Reykjavik is an unusual place to christen a ship, but there again Ponant is no ordinary cruise company. The only French-registered cruise line has four ice-strengthened vessels with a streamlined superstructure that convey 264 passengers to the furthest flung corners of the globe. They also operate a three-masted sailing ship – Le Ponant - which charts unusual sailings in the Mediterranean and Cuba. The introduction of Le Lapérouse on 10th July in the Iceland capital heralded the introduction of the first of six ‘Explorers’ – the name given to this class of vessel that are smaller, at 184 passengers, and which will cruise off-the-beaten-track tropical regions around the world.
The inauguration of Le Lapérouse was a high-powered event acknowledging the origins of the cruise line which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The First Lady of Iceland gave a thought-provoking speech before the Godmother cut the ribbon sending the magnum of champagne crashing against the side of the hull. The Breton-inspired ceremony included the Lann Bihoué Bagad’s bagpipes as well as Breton oboes and drums.
Guests embarked for a three-hour cruise from Iceland’s Hafnarfjörður harbour, during which time there was a sail past of Le Soléal - another Ponant ship, also positioned in Icelandic waters. With its specially-conceived design, with just 88 staterooms and four suites (all with balconies), this sleek, state-of-the-art ship is set to explore the most remote areas of the world with the upmost respect for the environment. The interiors are incredibly chic with oodles of French flair while the interior colour scheme is one of charcoal hues with crystal-white accents.
The big talking point which guests at the naming ceremony crowded to see for the first time is the Blue Eye – a multi-sensory underwater lounge located in the hull nine feet below sea level with two large oval portholes on port and starboard. To showcase the scope of visual clarity, a French free-diving champion performed an aqua ballet in the waters next to the ship. In tropical waters guests will have a superb vantage point to view colourful fish in their natural habitat – without getting wet. With an Austin Powers meets Captain Nemo design, this lounge has integrated digital screens which display live images captured by three underwater cameras, there are also hydrophones that pick up the natural sounds of the ocean.
As a world leader of luxury expeditions, Ponant has a wealth of itineraries that cover all the world’s seas. The company remains loyal to its philosophy of sailing to places where others do not venture, offering an ever-richer selection of authentic journeys to exceptional destinations. For more details about cruises to the ends of the earth speak to our experienced team on 0800 484 0370.
- 19th September 2018
Edinburgh-born Gary Buchanan has been a travel writer for over 30 years. He has been a specialist cruise writer for 25 years contributing to leading British publications including national newspapers and consumer magazines. He is the author of five books about cruising and spends over seven months every year at sea sailing the world’s oceans.