Le Ponant current position
Specifications of Le Ponant
|Year of build||1991 / Age: 32|
|Builder||SFCN Shipyard (Villeneuve-la-Garenne, France)|
|Class||3-masted motor sailing ship|
|Building cost||USD 50 million|
|Speed||14 kn / 26 km/h / 16 mph|
|Length (LOA)||88 m / 289 ft|
|Beam (width)||11 m / 36 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||1189 gt|
|Decks with cabins||3|
|Owner||Groupe Artemis (Financiere Pinault)|
|Operator||Compagnie du Ponant Cruises|
Le Ponant Itineraries
|Date||Itinerary||Departure Port||Price from|
|2023 Dec 09||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo||$7480|
|2023 Dec 16||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo||$7480|
|2023 Dec 24||6 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo||$9480|
|2023 Dec 31||6 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo||$8860|
|2024 Jan 06||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo||$12420|
|2024 Jan 13||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Many Faces of Cape Verde Cruise||Mindelo|
|2024 Feb 03||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$8920|
|2024 Feb 10||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$8920|
|2024 Feb 17||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$8920|
|2024 Feb 24||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$8920|
|2024 Mar 02||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$7010|
|2024 Mar 09||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$7010|
|2024 Mar 16||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$7480|
|2024 Mar 23||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$7010|
|2024 Mar 30||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France|
|2024 Apr 06||7 days, round-trip 7 Night The Caribbean Under Sail Aboard Le Ponant Cruise||Fort-de-France||$7480|
Le Ponant Review
Review of Le Ponant
The 1991-built MS Le Ponant yacht is a tall-sailing cruise ship owned and managed by Ponant Cruises and advertised as a "luxury sail yacht". The 3-masted sailship has a total of 1212 m2 (13050 ft2) of sails and was constructed in France (at SFCN Shipyard in Villeneuve-la-Garenne).
The vessel (IMO number 8914219) is currently France-flagged (MMSI 227186000).
With MV Le Ponant, the French travel brand targets predominantly the French-speaking source market. The boat is also often chartered by North American tour operators for mainly expedition-style and family-friendly voyages.
Le Ponant's cruise charters are usually with custom-made itineraries focused on specific interests. Weather depending, the yacht may cruise most of the time under sail. In such a case, all tourists receive a fuel rebate in their onboard accounts. Dining onboard is a gourmet experience as food is prepared by a Michelin-star chef heading the galley/kitchen team. There is a also dedicated pastry chef.
History - construction and ownership
Compagnie du Ponant (CDP) is a French cruise shipping company founded in April 1988 by former French Merchant Navy officers. All Ponant ships are France-flagged. The company specializes in premium adventure cruise travel targeting the French-speaking source market with all-inclusive deals. Most of CDP's fleet is based in Antarctica (December through March). All these mega-yachts offer modern amenities, premium service by highly-trained staff and crew, 5-star hotel amenities onboard. Exotic, offbeat itineraries visit popular travel destinations worldwide, including the Caribbean, Europe (Baltic, Mediterranean), Southeast Asia, South America, Australia-New Zealand.
Le Ponant was drydock refitted and completely refurbished, restarting operations on August 14, 2022, following the ~2,5 years of hiatus due to the COVID crisis.
PONANT's yacht became world-famous in 2008 when (on April 4th) was attacked and captured by Somali pirates in the Aden Gulf/Arabian Sea (CruiseMinus). Despite being seized, the vessel was under constant surveillance by the French military forces and a Canadian Navy helicopter. Hopefully, the pirates decided to release the hostages 8 days later after a paid ransom.
Decks and Cabins
The ship has 5 decks (4 passenger-accessible), including a Sundeck, with total 16 staterooms (all outside, spread over 3 decks) including 5x with private step-out balconies and 11x with windows. Before refurbishment 2020-2021, all staterooms were with windows but without balconies, and in 2 main types - Triple (3x cabins) and Double (29x cabins, with King-size beds).
