Ponant, a leader in luxury expeditions, has inaugurated its newest vessel, Le Lapérouse. As the first in the line of six new Ponant Explorer ships, the launch of Le Lapérouse also marks the first ship in the industry to feature the Blue Eye – a multi-sensorial underwater lounge. Following her successful maiden voyage out of Reykjavik, Le Lapérouse will continue sailing year-round through Northern Europe, The Mediterranean, Asia, and the Pacific and Oceania with fares beginning at $3,990 based on double occupancy.
Marking a new generation expedition ships, Le Lapérouse comprises 92 staterooms and suites each with their own private balcony or terrace. Life onboard is more akin to a chartered yacht experience with two intimate dining options, a library filled with books and board games, and a wellbeing center offering treatments from Parisian beauty brand Sothys.
In addition to the innovative design throughout Le Lapérouse, the ships crown jewel is undoubtedly the Blue Eye. The first of its kind, the underwater lounge was created by architect Jacques Rougerie in an effort to “let guests become modern-day explorers, following in the wake of Jules Verne, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the great adventurers.”
Visually, the lounge is evocative of cetaceans and jellyfish with rounded furniture directed toward two large, eye-shaped portholes looking out into the subaquatic world. For a more in-depth look at the surrounding marine life, Ponant also created three non-intrusive underwater cameras that project images of the ocean’s seabed and photo-luminescent organisms onto digital screens integrated into the Blue Eye’s design. Ponant also enlisted contemporary music composer and sound design expert Michel Redolfi to develop hydrophones that transmit the natural symphony of the sea into the lounge. For a true multi-sensory experience, Body Listening Sofas were also installed, each discreetly vibrating in unison with the sounds of the ocean to create an underwater encounter guests can see, hear, and feel.
In total, Ponant has announced plans to expand its fleet to 12 ships with 2,000 crew members and 460 departures by 2021. The next two ships to be added to the Ponant EXPLORER series will be Le Bellot and Le Surville in 2020, joining sister EXPLORER ships Le Laperouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville, launching throughout 2018 and 2019. Looking further ahead, Ponant will once again revolutionize the cruise industry with the launch of the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker in 2021. Utilizing an innovative “clean” technology, the ship will travel to never-before explored polar destinations such as the true geographic North Pole.