French expedition cruise line Ponant has announced plans to grow its fleet to 12 ships by 2021. The cruise line said that it would maintain its focus on small-ship cruising.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, Ponant specializes in destinations around the world that are inaccessible to larger ships, such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Alaska, the Amazon, the Orinoco, Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, and even the roof of the world at the Geographic North Pole and the North-East Passage.
Ponant’s expansion includes construction of the fifth and sixth vessels in the Explorers series. The new yacht-like ships, to be called Le Bellot and Le Surville, will launch in 2020 with sleek design, state-of-the-art ship technology and respect for the environment – they will comply with the international CLEANSHIP label (Bureau Veritas). Each ship will have 92 cabins with warm and contemporary design and balconies overlooking the sea. In addition, each ship will have four suites with bay windows and terraces to take advantage of extraordinary views.
The new vessels will join sister Explorers ships Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville, launching in 2018 and 2019. Like the four already ordered, construction of these two additional ships will be entrusted to Norwegian shipyard Vard, part of Fincantieri Group. Ponant also recently announced that it will launch the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with luxury appointments in 2021.
These six Explorer ships will all have a multi-sensory underwater lounge called “Blue Eye,” allowing passengers to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes in the shape of a cetaceous eye, looking out into the marine world. There will be non-intrusive underwater lighting, and hydrophones integrated into the keel that retransmit the natural symphony of the deep water, as well as body listening sofas, which will discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.