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The French cruise line Ponant is a torchbearer in expedition cruising with vessels that sail to some of the most enchanting corners of the globe offering a fusion of trailblazing and joie de vivre. Reflecting the current trend for expedition cruising, six state-of-the-art ‘Ponant Explorers’ ships are due to enter service in the next few years – the first two of which – Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain – made their debut in 2018. With just 92 balcony staterooms and suites, ultra-chic design and state-of-the-art technology, there’s no doubt these vessels are at the cutting-edge of boutique-style exploration cruising. Each ‘Ponant Explorer’ will be fitted with a world first – the ‘Blue Eye’ – a multi-sensorial underwater lounge that allows passengers to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes looking out on to the mysterious ocean.
This company’s first vessel, the 1,443-tonne sailing ship Le Ponant was built in 1991. After a few years considering their future, in 2010 the first of four sleek, 264-passenger yachts, all with AIC ice-hardened hulls, was launched. These vessels epitomise the core off-the-beaten-track cruising experience offered by Ponant.
Their latest comprehensive brochure offers over a hundred departures aboard its ultra-modern fleet. A highlight of the sailing schedule for Le Lapérouse will be Australia’s Kimberley – one of the last unspoiled regions on the planet. The company still operates its three-masted sailing ship – Le Ponant – which charts unusual sailings in the Mediterranean and Cuba. An icebreaker, powered by liquefied natural gas, will join the fleet in 2021 offering voyages to the Geographic North Pole and remote parts of Antarctica, such as the Ross Sea.