A French crew, expertise, attentive service, fine dining and more. Within a fully 5 star setting, we take you to discover exceptional destinations while offering you a travel experience that is both authentic and high end.
Travelling the French way
As the only cruise company sailing under the French flag, PONANT is an exponent for the French way of life across every sea on the globe. On board, this is translated through exceptional services, a multilingual crew and bringing French know-how to the fore.
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From secluded ports to secret seas, from forgotten beaches to remote lands, our experts choose itineraries that take you away from major tourist routes so you can enjoy unique cruises and shorelines that few have seen before.
Ships on a human scale
Thanks to our small capacity ships, we can dock in private ports and offer stopovers in preserved locations. On board, the limited number of passengers means that everybody can enjoy special moments and feel as though they are on a private yacht.
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Founded in 1988, PONANT is now the benchmark for a new style of luxury cruises. This enables us to look to the future with confidence and to carry out large-scale projects such as building new ships, technical and technological innovations, new itineraries and unique partnerships, etc.
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PONANT aims at becoming a world reference in the field of sustainable development in the cruising industry. The environment and ethics are among our main concerns, both in the regions we visit and in our relationships within the company and with our partners.
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Travelling the French way
As the only French cruise company, PONANT is an ambassador of the “French Touch” around the world. With French crew, discreet service, refined cuisine and partners with excellent track records, we do our utmost to maintain our unique cruising philosophy.
The great art of French fine dining
Our dining menu is created in partnership with Ducasse Conseil, chef Alain Ducasse's high-end catering company. Our chefs are all French and create elegant and sophisticated menus every day based on fine food and quality products.
We have therefore associated ourselves with prestigious partners, who are themselves internationally recognised for their expertise. Veuve Clicquot champagne, Kaviari caviar, Ladurée macaroons, Bordier butter, Palais des Thés teas and Lenôtre cakes and sweets are all on the menu during our dinners, gala cocktails and gourmet breaks. Taillevent, famous for their food and wine pairings, have also shown their signature know-how with their selection of wine by the glass.
Design and the art of living
Because French luxury is recognized and appreciated around the world, we have appealed to partners whose search for excellence matches our own travel philosophy. Our ships are designed for a warmer, closer experience, so that you can bask in a cosy atmosphere comparable to a private yacht. The interior design is by the talented architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, who is internationally recognised. The fabric by Pierre Frey, the room fragrance by Fragonard, and the bathroom collections for the cabins by Hermès all contribute to an atmosphere where sophistication is the order of the day.
In the spa, the personal care products from Sothy’s™ are designed for moments of sheer well-being. Our hair salon boasts a team of hairdressers who can offer you personalised advice and use a range of products from Kérastase et L’Oréal Professionnel.
Introducing the world to the French touch
The "French touch" is first and foremost established by the presence of French naval officers on board and a French and English-speaking crew. Both professional and attentive, our ships' teams ensure that you are comfortable throughout your cruise. Because French elegance is always about the little details, you will find all our services are 5-star, just like the best French hotels and restaurants.
While French standards throughout the world are synonymous with a certain understated elegance, it is also reflected in our expertise. The exceptional guests present on certain itineraries promote the best of French culture. They include "Chevaliers des arts et des lettres" (a French title of distinction in art and literature), decorated members of the French Legion of Honour, academics, members of the greatest universities, as well as researchers and scientists, and all of them are ambassadors of our unique French culture across every sea on the globe.
Legendary stopovers, secret ports, isolated archipelagos and more. From the sunny shores of the Mediterranean to the mysterious coasts of Asia, from the lush banks of the Amazon river to the majestic Antarctic glaciers, we take you to exceptional destinations, which only a few very lucky people have the chance to explore.
Faithful to our sustainable development policy, we are respectful of the lands we visit and the people who live there. Our team of experts travels the world conducting scouting and environmental impact studies and meeting local communities. We ensure that our presence does not disrupt ecosystems or indigenous peoples.
Ships designed on a human scale
In keeping with our desire to offer you exceptional voyages in luxurious onboard surroundings, we have deliberately designed our ships to be of small capacity. Far removed from the race to be ever bigger and huger, our ships are sized on a human scale to enable them to access uniquely out-of-the-ordinary and little visited ports of call. This ensures cruises with an air of exclusivity for our passengers and an attentive and personalised service for all.
Just like a private yacht
Our fleet is made up exclusively of small-sized ships designed to accommodate a limited number of passengers:
- Our legendary sailing ship the Le Ponant is equipped with 17 cabins.
- The new yachts of the PONANT EXPLORERS* series feature 92 cabins.
