Luxury expedition line Ponant launched its 2020 North West Passage cruise on Thursday – and by lunchtime, 60 per cent of the ship’s cabins had been snapped up by Australians.
In an astonishing result which underscores that passengers are now reserving cabins earlier and earlier. The amazing journey in a Prestige Stateroom with private balcony, based on a double occupancy costs from A$36,590pp .
The 22-night expedition aboard L’Austral, departs on 24 August 2020 from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and goes to Nome, Alaska, crossing the Arctic Circle enroute
Expedition leaders Nicholas Dubreuil says of the trip: : “On last year’s voyage I counted 33 polar bear sightings – quite extraordinary.”
The small-ship French line is quickly establishing itself as a world leader in expedition cruising.
They have four new ships on order, and L’Austral will be in Australia at the end of the year with a host of new itineraries.
The line is proudest of its world’s first electric hybrid Icebreaker, to be launched in 2021.
The new generation Icebreaker will be able to cut through 2.5 metres of moving ice at three knots, and take passengers to previously inaccessible places including the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Islands.
Designed for extreme destinations, the 135-cabin Icebreaker will have 16 zodiacs, two helicopters and one of the world’s most experienced expedition leaders in Mr Dubreuil, who will accompany the ship on every sailing.
“The Icebreaker is the result of 30 years of experience in expedition cruising,’’ Mr Dubreuil said. “It will take passengers to remote areas visited by very few people – less than the number of people who have been to the moon.’’
The extreme Polar expedition exploration vessel will be able to reach the true North Pole at 90 degrees latitude North, cross the Arctic Ocean and discover the extreme North East Greenland – “previously an inaccessible dream”, Mr Dubreuil said.
It will be one of the most environmentally friendly ships sailing the seas and will be the first hybrid electric Icebreaker powered by Liquefied Natural Gas. It will produce no emissions.
Mr Dubreuil who has crossed the poles by kayak, sleigh and skis said that sea ice is always moving, changing, breaking and melting.
“We have to manage the ice. Our itineraries will offer scenic helicopter rides to take passengers to experience the real Greenland and see the mountain summits. Guests will also be able to take part in dog sledging and snowshoeing.’’
As Sarina Bratton, Ponant’s chair Asia Pacific said: “Our expeditions set us apart from other operators because of leaders like Nick Dubreuil.”