French cruise line Ponant has introduced the first of six vessels in its new Explorers Class. The 184-passenger Le Lapérouse has the sleek, super-yacht look of Ponant’s existing fleet, but is slightly smaller and has a unique feature: the Blue Eye, a multi-sensory underwater lounge. In this first of its kind lounge are two portholes shaped like a cetacean’s eyes. Integrated digital screens project live images captured by three underwater cameras. Hydrophones pipe in the sounds of the sea, which can also be heard through softly vibrating furniture.
“It’s a very intimate vessel. Its design is very beautiful, crafted to bring the light in from the outside and showcase the destinations,” said Navin Sawhney, Ponant’s CEO, Americas. “The most breathtaking aspect of Le Lapérouse is the Blue Eye lounge. It envelops you and makes a modern-day explorer out of you.”
Le Lapérouse is named for the French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, count of Lapérouse, whose expedition mysteriously vanished in the South Pacific in 1788.
“Understated, yacht-chic elegance” is how Edie Rodriguez, Americas brand chairman and corporate special adviser for Ponant, described the vibe on board.
This is a luxurious expedition ship with elegant appointments, gourmet French cuisine and an infinity pool. A marina platform has three positions: for use as a sun deck; as a launch pad for kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and other water sports; and as the embarkation point for 10 zodiacs.
An ice-class rating enables Le Lapérouse to operate in polar regions. The ship, however, is scheduled for mainly warm-water destinations through April 2020. Five more ships are being built, with Le Champlain following this year. Ponant is also planning a one-of-a-kind luxury icebreaker.
Large windows in the Grand Salon and the Observation Lounge offer sweeping sea views, and a theater hosts enrichment lectures, movies and evening entertainment such as performances by classical singers. The top deck spa has a Scandinavian feel, with light woods and an ocean-view sauna and treatment rooms. A small fitness area is stocked with treadmills and bicycles. Le Lapérouse is served by a bilingual (French and English) crew of 110.
Throughout the ship, light, neutral colors are accented with nautical blues; and art forms, reminiscent of the sea, characterize the art pieces and the lighting.
The most common accommodations are the 66 Prestige Staterooms, each measuring 204 square feet and with a 43-square-foot balcony. These accommodations have a bathroom with shower only. Standard in all categories are a mini-bar (refilled daily), bathrobes, hairdryer, Hermès bath products, safe, iPod player, video on demand, Wi-Fi, 110/220 outlets and 24-hour room service.
Aft on Deck 6, overlooking the ship’s wake, the Owner’s Suite stretches across 484 square feet, with a 328-square-foot terrace equipped with a Jacuzzi, dining table and chaise lounges. The large bathroom is equipped with twin sinks and separate tub and shower units. Two flat-screen televisions and a half-bath round out the amenities. The suite sleeps two. Three Grand Deluxe Suites are the same size and also face aft, with large terraces, but no deck Jacuzzis. There are also 27 other suites in three categories.
What’s Included: Beverages, including standard cocktails and wines (premium brands and labels cost extra), 24-hour room service and gratuities.
Cuisine is French, prepared individually as requested by French chefs. Le Lapérouse has one restaurant, offering single, open-seating dining, plus tables on an outdoor terrace with a grill. Fresh products, carefully selected ingredients and refined dishes are the hallmarks of Ponant dining. Passengers can look forward to the great classics of French cuisine, along with an excellent cheese selection. Scallops, escargot, vichyssoise, grilled and roasted meats, fresh fish, traditional breads and pastries baked on board are among the choices.
Entertainment: Classical singers, often from the region visited
Who Goes on This Ship? Most passengers are French, but 35 percent are from other places, primarily North and South America, Australia, the U.K., China, South Africa and Japan. They’re well educated, with an average age of 60. Most are couples, though there is good representation by solo travelers. An average of 55 departures a year carry no single supplement.
The ship books top down, so if passengers are looking at iconic destinations with a short season, they should reserve as soon as the itinerary is announced, up to two years out.
Summary of excellent points: A sleek, yacht-like vessel with French flair, gourmet cuisine, unusual itineraries and an international passenger mix.
Getaway Dreams Come True Travel will assist you in determining the appropriate luxury itinerary and ship for your proposed lifetime memories. Please call 724.752.2655 to schedule your luxury cruise planning session. The agency has been certified as Ocean Cruising Experts including expedition cruises.
All photos/renderings courtesy of Ponant Cruise Lines
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