- The L’Austral, the Le Boréal and the Le Soléal each have 132 cabins and the Le Lyrial 122.
- The Le Commandant-Charcot is equipped with 135 cabins.
By combining these kinds of capacities with sleek, refined design, our ships enable us to maintain maxium levels of passenger privacy and offer a 5-star personalised service onboard.
*The Le Lapérouse, the Le Champlain, the Le Bougainville, the Le Dumont-D’Urville, the Le Jacques-Cartier and the Le Bellot.
A modern fleet
Our ships are equipped with the very latest technologies, thus guaranteeing the safety and security of our passengers and limiting our impact on the environment. A sonar detection system designed to prevent collisions with icebergs and reefs, a low-energy and low heat generating lighting system (LED and fibre optic based), a dynamic positioning system enabling (when necessary) the ship to be kept in a static position without the need to drop the anchor, thus respecting and preserving the seabed… This innovative equipment is central to the design of our ships.
Thanks to their reduced size, our ships are able to stop at quiet little harbours and access remote, out-of-the-way places. Because our passengers are looking for unique kinds of travel experiences, we offer them the possibility of cruising into port in exceptional comfort and luxury and accessing little-visited sites.
At the beginning there was love of the sea and a passion for travel. The dream of adventure and a taste for sophistication. The desire to travel the world and spread the French way of life around the world. The wish to construct innovative and luxurious ships, with small capacity where others chose to build giants of the sea. PONANT still finds the perfect balance between all of these factors today and shares them with their passengers. Building on years of experience, the company offers luxury cruises on a modern fleet with ships built for an intimate environment.
The call of the open sea…
In 1986, Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, a young French Merchant Navy officer and travel enthusiast, decided to fulfil his dream by creating an innovative concept: showcasing the art of travelling at sea in the finest French tradition, then called “The French Way of Sea”.
The start of a great adventure
In 1988, La Compagnie des îles du Ponant was created. Fourteen shareholders, recent graduates of the French Merchant Navy aged between 23 and 29, thus set off on the adventure of a lifetime. The name “Ponant” means the West in Latin but was also one of the first itineraries planned: a cruise in the Ponant Isles.
An emblematic three-masted yacht
The Le Ponant project began in 1989. The company’s mythical yacht saw the light of day two years later in the shipbuilding yards of Villeneuve-La-Garenne. In May 1991, Le Ponant cast off and made its maiden cruise. It was a voyage that followed in the wake of Christopher Columbus into the heart of the exotic Caribbean archipelago.
The development of the fleet
The Compagnie des îles du Ponant expanded its fleet with the acquisition of Le Levant in November 1998. Of a size to suit expedition cruises, Le Levant travelled up the Amazon on one of its first commercial cruises.
New shipping routes
The company acquired the Song of Flower. Renamed Le Diamant, this third ship entered service in 2004. Built for adventure and an ice environment, it travelled to Greenland, Spitsbergen and even Antarctica.
The CMA-CGM, a world leader in container shipping, became the majority shareholder of the company. The company moved to Marseille and became the Compagnie du Ponant.
A latest-generation ship
In 2007, under the influence of the CMA-CGM Group, La Compagnie du Ponant set out in a new direction and started to design a cruise ship that would perfectly combine cutting-edge technology, intimate size and top-of-the-range amenities. Le Boréal was constructed in 2009 at the Italian shipyard Fincantieri. In 2010, this magnificent 132-stateroom yacht won the “Best Newcomer of the Year – GOLD” prize awarded by the European Cruiser Association (EUCRAS).
A series of four sisterships
The construction of Le Boréal was followed by the arrival of L'Austral in 2011. Two years later, La Compagnie du Ponant took delivery of Le Soléal, the third sistership. In 2014, the company was renamed PONANT, after its first ship, the company’s founding element. In April 2015, Le Lyrial would complete this superb series of exceptional yachts sailing under the French flag.
A promising future
In autumn 2015, PONANT joined the ARTÉMIS Group, a Pinault family holding. This buyout will enable the company to sustain its internationalisation, consolidate its positions in France, Switzerland and Belgium, and thus enter a new phase in its development. Almost 30 years after its creation, PONANT is pursuing the same strategy of innovation and excellence that has enabled its fleet to embody the French Touch.
Six new next generation shipping yachts
PONANT announced the advent of the PONANT EXPLORERS series: six exceptional yachts specially designed for expeditions, especially tropical voyages. The first two were operational in 2018, the next two will be sailing in summer 2019, and the last two will be operational in 2020.
PONANT is regularly awarded for the quality of its services and its unique cruising concept. Below are French and international prizes won by our company.