Innovations such as an underwater observation lounge and infinity pool at the rear of the ship have been revealed to feature on four new expedition ships due to be delivered to French cruise line Ponant from May 2018.
Unveiling more details about the new ‘Explorer Class’ fleet of ships at a gala event in Sydney last night, Ponant also stated that the first ship to roll off the production line will head directly for Australian waters, with some of its inaugural cruises to take place in the Kimberley region off the Western Australia coast. The Kimberley is a new region recently added to Ponant’s global map, with a maiden season to be sailed on L’Austral mid-next year.
Official names for Ponant’s four new ships have not yet been determined but will be announced soon, the line said. The ships will allow the company to build on its existing ‘White Expeditions’ selection with ‘Blue Expeditions’ in the Oceania region of Australasia, the South Pacific and New Zealand, while ‘Green Expeditions’ will cruise in South American waters, including the Amazon River.
The four new ships coming to Ponant are slightly smaller than its existing fleet of four yachts.
The forthcoming fleet of four new ships will be constructed in Norway, with two to be delivered in 2018 and the remaining two a year later. Slightly smaller than its existing fleet of four expedition yachts, the new ships will cater to around 184 people in 92 staterooms, supported by a 110-strong crew. Each stateroom will feature a balcony.
Each of the new ships will be Ice Class ranked, certified to sail in the Polar Regions and offering easy maneuverability to enable it to access secluded bays and coves off-limits to larger ships. At the rear of the ships, an Infinity glass-edged swimming pool will allow guests to swim right to the side of the vessel – which Ponant claims is a first for an expedition ship.
Seven decks in height, guests will have access to public areas including a gym, spa treatment facility, observation lounge, formal and casual dining rooms and multiple bars. A marina deck able to be raised and lowered as required will allow guests to board the ship’s fleet of zodiac vessels for off-ship exploration, with space to board two zodiacs at a time. View Ponant’s entire presentation detailing its new ships here.
Ponant currently operates a fleet of four expedition yachts under the names Le Soleal, L’Austral, Le Boreal and Le Lyrial, one of which regularly visits Australia and nearby waters at different times of the year. A fifth traditional masted sailing ship Le Ponant is also part of the line’s fleet. Take a look onboard Le Soleal here.