, and Ponant expects the ship’s SOX, NOX and CO2 emissions to be up to 95% lower than those of ordinary cruise ships.

The ship has space for 279 passengers and a crew of 180. Its 135 cabins include 68 suites with private balconies or verandas. Other features include two restaurants and an on-board spa, as well as a laboratory equipped for, among other things, polar Research.

Illustration: Ponant

Le Commandant Charcot is one of a total of seven expedition cruise ships ordered from Vard in Norway by Ponant. Laila Johnsen, Senior Vice President in Export Credit Norway’s Shipping team, is impressed by Vard and Ponant’s joint achievement, and very pleased that Ponant decided to build its ships in Norway.

“The disbursement of this loan marks Export Credit Norway’s very first transaction in the cruise ship segment, and will help promote the Norwegian shipping industry. We are showing the world that Norway can build high-quality vessels, including cruise ships. Our shipyards are up-to-date, flexible and achieving success in the face of stiff international competition. I am proud of their achievements,” she relates.

Contact us
Laila Johnsen
Laila Johnsen Ocean Industries +47 920 48 936 +47 920 48 936
Olav Einar Rygg
Olav Einar Rygg Head of Lending +47 995 85 074 +47 995 85 074
Ellen B. Svaheim
Ellen B. Svaheim Head of Communication +47 482 24 093 +47 482 24 093