It’s shaping up to be an exciting year at Ponant, from new ships to special voyages and onboard programming that gives the world’s best luxury and expedition cruise lines a real run for their money.
First founded as Compagnie du Ponant in 1988, Ponant is perhaps best known for its sleek trio of European designed-and-inspired cruise ships that bridge the gap between luxury and expedition vessels. Chances are good that you’ve passed one of Ponant’s magnificent ships before, Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal, and Le Lyrial.
Ponant offers bilingual English and French cruises around the world, from Alaska to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and practically everywhere in between.
In September of 2016, Ponant announced it would construct four purpose-built luxury expedition ships. Known collectively as the Ponant Explorers, these four vessels will be purpose-built for expedition cruises to the Arctic, Antarctic, and regions in-between. Named after great French explorers, these new quadruplets will be named Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville, and Le Kerguelen.
The first two vessels are due to enter service in the summer of 2018, with the remainder to follow during the summer of 2019. Ponant has taken no less than 35,000 passengers to the polar regions since the cruise line’s first expedition in 2000, and these new ships look to continue that legacy.
New for next year, Ponant has introduced specially-curated voyages known as the Ponant Exclusive Collection. Right now, the line has three specially-themed voyages on offer for 2017: Vineyards and Grand Crus (departing April 15, 2017); Masterpieces of the Adriatic (departing June 20); and America’s Cup & Transatlantic (departing April 3).
Each of these voyages offers special programming and exclusive partnerships that have been designed to craft the ultimate immersion voyage. Aboard the Vineyards and Grand Crus voyage, guests will enjoy a private tour of Chateau Latour as well as two knowledgeable onboard hosts: Jean-Robert Pitte, president of the French Academy of Wine since 2011; and Eric Beaumard, director of the George V Restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel Paris, awarded three Michelin stars.
Sailing fans, meanwhile, get as close to the action in the America’s Cup race as possible, with private events onboard with the Groupama Team France sailors. The line’s Masterpieces in the Adriatic, on the other hand, is presented in association with Christie’s auction house and its knowledgeable staff.
Ponant also has other reasons to celebrate. At the end of 2016, the line won the prestigious Blue Charter Trophy, awarded by the French Shipowner’s Association to companies that prioritize five key values: improvements to ship safety; protection of the marine and coastal environments; good living and working conditions for crews; corporate integrity, and solidarity with the maritime community overall.
Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant, said, “It is a matter of great pride for Ponant to receive the Blue Charter Trophy. Our commitment to environmental preservation is at the heart of our strategy, from the design of our ships to the philosophy transmitted aboard by our crew and naturalists…we are firmly resolved to continue to be the ecological leader by constantly innovating in this field. Receiving this trophy today honor and encourage us to reinforce our ambition.”
This is all in addition to the line’s impressive lineup of worldwide itineraries; voyages that showcase the world’s most beautiful places with the uniquely French “joie de vivre” that only Ponant can provide.