The French cruise line Ponant just introduced the latest addition to its fleet, Le Lapérouse, which will go to destinations never before visited by the company. It’s the first of a new fleet of at least six expedition ships known collectively as Ponant Explorers, which will take travelers to tropical and subtropical places like the Bissagos Islands (in West Africa), the Maldives, Venezuela’s Orinoco River, and Papua New Guinea, starting this year. At 430 feet in length, the ship is comparatively modest in size—the better to navigate these more intimate ports—and carries just 184 passengers.
Refinement is Ponant’s calling card, and, as we previously reported, each cabin will have 24-hour butler service, Hermès bath products, and balconies. All the ships in the Explorers class will have top-flight amenities—infinity pool, spa, and fitness room with sauna—but Le Lapérouse brings to market a key new feature for the ships: Blue Eye, a “multi-sensorial underwater lounge” designed in partnership with architect Jacques Rougerie. Located below sea level, it allows passengers to “see, view, and hear what’s happening underwater” when they’re on the ship, thanks to two eye-shaped portholes and technology like underwater cameras and projectors, along with “hydrophones” that let guests listen in on sea creatures.
Le Lapérouse made its maiden voyage last month out of Reykjavik; the ship sails Northern Europe this August—including Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—before sailing the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and West Africa this fall. Sister ship Le Champlain will join the fleet in the fall, while two more, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont-d’Urville, start service in 2019, with the final two ships in the Explorers class coming to market in 2020.
Source Name: Conde Nast Traveler