In true French style, luxury line Ponant christened Le Laperouse, the first explorers series ship equipped with the much-anticipated underwater Blue Eye Lounge, which will cruise in Australian waters next year.
Held at Iceland’s port of Hafnarfjordur, Le Laperouse was christened by godmother Mrs Francois Pinault in a Breton-inspired ceremony which resonated with the sound of bagpipes, Breton oboes and drums.
Guests then descended to the Blue Eye Lounge, located in the hull of the ship. Sitting two to three metres below the water, the Blue Eye Lounge had more than a hint of a James Bond villain’s lair. Through two giant curved portholes in the shape of a cetacean eye, they watched French free diving champion, Aurore Asso’s aquatic ballet.
The Blue Eye lounge has been designed to heighten the experience of the ocean which allows passengers to see, hear and virtually feel the passing marine life of the underwater world. There are digital screens throughout the lounge projecting live images of the sea life filmed by three underwater cameras.
Guests can also listen to the sounds of the marine life transmitted by hydrophones which can capture noises up to five kilometres away. The immersive sound experience can also be felt by sitting on “body listening” sofas which vibrate in unison.
Le Laperouse sailed on her maiden voyage from Iceland this week. She will then cruise in the Mediterranean before heading for Asia and Australia for her first season of expedition voyages to New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands in February next year. Following this, she will cruise to Melanesia and Australia’s Kimberley region from May to August next year.
At 131 metres-long, she can accommodate 184 passengers in 92 cabins and suites, all with balconies. Le Laperouse has been designed to explore the most remote regions of the world. Construction of five sister ships in Ponant’s explorer series is well underway. Le Champlain is in her final stages of construction and is scheduled to depart of her maiden voyage in October, Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville will be completed next year and Le Bellot and Le Surville in 2020.