By James Shillinglaw, Dec 09, 2020
Ponant, a leader in luxury expeditions cruising, is continuing its program for a gradual and responsible resumption of sailing with new expeditions and classic cruises in summer 2021. Its program includes the addition of a new polar exploration vessel, plus the reintroduction of Arctic, Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries.
Ponant also is offering savings up to 30 percent off on select sailings. The line’s “Worry Free Booking” policy has also been extended providing travelers with even more flexibility, including an option to cancel 30 days prior to departure to receive a full refund of the deposit.
New Ship: Ponant will launch Le Commandant-Charcot (pictured above), the line’s first hybrid-electric polar exploration vessel, in summer 2021. Guests will discover the northernmost latitude of the planet during new itineraries to the geographic North Pole, a mythical point covered by ice floe year-round and more than 400 miles from any surrounding land.
The vessel will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (the cleanest fuel on the market) and electric battery with experiences including tethered hot air balloon rides, polar diving and hovercraft outings. The 14-night inaugural sailing will depart on May 31, 2021 and will sail between Iceland and Greenland.
Highlights will include hiking on Jan Mayen Island to explore the volcanic rock and wild tundra, and a journey through the Scoresby Sun, the world’s largest fjord network. There will be a stop along the never-explored Blosseville Coast along East Greenland. The region is difficult to access due to the sea’s dense ice and steep mountains that jut up 7,000 feet along the water’s edge. Le Commandant Charcot will sail past the Islet of Rockall, located between Ireland and Iceland. Only accessible by ship, it’s an eroded summit of an extinct volcano from 55 million years ago.
Arctic Sailings: Guests can see icebergs, vast frozen plains and volcanic mountain landscapes that extend as far as the eye can see on one of 30 expeditions to the Arctic. Le Jacques-Cartier, one of the line’s newest vessels, will circumnavigate Iceland on a seven-night journey with six departures in July and August. During the “Unexplored Svalbard” sailing, with 10 departures in June 2021 and July 2021, guests will see bearded seals, reindeer and barnacle geese that live in extreme temperatures that dip to -40 degrees °F in the winter. For the first time, the itinerary will include a visit to the ice-covered Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve.
Also new next summer is an expedition along the East Coast of Greenland departing on Aug. 15-30, 2021. After a stop at the Northeast Greenland National Park, the largest park in the world, L’Austral will head to the end of the earth, stopping in the Ittoqqortoormiit region, one of the most remote inhabited places in the world, before crossing into the Arctic Circle.
Northern Europe Sailings: In partnership with Relais & Châteaux, Ponant will offer a cuisine-themed seven-night cruise exploring the coastal cities of Northern Europe. Departing from London on May 11, 2021, Le Champlain will travel south with stops in Belgium, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Copenhagen. Relais & Châteaux chefs will be on board the ship to prepare special dining experiences and lead culinary-focused lectures.
Other themed sailings include the “World Affairs in the Baltic Sea,” sailing July 17-25, 2021, where guests will discover the commingling of cosmopolitan life with centuries of rich history dating back to the Vikings. The ship will stop in Helsinki, recognized for its striking architecture, and Szczecin, a city in Poland nearly destroyed during World War II that has since been rebuilt. Also noteworthy is the new “Treasures of Scotland and Ireland” itinerary, May 18-25, 2021. The ship will stop in less-touristed ports like Kinsale, a historic 13th century fishing village in Cork, Ireland, and Iona Island in Scotland, inhabited by just 130 people.
Mediterranean Sailings: Ponant will have two ships exploring the coastlines of Croatia, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Malta on 22 itineraries between May 2021 and September 2021. Three new sailings will be offered including, for the first time, a four-night experience in the Mediterranean.
The “Adriatic Escapade” will depart from UNESCO World Heritage site Valletta, Malta, on Aug. 31, 2021, with stops along Croatia’s coast, before docking in Venice. A new sailing exploring Cape Verde, Canary Islands and Spain’s southern coast, scheduled May 14-27, 2021, will call at Oran and Algiers for the first time. Guests can visit a modern “Khaima,” a traditional tent used by Bedouins in the desert in North Africa, and explore the 80-acre Jardin D’Essai, a botanical garden with 1,200 different species of plants.
A partnership with the Louvre will bring Paris to the sea with a sailing to discover the ancient sites of Greece and Istanbul during “The Cyclades and Ancient Treasures” sailing, scheduled July 13-20, 2021. There will be visits to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Acropolis in Athens and the Mycenae ruins from 1200 B.C. In collaboration with Ponant, onboard programming will be carefully designed with curators and department directors from the Louvre for guests to discover the ancient lands that have inspired the museum’s collections. For more information, visit www.ponant.com.