The first luxury cruise ship in Ponant’s new Explorers series has completed its first sea trials as the line opens bookings for its 2019 – 2020 season.
The new ship, named Le Lapérouse, completed its first sea trials on May 18 at the Vard Shipyard in Ålesund, a subsidiary of Fincantieri. The tests are part of the last stage of the ship’s construction.
The first cruises on board Le Lapérouse start from Iceland in June 2018. The ship will head for the Mediterranean next, then to the Indian Ocean, Asia and Oceania.
The construction of the five other ships in the Ponant Explorers series is also well under way, the cruise line said. The steel-cutting ceremony for the fifth and sixth vessels, Le Bellot and Le Surville, scheduled for delivery in 2020, took place April 4 in Romania. More recently, Le Champlain reached Norway on April 27 to complete the final phases of its construction. The inaugural cruise will take place on October 25 in Honfleur, France.
The construction of Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville is also progressing at the Vard shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, with those ships scheduled for delivery in 2019.
The new Ponant Explorers ships have 92 staterooms and equipment for protecting the environment. In addition, the vessels will be fitted with the Blue Eye, an underwater multi-sensory lounge that allows passengers to observe the underwater world first hand.
2019 – 2020 Season
In itinerary news, Ponant has opened bookings for more than 100 departures and 27 new itineraries for its winter 2019-2020 season. The new itineraries are in addition to Antarctica sailings that were already available. The new itineraries call at destinations in Mexico, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, as well as Oceania, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
The company is doubling the number of tropical expeditions thanks to the arrival of the first four Ponant Explorers: Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville. For the season the cruise line will offer 15 tropical expedition cruises, led by a team of naturalist-guides. Passengers will discover the Seychelles on visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Vallée de Mai nature reserve on Praslin Island, and Aldabra, the largest raised atoll in the world. They will explore the Aride Island nature reserve, 873,000 square yards of colorful vegetation and more than one million birds; or the red lands of the granitic Curious Island, with the possibility of diving and snorkeling. The new itinerary will give passengers the possibility for the very first time of visiting the other Vanilla Islands: Madagascar, Reunion Island, Mauritius, the Comoro Islands, and Mayotte.
In Mexico, a new itinerary allows passengers to visit the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzà, explore the pre-Columbian city of Uxmal and discover its architectural heritage, a vestige of the colonial era and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another cruise visits four Central American countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Highlights include a visit to the Mayan archaeological park of Quirigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, discovering the Guatemalan town of Livingston, and swimming, diving and snorkelling at the Great Blue Hole of Belize.
Finally, a new cruise in the Red Sea explores some of the most important sites of the Ancient World, from Jordan to Egypt via Israel. Passengers will have the chance to visit ancient sites such as the Temples of Luxor, Karnak and Hatchepsout, the Valley of the Kings, and the tombs of Tutankhamun, Nefertari and Seti I. These cruises will sail on Le Ponant.