Sydney welcomes the arrival of one of the world’s youngest ships, PONANT’s small luxury expedition ship, Le Lapérouse.
Launched in July 2018, bucking the current world-wide trend to build ever-larger ships, Le Lapérouse features just 92 staterooms and suites, yet lacks nothing in the way of luxurious appointments and facilities, including a Jules Verne-like world first, Blue Eye, an underwater observation lounge perfect for viewing and listening to surrounding marine life.
During this inaugural visit, Le Lapérouse was on view in Sydney harbour, initially at Circular Quay then relocating to moor off Point Piper, departing for New Zealand, Melanesia and the Kimberley coast before, in September, heading north for voyages in Asia.
Ice-rated and environmentally sensitive, Le Lapérouse is designed to take guests to the four corners of the world, often probing deep into river systems, mooring in small bays or visiting ancient harbours simply not accessible to large ships.
“There is an intimacy to PONANT’s signature luxury and expedition cruising style that is beguiling,” says Monique Ponfoort, Vice President, PONANT Asia Pacific. “Le Lapérouse offers guests a relaxed ambiance. Chic French touches abound, a subtle blend of elegance and conviviality – Veuve Clicquot champagne, Ducasse Conseil gastronomy, Pierre Frey fabrics, fragrances by Fragonard, an irresistible Sothys spa, Hermès bath products in each cabin”…. a far cry from the privations that French explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup Laperouse would have been used to in 1788 when he arrived in Botany Bay, just six days after the arrival of the First Fleet of convicts.
There is an appropriate link between the navigator and PONANT’s new ship, Le Lapérouse. Comte de Laperouse, was an extraordinary navigator whose voyages took him to North America (during the American Revolution), Hudson Bay, Alaska, Cape Horn, the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), Easter Island, San Francisco, Macau, Manila, Japan, the Russian Far East, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Norfolk Island and Botany Bay – many of the destinations that Le Laperouse and the rest of the fleet will visit in time.
“Building on our position of having the youngest fleet in the world, we are expanding our unique luxury expedition cruise concept with the arrival of six new PONANT EXPLORERS. Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain joined the fleet in 2018, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont-d’Urville follow this year, with Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier in 2020.”
Monique expanded on the impact of PONANT’s growing fleet “Our current fleet of six modern ships, a classic three masted yacht and the new-builds, including a world-first luxury hybrid electric polar explorer under construction, provides us with a range of ships and destinations second to none. Over twenty years of polar exploration has seen us rise to the world’s number one polar cruise company, taking more guests to the polar regions – north and south – than anyone else. Right now, for the southern summer season, we have four ships operating out of Ushuaia to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula.”
“We have ships that explore the length and breadth of the Mediterranean and Black Sea with a range of cruises that include Greek Islands, Sardinia and Sicily, all the way through to the Ukraine. This year we introduced voyages to the Red Sea and expanded our itineraries to the Indian Ocean. We explore both coastlines of North and South America, Greenland and Iceland …. if you are considering a small ship cruise, or an expedition in luxury you really should consider PONANT.”
“Our partnership with NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC provides a diverse range of exciting voyages all in the company of Nat Geo photographers and lecturers on-hand to provide additional in-depth understanding.”
“Having Le Laperouse in the Asia Pacific region examples the company’s investment in and commitment to the luxury and expedition small ship cruise market, reflecting the ethos of PONANT’s abiding connection with the sea and respect for, and understanding of what our guest’s seek.”
New ships, latest generation
At 131 metres long, with just 92 staterooms and suites, each with a balcony or private terrace, passengers aboard all of PONANT’s new Explorer fleet will find all of the special touches that have forged the reputation of PONANT. Smaller capacity creates an intimate atmosphere, while the 110 crew members provide professional and attentive service. The ships are equipped with state-of-the art technology.
These new stars of the PONANT fleet are fitted with a world-first underwater lounge,’Blue Eye’, infinity pool and a movable marina platform, enabling guests to swim and engage in other activities directly from the ship. As if on your own private yacht, this is luxury and expedition cruising par excellence.
A luxurious, intimate and refined atmosphere
Each of the six new small luxury expedition ships boast elegantly-designed cabins and lounge areas that open to the exterior. As for the warm and contemporary interior design, it is directly inspired by the colours seen in PONANT’s idyllic destinations, punctuated with ethnic touches.
Blue Eye, the world-first multi-sensory underwater lounge
The six ships are all fitted with a world exclusive multi-sensory underwater lounge, Blue Eye. Located within the hull beneath the water line, it allows guests to see, hear and feel the underwater world. This exclusive concept, an undoubted technological achievement, has been designed in collaboration with the architect Jacques Rougerie.
- The latest brochure, October 2019 to April 2020 Asia, Oceania and Indian Ocean Collection features Le Laperouse as well as the rest of the fleet – details available at https://au.ponant.com, through travel agents or in the down-loadable e-brochure athttps://en.calameo.com/read/000132423a5033f04087d