The North Pole has long been in the sights of those seeking unique human endeavours. Its inhospitable terrain and distance make it a natural target for the adventurous.

Now Ponant has claimed – even for a fleeting moment – a record of sorts. At 1.42am local time on September 8, a Ponant ship became the worlds’ most northern cruise vessel.

For a brief moment, Le Boreal reached 85 degrees north and came within 550kms of the north pole. She came close to the current record set by Hapag-Lloyds Hanseatic in 2014.

The Hanseatic crew and passengers reached the record setting northernmost point of 85°, 40.7′ north and 135°, 39.6′ east. Just 70kms closer.

Le Boréal is a double certified “Clean Ship” and “Ice Class 1”, and crossed Latitude 85° North on the night of 8 September.

The line is promising more firsts. Le Commandant-Charcot, currently under construction in Norway is on schedule for delivery  mid-2021.

It is equipped with Polar Class 2 (PC2) rated hull and twin electric Azipod® ABB Azimuth electric propulsors, five-blade propellers capable of pivoting 360°, meaning she  will be capable of exploring all the way to the geographic North Pole at 90° North.

Sarina Bratton, Chairman Asia Pacific for PONANT, explains: “This was a voyage with a purpose: a fact-finding mission, recording sea and ice conditions – including the thickness and coverage of ice – and monitoring outside temperatures in order to provide invaluable real time data in preparation for the introduction of PONANT’s groundbreaking hybrid electric-LNG (liquified natural gas) polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant-Charcot.”

Le Boréal is currently proceeding along the North East Passage without guests, positioning to the Russian Far East and the Kamchatka Peninsula in readiness for Bubble Expeditions.