The first cruise ship will explore the Saguenay Fjord, stopping in the ice of Baie des Ha! Ha! to meet ice fishing enthusiasts.

In January 2025, an international cruise ship will sail the St. Lawrence for the first time in winter. The Commandant Charcot, with its 200 winter-loving passengers, will sail four 12-night itineraries from late January to early March 2025. Several ports of call are members of the St. Lawrence Cruise Association (SLCA), including the Magdalen Islands, Gaspé, Sept-Îles, Saguenay and Quebec City. Embarkation and disembarkation operations will be shared between Quebec City and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon.

To ensure that passengers are fully immersed in the region at this time of year, these cruises will be marked by the length of the stopovers, which may include at least one night on site, which is not often the case. This decision follows a survey carried out last February by José Sarica, Director of the PONANT expedition experiment, and Emerick Le Mouël, First Officer of Commandant Charcot.

SLCA General Manager René Trépanier is extremely proud of the work done upstream by his team and all the members of Les escales du Saint-Laurent. “For almost a decade now, we’ve been demonstrating our must-do activities and winter landscapes to expedition cruise lines. These efforts are finally bearing fruit, marking a first in North America,” enthuses Mr. Trépanier.

PONANT passengers will discover the Canadian winter, its grandiose nature and superb snow-covered landscapes. They’ll have the opportunity to spend the night in a tent in an Innu community, go snowmobiling,fat biking on snow-covered beaches, dog sledding, snowshoeing, or ice fishing on the Saguenay Fjord. And who knows! Perhaps they’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, as was the case when the PONANT teams scouted Sept-Îles last February.

Commandant Charcot ‘s navigation through the ice of the St. Lawrence in the middle of winter was a world first. A hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by liquefied natural gas, it is at the cutting edge of more responsible shipping. Its ice-breaking function means it can operate safely in polar zones.

“At PONANT, we feel a deep loyalty to the St. Lawrence region , which our ships have been visiting for many years in summer. Our totally new winter cruises open the door to a new experience, unique in the world. Le Commandant Charcot will enable us to navigate safely in the heart of the ice, offering our passengers some exceptional moments. Working together with the St. Lawrence authorities, we have created an extraordinary itinerary. We look forward to sharing this adventure with our passengers, says Hervé Gastinel, Chairman of PONANT.

Tourisme Québec is delighted to see this project come to fruition: “The introduction of winter cruises on the St. Lawrence marks a pivotal moment in the history of international cruising in Quebec. This announcement is perfectly in line with our desire to make Quebec a leader in winter tourism, in addition to promoting upscale and aboriginal tourism”.says Caroline Proulx, Quebec Minister of Tourism.

The Port of Quebec is delighted that the international cruise industry is entering a new era by adding the winter season to its offering. “We are very pleased with this news, which will extend the cruise season beyond the fall. Québec City is a destination of choice for cruise passengers, who will now be able to discover the destination in winter. Rest assured that our terminals and teams will be ready to welcome them”.says a delighted Mr. Mario Girard, President and CEO of the Port of Québec.

Destination Québec agrees: “Hosting these cruises will be yet another opportunity to discover the winter wonderland of Quebec City, the northern capital of North America. Winter is part of our DNA, and to visit Quebec City in winter is to plunge into the living history of a French-speaking city with more than 415 years of history, relate M. Robert Mercure, Director of Destination Québec cité.

At the ports of call we visited, we were all keen to offer the best possible welcome with a wide range of activities. “To see the first cruise ship travel the Saguenay Fjord and come to rest in the ice of Baie des Ha! Ha! to meet ice-fishing enthusiasts in one of the world’s most enchanting sites is a unique northern experience and a dream come true, says Priscilla Nemey, Director of Promotion Saguenay.

About the St. Lawrence Cruise Association

SLCA is an industry association comprising nine ports of call along the St. Lawrence River. Its mission is to contribute to the growth of the cruise market in Quebec and of the Canada-New England destination by offering marketing and development services to its members. The association is supported by its partners Tourisme Québec, the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec and Canada Economic Development.


Explore to inspire, explore to better understand, learn, share and protect. For 35 years, PONANT has been committed to responsible tourism and meaningful exploration. The French-flagged fleet is made up of 13 small-capacity vessels, equipped with state-of-the-art environmental equipment. With PONANT, exploration is refined, authentic and inspiring.

SOURCE St. Lawrence Cruise Association

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