It’s one of the world’s most luxurious small ship cruise lines, and now French company Ponant is offering passengers the opportunity to dive in some of the world’s most popular underwater sites. Who’s for scuba?!

Over the coming two years, the award winning luxury expedition cruise line will feature scuba diving destinations across over 80 voyages. It’s a bold new direction, targeting cruisers who love to dive or who are simply keen to learn.

Whether drift diving or exploring wrecks, these itineraries provide a variety of warm water diving options to suit all tastes and cater to all levels of divers. At some locations introductory beginner dives are available to ease newcomers into the underwater world.

From the Seychelles to Polynesia, Madagascar to the Caribbean, these Ponant cruises aim to take guests to fascinating destinations above water and iconic dive sites below.

Seychelles ©PONANT Tally Lionel Pozzoli
The Seychelles is a popular diving destination

Monique Ponfoort, Vice President of Ponant, Asia Pacific, explains: “If pristine coral reefs, World War II wrecks, an abundance of marine life that potentially includes parrot fish, spiny lobsters, turtles, sharks, barracuda and manta rays appeal to you, then consider joining one of these cruises exploring the diversity of the underwater world.

“Voyages with scuba diving offered include close-to-home options like Fiji, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea, while further afield we have diving available on cruises to the Seychelles, Maldives, Polynesia and the Caribbean. We also have six expedition voyages in partnership with National Geographic,” Ms Ponfoort said.

While passengers will be excited to explore the world below, life onboard the cruise ships promises to remain the relaxed and luxurious style Ponant is known for.

“Whether a diver or not, our fleet of modern small ships provide a friendly, intimate experience and facilities that all guests will enjoy. These are definitely not hard-core dive boats. Rather, we offer small ship cruising with all the little luxuries and creature comforts that make for as memorable a time above water as below. These are enjoyable voyages first and foremost with the added option of diving in some of the world’s finest locations,” added Ms Ponfoort.

Green Turtle The Caribbean © Studio PONANT Margot Sib
Underwater observation is possible while still on board

But if you’re not one for scuba, fear not, Ms Ponfoort even manages to give non-divers a taste of the underwater world. Their new fleet of Explorer ships have an exclusive world-first, an underwater lounge called Blue Eye. Here, situated below water level, guests can look out through the large windows into the surrounding marine world while listening to the sounds of the ocean and creatures in the vicinity.

Blue Eye
Underwater viewing onboard from Blue Eye

Important Notes: These Ponant voyages are not designed for hard-core scuba divers seeking dedicated dive boats with multiple daily dives. The dives are best suited to accredited recreational divers. Typical maximum depth will be 20 – 25 metres.

Scuba diving is an additional cost. $130 for one dive up to $675 for 6 dives. Price includes wetsuit, buoyancy jacket, fins, mask, snorkel, regulator with octopus and pressure gauge and a dive computer.

Accreditation level: The minimum level required for scuba diving is the PADI Open Water Diver (or equivalent). The certification card, the diving log book and a recent medical certificate (less than 12 months) must be presented onboard at the beginning of the cruise.

Diving excursions may be changed depending on weather and safety conditions and the number of divers.

An experienced dive instructor is onboard during the cruise, sometimes working in conjunction with local dive operators to ensure access to the best locations according to prevailing conditions.

Ponant cruises epitomise modern day expeditions, where luxury merges with adventure across voyages that include polar, tropical and sub-tropical destinations.

The fleet of Ponant environmentally accredited ships are internationally recognised, forming part of the youngest and most modern fleet of luxury expedition ships in the world.

R111218 Laperouse La Digue Seychelles Dec18 © PONANT Olivier Anrigo
The stunning Seychelles, both above and below water

Examples of Ponant voyages featuring scuba diving

The Essential Seychelles:

Mahé to Mahé (Seychelles Islands) aboard Le Jacques-Cartier & Le Bougainville.
An 8 night expedition cruise to the heart of this archipelago’s inner islands for a glimpse of paradise above and below water. Possibility of diving in Saint Joseph Atoll, Curieuse Island, Grande Sour, Praslin and La Digue Islands.

13 departures to select from between December 2019 and March 2021.

From $5350per person in a Deluxe Stateroom with private balcony based on a double occupancy.

Polynesia: The Austral Islands & Bora Bora

Papeete to Papeete (Tahiti) aboard Le Boreal & Le Soleal.
A 9 night voyage exploring the idyllic islands and atolls of French Polynesia. Possibility of diving in Raivavae, Tubai, Rurutu, Rimatra, Rangiroa and Moorea.

Departs 10 October 2020 & 4 May 2021.

From $6,520per person in a Superior Stateroom based on a double occupancy.

Island Gems & Underwater Treasures of the Caribbean  – with National Geographic:

Colón to Fort-de-France aboard Le Jacques-Cartier.
A 9 night expedition cruise that will immerse guests into Afro-Caribbean cultures as well as allow the opportunity to discover the magnificent marine flora and fauna of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Possibility of diving in Bonaire, Saint George’s Grenada, Mayreau Island and Soufrière.
Departs 1 March 2021.
From $5,530per person in a Deluxe Stateroom based on a double occupancy.

Are you for scuba? French line Ponant embraces the sport