MV Le Ponant now has 8 cabin categories and types Balcony Suite, Balcony Cabin, Oceanview Cabin (with windows), as well as double and triple (by occupancy). Stateroom sizes vary from 10 m2 (Alize Balcony Stateroom) to 49 m2 (Grand Privilege Alize Suite). The Grand Privilege Suite and the Owners Suite accommodate up to 5 people and can be booked as family cabins. Adjoining rooms (with connecting doors) are also designed for families and small group travel.
Regardless of category, all cabins offer as standard/complimentary amenities air-conditioning (individually controlled), a double bed (180x200 cm) or two single beds (90x200 cm), mini-bar/fridge, LCDTV (with satellite channels), premium sound system (Bluetooth Speaker by Bose), writing desk with chair, dressing table (hairdryer), direct-dial phone (intercom and satellite calls), electronic safe box and lifejackets (in the closet), premium brand bath products (by Dyptique Paris), power outlets (110/220 V), 24-hour room service, free unlimited Wi-Fi.
The boat is served by 32 crew (French) and staff (Filipino).
Shipboard facilities and amenities
The ship currently has only one restaurant - Le Diamant (Diamond Dining Room) and one bar lounge - Emeraude Lounge & Bar (main entertainment venue/theater). During drydock 2020-2021 refurbishment were removed Saphir Lounge (lecture hall fitted with internet computers) and the Karukera Restaurant.
- Karukera Restaurant (fore-located on Deck 2) was the ship's Main Dining Room (sized 925 ft2 / 86 m2) with capacity 64 seats.
- Adjacent to Emeraude (midship on Deck 2), the Saphir Lounge (sized 260 ft2 / 24 m2) doubled as Lecture Hall and served Ponant's enrichment program with daily lectures and video presentations related to the yacht's current cruise itinerary (destinations, call ports, shore excursions). The Lounge was equipped with a large HDTV and Internet-connected computers.
Mistral Deck houses passenger staterooms (all oceanview) and crew cabins (forward), as well as the yacht's Sickbay/Infirmary (medical facility) and the machinery rooms (aft).
Forward is the yacht's wellness complex consisting of a Spa (19 m2 / 205 ft2 sized room for massages and Biologique Recherche treatments) and a Fitness facility (gym room sized 16 m2 / 170 ft2) supervised by a dedicated licensed fitness instructor. Outdoor wellness activities (Aerobics, Yoga sessions, meditation classes) are held outdoor on Sun Deck (top deck).
Midship is the Lobby/Welcome Lounge (sized 280 ft2 / 26 m2) with the Reception Desk (24-hour guest relations, shore excursions/tours, purser services). The Reception area (sized 260 ft2 / 24 m2) occupies the space of the former Saphir Lounge.
Emeraude Lounge & Bar (sized 1260 ft2 / 117 m2) has combined seating capacity of 59, including indoor space (990 ft2 / 92 m2, with 35 seats) and outdoor space (915 ft2 / 85 m2, with 24 seats). This is the yacht's main lounge with a dance floor, stage, grand piano, separate bar area (sized 260 ft2 / 24 m2), alfresco terrace. Before refurbishment 2021, Emeraude Lounge was smaller sized (795 ft2 / 74 m2 indoor space) and with a bigger capacity (64 seats).
The aft/stern-positioned Marina Platform serves watersports activities (snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, sports fishing, 2x glass-bottomed kayaks, 4x stand-up paddleboards, bicycles, saltwater swimming pool). The Marina provides direct access to the Zodiacs (large-capacity rigged inflatable boats/RIBs) used for landings, close-to-shore cruising and tendering in destinations without wharves (piers or quays). The Marina has a small sundeck area with loungers and deckchairs. The watersports equipment is provided complimentary, and also includes toys for children (noodles, rings, armbands).
