Ponant the French operator of boutique cruise liners has ordered four sister ships for service in high latitudes carrying passengers to never explored polar destinations, such as the true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude), the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island.
The first, Ponant Icebreaker, will be a luxury electric hybrid icebreaker ship powered using Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and is scheduled for delivery 2021.
The order comes 30 years after the company’s original three-masted sailing ship, Le Ponant launched.
Founded in 1988 by young officers of the French Merchant Navy with a passion for distant and unexplored regions.
Today, Ponant has remained true to its original raison d’être and has established a reputation as an Arctic and Antarctica specialist.
Now with four sister ships designed to push their way through icy waters and explore areas off limits to many ships Ponant will double its portfolio in 2018 and 2019 with the launch of four new ice-class Explorer ships.
Not only will these ships be the first in the cruising world to be propelled by Liquefied Natural Gas they will also be the first in the cruise industry to be fitted with an underwater lounge.
Following a public tender in which top European shipyards took part, Ponant decided to appoint VARD, Fincantieri’s Norwegian subsidiary, to build the cruiser.
Headquartered in Norway and with 10,000 employees, VARD operates nine strategically located shipbuilding facilities, including five in Norway, two in Romania, one in Brazil and one in Vietnam.
Through its subsidiaries, it develops power and automation systems, deck handling equipment and vessel accommodation solutions, and provides design and engineering services to the global maritime industry.
Ponant is working with international experts to bring these ships into service.
These include Aker Arctic, an internationally renowned company specializing in the development and design of the most demanding icebreaking vessels and Wärtsilä for the supply of dual fuel diesel engines.
GTT, will supply the innovative storage technology for the LNG Fuel while ABB, have been chosen to build the Azipod units.
Designed by Stirling Design International in joint co-operation with Aker Arctic, the ship will feature just 135 staterooms. She will be Clean Ship certified and environmentally friendly.