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GO TO SEA WITH THIS ONE-OF-A-KIND CRUISE LINE
 
(2023 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: SUZANNE MORPHET



The only French-flagged cruise line in the world offers guests the chance to experience the French way of life at sea. From food to entertainment to spontaneous adventure, a cruise with PONANT means laid-back luxury designed with French savoir-faire.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

A group of officers from the French merchant navy started PONANT in 1988 with the idea of perfecting the art of exploration. Their first ship, Le Ponant, was a three-mast yacht and it still sails today with up to 32 guests and a guest to crew ratio of 1:1. Since those early days, the company has added 11 more ships to its fleet, larger than the first, but still on a human scale, meaning passengers can walk from bow to stern in mere minutes and ships can slip into small, less visited ports.

MUST TRY Le Champlain is one of PONANT’s Explorer ships, named for none other than Samuel de Champlain, considered the Father of New France.

VOUS NE PARLEZ PAS FRANCAIS?

Pas de problème! Crew on PONANT ships speak English as well as French and switch effortlessly back and forth. Announcements are made in both languages. Only about one-third of guests are French. Other Europeans, Australians, Brits and Americans are among those who love French panache.

MUST TRY Watch live dancers performing tightly choreographed songs with a French theme. You might even pick up some French!

C’EST BON

PONANT chefs pride themselves on upholding the art of French cooking by serving cuisine that tantalizes the taste buds and your eyes. Chefs are trained and menus created by Ducasse Conseil, the catering company run by celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse. France-sourced products and a French baker who bakes fresh bread on-board daily make eating a baguette slathered with Bordier’s famously creamy butter and a selection of French cheese hard not to think you’re in France.

MUST TRY PONANT ships don’t sail without a supply of macarons from Ladurée, the Parisian pastry shop that popularized the colourful cookies.

C’EST LA VIE

As befits their explorer mindsets, PONANT captains have free rein to tailor itineraries in ways they see fit. On a recent cruise in the Mediterranean, the captain delayed arrival at Mahon by an hour so guests could enjoy entering the harbour in daylight. Later, on a day at sea with no scheduled stops, he halted the ship in the middle of the Mediterranean so guests could swim! The stern on PONANT’s Explorer ships is equipped with a retractable marina that can be extended over the water, allowing guests to easily dive in and climb back.

MUST TRY Surprises are good, but so are planned pleasures. Book a treatment in the spa with products from French brand SOTHYS.

OH LÀ LÀ

Have you ever enjoyed a drink underwater? PONANT’s six Explorer ships feature a dramatic lounge called Blue Eye that’s about two metres below the water line and equipped with large portholes shaped like whale’s eyes. The sensually curved walls and dim blue lighting are part of the unique design created by Jacques Rougerie, a French architect who specializes in underwater habitats. Large screens showcase marine life images captured from underwater cameras. That’s not all. A hydrophone attains ocean sounds that transmit this “symphony of the sea” into the lounge.

MUST TRY Relax on one of the Body Listening Sofas and feel a subtle vibration in sync with the aquatic acoustics.

ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH

After you’ve enjoyed your first taste of PONANT, chances are you’ll be back for more. And there’s a lot more. This company sails the world, with 261 departures scheduled for 2024. While some cruise lines focus on particular regions and often repeat the same cruise from one week to the next, PONANT ships go everywhere from Africa to the Arctic and Antarctic, leaving no corner untouched.

MUST TRY For inspiration, take the seven-question quiz at https://us.ponant.com or click on the interactive map with photos from actual cruises. The map also shows the current position of each PONANT ship with views from its live web cam.

TRAVEL PLANNER

For more information visit https://us.ponant.com/cruises

 
 
 
 
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