On Deck 3 are the forward Navigation Bridge/Wheelhouse (with the adjacent Captain's Suite and officers' quarters) and the aft Le Diamant Restaurant (sized 660 ft2 / 61 m2, capacity 34 seats). Le Diamant is an indoor/outdoor panoramic dining venue (with an open-air alfresco terrace) serving buffet-style Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
The cuisine is traditional French and international. Veuve Clicquot champagne (by the glass) as well as artisan wines from French producers and from local producers (depending on the regions visited). Wines by the glass are complimentary and served during lunches and dinners.
Note: Before refurbishment 2021, Le Diamant Restaurant was larger sized and with a bigger capacity (1250 ft2 / 116 m2, 64 seats).
The Sundeck is served by Sun Lounge & Bar and features a large sunbathing area with loungers and deckchairs. On the Sundeck are also organized outdoor sports activities and group exercises (including Aerobics, Yoga, meditation classes) and open-deck parties.
Observatoire/Observatory (indoor observation lounge positioned forward on top deck) was removed during drydock 2020-21.
MS Le Ponant itinerary program is based on top-luxury Mediterranean voyages visiting islands and (mainly) smaller ports on the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera, Dalmatian Coast, Greece and the Greek Isles.
Due to scheduled drydocking followed by the Coronavirus crisis, the yacht was paused for ~3 years (November 2019 through August 2022).
In mid-December 2021, PONANT announced that from June 2022, Le Ponant will be deployed in the Aegean-Eastern Mediterranean Sea visiting ports in Greece and Croatia. Eastern Mediterranean 2022 schedule initially had 3x new itineraries and a total of 20x departures, later reduced to 10x (as the boat was relaunched in August instead of June 2022) visiting destinations in the Ionian and Aegean seas.
For winter 2022-2023 (November 22 thru February 20), the yacht was deployed in Seychelles and scheduled for a total of 11x roundtrips leaving from homeport Victoria (Mahe Island). Rates started from EUR 10200 per person with double occupancy. The 9-night "The Seychelles under the Trade Winds Cruise" itinerary visited African Banks, Alphonse Islands, Poivre Islands, Therese Island, Curieuse Island, Aride Island, Grande Soeur Island (Big Sister Island), Praslin Island and La Digue Island.
In July 2022, PONANT opened bookings for Le Ponant's/company's inaugural Kimberley Coast Western Australia program (April 6 to September 30, 2023). The Australian schedule included a total of 24x itineraries (Kimberley Sailing Expeditions) visiting the Rowley Shoals (coral reefs approx 260 km west of Broome), Northern and Southern Kimberley. The unique program featured private charter flights (between Kuri Bay and Kununurra or Broome) via an exclusive partnership with Pearl Aviation (part of the Australian company part of the Paspaley Group) that operates amphibious aircraft (Grumman G-73 Mallard seaplanes/flying boats). Prices started from EUR 9490 pp.
The fully-renovated sailing yacht was "inaugurated" on August 14, 2022, with a 7-night Adriatic itinerary (roundtrip from Dubrovnik Croatia) visiting the Croatian islands Mljet, Korcula, Vis (Komiza), Hvar (Stari Grad), Brac (Pucisca), Elaphiti Islands (Sipan and Lopud). Prices started at US$10890 pp with double occupancy.
Le Ponant - user reviews and comments
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Le Ponant Wiki
Le Ponant yacht is a commercially operated top-luxury cruise yacht and also available for private charters. Passengers tend to be mainly European and mostly French, although charter cruises (mainly through North American operators) appeal to English-speaking travelers (from the USA and Canada).
Le Ponant cruise ship offers intimate onboard spaces with a convivial atmosphere. Reflecting the vessel's luxury rates, service on board is superior and highly personalized. The yacht boasts a vast Sun Deck area from which guests can observe its 1212 m2 (13050 ft2) of sails positioned on 3 masts. There is a Marina platform (above sea level at the stern) for launching water sports activities and featuring its own sundeck.
