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On tour throughout France since May, Ponant has called on loyal passengers, the curious, travel agents and journalists to listen to its “Appel du Large” (Call from the sea). It's an immersive, onshore event designed to introduce people to Ponant and its teams


On tour throughout France since May, Ponant has called on loyal passengers, the curious, travel agents and journalists to listen to its “Appel du Large” (Call from the sea). It's an immersive, onshore event designed to introduce people to Ponant and its teams

Category: Worldwide - Industry economy - Tourism
Article written by Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine on 2023-06-27

During Ponant's visit to the Casino de Beaulieu on 21st of June, participants were able to meet the Ponant advisors, as well as Commander Patrick Marchesseau, at the helm of the Commandant Charcot, Frédéric Jansen, Ponant's Global Brand Ambassador, and Jean Krug, a doctor in glaciology and Ponant's Antarctic tour guide.

Ponant has 13 ships, including an expedition ship, the Commandant Charcot, a sailing boat, the Ponant, and six vessels exploring tropical areas. A French group, acquired in 2017 by Kering, owned by François Pinault, and committed to perpetuating a luxury of emotions and memorable moments. Exceptional cruises, which the brand prefers to call expedition voyages, as each captain strives to personalise the experience.

In 2023, more than 400 different departures are scheduled, revolving around four themes: the planet, geopolitics, the art of living and culture. These themes will be highlighted by the presence on board of personalities from each world to attract curious guests.

The magic of every moment

Here, the sailors are at the helm, and the itineraries are directed as they wish. While the passengers who embark obviously know their destination and the highlights of each stage, the captain can choose at any time to divert the ship to a port of call more favourable to the passenger experience. “We go where others can't,” says Patrick Marchesseau. A competitive advantage that he exploits on every voyage.

For this 19-year Ponant sailor, it's impossible to miss an exceptional and emotionally-charged event, such as the whales that have decided to play a game in front of the boat, or to miss the breathtaking spectacle of the northern lights that set the sky alight.

“I like the freedom of action, the fact that we don't offer precise excursions, constrained by fixed timetables,” says Captain Marchesseau. Even in the middle of the night, passengers can be woken up by the captain's gentle voice suggesting that they leave their cosy nest to go out onto the balcony of their cabin and take in the show. Passengers are pushed out of their comfort zone, just like the teams, who have to juggle with the unplanned events.

In the middle of dinner, the teams can readjust their entire choreography if nature has chosen this moment to offer passengers new emotions. It's not uncommon for all the passengers to leave the table in the middle of a meal to go out and watch the spectacle of nature. In such cases, the plates go back to the galley, and those that have not had time to be eaten by the gourmets go back to the crew's mess. And the teams resume their duties when the passengers return. “Nature challenges the organisation of the boat,” explains Frédéric Jansen, who adds that the rule is to be “organised but flexible”.

This luxury of the moment and agility is the hallmark of every Ponant adventure.

Combining technology and educational tourism

The Ponant company, which operates under the French flag, is subject to more stringent environmental standards than most. The eco-responsible approach is therefore more pronounced. “From 2019, Ponant will no longer use heavy fuel oil on board all its ships,” says Frédéric Jansen. The company has made environmental constraints a strength, and each expedition is a new opportunity to raise passenger awareness. “Ponant's DNA is passenger enrichment,” says Stéphane Grillon, Sales Director for France, Belgium, and Switzerland.

In his speech to a captivated audience, Patrick Marchesseau extolled the virtues of Commandant Charcot, Ponant's legendary icebreaker, a technological feat which, in addition to passenger cabins, houses laboratories. IFREMER scientists carry out their research in these laboratories and share a table with Ponant passengers. They can contribute to raising awareness and preparing each expedition. This is the case of Jean Krug, a doctor in glaciology who has become a Ponant guide. Between the stories of sailors and concrete, scientific explanations of how the polar zones and nature in general work, Jean engages everyone in his passion.

According to Ponant, Commandant Charcot is also the “first hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by liquefied natural gas, at the cutting edge of more responsible navigation and at the forefront of safety in the polar zone”. Ponant has naturally banned the use of plastic bottles and produces its own fresh water (see our interview with Captain Jean-Daniel Lemaire).

Among the itineraries promoted by Ponant during this “Appel du Large” (Call from the sea), Belize and Honduras, Madagascar, the fjords and glaciers of Spitsbergen from Longyearbyen, Ushuaia, or the new “Transarctic, the quest for the two North Poles” which will take 20 scientists on board.

Each adventure is personalised to the highest degree, with services and experiences tailored to each event in nature. So many magical moments promised by Ponant on every cruise, so many moments that will make all the difference to our apparently very loyal guests, who are always ready to cast off in search of new horizons.

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About the author

As a journalist and luxury hotel expert inspired by the men and women who embody it, Vanessa aspires to enhance and sublimate the beauty and elegance of palaces through her writing. "In a palace, simplicity serves the quest for excellence" she admires.

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