Ponant’s Edie Rodriguez, Americas Brand Chairman & Corporate Special Advisor (left) and Theresa Gatta, Vice-President, Sales/North America (right) with Vanessa Lee of Cruise Strategies
The as-yet unnamed Ponant icebreaker
It’s no secret that the French have a flair for the good
life – and that’s clearly evident on board Ponant ships. Founded by French
sailing enthusiast Jean Emmanuel Sauvée 30 years ago, Ponant is positioning
itself as the perfect choice for the client who wants the best of French style,
cuisine, service and décor while exploring many of the world’s corners, some of
them extremely remote.
“We specialize in exquisite itineraries, many of which are
combinable for a stunning 30 day vacation,” Edie Rodriguez of Ponant
(pronounced the French way) said on a recent visit to Toronto. “Alain Ducasse
is our culinary advisor, and we are an all-inclusive experience. We’re owned by
the same parent company that owns Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci: We are really
Offering a “global palette of itineraries,” Ponant has grown from just one 62-passenger sailing ship in 1988 to five ships today, four of which welcome 260 guests (along with 140 crew). And that’s just the beginning: Ponant has ambitious plans for growth. Two Explorer-class ships are being added next year (each with 92 staterooms), with more on order.
Also new for 2019 will be Pontant’s Quintessential
Collection, themed cruises with itineraries including a Sicilian Food
and Wine Experience; a Gardening Cruise incorporating Britain, Belgium and
Norway; a Polar Expedition where pax get to go ashore in Antarctica, not just
see it; a Multi-Gen Med cruise; and a World Affairs Cruise in the Mediterranean
featuring CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Other new itineraries for next year include Greenland, The
Great Lakes (yes,
our Great Lakes), and
the Bissagos Islands off West Africa.
Despite all the luxury trimmings, Rodriguez was careful to
point out that the ships attract well-heeled but curious and engaged people and who enjoy the country-club suggested dress code. 70% of
passengers come from Europe – the majority being French - and 30% from North
America, though there is definitely a growing mix including Australians, says Vanessa
Lee of Cruise Strategies Ltd., who reps Ponant in Canada.
By 2021 the company plans to have a fleet of 12 ships
including the world’s first luxury icebreaker which will sail to never-explored
polar destinations such as the true geographic North Pole. No Godmother has been announced yet, but, as
Rodriguez said with a wink, “We hear Mrs. Claus is standing by.” And already
looking for something chic to wear, we are sure!
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.