Le Ponant yacht refurbishment review
In the period November 2019 - April 2020, the ship entered drydock for an extensive refurbishment. The 6-month long drydocking project (USD 25 million) was conducted by San Giorgio del Porto SpA (shipyard in Port Genoa Italy), with the new designs developed by Jean-Philippe Nuel Studio (architecture and interior decoration firm based in Nogent-sur-Marne, France).
For the 2019-2020 drydocking were employed ~200 people. The project included redecking of all outdoor areas, new sundeck furniture (padded loungers, deckchairs, tables), redesigned Marina Deck (new furniture), fully renovated and redesigned Main Lounge (now with contemporary window seat sofas and low tables with armchairs), redesigned and refurbished Dining Room and Alfresco Terrace.
The boat's lighting was also replaced with LED lights. All indoor spaces received new flooring. All staterooms were redesigned, completely renovated and received new furniture, flooring, walling, blinds and window shades, bathrooms.
Two venues were removed (Saphir Lounge and Karukera Restaurant) to allow bigger spaces for the remaining Restaurant (Le Diamant) and Bar Lounge (Emeraude). Observatoire/Observatory (indoor observation lounge forward on top deck) was also removed to allow more sundeck space. The Sickbay/Infirmary was relocated from Deck 2 (Saint Barth) to Deck 1 (Mistral).
Decks were renamed Mistral (fka Marie Galante), Alizes (fka Saint Barth), and Zephyr (fka Antigua).
Following the refurbishment, the yacht's capacity was reduced to just 16 staterooms (from 32) and 32 passengers (from 67). The reduced passenger capacity increased the guest-to-crew ratio from 2-to-1 to 1-to-1.
The vessel was previously drydock-refurbished in 2011.
Cuba cruise itineraries 2017-2018
Compagnie du Ponant in 2017 and 2018 will offer cruises to Cuba in the period of January through April (2017 and 2018). Operated by the Le Ponant yacht, the Cuban itineraries are themed "People-to-People Cultural Exchange". Le Ponant yacht cruises to Cuba leaving from Miami Florida, with ports of call Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
(NEW) Solidsail ship technology by Silenseas
In early-March 2018, STX France revealed a carbon-free cruise vessel design (named Silenseas) using wind as the main power source. The new wind-power technology was trialed on the yacht Le Ponant, on which one of the existing sails was replaced and the new technology tested.
STX France's project was something never done before. The carbon-free sailship design is an alternative to the popular hybrid powered vessels. Hydrogen and fuel cells are still expensive, plus hydrogen is not available in most ports.
The technology uses the company's patented "Solidsail" concept. The sails (total size up to 1200 m2 / 12900 ft2) are mounted on masts but without any ropes or cables. The STX France design has 3 masts and 3 rigs, with masts rotating in order to adapt the sails to the wind. The new design also includes the latest hybrid propulsion technologies, combining wind with LNG, and potentially batteries, solar panels, and fuel cells.
The sailing ship can reach speeds of 12 knots (14 mph / 22 kph) under sail in 15 knots (17 mph / 28 kph) winds. In winds 15+ knots, the vessel's propellers will be used, acting as a turbine that draws power from the sails. On Caribbean Sea routes, the new technology could reduce propulsion energy by 60%.
STX France's Solidsail-ship design was developed for 3 vessel sizes, the biggest being 15,000 GT tons vessel with LOA length 190 m (620 ft) and 150 passenger staterooms. The French shipbuilding company started research in sail propulsion in 2009, Silenseas has technology patents (2009 and 2017) for the new sail. The unit is made from fiberglass, carbon and epoxy-resin panels.
Solidsail system debuted on October 31, 2018, on the yacht Le Ponant. The new Solid Sail (sized over 300 m2) was constructed at Chantiers de l'Atlantique (Saint-Nazaire) and installed in Marseille. As the three-masted Le Ponant departed from France to Cape Verde Islands, then embarked on Transatlantic crossing to Cuba, testing the new sail for 1 year.