After four months of inactivity, Ponant received the green light from the French Government to restart operations on July 11. Mike Louagie was onboard the line’s le Dumont D’Urville.

Is this the future of cruising? We’re sailing from France on the le Dumont D’Urville.  Several new itineraries have been designed, with departures from French ports going to French destinations only – like Normandy, Brittany, Atlantic Coast and Corsica.

Two ships have also started cruising in Iceland and Spitsbergen.

The philosophy is that passengers are in a health bubble –  the ship.

Two days before embarking, we need to pass a COVID-19 test. Proof should be handed over at embarkation, where temperatures are checked. A doctor interviews passengers about health condition. Suitcases are disinfected.

Onboard you have to wear masks in public spaces, as well as in the tender and on the zodiac.

To enter the restaurant, you have to pass a temperature measurement device, which will grant access. Restaurant crew wears plexiglass face masks. The restaurant is à la carte only, with no buffets. Room service is possible.

When coming back from an excursion, hand disinfection is compulsory and sometimes temperatures are again checked.

But the strict protocol does not affect the pleasure of cruising.

What’s really impressive is the way this the French company rediscovered France in a creative way. Doing the D-Day landing of Normandy on Omaha Beach by Zodiac is an amazing experience. Same for the white cliffs of Etretat, which look more dramatic from the sea.

With 12 ships in its fleet, Ponant will shortly welcome Le Commandant Charcot, its luxury polar exploration vessel, a hybrid electric ship powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, scheduled for 2021.

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