An encounter with an expedition leader aboard Le Commandant Charcot
Florence Kuyper is passionate about the Arctic, Antarctic and the history of polar expeditions and will be one of the expedition leaders on board Le Commandant Charcot. She is eager to share unexpected experiences and her love for polar regions, history and nature with passengers, whether this involves new experiences, never-before-visited places or respect for these wild environments.
What does Le Commandant Charcot represent to you?
For me, Le Commandant Charcot represents the PONANT adventure: showing passengers the very best and making discoveries. We can really describe what we are doing on board this new ship as exploration. The routes will be different; we will be able to go further. That’s what makes it interesting.
We will get to the essence of an expedition cruise: going to discover things we don’t know and experiencing something completely new together. We can’t predict what it will be. The only thing we can guarantee is that we will make wonderful discoveries. Of course, this requires passengers to be flexible and to trust us. But PONANT, my team and I have great expertise. We are professionals and know how to react to what nature offers us to ensure the best possible experience for our passengers. We are here to share this unique exploration experience to the full: passengers will almost feel like they have become real polar explorers!
Where are you looking forward to exploring most?
In Antarctica, we will be able to go further south of the peninsula to places where almost no one goes, such as Marguerite Bay, named by Jean-Baptiste Charcot in honour of his wife. Then we will go further still, right to the Weddell Sea. There are lots of places I want to show our passengers in the Arctic too. Northern Greenland and the North Pole are quite something!
Expedition leader: a key role
Expedition leaders work every day to create the best route for passengers, ensuring respect for nature, collaborating with the Captain and creating unforgettable experiences. Expedition leaders and their teams of expert polar region guides are responsible for ensuring that the exclusive experiences offered during the trip run smoothly and for sharing their knowledge and passion for the polar regions.
Which aspects of the polar regions does Le Commandant Charcot make it possible to explore?
Le Commandant Charcot will sail through the iconic regions of the heroic age of polar exploration. In Antarctica, we follow in the footsteps of my favourite explorer: Jean-Baptiste Charcot, but we may go much further south as well. At the North Pole, we will share the magic that has driven explorers so far from home. The guides on board the ship each have their own speciality and include geologists, glaciologists, ornithologists, marine mammal specialists, historians and ethnologists. Being able to interact with them is part of the magic of exploration. My role is to ensure passengers understand where we are and why we are doing this. And the participatory science sessions help here, too: passengers will have an adventure and also contribute to the advancement of scientific research.
How do you educate passengers about the need to respect these wild places?
Even now, whether we are visiting the Arctic or Antarctica, we always respect nature. Aboard Le Commandant Charcot, we will also discover new places that it is possible no one has ever visited before. It is also our duty to respect this nature, this wildlife, and to ensure that we have no impact on these environments. This is essential. We are just visitors. We do not want to leave any traces. Each year, the PONANT guides take tests created by IAATO and AECO, the bodies that issue the guidelines that regulate tourist activity in the polar regions, to check that they are familiar with all the environmental and safety regulations.
Find out more about Florence Kuyper
Florence Kuyper, originally from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, has a non-linear career path. As a child, she wanted to become a farmer or an explorer. She worked for 25 years as a project manager in the field of social innovation. Her mantra: “realising the unusual”. Her life changed completely in unexpected ways after a trip to Antarctica in 2004. Her greatest wish was to return. In 2012, she was hired as a base leader at Port Lockroy, a former scientific base that now houses a museum run by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). That was where she met the PONANT teams. The company then offered her the chance to become an expedition leader for the polar regions.
What would you like passengers to get out of these cruises aboard Le Commandant Charcot?
Passengers aboard Le Commandant Charcot heading to the Arctic or Antarctica should be warned, they will be taking a big risk: they might fall completely in love with these regions, like I and so many others have before! Once you have had a taste, you will want to go back again and again!
I also hope that they will fully appreciate the grandeur of these regions and the beauty of our planet and that they will take this home with them. Maybe it will change their lives or make them want to do something to protect our incredible planet.
For responsible tourism
PONANT is a member of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). These two international organisations aim to defend, promote and operate safe and environmentally friendly trips to Antarctica and the Arctic that also respect the local cultures. As members, we are committed to respecting strict and environmentally friendly landing protocols. Visit our sustainable tourism page to find out more about our commitment.
Crédits Photos : ©Studio PONANT/Margot Sib ; ©Studio PONANT / Olivier Blaud ; ©PONANT/Ragnar Axelsson ; ©Studio PONANT/Nath Michel
Enjoy unprecedented polar experiences with PONANT
Discover the authentic soul of the poles on board Le Commandant Charcot