PONANT, the leader in luxury expeditions and the only cruise line carrying the French Flag, announces an industry first: the “Blue Eye,” an underwater lounge on board the four new PONANT EXPLORER ships launching in summer 2018 and 2019. PONANT also shares what’s trending in cruising, hot destinations, and new itineraries.
New PONANT EXPLORER Ships, New Itineraries
PONANT will double its portfolio of modern, private yacht-like vessels with the launch of two new Explorer ships in summer 2018, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain, and two more to follow in summer 2019, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont-d’Urville, each with just 92 cabins. The inaugural journey aboard Le Lapérouse will follow in the footsteps of the Vikings around Iceland in June 2018; while Le Champlain’s first voyage will take guests from the Amalfi Coast to Malta in September 2018. In sum, about 60 itineraries will be offered next summer, including a new oenology-focused sailing to Northern Europe discovering vineyards in Europe, and a voyage in partnership with Christie’s between Vancouver and San Diego dedicated to exploring the world of art.
Introducing a World’s First: Blue Eye
PONANT is launching a world’s first: an underwater multi-sensory lounge, called Blue Eye, located beneath the water line on the four new PONANT EXPLORERS. Designed by Jacques Rougerie, a world-famous French architect who specializes in underwater habitats, the space will feature two glass portholes shaped like eye of a whale looking out to the marine world. Digital screens will adorn the walls projecting images filmed live by three underwater cameras strategically placed to capture spectacles. The lounge will also include a sound system, developed by Michel Redolfi, a contemporary music composer and sound design expert. The natural symphony of the sea across a three-mile radius will be transmitted into the lounge through hydrophones, a microphone designed to capture underwater sounds. Capping off the immersive experience, “Body Listening Sofas” will discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.
What’s Trending: Cruise Travel for the Anti-Cruise Crowd
Small ship sailing is on the rise, with travelers forgoing the mega-boats for boutique seafaring experiences. PONANT is the antithesis of a traditional cruise line. Owned by the Pinault family, who’s behind fashion brands including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, the private yacht-like ships include its original three-masted sailing vessel. The leader in polar expeditions, voyages to the regions are, above all, flexible. This means captains can opt to take time watching an iceberg calving, make a detour to discover a humpback whale, or go ashore to admire a colony of penguins. The fleet offers notable collaborations as well. Menus are curated in conjunction with the Alain Ducasse Conseil, a culinary consulting firm run by Chef Alain Ducasse; and Ladurée macaroons and Veuve Clicquot are on offer.
Where to Go Next: Antarctica
PONANT’s fleet, which features the Bureau Veritas “Clean Ship” label, will offer 25 sailings to Antarctica in 2018 and 2019. Operating four ships in the region, more than any other expedition line, the vessels travel to remote regions including the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. PONANT offers the rare opportunity to cross the Antarctica Circle, the northern most latitude in the Southern Hemisphere, and a terrain seldom traversed. Itineraries take guests around Elephant Island, the mountainous, icy terrain where the crew of the Endurance survived for 129 days in 1916. Experienced expedition leaders are at the helm of all journeys and lead excursions including: hikes along Neko Harbour, one of the few places where visitors can step foot on the continent, treks through the polar desert, and wildlife spotting outings to see humpback whales, leopard seals, and seabirds.
A Postcard From: Nicolas Dubreuil, Expedition Leader
Nicolas’ first expedition from Vancouver to Anchorage was at the age of 18. Since then, he has been spending more than eight months of each year near the poles, which he has travelled across by kayak, on skis, on a sleigh, on foot, and under water. From Alaska to South Georgia, via Nunavut, Spitsbergen, Siberia, Iceland, the Antarctic Peninsula and Greenland, he accompanies and guides expeditions for guests. Nicolas Dubreuil has been a PONANT expedition leader, guide, and ethnologist for 12 years.
The only French-owned cruise line and the world leader in luxury expeditions, PONANT was created in 1988 by Jean Emmanuel Sauvée and a dozen officers of the French Merchant Navy. Today, PONANT is leading the way with a new style of luxury cruising through a unique conception of sea travel, which combines exceptional itineraries and luxury hotel services, aboard luxurious smaller-scale ships. www.ponant.com