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Bratton proclaims Ponant’s strong new Aussie presence

February 10, 2014 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59French cruise line Compagnie Du Ponant has set the seal on its new Australian presence in an expansive, stylish way, with an opening function for travel industry supporters at the sleek Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Sydney’s plush Kirribilli.

Sarina Bratton, Ponant’s Australasian chairwoman and special advisor to the line’s Marseille headquarters, was there alongside Jean-Emmanuel Sauvee, founder and chief executive of Compagnie Du Ponant. Sauvee flew in from Marseille, as did Hervé Bellaïche, the company’s chief commercial officer. Also present: two former colleagues of Bratton’s from her Orion days: Steve McLaughlin, Ponant’s newly-appointed director of sales, and PR manager Michael Corbett.

Former passengers with Orion Expedition Cruiises, the company Bratton founded, are likely to look favourably on Ponant, a luxury expedition line with the youngest fleet in the world, which also takes more passengers to the polar regions, both Arctic and Antarctic, than any other line.

From left: Hervé Bellaïche, Compagnie Du Ponant’s chief commercial officer; Sarina Bratton, Ponant’s Australasian chairwoman and special advisor to the line’s Marseille headquarters; Jean-Emmanuel Sauvee, founder and chief executive of Compagnie Du Ponant.

From left: Hervé Bellaïche, Compagnie Du Ponant’s chief commercial officer; Sarina Bratton, Ponant’s Australasian chairwoman and special advisor to the line’s Marseille headquarters; Jean-Emmanuel Sauvee, founder and chief executive of Compagnie Du Ponant.

Bratton, who was awarded an Order of Australia in the recent Australia Day Honours for her role in pioneering luxury international cruising in the Australian market, admitted at the function that Orion’s groundwork had made it “much easier for us [Ponant] to sell into a developed market here”.

Essentially, Australians and New Zealanders have developed a taste for luxury small-ship expedition cruising and Ponant is perfectly placed to meet the demand.

Orion, the ship, is now called National Geographic Orion and is owned by Lindblad Expeditions, which bought it last year. Lindblad is a competitor of Ponant. Bratton wished the new operation well but said she was focussed on what Ponant is doing. There were big differences – Orion was in the Kimberly, Papua New Guinea and Borneo. Ponant does not go there.

Sauvee said Australia would be number-two in terms of FIT advance bookings for Ponant in 2014/2015. France is number one.

Bratton said Asia, with its aspirational, emerging middle class, was a perfect fit for Ponant and cruising was booming around the world.

Ponant’s new North Sydney offices are officially open for business, with contact available via 1300 737 178 (toll free) or +612 8459 5000 or email reservations.aus@ponant.com

Australian and New Zealand agents have direct access into the Ponant reservations system for immediate confirmation of availability by voyage and also, for the first time, Australian dollar pricing.

Later this year, one of Ponant’s modern ships, L’Austral, will visit Australia and New Zealand, opening the way to a new level of luxury and expedition cruising in this part of the world.

As well as its fleet of the youngest luxury and expedition ships afloat, along with a stylish three-masted yacht, Ponant has a range of itineraries stretching from the Arctic to Antarctica. Itineraries for 2014/2015 include voyages to Australia and New Zealand.

Other voyages head to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central and South America, West Africa, Asia, the Russian Far East, Northern Europe and the Baltic.

Some itineraries are designed to appeal to those seeking a stylish luxurious cruise, while other voyages are more expeditionary, with specialist expedition team members and inflatable Zodiacs for stimulating experiences only rarely-visited remote areas can provide.

Compagnie Du Ponant ship

Compagnie Du Ponant ship

Le Boreal, L’Austral, and Le Soleal, are small sister ships, each with 132 staterooms and suites. Launched in 2010, 2011 and 2013 respectively, together they form the youngest fleet of such ships afloat.

Just for size comparison, Lindblad’s National Geographic Orion is smaller: 103 metres and a maximum 102 passengers. The Ponant sister ships can carry up to 264 passengers.

Another Ponant ship, Le Ponant, is an elegant three-masted yacht for exploring the Mediterranean and Aegean. All are imbued with that touch of French chic that is a Compagnie du Ponant signature.

Voyage duration ranges from 6 nights through to 17 nights with keen pricing that reflects Ponant’s aggressive entrance to the Australasian market. Some fares are inclusive of connecting flights, for example Buenos Aires to Ushuaia on the 10-night Antarctic voyage.

Guests who book early are able to save up to 30% off brochure fares, while for single travellers there are a number of voyages where the single supplement is just 15%.

Pricing is inclusive of quality wines during lunch and dinner and Zodiac exploration.

Some sample prices: 

• Indonesian Archipelago: Bali, Indonesia to Cairns – (15 nights, L’Austral) Departs December 12, 2014 from AUD $ 7510 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $5260 per person twin share

• Tasmania: Sydney to Melbourne – (7 nights, L’Austral) Departs January 3, 2015 from AUD $3690 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $2580 per person twin share.

• Russian Far East: Anadyr, Russia to Petropavlovsk, Russia – (15 nights, L’Austral) Departs September 16, 2014 from AUD $15,290 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $12,420 per person twin share.

• Mediterranean: Valetta, Malta to Nice, France – (7 nights, L’Ponant) Departs July 5, 2014 from AUD $4760 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $3350 per person twin share.

Closer to home, to celebrate its arrival into the Australian market, Ponant has released a series of inaugural voyages featuring Australia and New Zealand coastal highlights. Seven new itineraries cover the traditional summer holiday period with departure dates between December 2014 and February 2015 that include voyages from Bali via the Moluccas archipelago, Australia’s eastern seaboard and New Zealand, aboard L’Austral, a modern luxury and expedition ship, with 132 ocean view staterooms and suites.

The ability of the Ponant fleet to access remote ports of call and offer one-of-a-kind experiences due to the compact size of its ships are a signature of the line’s expedition style of cruising.

These new itineraries provide guests with convenient voyage access points in Bali, Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland with exploration highlights that include Komodo, the Asmat region of Irian Jaya, the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, Milford Sound and Rotorua, the cradle of Maori culture, as well as the aboriginal art centre of Yirrkala and Darwin.

A sample of Australia and New Zealand itineraries for 2014/2015: 

• Bali, Indonesia to Cairns – (15 nights) Departs 12 December 2014 from AUD 7510 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $5260 per person twin share.

• Cairns to Sydney – (7 nights) Departs 27 December 2014 from AUD $3930 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $2,750 per person twin share per person.

• Sydney to Melbourne – (7 nights) Departs 3 January 2015 from AUD $3690 – less 30% Ponant Bonus = $2,580 per person twin share.

Written by Peter Needham

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