Compagnie du Ponant Launches New Mega Yacht


Rendering of L'Austral

Compagnie du Ponant has announced the launch of a new 264-guest maga yacht, L'Austral, set to sail this April into the Mediterranean.

Built at Fincantieri shipyard like its sister ship Le Boréal, the 466-foot L'Austral combines classic French style with cutting-edge technology, designed to explore the world’s most remote destinations typically unavailable to larger ships.

Designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel, guests will discover two pairs of arched windows fore and aft allowing sweeping views of the sea and sky from the vessel’s lounges and public spaces. Cast in a muted color scheme of chocolates, golds and warm caramel, L’Austral will offer myriad public spaces including a lounge with a dance floor and live music, a theatre for lectures and performances, a library, three bars and two restaurants serving up international cuisine with a French flair.

All but eight of the 132 suites and staterooms aboard L’Austral have verandas that range in size from 43 square feet to 97 square feet with the flexibility to reconfigure 40 staterooms into 20 suites making a total of 24 suites and 88 staterooms.

The Sothys Spa aboard the ship will feature a wide range of beauty treatments and therapies including a hammam and a hydrotherapy room focusing on the preservation of the face, mind and body using a meticulously scientific approach.

L’Austral, along with Le Boréal, will also be eligible for the international “Green Ship” label for its advanced waste and sewage treatment on board, reduced fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions as well as the diesel engines using Marine Diesel Oil, a lighter less-polluting bio fuel. The mega yacht also has eliminated the need to drop anchor, thus protecting coral reefs and sea beds.

"Our waste management system allows us to process waste water in such a manner that it is actually cleaner than the sea water itself," said Terri Haas, CCO of Compagnie du Ponant.

Haas explained that the International Maritime Organization recently banned the use of heavy fuel oil on ships in Antarctica, meaning that larger cruise ships, which typically use a heavy-grade oil, carrying more than 500 passengers, will not be able to operate in that region. Because Compagnie du Ponant's are decidedly smaller, carrying under 200 guests and use a lighter, "cleaner" bio fuel, they will be among an exclusive echelon of cruise lines able to maintain their excursions to Antarctica.

"Luxury has changed," said Haas. "Guests aren't looking for the ostentatious. Compagnie du Ponant is offering something enriching, something different that people can feel good about. It's valuable because it's intimate and exclusive."

Much of Compagnie du Ponant's exclusivity in terms of destinations is a direct result of it's parent company CMA CGM, the third largest shipping company in the world. Because of CMA CGM's relationship with varying ports throughout the world, Compagnie du Ponant is able to acquire limited access permits, allowing stops that are relatively prohibited otherwise, such as within Cape Horn.

Haas also revealed that if any of the  ships' captains find out about a local festival, an exceptional market, or even a gathering a penguins that is happening in a nearby port, he has the power to make an unscheduled stop, heightening the sense of adventure and sponteneity for all of Compagnie du Ponant's voyages.

Kicking off its inaugural season on April 27 is a seven-night Marseille-to-Lisbon cruise. From May to August, L’Austral will sail on 7-night “Secrets of the Adriatic” itineraries to and from Venice exploring the Dalmatian Coast and stopping at 11 ports and islands in Croatia and Montenegro.

Ten-night Venice-to-Athens cruises will visit harbors on Greece’s Peloponnesian Peninsula and less frequented islands. Guests on the Athens-to-Istanbul sailing (October 4) will hear classical music as they explore Greek isles and renowned archaeological sites on Turkey’s mainland.

On October 11, the yacht leaves Istanbul for Marseille passing through Greece and Italy. L’Austral departs Marseille on November 1 for Morocco, the Cape Verde Islands, Dakar and the Bijagós Archipelago on its repositioning voyage for its first season in Antarctica where it will join its sister ship, Le Boréal, until mid-February 2012.

Prices start at $3,430 per person, double occupancy and include all wine, beer, mineral water, soft drinks and specialty coffees served with meals. Compagnie du Ponant offers travel agent commissions ranging between 10 and 15 percent.